The Tocks Island Dam was designed in the 1960s by the New York engineering firm of Clarke and Rapuano to reduce the threat of flooding on the upper Delaware. Using eminent domain, the federal government acquired nearly seventy thousand acres to the north of Delaware Water Gap that were to be flooded when a monumental earth and rock dam would be completed between the 1,100-foot-high Kittatinny Mountain on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River and the 500-foot-high foothills of the Poconos on the west. In the overblown prose of the period, the planners reported, “Tocks Island Dam will stand as a strong physical demarcation between the mountain lake landscape upstream and the pastoral landscape downstream. In the proposed plan for its architecture and development, Tocks Island Dam will serve as a transition buffer between the two landscapes, the intent being to make the dam an intrinsic element of the new natural scene, just as the farmhouse, barn, silo and other works of man became part of the valley's agricultural scene.” What followed was a violent storm of protest as residents, many of whom were descendents of original settlers, fought the project. By the 1970s, Vietnam War–era mistrust of government, coupled with the rising environmental movement, made the project politically unfeasible. Some sixty-seven thousand acres encompassing forty miles along the Delaware River were redefined as a national recreation area and an uneasy truce was established.
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Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
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