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Of scenic overlooks and river access spots; the Upper Delaware River Corridor could use a makeover

By Fritz Mayer
August 7, 2012

When driving through a tourist destination, one thing that clearly bugs consultant Ben Syden is when he is about to come upon a scenic overlook or river access point and there is no advance warning. He and other drivers are likely to blow right by the attraction and miss it altogether. Syden said he had several such experiences when driving along the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, better known as Route 97.

There’s an easy fix: place a sign about a quarter mile ahead of such attractions in both directions. It was one of the many suggestions put forward by Syden, of the Laberge Group, and by three other consultants, from Synthesis LLP, during a two-day tour and examination of the Upper Delaware River Corridor, which included two meetings with the public on July 31 and August 1 at the Hortonville Firehouse.

Other signage issues played a big role in the conversation. Consultant Mary Moore Wallinger suggested that it might be a good idea if signs were placed on the bridges that span the river, regarding location, so that people floating down the river might know where they are. Also, she said it might be a good idea to place educational signage at each river access point to identify what kind of wildlife might be spotted at the location. She noted that, at the Lordville access, her team spotted a beaver in the river.

She added that there should be consistency of signage along the river corridor. She said, “If you think about a lot of the great river corridors, the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon or the New River Gorge in West Virginia, they’re really good at playing up the history and the geology and the biology and there are all these different layers that together tell really interesting stories. And I think, when you have such a linear place or linear experience, having those things that link all the different places is really key.”

Wallinger’s colleague Ian Law picked up on the theme. While showing a slide of an overlook spot, he said, “These overlooks and access points, these are the spots for information. These are the things that are going to link us throughout the whole trip; they’re going to teach us about history, art and culture on the site. What am I looking at across the river—what was the history on the other side?”

At that point, a woman in the audience interrupted and said, “There was a civil war train wreck there.”

Then, underscoring Law’s point, Syden interjected, “We were there, and we didn’t know that.”