Frank having a life of its own

Frank having a life of its own

Frank Dale’s view of the Delaware River is of change and challenge. The Delaware Diary is shown through tragedy and prosperity, hope and grief, but above all it is told through the stories of those who were there.

As his subtitle suggests, episodes in the life of a river, he symbolically represents the river as having a life of its own through the stories and accounts of the people who had some particular impact by the river or to the river. There are many stories to be told of the river, but here are a few significant turning points in American history in part by that river. These episodes of the river make up a timeline to further give the river life, and in many ways, character.Historically, the earliest accounts of the river are by the Lenni-Lenape Indians. They may be considered the original human inhabitors of the area. One of the most notorious land scams perpetrated against the Lenni-Lenape was the infamous Walking Purchase of 1737. Two sons of William Penn, John and Thomas, had acquired a deed signed by theur father with the Lenni-Lenape, they said, that gave to William and his heirs a generally triangular piece of land in the Pocono Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania.

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One boundary was to be the west into the forrest “as far as a man could walk in a day and a half. The third line would be drawn at a right angle from the end of the walked line back to the river. The sons engaged the three fastest men in the area and gave a prize of five hundred acres of land to the one who can cover the most miles on foot in the given time frame (6). The original day and a half walk was about 35 miles to the Lenni-Lenape standards, but as the scam went, Edward Marshall won by making it 65 miles, which gave the purchase an extra twelve hundred square miles.Throughout the colonial times, the Delaware was used primarily for transport down the river. Robert Durham, an engineer at the Durham Iron Works developed a boat large enough to carry twenty tons of iron or 150 barrels of flour yet still float across the Delaware even at its shallowest points and rapids.

They became coined as the Durham boat, which is the same boat George Washington used to cross the Delaware and win battles at Princeton and Trenton (33).Trenton’s John Fitch was alcoholic, bigamous, and suicidal. Between drinks and bouts with dementia, he built and operated steamboats on the Delaware decades before Robert Fulton and his popular Clermont. The idea of a steamboat came to him as Indians captured him on his way to Ohio.

The efficiency and speed of the canoes going in unison gave Fitch his early design for a steamboat. After his second test run from Philadelphia to Trenton, which is upstream, he began carrying passengers on a regular basis. Although his steamboats stayed as merely a novelty, and his personal life deteriorated as years passed, he was recognized as the first to successfully build a steamboat. Steamboats later met a much different fate. The Alfred Thomas, which was a Fulton Steamboat, carried a number of passengers by Easton Pennsylvania. The craft did not survive however, by a leak of cold water from the Delaware into the steamboats boiler.

This cold water, mixed with the already 125 pounds of pressure built up in the boiler, caused the boiler pressure to amount to 750 pounds per inch which is the equivalent force of gunpowder. The Alfred Thomas, hower, lived on. Thomas Bishopo rebuilt the hull; new engines and a new boiler were installed, and the craft was converted into a ferry and exhiled to a remote crossing on the Schuylkill River. When the Peninsular Campaign of the Civil War got under way, the steamer was called to active duty running supplies up the James River to Union troops pinned down near Richmond. Thus, the indomitable Alfred Thomas had a taste of glory, after all.Just as the water flowing from the Delaware is ever changing, so are the stories that have come about over the years of people living by the Delaware.

Although today the Delaware is a site for tourists to partake in some form of water sport, there are still tragedies in life that occur annually on the river. Though the river has certainly been around before any recorded human accounts, it will certainly outlive us by many years to come.

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