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Delaware River

The Delaware River rises in two branches in southern New York and flows southward for about 300 miles before emptying into Delaware Bay. The river forms part of the boundary between New York and Pennsylvania, the entire boundary between Pennsylvania and New Jersey and most of the boundary between New Jersey and Delaware. Major cities along its course include Trenton and Camden, New Jersey; Wilmington, Delaware; and, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, which begins just below Wilmington, Delaware, connects the river to Chesapeake Bay. The Delaware and its tributaries, which include the Schuylkill and Lehigh rivers, drain an area of about 14,120 square miles.

map of the Delaware River and its watershed
map of the Delaware River and its watershed

The Western Branch rises from springs near Mount Jefferson in Schoharie County and flows southwestward through a deep, narrow trough until being impounded by the Cannonsville Reservoir in Delaware County. From the reservoir the river valley broadens greatly as it continues south, and becomes the boundary between New York and Pennsylvania at the 42nd parallel. The Eastern Branch rises from a small spring-fed pond south of Grand Gorge in Delaware County and flows south and west along the Catskill Mountains; it is impounded along its course by the Pepacton Reservoir, the largest reservoir in the New York City water supply system. The confluence of the two branches is just below Hancock, New York.

From Hancock, the Delaware flows generally southeastward through a broad Appalachian valley. It makes a sharp turn to the southwest at Point Jervis, New York, where a ridge deflects the Delaware into a buried valley that ends at the Delaware Water Gap. From there, the Delaware gradually widens as it flows toward Trenton, New Jersey, where it drops over an 8-foot fall before becoming a slow, sluggish sea inlet flanked by marshes.

at Barryville, New York
Delaware River at Barryville, New York

near New York-Pennsylvania-New Jersey border
Delaware River near New York-Pennsylvania-New Jersey border

at Ewing, New Jersey
Delaware River at Ewing, New Jersey

at New Castle, Delaware
Delaware River at New Castle, Delaware

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: Local History and Description >> Middle Atlantic States >> General History and Description

This page was last updated on February 09, 2017.