The Best Thing That Happened This Week: The Delaware Is the River of the Year!

What did Delaware? She wore a bright new honor.

The Delaware River is the 2020 River of the Year! Photo: Steve Kelley aka mudpig via Getty Images

It always seemed a shame to us that we got the lovely name “Pennsylvania” for our state while the one just below us, not to mention the river running just beside us, not to mention an entire Native American nation, got named for a snooty English politician who died at sea. Almost anybody who grew up in these parts has fond memories of the waterway, at least: tubing down it on hot summer afternoons, picnicking along its green-banked canals, crossing it surreptitiously to buy booze way back in the day.

The Delaware may not be the biggest river in the country — that honor belongs, of course, to the mighty Missouri — but it is the busiest, and proudly runs, undammed and unimpeded, from its headwaters in the Catskill Mountains to the Delaware Bay. It’s easy to take something like a river for granted — after all, it’s always been there and always will be, rolling in its shimmering circuit through the Water Gap, past funky New Hope and Lambertville, along the cookie-cutter developments of Yardley and bustling Bristol, all the way to the salt marshes of that big bay.

Well, skip a stone across that baby when next you see her: She just got named “2020 River of the Year” by environmental advocacy org American Rivers, which cited her recovery from being “choked with sewage and industrial pollution” and the return of fish and wildlife to her waters and shores. “Today,” the announcement declares, “communities along the Delaware River are setting a national example of river stewardship.” Hey you guys — that’s us! Woo-hoo!