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A 1950s proposal to construct a dam near Tocks Island across the Delaware River was met with considerable controversy and protest. Tocks Island is located in the Delaware River a short distance north from the Delaware Water Gap. In order to control damaging flooding and provide clean water to supply New York City and Philadelphia, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed building a dam. When completed, the Tocks Island Dam would have created a 37-mile (60-km) long lake between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with depths of up to 140 feet. This lake and the land surrounding were to be organized as the Tocks Island National Recreation Area. Although the dam was never built, 72,000 acres (291 km²) of land were acquired by condemnation and eminent domain. This incited environmental protesters and embittered local residents displaced by the project's preparations when their property was condemned. After the Tocks Island Dam project was withdrawn, the lands acquired were transferred to the oversight of the National Park Service which reorganized them to establish the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
Tocks Island is a small island located a short distance north of the Delaware Water Gap in the Delaware River between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It is part of Hardwick Township, in Warren County, New Jersey. The site was proposed for dam construction several times by the Corps of Engineers, beginning in 1934 and again in 1939. Geological studies after 1939 indicated that the damsite was unsuitable for construction. Flooding in the Delaware basin in 1955 restarted proposals for a flood control program. The 1962 design assumed earth construction in a slightly different location. The proposed dam was to be 3,200 feet (980 m) long and 160 feet (49 m) high, mainly of earthfill construction. At the New Jersey abutment a section of concrete gravity dam structure was to accommodate overflow spillways controlled by tainter gates, together with an intake structure for a powerhouse just downstream. The reservoir created by the dam was to extend 37 miles (60 km) upstream to Port Jervis, New York, covering 12,000 acres (4,900 ha).
The Tocks Island Dam Project was under consideration prior to the 1955 flood, which killed several dozen people and damaged the Delaware River basin severely. The need for flood control brought the issue to the national level, and in 1962, Congress authorized the construction of the dam. The Tocks Island National Recreation Area was to be established around the lake with 100-mile shorelines, which would offer recreation activities such as hunting, hiking, fishing, and boating with 10.5 million annual visitors projected. The area was redesignated by Congress as Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in 1965. In addition to flood control and recreation, the dam with a pumped storage facility could be used to generate hydroelectric power with average annual generation of more than 900 MWh.More significantly, the water stored in the lake would be pumped to supply water to the cities of New York and Philadelphia.
The United States government began acquiring, often by eminent domain, land from residents that lay within the boundaries approved for this unprecedented recreation area. By 1975, the government acquired 6,000 properties which were about two‐thirds of the 72,000 acres (113 sq mi) required, and forced out 4,000 families. As houses were abandoned during the acquisition, squatters had been moving in. In 1971, the governments started bulldozing some homes to force the squatters out. Today, there are few existing structures from the original town of Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania, The original post office sign was saved from bulldozers by John Perretti, and there are few remaining buildings from Bushkill, Pennsylvania and other surrounding areas.
On the New Jersey side, much of the area of Pahaquarry Township was taken over, leaving the community with no more than a few dozen residents. On July 2, 1997, Pahaquarry Township, whose population had dwindled to fewer than a dozen people, was dissolved and incorporated into Hardwick Township.
Protesters whose land had been acquired raised the issue of unfair acquisition of land. Two such individuals, Nancy Shukaitis and Ruth Jones, formed a group called the Delaware Valley Conservation Association. Along with other supporters, they attended government hearings and meetings of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Another individual who was instrumental in bringing national attention to the issue was Justice William O. Douglas, who fell in love with the area after visiting Sunfish Pond with his wife.[ citation needed ]
The decision on the future of the project lay with the Delaware River Basin Commission, the governing board of which included the governors of the four states in the Delaware River Basin (New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware) and a federal representative who reported to the U. S. Secretary of the Interior. The project's momentum was slowed in the early 70s by objections voiced by New Jersey Governor William T. Cahill, who was concerned with land acquisition issues raised by local residents, by the potential adverse environmental impacts of the project, and by the costs that would be imposed on New Jersey to provide sewerage and highways to serve growth in Northwest New Jersey that would be prompted by the recreation area that would surround the dam. The recreation area was needed to provide the economic benefits needed to allow the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, which would build the dam, to demonstrate that it had a positive ratio of benefits to cost. The further studies prompted by Cahill's objections and by question raised by his successor, Governor Brendan T. Byrne, in 1974 revealed that better and more economical options existed to reduce flood damage and improve water supply than the dam. The dam was disapproved by a majority vote of the Delaware River Basin Commission in 1975, led by New Jersey, New York and Delaware, dissented by Pennsylvania, and abstained by the United States.
