Lackawaxen Township, Pennsylvania

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Lackawaxen Township is the largest and northernmost township in Pike County, Pennsylvania. The population was 4,154 at the 2000 census. The Delaware River, which marks the eastern boundary of the township, joins the Lackawaxen River at Lackawaxen Village.



Named for the Lackawaxen River that flows twelve miles (19 km) through the township, the European-American settlement in 1798 adopted the Lenape name meaning "swift waters". Bands of both Algonquian-speaking Lenape and Iroquoian-speaking Seneca lived in the area through the early 19th century. Although neither tribe had any substantial villages in the area, they used the land as hunting grounds. Their tools, pot shards and bone fragments have been found at Native American rock shelters and camp sites.

The first permanent European settlers in the area were Jonathan Conkling and John Barnes, who built in 1770. In the Battle of Minisink in 1779, 40-50 European colonial settlers were killed in an engagement with a band of mostly Iroquois and Loyalists led by Colonel Joseph Brant, a Mohawk who commanded forces for the British.

During the early part of the 19th century, logging was the principal commercial activity in the area. It produced as much as 50 million board feet (120,000 m³) of lumber annually. Workers floated logs downriver along the Delaware to markets in Easton or Trenton.

In 1829, the Delaware and Hudson Canal began operating between Honesdale, Pennsylvania and Kingston, New York. In its time, the canal company was the largest private commercial enterprise in the nation. It built 28 locks in Lackawaxen Township alone, raising the elevation of the canal 278 feet (85 m). Some of the old locks are still visible and several lock houses are now privately owned. Roebling's Delaware Aqueduct, built by John A. Roebling, famed engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, was constructed in 1848 as part of the canal. It is now preserved as a National Civil Engineering Landmark and National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service (NPS).

The canal linked New York City with the rich coal deposits of the Carbondale, Wilkes-Barre and Scranton areas, providing fuel for both the city's industrial foundries and heating the expanding number of residences. In 1848, the New York and Erie Railroad was built through the area; although the canal continued to operate for another fifty years, railroads eventually made canals obsolete.

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