A Farm Hand, Scribner's Magazine, November 1897
"Late in the afternoon my way descended abruptly by a more frequented road in the direction of Kimble. Presently I
could see a railway and a canal, and I felt a little, I fancied, as an explorer must upon emerging, once more, into the
region of the explored."
We headed northwest from Shohola Falls to
PA590 and then west toward Rowland.
There we took a left on Towpath Road as
PA590 makes a large sweeping arc
northwest before descending into Kimbles.
Towpath Road parallels the Delaware
River and the remains of the old
Delaware and Hudson Canal Fieldstone
walls three feet high and stagnant
stretches of water are all that remain now,
interspersed with a few old lock houses.
Most of the canal was declared a National
Historic Landmark in 1968. Other than a
widened and paved highway, the
countryside remains almost as sparsely
settled as in Walter's time. Along the way
we flushed wild turkeys and deer so often
that we had the feeling we were driving
through a wild game preserve.
|Railway in the background, remains of canal in foreground
As we headed north on Kimbles Road to connect with PA590 we ascended a long hill and I suddenly realized it
was from this road that Walter "abruptly descended". He apparently angled northwest along US6 and PA590
through Greeley, then following that sweeping arc west through Lackawaxen, Rowland and Bohemia until it
connected with Kimbles Road, then south two and a half miles to Kimbles. That still left him four mountain-
path miles northeast of Tafton. Accordingly, we drove back to Rowland and retraced his original route. At
the junction of PA590 and Kimbles Road, I did my mile, plus a bit more, and walked down to the village. I felt
a strong sense of history wash over me as I spied the canal and railroad through a gap in the foliage. To make
sure that at some point I'd be walking in Walter's exact footsteps, I serpentined that mile into the village.
|No trace of the high wall remains. Decker Creek Road
crosses over the canal and heads left toward Tafton.
|"The Narrows" over the canal, ca 1906
We were fortunate in discovering the above postcard, the only one found in almost a year of searching. Since
Kimbles was another village that didn't have a clearly defined main street, we took this view of The Narrows
as it looks today.
"I wished to know the distance and the way to Tafton, and so I inquired of the first person whom I met. She was a
milkmaid, and so picturesque a figure, that I felt a pleasurable excitement in the chance of a word with her."
[His talk belies the fact that he is extremely shy around women and gets a double dose of embarrassment here as his
"excitement suddenly took another form". Forgetting he had stuffed leaves under his hat to keep cool, he tips it "in
apologetic inquiry" and lamely stands there as the leaves cascade over him. The girl, eyes "full of questioning, as to
what further my hat might contain" warily gives him directions and he beats a hasty retreat. (She must have been
pretty good looking, for he describes her in some flattering detail.)]
There is no direct road from Kimbles to Tafton. Spooking a few deer along the way, we followed the very
narrow Kimbles Road south for a few miles until it deadended at US6,. We then headed west to PA507 and
stopped at a parking area beside Lake Wallenpaupack* and enjoyed the view while we ate lunch. That done,
we followed PA390 south to Tafton. (Walter must have taken a now-obliterated path that followed Decker
Creek partway to Tafton.)
* The lake and its surroundings are a popular tourist area, and from the postcards we have seen, has been
so since the early 1900s. It must have grown quite a bit in the few short years after Walter's visit as he
repeatedly mentioned how wild and remote the area was.