The "Narrows of the Big Eddy" ~ Narrowsburg, NY

In 1823 an Act was passed into New York State Law to incorporate the Narrowsburgh Bridge Company under the aegis of William A. Cuddeback, Abraham Cuddeback, and William Stokes for the purpose of building a bridge over the Delaware River, "at the place known by the description of the Narrows of the Big Eddy." 

"... is another of the rapidly-growing communities which the rail-road has scattered along its path. Where, a few years since, were only a farm-house and hotel, now stands a village, with stores and dwellings clustering round the beneficent presence of a station. The village, as it may be called, lies on the margin of the Delaware that here is locked in between two points of rock, whose narrow gorge gives the place its title of Narrowsburgh, though the lumbermen call it by its old name, Big Eddy, because during a freshet there rushes through these "narrows" the "biggest kind of an eddy."  Over the "narrows" is flung a wooden bridge, with a single span of 184 feet -- a monstrous span, but not more so than the monstrous tolls for traversing it.

These are very high, and act prejudicially to Narrowsburgh, by diverting into other routes the produce that would flow into this station. The amount of business done here is proved by the appearance of the freight houses. The surrounding country is the region of tanneries, owing to the abundance of hemlock; and, in addition to the leather interests, the direct communication with the mines of Carbondale supply other sources of trade. The scenery around Narrowsburgh is very beautiful, and affords fine drives and strolling-grounds. The land, fortunately, is in the hands of a gentleman (Mr. Corwin) who has had the good taste to preserve the fine park-like trees dotting the beautiful meadow between the station and the river, and do every thing to make Narrowsburgh a favorite summer resort. Below the narrows spoken of the Delaware expands into a wide basin, which, during a freshet, exhibits a stirring scene. It is said the fury of the current through the "narrows" is such that no boat could live in it; and when large trees heave and toss in its eddies, a wilder scene can not be imagined. Mr Corwin says he has dropped in it a line 120 feet long with a weight of 28 pounds attached, without touching bottom. In the winter of 1850, when the river was frozen over, a sudden rise of its waters produced a novel scene in that gorge. The pressure of the swollen tide underneath caused the sheet of ice covering the basin below to heave in regular waves, till at last, giving way, the crash and roar of the floating fragments, as they were piled on each other, made a picture of true sublimity." Harper's Guidebook of the New York and Erie Canal Rail-Road, ~ William MacLeod 1856, p 83.

Narrowsburgh, 1875, Atlas of Sullivan County, New York

 History of Sullivan County
"...Oliver Calkins was the first Justice of the Peace at Big Eddy, William Dunn the second, and Jonathan Dexter the third. Some of the descendants of Judge Dexter are still living on the banks of the Delaware. Moses Dexter, who lives on a lot once owned by Wickham four miles above Narrowsburgh, is one of them. At an early day the Lassleys, Brannings, Drakes, and Cases settled in the neighborhood, but on the west side of the river. Of these John Lassley was drowned in the Delaware, at Big Eddy in the year 1798.  David and Joseph Guinnip, natives of New Jersey, settled near the Eddy but at what time we have not learned. John Bross located on the Deep Hollow brook about the year 1810. Timothy Tyler, who  was remarkable for some of his exploits, and has been immortalized by Alfred B Street under the nom of Tim Slowwater, lived at one time in a log-house where the Narrowsburgh Hotel now stands. In the early days of the settlement, the people had to go to Carpenter's Point to get their grain ground. They procured the largest part of their provisions in New Jersey, and hauled them up on the ice in the winter when the river was frozen. They bought their dry goods in Newburgh for a time, and it took a week to go there and return."  ~ James Eldridge Quinlan and Thomas Antisell, 1873, p 644.

Old   School  District  Burying  Ground: Dunning, Ennes, Little, Corwin, & Reynolds

Natural Gas at Narrowsburg 
"The existence of natural gas at Narrowsburg  was discovered in a curious way by Dr. L.A. Winslow, in 1850.  He was spending the summer at the Murray House in that village. The Delaware River at that place forms into a deep and wide lake-like body known as Big Eddy. On the Pennsylvania side of the river there is a whirlpool so strong that frequently rafts are drawn into it and kept whirling about for hours sometimes days before they can be turned into the channel again. One day Dr Winslow was rowing on the eddy. After lighting his pipe he threw the match, still blazing, into the river. Instantly a blaze up in the water where the match had dropped.  It burned with a faint blue light and finally went out. Then, for the first time, Dr Winslow noticed many bubbles were floating about on the water, and that they appeared frequently, coming quickly up from under the surface. The Doctor, being something of a geologist and scientist, knew at once that the bubbles were made by a gas that must come from the ground or rocks at the bottom of the river, and that the gas was inflammable. He touched a match to several of the bubbles, and each one responded with a blaze. At night he illuminated the entire eddy with these miniature natural bonfires. Dr. Winslow sounded the eddy, and found that in places the water was ninety feet deep, with a rocky bottom, and at some places could find no bottom at all.  His theory was that the rocky bottom was filled with crevices of unknown depth, and from them gas issued and found its way to the surface, forming the constantly appearing and disappearing bubbles.  In the mud along the shores of the eddy, and on islands of similar formation, this gas also found its way from the depths to the surface.  Dr. Winslow inverted a barrel with one head out over a spot on the New York shore where the gas came up out of the ground. He placed a small pipe in the other end of the barrel, and in a short time collected enough gas in the barrel to make a strong and brilliant flame at the end of the pipe when ignited, which burned steadily night and day." ~ Scientific American Vol. 54, April 10, 1886, p 233.

Two Hundred Miles on The Delaware
"...During high water there are two eddies so great that rafts running the river have not sufficient momentum to carry them through the dead water.  Consequently the rafts have to be towed until they reach the downward current. For this purpose ropes are carried to the island opposite the bend down which the raftsmen walk with their tow. This is the only spot from Arkville to Trenton where this hauling has to be done. During the rafting season the vicinity of the eddy is one of great activity and not a little confusion. Turning in after a day of labor we took a last look at the orb of night hanging over the motionless waters of  "Big Eddy." It was a picture not likely to be forgotten -- too enchanting to be easily dismissed from the memory." ~  J. Wallace Hoff, 1893, p 59.  
 Picturesque Erie: Summer Homes

                                                                             ~ Erie Railroad Company, 1889, p 99.

View Minisink Valley Genealogy in a larger map

 The Headwaters of the Delaware 
"... Stupendous cliffs contract the river above at the Narrows, where the village of Narrowsburg is built, and this region and the neighboring lake strewn highlands of Sullivan County, New York were the chief scenes of Cooper's novel, The Last of the Mohicans." ~ America: Picturesque and Descriptive, by Joel Cook, 1900, p 270.

The Big Eddy at Narrowsburg, June 7, 2014