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December 10, 2016
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Of scenic overlooks and river access spots; the Upper Delaware River Corridor could use a makeover

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.”

Law continued, “There’s lots of history, whether it’s the [Delaware and Hudson Canal] tow path, or the bridge, all these things, we can learn a tremendous amount about them and we can also learn about the corridor in general. Where am I right now? What’s next; what are the next stops along the way? And even right down to within the hamlets, what are the businesses that are there?”

The two-day charette was part of a larger waterfront revitalization plan that is currently underway in the river corridor.

Corwin Farm

One new attraction that may eventually be added to the list of places for the public to visit in the Upper Delaware River Corridor is the Corwin Farm, located on the river, near Pond Eddy. National Park Service Superintendent Sean McGuinness said that the NPS is now using the facility as a park station but is considering opening it to the public. If that happens, it could be used for launching canoes or rafts.

Also, there are remains of the D&H Canal towpath and a lock that could be visited, and a barn that dates probably back to the 1840s has been renovated and could be put to a variety of uses.

Law said, “It has built-in scenic overlooks, it has built-in river access, and it has built-in connectivity to the tow path. It’s a really exciting opportunity.”

McGuinness said if the plan clears the various regulatory hurdles, NPS would be seeking an organization to take over maintenance of the house on the farm in exchange for the use of the facility.