National Geographic : 1952 Jul
40 An Obelisk Marks the Line Where the River Becomes Delaware Bay Henry Hudson, searching for a Northwest Passage, explored hereabouts in 1609: "Then wee found the land to trend away northwest, with a great bay and rivers. But the bay wee found shoald . . ." Here the author examines the shaft which marks the river's mouth at Liston Point, Delaware (text below). Officially that's the Delaware River at left and Delaware Bay at right. huge, grim moated structure, which became the largest Federal prison in 1863. It con fined 12,595 Confederate prisoners after Get tysburg and, at various times, a number of generals. It is being made a State park. Opposite Fort Delaware, on the New Jersey side, is another abandoned fort, now Fort Mott State Park, and Finns Point National Cemetery, where 2,436 Confederate prisoners who died in Fort Delaware are buried. Just below Pea Patch Island one of the country's most important canals, the Chesa peake and Delaware, connects the river with an arm of Chesapeake Bay, thus shortening by 330 miles the trip between the two great ports of Philadelphia and Baltimore. As we stood by the drawbridge, traffic was almost con tinuous. One large freighter was loaded with lumber from Tacoma, Washington. Because the river broadens gradually and merges imperceptibly into Delaware Bay, the legislatures of Delaware and New Jersey were obliged arbitrarily to fix the mouth at a line drawn between a monument at Liston Point, Delaware, and one at the mouth of Hope Creek, New Jersey. To reach Liston Point, we found our way through a tract of farm land of 1,050 acres belonging to two brothers. First there was the old barnyard where we opened and shut several gates and passed noisy ranks of geese and ducks. Then came a mile or so of moor that had the feel of the open sea and not a single city smell. Trudging across these silences to the beach, we saw the last of the Delaware, now more like a sea than a river. It is one of the oddities of geography that the man for whom river and bay are named probably never saw either. The Dutch of New Amsterdam called the stream the South River to distinguish it from the North River, or Hudson. But an English adventurer, Samuel Argall, bestowed the name that stuck, in honor of Lord De La Warr, first colonial governor of Virginia. The christening was certainly a casual one, but somehow the name seems appropriate, with its soft, harmonious syllables. It fits this commodious, versatile river, an early pathway for pioneer settlers and now a potent bearer of the burdens of the civilization that sprang from those seeds.