Financial problems also contributed to the demise of the project. With the United States funding the Vietnam War, the allocation of $384 million needed to fund the dam and lake became less feasible.[ citation needed ] Finally, the geology of the area was too unstable to build the earthen dam.[ citation needed ] The bedrock could not support what would be the largest dam project east of the Mississippi River.[ citation needed ]
In 1992, the project was reviewed again and rejected with the provision that it would be revisited ten years later. In 2002, after extensive research, the Tocks Island Dam Project was officially de-authorized.
Today, the land is preserved by the National Park Service as the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
A video documentary, Controversy on the Delaware: A Look Upstream at the Tocks Island Dam Project, was filmed in 2006 that investigates the Tocks Island Dam Project (available on Youtube).
The Delaware River is a major river in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. From the meeting of its branches in Hancock, New York, the river flows for 282 miles (454 km) along the borders of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, before emptying into Delaware Bay. It is the longest free-flowing river in the Eastern United States.
Delaware Water Gap is a water gap on the border of the U.S. states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains.
Tulpehocken Creek is a 39.5-mile-long (63.6 km) tributary of the Schuylkill River in southeastern Pennsylvania in the United States, and during the American Canal Age, once provided nearly half the length of the Union Canal linking the port of Philadelphia, the largest American city and the other communities of Delaware Valley with the Susquehanna basin and the Pennsylvania Canal System connecting the Eastern seaboard to Lake Erie and the new settlements of the Northwest Territory via the Allegheny}, Monongahela. and Ohio Rivers at Pittsburgh.
Dingmans Ferry is an unincorporated community in Delaware Township, Pike County, Pennsylvania, United States. As of 2014, it had a population of 7,477 people. It was originally sited on the Delaware River, in an area now included in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. When the Corps of Engineers acquired the land by eminent domain in the mid-twentieth century for the creation of the proposed Tocks Island Dam project, it relocated the community further up the hill.
Raystown Lake is a reservoir in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. It is the largest lake that is entirely within Pennsylvania. The original lake was built by the Simpson family of Huntingdon as a hydroelectric project. The current 8,300-acre (34 km2) Raystown Lake was completed in 1973 by the Army Corps of Engineers. Raystown is around 200 feet (61 m) deep in the deepest area near the dam. The lake was created primarily to control floods, provide electricity, and support recreational activities. Allegheny Electric Cooperative operates the Raystown Hydroelectric Project and William F. Matson Generating Station at the Raystown Dam, a 21 MW, two-unit hydroelectric project.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a 70,000-acre (28,000 ha) national recreation area administered by the National Park Service in northwest New Jersey and northeast Pennsylvania. It is centered around a 40-mile (64 km) stretch of the Delaware River designated the Middle Delaware National Scenic River. At the area's southern end lays the Delaware Water Gap, a dramatic mountain pass where the river cuts between Blue Mountain and Kittatinny Mountain.
Old Mine Road is a road in New Jersey and New York said to be one of the oldest continuously used roads in the United States of America. At a length of 104 miles (167 km), it stretches from the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to the vicinity of Kingston, New York.
Pahaquarry Township was a township that was located in Warren County, New Jersey, United States, from 1824 until it was dissolved in 1997.
The Water Resources Development Act of 1996 is part of Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law 104–303 (text)(PDF), was enacted by Congress of the United States on October 12, 1996. Most of the provisions of WRDA 1996 are administered by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
Water Resources Development Act of 1988, Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law 100–676, is a public law passed by Congress on November 17, 1988 concerning water resources in the United States in the areas of flood control, navigation, dredging, environment, recreation, water supply, beach nourishment and erosion.
