I think I’ve mentioned here before that the Old Mine Road is one of my ‘haunts” that I visit frequently. With the coming of spring, I have two nice birding survey routes of this area that I take nearly every day. Nice to live within a few minutes of such opportunities.
The Old Mine Road (OMR) is thought to be the oldest commercial road in the United States, used to transport iron ore from mines along the Delaware river as early as the 1640s. It is now part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area which was created after the Tocks Island dam fiasco. In the capsule-version of what occurred, the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to build a dam at Tocks Island and flood the valley resulted in the government ‘acquiring’ by various means the homes and farms from families living in the area to be flooded. People were removed from their homes; some historical homes were razed by government bulldozers, others were burned to the ground by arsonists. The dam proposal was defeated after about 30 years of fighting. The surviving houses have (with the exception of a handful that have been restored) fallen victim to “benign neglect” and those that are too far gone are slated to be demolished when funds are available.
This is a typical scene along the OMR. Sometimes all that is left are a patch of daffodils blooming next to two or three steps that lead nowhere – but once was the entrance of a historical home. The Delaware River flows behind the bit of greenery in the background of this photo.
The ‘up’ side of the Tocks fiasco is that this land had been preserved, and has been, so far, saved from development. Most of it would be under water had the dam been built. It is an area rich in wildlife and of course – birding is good.
First stop was the beaver pond – no beaver active today, as I was there too early in the afternoon, but the buffleheads, wood ducks, mallards, and Canadian geese were still there. A belted kingfisher was fishing the far shore.
Another stop was this historical home, called the Depue house. It is not in very good condition. The first northern flickers were seen here today, just under the old beehive oven at the end of the house.
The ground was a little damp there and sunny. Two flickers were on the ground poking at the moss – looking for insects. Lots of eastern phoebes, a few juncos, and not much else was moving.
Just down the road a little way from the Depue house is Black’s Minisink Farm. I love this old house, but when I first returned to NJ and drove the OMR, I was surprised to see the black shutters had all been removed. Somewhere in my slide collection, I have photos of this house in a slightly better day. The black shutters on every window really made it a stately looking old place.
I guess it reminds me a little of my old childhood house. On the far end of this house stands a small stone building, with the name of the farm still visible on the side.
I don’t recall the exact age of this place, but I do remember that this little stone house was thought to have been used to hide slaves in the “underground railroad.” It’s been about 20 years since I was very involved in this area, and it may take a few more trips to jog the old memory until I can get my notes and photos out of storage in Kentucky.
As might be expected, several eastern phoebes singing at Black’s Farm. I also noticed day lilies up about half an inch. Can’t wait for the real greening to start!