Zane Grey Festival in Lackawaxen

Free fun for the whole family at the Lackawaxen home of 'Father of the Western Novel’ thu

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  • Learn about life in the west with Dr. Stephen Miller at the Zane Grey Festival. (NPS photo)

  • Booths on the lawn at a past Zane Grey Festival. (File photo by Anya Tikka)

  • Zane Grey fishing the Delaware.

— Want to try your hand at roping cattle like famed cowboy Buffalo Jones? How about digging for artifacts?

These are among the family-friendly activities in store at the 13th annual Zane Grey Festival, which celebrates "The Father of the Western Novel."

The free festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 15, at the Zane Grey Museum, the home of author Zane Grey (1872-1939) Scenic Drive, in Lackawaxen.

Special activities for kids will be offered throughout the day, including educational programs and demonstrations, crafts, river safety activities, face painting, creating a butterfly seed bomb and a scavenger hunt with a chance to win a free book donated by Highlights in Honesdale.

Doc Miller, also known as the “Cowboy Dentist,” will captivate audiences with his magic tricks and interactive living history lesson on what it was like to work on the western range as a cowboy.

Steamtown National Historic Site’s “Ring of Fire” will return for another stunning performance.

Most people don’t realize that the tires on trains have to be meticulously maintained. The tires of steam locomotives are fitted by lighting the tire on fire, which allows the tire to be molded over the inner wheel.

Staff from Steamtown National Historic Site will demonstrate the process continually throughout the day, in addition to interpreting the history of railroads in the area.

Area environmental groups and historical societies will display exhibits about their organizations, many of which will have hands-on activities for children. Food will be available for purchase from the Lackawaxen Fire Company.

For more information, call 570-685-4871, ext. 6610.

Special events

11 a.m. — Bill Streeter of the Delaware Valley Raptor Center presents his live birds of prey show.
12-4 p.m. — Brook Valley Farms offers horse-drawn wagon rides.
12:30 p.m. — Upper Delaware Puppeteers will portray American wildlife.
1 p.m. — Barbra Hare and Rachel Gonzalez lead a walk around Dolly’s Garden Path.
1:15-2:30 p.m. — Local musician Dan Engvaldsen performs folk favorites.
2:45 p.m. — Park Ranger Timothy Oset presents a fascinating account of the Battle of Minisink, one our area’s most noteworthy battles and the bloodiest battle of the American Revolution.

The Lackawaxen Years: 1905-1918

Zane Grey often escaped to Lackawaxen with his brothers. On one of these outings in 1900, Zane (“Doc”) met 17-year-old Lina Elise Roth, or “Dolly” as he called her, while canoeing near the Delaware House, a grand boarding house on the river.
Dolly was a positive influence in Grey’s struggle to become a successful writer. Her encouragement and belief in his abilities led him to continue writing despite rejection by publishers.
Grey’s first published article was “A Day on the Delaware,” in Recreation magazine, May 1902. In 1903, Grey wrote, illustrated and published his first novel, Betty Zane, with money from Dolly.
In 1905, Dolly became Zane’s wife. He left dentistry to pursue writing full-time and the couple settled into a farmhouse overlooking the junction of the Lackawaxen and Delaware rivers. In 1906, they took a honeymoon trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and to California - Grey’s first trip west.
In 1907, Grey met Western conservationist Colonel J. C. “Buffalo” Jones at a meeting of the Campfire Club in New York City. Using the last of his wife’s inheritance, Grey accompanied Jones, as a writer and photographer, on a hunting expedition to the Grand Canyon. This trip marked a turning point in Grey’s career as it opened up new vistas in subject matter for his writing. He wrote an account of this adventure, The Last of the Plainsmen, published by Outing Press in 1908.
In 1910, Harper and Brothers published The Heritage of the Desert, Zane Grey’s first western novel and his first real success. Next came Grey’s most noted work, Riders of the Purple Sage, published in 1912. By 1915, Grey had 15 books in print (frontier/baseball/juvenile adventure/western) along with many fishing and outdoor adventure articles and serialized stories.
Zane and Dolly’s three children (Romer, Betty, Loren) were born in New York during the Lackawaxen era. In 1912, the family moved into the house built next door for Zane’s brother, R.C. In 1914, Zane and Dolly purchased the house. They enlarged it in 1915 and 1916. Zane’s study and office were decorated with a frieze of Navajo sandpainting and Hopi kachina doll designs, painted by Dolly’s cousin, Lillian Wilhelm.
Grey continued his travels to the Southwest. He fished in the Pacific off Catalina Island, in the Florida Keys, Mexico and Nova Scotia. He moved his family to California in 1918. The family retained the house in Lackawaxen, visiting when they were on the East Coast. (Zane Grey’s last visit was in 1929.)
Source: Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River:

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