Tocks Island: Dammed If You Do
Tocks Island: Dammed If You Do, tells how a local movement prevailed, after years of epic struggle, in overturning a federally approved Delaware River dam and 37-mile-long reservoir for flood control, urban water supply, hydroelectric and recreation.
New Jersey and Pennsylvania officials were on the verge of jointly developing their own middle Delaware River basin dam in 1955, when a great flood killed 75 people along Brodhead Creek, a Delaware River tributary. Though no one had died on the Delaware itself, Congress and President Dwight Eisenhower authorized a multi-agency review of the basin that put the states’ plans on hold.
In 1962, Congress authorized a federal dam on the Delaware at Tocks Island. This was followed in 1965 by congressional authorization of a national recreation area that would surround the reservoir.
The joint 72,000-acre projects encountered little initial opposition, other than that of Middle Smithfield, Pennsylvania resident Nancy Shukaitis, whose family was among those slated to lose their homes. With little experience as an organizer or public speaker, Nancy traveled throughout the four-state basin and to Washington, D.C., often as the lone voice of opposition at public hearings.
Nancy pointed out those in the highly organized pro-dam camp who repeatedly and incorrectly said the 1955 flood deaths occurred on the Delaware. She called out another key dam advocate for allegedly capitalizing on rising land values at a new development in the future recreation area. She formed the Delaware Valley Conservation Association, recruiting Tocks region landowners to fight the projects.
In 1967, Shukaitis was the first woman elected a Monroe County commissioner.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – charged by Congress with acquiring property and building the reservoir – was hampered by the slow pace of government funding to complete those purchases. The corps launched a temporary leasing program of properties it had already acquired. That program was cancelled after one year, but by then scores of “hippies” who had rented those homes refused to leave. This led to legal confrontations and a 40-month occupation.
Growing opposition at the dawn of the modern environmental movement would change the course of local history.
Length: 338 Pages
Language: EN, English
Publication date: 2023, February 17
Dimensions: 6.0 x 0.9 x 9.0 inches
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