Zane Grey Museum
Text | Jane E. Castelli
If you love nature, treasure beauty, are fascinated with history and want to find a spot nearby to revive your spirits, the Zane Grey Museum on the Delaware River will fill the bill.
The museum building, a large country house set on a wooded hill at the junction of the Lackawaxen and Delaware rivers, was the home of the 20th century prolific western adventure author Zane Grey (1872-1939). It is filled with memorabilia. The style is sparse and simple, craftsman style, with Navajo rugs on the wood floors. Besides learning about history and nature, a visit to the museum provides a gorgeous view from its lovely old-fashioned front porch, which stretches across the entire front of the building. It is a treat to sit on the front steps and gaze at the Delaware as it tumbles by, waters churning from the Lackawaxen River’s turbulent flow, which empties into the Delaware there at the bottom of the hill. The view, the clear air and the sound of the waters will revive your spirit, and may connect you to the spirit of Zane Grey as well, who loved the rivers and avidly fished their waters.
National Park Service ranger and educational specialist Ingrid Peterec, in describing the contents of the museum, said that this is the second season for the current exhibit. The exhibit is a self-guided tour through the building and grounds where Grey lived from 1905 to 1918. National Park Service rangers are on hand to answer questions. Until 1914, Grey lived on the museum grounds in a smaller house nearby. He then purchased the larger museum home from his brother Romer. He and his family used the property until 1918 when they moved to California because of Grey’s involvement in the movie industry production of his novels.
The current museum presentation contains many period pieces and historical information, including the recreation of Grey’s study where he penned his novels. This room includes a simple strong craftsmen desk, his comfortable Morris writing chair and a collection of books Grey had read. It is easy to imagine the author working away at his craft in this room.
Another part of the exhibit, a favorite of Peterec, is outside the building. Called “Dolly’s Garden Path,” this exhibit is a path that wanders around the property surrounding the home. Peterec said that it helps one imagine the family’s life in the house during the early years of the 20th century. The exhibit shows where Dolly, Grey’s wife, and their children would plant vegetables and walk and play on the grounds. The path goes through the garden to the outbuildings, summer kitchen and barn, and then on to the tennis courts. Other lovely old buildings grace the extensive property to create a country village look, including Grey’s mother’s house, or the Alice Grey House. Nearby, although not part of the museum property, is the old church and cemetery where Zane and Dolly Grey are buried. Here, visitors can also view the tomb of the unknown Revolutionary War soldier killed in the Battle of Minisink, which took place nearby.
Other area highlights
The museum’s view includes the Roebling Bridge, which was constructed as part of the D&H canal system, and a visit can include the canal tollhouse on the other side of the river. There is also a towpath on the New York side for easy walking. Don’t miss a visit to the tiny town of Lackawaxen, and lunch or dinner on the deck of the historic Lackawaxen Inn.
Zane Grey Festival
The National Park Service has plans for a varied and enriching series of educational events and programs for this season, including the annual Zane Grey Festival, to be held on July 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This event will celebrate Zane Grey’s life and his love of the outdoors, as well as the natural environment that surrounds the Zane Grey Museum and the history of the area. Other organizations involved include the Upper Delaware Council, Steamtown National Historic site and the Delaware Water Gap Recreational area. There will be an antique car show and other fun things during this family oriented day. The theme for this year’s festival will be the Delaware River, which has been named Pennsylvania’s “River of the Year,” so this should be a significant and celebratory event.
Hope to see you there.