The Water Resources Development Act of 1992, Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law 102–580, was enacted by Congress of the United States on October 31, 1992. Most of the provisions of WRDA 1992 are administered by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
Blue Marsh Lake is an artificial lake located northwest of the city of Reading, Pennsylvania, USA and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District. It is in western Berks County, fed into by the Tulpehocken Creek. The main span of the lake is along the border between Bern and Lower Heidelberg Townships. However, the northwesternmost portions lie in the more sparsely populated North Heidelberg and Penn Townships. In the middle of the lake is a large, uninhabited island. The lake is a popular recreation area in the summer, where people can fish, swim, and boat. It has 36 miles of trails and 1,147 acres of water. It was built and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District.
The Pahaquarry Copper Mine is an abandoned copper mine located on the west side of Kittatinny Mountain presently in Hardwick Township in Warren County, New Jersey in the United States. Active mining was attempted for brief periods during the mid-eighteenth, mid-nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries but was never successful despite developments in mining technology and improving mineral extraction methods. Such ventures were not profitable as the ore extracted proved to be of too low a concentration of copper. This site incorporates the mining ruins, hiking trails, and nearby waterfalls, and is located within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and administered by the National Park Service. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 as a contributing property to the Old Mine Road Historic District.
Brocks Gap Dam was a never-built proposal for a water storage dam on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River at Brocks Gap in northwest Virginia. The proposal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers encountered opposition from local residents and was withdrawn in 1967.
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Wallpack Ridge is a mountain located in the Ridge and Valley Appalachians physiographic province in Sussex County in northwestern New Jersey. Oriented northeast to southwest, Wallpack Ridge spans 25 miles (40 km) from Montague Township south of Port Jervis, New York to the Walpack Bend in the Delaware River near Flatbrookville in Walpack Township. It is a narrow ridge ranging between 0.67 miles (1.08 km) to 1.7 miles (2.7 km) in width, and its highest elevation reaches 928 feet (283 m) above sea level. The ridge separates the Wallpack Valley from the valley of the Delaware River, and contains the watershed of the Flat Brook and its main tributaries Big Flat Brook and Little Flat Brook.
Wallpack Valley is a valley located in Sussex County in northwestern New Jersey formed by Wallpack Ridge on the west, and Kittatinny Mountain on the east. Wallpack Ridge separates the Wallpack Valley from the valley of the Delaware River, and contains the watershed of the Flat Brook and its main tributaries Big Flat Brook and Little Flat Brook. It is a narrow valley, roughly 25 miles (40 km) in length running from Montague Township south of Port Jervis, New York to the Walpack Bend in the Delaware River near Flatbrookville in Walpack Township where the Flat Brook enters the Delaware at 300 feet above sea level.
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The Potomac River basin reservoir projects were U.S. Army Corps of Engineers programs that sought to regulate the flow of the Potomac River to control flooding, to assure a reliable water supply for Washington, D.C., and to provide recreational opportunities. Beginning in 1921 the Corps studied a variety of proposals for an ambitious program of dam construction on the Potomac and its tributaries, which proposed as many as sixteen major dam and reservoir projects. The most ambitious proposals would have created a nearly continuous chain of reservoirs from tidewater to Cumberland, Maryland. The 1938 program was focused on flood control, on the heels of a major flood in 1936. The reformulated 1963 program focused on water supply and quality, mitigating upstream pollution from sewage and coal mine waste.
The Salt Water Barrier was a proposed project on the estuary of the Delaware River, which was projected in the late 1950s to convert the lower reaches of the Delaware into a freshwater lake. The barrier was proposed as a 30-foot (9.1 m) high dam near New Castle, Delaware, 53,300 feet (16,200 m) long, equipped with locks for the passage of shipping to Wilmington and Philadelphia. A study for the project was authorized by Congress in 1958, with engineering evaluations and public hearings by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The prime purpose of the project was to develop the lower river as a source of drinking water for communities along the lower river. Objections to the barrier included concerns about the oyster industry, shipping constraints, increased shoaling, ice formation, and most importantly, the possibility of trapping pollutants above the barrier. The project was found to be technically feasible, but not economically practical. It was not included in the final Delaware River Basin Report of 1962, which proposed reservoirs higher in the Delaware River basin, and no further action was taken.