Ascending The Lackawaxen
( Originally Published 1900 )
At Glen Eyre, the Blooming Grove Creek flows merrily into the Lackawaxen, coming out from Blooming Grove Township to the southward, an elevated wooded plateau in the interior of Pike, which is the common heading ground for numerous streams radiating in every direction, and containing a score of attractive lakes. This region is a wilderness where deer, bears and other wild animals roam, while the streams are noted angling resorts. In it are the two famous "Knobs," the highest elevations of the whole Pocono range, the southern or "High Knob" rising two thousand and ten feet, out-topping the Kittatinny " High Point." This " Knob " stands like a pyramid, at least five hundred feet above all the surrounding country, excepting its neighbor, the "North Knob," which is only one hundred feet lower. These are the northeastern outposts of the Pocono range. Upon the top of the " High Knob " is a large boulder of white conglomerate, dropped by the ice in the glacial period, and this summit gives the most extensive view in Pennsylvania, over dark, fir-covered ridges in every direction, interspersed with lakelets glistening in the sunlight. There is not a house to be seen, and scarcely a clearing, but all around is one vast wilderness. The greater part of this region is the estate of the " Blooming Grove Park Association," covering thirteen thousand acres, surrounded by a high fence, and stocked with game and fish, there being over $300,000 invested in the enterprise. Here elk and deer are bred, there are abundant hares and rabbits, and also woodcock, grouse and snipe shooting. The spacious club-house is elevated high above the rocky shores of Lake Giles, a most beautiful circular sheet of clear spring water, fourteen hundred feet above tide, and to it the anglers and hunters take their families and enjoy the pleasures of the virgin woods.
The Wallenpaupack Creek, coming out of the Pocono plateau and the Moosic Mountain, makes the boundary between Pike and Wayne Counties, and flows into the Lackawaxen at Hawley. For most of the distance its course is deep and sluggish, but approaching the edge of the terrace, within a couple of miles of the Lackawaxen, it tumbles over cataracts and down rapids through a magnificent gorge, so that, from its alternating characteristics, the Indians rightly called it the Walink-papeek, or "the slow and swift water." It descends a cascade of seventy feet, and then goes down the Sliding Fall, a series of rapids interspersed with several small cataracts. Farther down are two cascades of thirty feet each, and then the main plunge, the Paupack falls of sixty-one feet, almost at its mouth, the whole descent being about two hundred and fifty feet. Hawley has thriving mills, whose wheels are turned y this admirable water-power, and it is also a railway centre for coal shipping. Its people are noted makers of silks, and of cut and decorated glassware. Judge James Wilson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was an early settler on the Wallenpaupack.
Above Hawley, in a broadened intervale of the Lackawaxen, was the famous " Indian Orchard," where the first settlement, made in 1760, grew after-wards into Honesdale, now the county-seat of Wayne. This was a tract of land in the valley upon which the lofty Irving Cliff looks down ; and it was named from a row of one hundred apple trees which the Indians had planted at regular intervals along the river bank.
The tradition was that ninety-nine trees bore sweet fruit, while one every alternate year had a crop of sour apples. Upon a large clearing at the water's edge, paved with flat stones, the Indians held their feasts and performed their religious rites. The orchard and stones have disappeared, but the plow still turns up Indian relics. This place was selected by the Delaware and Hudson Company for the head of their now abandoned canal, at the base of the Moose Mountain, and it was named Honesdale, in honor of the first president of the canal company, Philip Hone, described as "the courtliest Mayor New York ever saw." Within the town the two pretty streams unite which form the Lackawaxen, making lakelets on the plain, and from the shore of one of these the rocks rise almost perpendicularly nearly four hundred feet. In 1841 Washington Irving came here with some friends, making the journey on the canal, and climbed these rocks to overlook the lovely intervale, and thus the Irving Cliff was named. Writing of his visit, he spoke in wonder of the beautiful scenery and roman-tic route of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, saying : "For many miles it is built up along the face of perpendicular precipices, rising into stupendous cliffs, with overhanging forests, or jutting out into vast promontories, while upon the other side you look down upon the Delaware, foaming and roaring below you, at the foot of an immense wall or embankment which supports the canal. Altogether, it is one of the most daring undertakings I have ever witnessed, to carry an artificial river over rocky mountains, and up the most savage and almost impracticable defiles. For upward of ninety miles I went through a constant succession of scenery that would have been famous had it existed in any part of Europe."
From Honesdale a gravity railroad crosses the Moosic Mountain into the Lackawanna Valley at Carbondale. This was originally used to bring the coal out for the canal, but has been abandoned for this purpose, being now confined to passenger service. It has twenty-eight inclined planes, and crosses the sum-mit at Far View, at an elevation of nearly two thou-sand feet. The first locomotive brought to America, built at Stourbridge, England, in 1828, the " Stour-bridge Lion," was used on the levels of this railroad, the face of a lion adorning the front of the boiler giving it the name. When brought out in 1829 the triumphant claim was made that it " would run four miles an hour." The road passes over extended mountain tops, giving far-seeing views; and among these sombre rounded ridges in the wilderness of Wayne are the sources of the Lackawaxen. Carbondale, built on the coal measures of the upper Lackawanna Valley, has about eighteen thousand population; but all its coal now goes to market by other railway routes, the gravity road and the canal being found too expensive carriers in the fierce competition of the anthracite industry.