Timber Rafting on the Delaware

This presentation highlights the mostly forgotten era of Timber Rafting on the Delaware River. The Ramsaysburg Homestead site played a significant role in river commerce as a point of destination for timber and lumber distribution from the timber rich forests of the upper branches of the Delaware River. It was an important distribution center for early developing settlements and towns. The history and the culture of this period will be explored as well as its relevance to how the Delaware River later became designated as Wild & Scenic and one of the few remaining free-flowing rivers in the United States.

History is not just hard facts about the past but it’s also the life stories and folklore that make up the fabric of our lives and times. So be cognizant of the stories that you hear from an elder as they help weave together a legacy or shine a new light on the past.

Two Centuries

Rams_HistoricMapCatering to both road and river traffic and commerce, the tavern and about 50 acres along the Delaware River in newly-formed Knowlton Township appealed to brothers James and Adam Ramsay in 1795. The prime location, complete with a tributary cascading from the mountains into the Delaware River, held unlimited potential. As James became a prominent political figure, serving as County Freeholder as well as on the Knowlton Township Committee, the hamlet of Ramsaysburg, solely owned by James since 1801, prospered.
A Post Office was established in 1827, followed by the tavern, a store, an Episcopal Church and several homes by 1834. Census records show an extended Ramsay family living at the homestead site, along with several tenant families. A hotel was shown as operating at the site in 1852, and the “Ramsay and Swayze” lumberyard, complete with a sawmill, was advertised in local newspapers as early as 1850. A blacksmith shop was also located on the Ramsay property.

The Springbrook Inn was one of many luxurious tourist accommodations

The Springbrook Inn was one of many luxurious tourist accommodations

The Ramsay family heirs retained ownership of the entire property until 1885, when a portion was sold. The remainder was lost in a court-ordered sale in 1950. Both portions apparently became owned or managed Myron Gilbert, who successfully ran the Spring Brook Farm Hotel resort, begun by a previous owner in 1901, after the sale of the first portion of the Ramsaysburg property. Gilbert is said to have run the resort for many years. The hotel, along with some of its original property, was sold in 1987 to new owners, whose plans to open a bed-and-breakfast there were dashed when the building was destroyed by a 1997 fire.