One of the fastest growing counties in Pennsylvania, Pike County, nestled in the Pocono Mountains, is an area steeped in history and rural in nature.Of the entire county, 31 percent of the land, including 67,768 acres of Bureau of Forestry land, is owned by the state and federal governments.Game lands encompass 21,543 acres and the National Park Service’s Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area holds 15,622 acres.
Housing in Pike County varies from modern townhouses to farmhouses, from old Victorian neighborhoods to secluded log cabins and is one of the last vestiges of affordable housing near the metropolitan areas of New York and New Jersey.
Residents enjoy country living with modern comforts near public transportation and well-planned business centers.Three highways, Interstates 84, 80 and 81, are easily accessible from each of Pike County’s 13 townships.Many of the highways are cut into mountainsides, ensuring scenic beauty for day trips or commutes.
The Delaware Valley School District, with seven schools, serves the communities of Matamoras, Milford, Dingman’s Ferry, Shohola and Delaware Township.
The Wallenpaupack School District, with five schools, serves the communities of Hawley and Lackawaxen, among others.
Matamoras, a Pike County bedroom community, is only one square mile in area, but over 2,000 people are happy to call it home.As a mostly residential borough, there are no major employers here, but its proximity to Port Jervis, Milford and Westfall Township provides residents with the services they need.The excitement of Broadway and employment opportunities in New York City and metropolitan New Jersey are approximately a 90 minute drive away.
Shopping centers in nearby Westfall Township include a large modern Price Chopper supermarket, Kmart, Wal-Mart, clothing shops, shoe stores, specialty shops, an Italian restaurant, Chinese restaurant, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Perkins Family Restaurants, and home improvement stores.The 108-room Best Western Inn boasts an indoor pool and sauna.Their Edgewater Restaurant is known for its fabulous food and Seafood Buffet.
Residents of this quiet little town are often asked what the appeal is.“When I open my door I see the mountains,” said one.“I live by the river, can drop a raft in at Westfall and float down to my house.And it’s nice to walk by neighbor’s houses and say hi to people you know.There are some great front porches here.”
Most homes in Matamoras are single family, two-story structures built near the turn of the century.Streets are tree-lined with maples and oaks, which have earned Matamoras the designation of a Tree City U.S.A.
Matamoras is also one of only three places in the county to have its own police department.
The community is tightly knit with many volunteers who band together for activities.A new addition to the borough hall was built entirely by volunteers who had fun getting the job done and volunteers turned the abandoned Matamoras Airport, built during the Depression, into a community recreation area called Airport Park.This 42 acre site has four lighted ball fields, two pavilions, an outdoor rink, a concession stand and a new playground along the Delaware River.
Senior citizens make up fifty percent of the population and keeping taxes low is a priority.Houses in Matamoras are less expensive than in nearby towns.
Although Matamoras is closely tied to Port Jervis, its New York neighbor across the river, it has its own unique shops.There are dance studios, a well stocked consignment shop, gifts and collectibles shop, full service print shop, service stations, a quaint corner store and the ever popular Polar Bear, an ice cream stand.
One of Matamoras’ best-kept secrets is Stewart’s Family Restaurant, a friendly hometown place to go for breakfast or lunch.You can’t beat the Burger of the Day special.Stop in just for the pleasure of good old-fashioned service and try a bowl of homemade soup or a slice of freshly baked pie.
Milford Township was created in 1832 from Upper Smithfield Township.The village was laid out in 1796 by John Biddis.There are two explanations for the town’s name.Some say it was named for Milford Haven in Wales, home of John Biddis’ father, William Biddis.Other people say that Well’s Mill and the spot where the Delaware was forded resulted in the name “mill-ford”.
The main streets in downtown Milford are lined with charming storefronts: antique shops, ice cream parlors, beauty shops, coffeehouses, bookstores and crafts.There are restaurants for every taste, from the nouveau cuisine of the Dimmick Inn to the more traditional fare at the Apple Valley Restaurant, a local favorite.
Behind the storefronts, restaurants, bank and attorneys’ offices lay the tree-lined streets of a quiet town that is the seat of Pike County.
Much of Milford’s riverfront land is owned and preserved by the federal government, providing not only scenic beauty, but habitat for wildlife, as well.More land is held by state and private interests as game lands.
Milford is known as the birthplace of the conservation movement, started by Gifford Pinchot, two-time governor of Pennsylvania and the first chief of the US Forest Service, whose home, Grey Towers, just outside Milford, is now home to the Pinchot Institute for Conservation Studies.The house and grounds are available to visitors for guided tours and a host of year-round special programs.
The more than 2,000 people who live in Milford Borough and Township are a mix of young and old.The Delaware Valley School District system continues to expand to meet growing enrollment, and there a number of excellent daycare centers from which to choose.
Milford Township is headquarters to Altec-Lansing, an international stereo and electronics firm.
Milford residents are proud of their town’s history.An active historical society maintains Pike County’s museum, the Columns, where visitors can view the famous Lincoln flag, which cushioned the head of the dying President after he was shot by assassin John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater.
With all Milford has to offer, newcomers are encouraged to “join the community”.
Dingman Township is home to many lake communities, which offer resort-style living in a secluded atmosphere in contemporary homes, A-frames and log cabins built on spacious lots.
The hamlet of Dingman’s Ferry became important in Pike County because of a ferry that crossed the Delaware River to New Jersey.A privately owned toll bridge now provides that service for hundreds of cars daily, which travel Routes 739 and 209.
Despite the rapid expansion in population Pike County has seen in recent years, Dingman Township has managed to retain a wealth of natural beauty, due mainly to a now defunct plan by the federal government to turn the area into a giant recreational lake.
The government bought up houses and land along the river, which eventually became the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.The Water Gap Park has thousands of visitors each year who come to raft and canoe on the river and to visit the Pocono Environmental Education Center, which has nature programs available all year long.
Those residing in Dingman Township have the benefit of sending their children to the most modern school facility in the Delaware Valley, a new middle school built in 1995.There is also an elementary school and primary school.In anticipation of further growth in the county, the middle school was built with room to grow.
Aside from its historic importance, Dingman Township holds special appeal for residents as well as thousands of tourists who pass through each year.Bushkill Falls is one of the most famous sites in Pike County.Under the protection of the National Park Service, the falls are open to the public from May to September.
Three miles west of Dingman’s Ferry, on Silver Lake Road, is the George W. Childs State Park.This 154 acre site is breathtaking with its wooded glens and gorges.Three cascading waterfalls, Fulmer, Factory and Deer Leap Falls, decorate the park and it is a popular picnicking spot; however, swimming is not allowed.
If you’re looking for wilderness, look no further.Peering through your window often provides a show of black bear, wild turkeys, pileated woodpeckers, evening grosbeaks and sometimes bobcats and mountain lions, located within its 46 square miles.Shohola is a Native American name, which means “slow waters where the geese rest.”
In the early days, Shohola was a bluestone excavation center.Bluestone from its quarries provided sidewalks for several major American cities.
Most of Shohola is undeveloped with one third of the land owned by the state including a portion of the Delaware State Forest and three game lands.The Pennsylvania Game Commission owns 7,736 acres with an excellent population of deer, bear, turkey and grouse.
State-owned Shohola Falls is known as one of the finest hunting, fishing and scenic spots in the state.Parking areas, boat ramps and picnic areas and trails near the falls makes the site very popular among both residents and vacationers.
Along Shohola Creek there are numerous cascades, deep holes and steep ledges where water rushes over a final set of falls onto the river flatland.It is so beautiful it inspired such names as: Whirlpool at Hell’s Gate and Grotto of the Wood Nymph.
There are several lake communities in Shohola and many single-family homes between large tracts of forested land.Although only seven miles up Route 6 from Milford, Shohola is much cooler in summer and receives more snow than its neighbors. Often times it will snow in Shohola while raining a few miles downhill. This makes snowmobiling a popular sport, and snow plowing a lucrative job.
Many of Shohola’s residents are retired but there are also young families with children who attend the Delaware Valley School district.One of the district’s elementary schools is located on Twin Lakes Road and was dedicated in 1991.Located on 63 acres, this modern school contains 12 classrooms, a cafeteria, a gymnasium and two computer rooms.
This is the home of the Ross Rosenkrantz Memorial Park where the community convenes to watch and coach children in their games.It is also the last stop of the Stourbridge Line, which offers train excursions from Honesdale, PA.Aside from the park the other place where people gather is the firehouse, most popular during the Firemen’s Field Days, which have been taking place for the past 22 years.
Lackawaxen has some fine restaurants, a general store and a well-stocked sporting goods shop.
The smallest of all four hamlets, Rowlands boasts of being home to the Lackawaxen Telephone Company.Although a number of residents are employed here, most people commute out of town for work, but as one resident said, “I never hear anyone complain.”That’s because they moved here for what the township has to offer: clean air, clean water, quiet, and freedom from the stresses of city living.
Rowlands lies along the Lackawaxen River and is home to a fishing and tackle store and a general store where the owner has known his customers for years.The pace of life is as slow as the river that runs through it.
*1990 Census Figure