Because the Delaware River has been prone to flooding over the course of recorded American history, the area that would become The Gap was never heavily industrialized. In the 1950s, in an effort to stop the regular flooding of the area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed the construction of a dam to contain the rising waters that came annually with snowmelt in the spring and heavy rainstorms in the spring, summer, and fall. Their plan was to create a 37-mile, 140-foot reservoir in the Delaware River valley between the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania and the Kittatinny Mountains of New Jersey. Environmental concerns and lawsuits filed by the almost 15,000 displaced residents scrapped the ambitious project and the area was turned into a National Park, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in the late 1970s.
Because of its relative proximity to both New York City and Philadelphia, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area saw hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. In addition to numerous Native American and Dutch historic archeological sites, visitors enjoyed numerous outdoor recreation activities, such as include canoeing, hiking, camping, swimming, cycling, horseback riding, picnicking, fishing and hunting.
Foreshadowing the meltdown that would occur roughly twenty years later, the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant accidentally released a large cloud of radioactive steam and gas into the air in 2040. Much of which was deposited in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area because of prevailing winds and air currents in the hours and days that followed the accident. The federal government covered up the event, but the Delaware Water Gap was closed to the public, citing tectonic plate shifts that could possibly cause the entire valley to collapse upon itself; in reality, the state and federal governments were keeping out the public to clean the radiation from the park. It reopened some ten years later, thoroughly scrubbed from the radiation that had temporarily contaminated it, but it never really recovered in the eyes of the public. The hundreds of thousands of visitors that once visited the park dried into a trickle and the site was almost all but forgotten about in the public conscious.
In early 2077, as food and energy riots were breaking out across the country, a small group of armed rioters took control of the National Park. Though the Eastern Commonwealth had the ability to route the rioters, they chose not to, dedicating their resources to maintaining peace and security in the larger, nearby cities. Their rationale was simple- the seizure of the park was a relatively minor event, and dealing with it was not high on the priority list. If the winter did not dissuade the rioters to leave the park, the Commonwealth government would deal with it at some future point in time. They never got the chance, as the Great War came to an end later that year and total nuclear annihilation rained down from the skies all across America.
The Gap was not directly hit by nuclear weaponry, and as a result, those that had seized the park survived relatively intact. The world around them, on the other hand, was much less fortunate. Interested in their own survival, the people of The Gap retreated into their valley, leaving the devastated ruins of the world behind in favor for their idyllic valley.
The Gap is self-sufficient, owing partially to the self-imposed isolation of its inhabitants and partially because of the abundant flora and fauna in the valley. The people of the Gap sponsor at least one caravan annually, to trade with the outside world and bring back materials and items that are not readily available in the natural setting that they live in.
Internally, the people of the Gap do not maintain much of a currency system, instead relying primarily on barter-and-trade. Different groups in different areas of the valley have different fortes, based on location- some groups are better fishermen, some groups are better farmers, some groups have advanced mining operations going on, and so on.
The Gap is governed by a collective group of different tribal groups that live in the valley, known as the Gap Council. Each tribe living within the valley has a representative on the council, and as such, as the tides of the different groups living there ebb and surge, the size of the council is not static. Generally speaking, for most of The Gap’s history, the Gap Council has had roughly twelve members.
The Gap Council is called annually, shortly after the winter snows melt, but can hold emergency sessions when necessary. The Council weighs matters regarding the valley as a whole, and not issues regarding individual tribe territories. They resolve disputes among different tribal groups, organize trade ventures that benefit multiple groups living within the valley, and generally handle anything that affects The Gap as a whole, as opposed to an individual tribe.
The Gap is roughly a 70,000-acre area on the border of the Eastern Commonwealth states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania following the flow of the Delaware River between the Blue Mountains (Pennsylvania side) and the Kittatinny Mountains (New Jersey side). The different tribes living within the valley divvy up territory. The sizes of these parcels of land can vary from a handful of former camping sites to miles and miles of wilderness either on the river or in the mountains- or both.
Because the communities of The Gap are self-sufficient, they shun contact with outsiders as much as possible. The local topography helps maintain their isolation, with the Kittatinny Mountains and the Delaware River providing two natural boundaries, but those that the natural land formations do not keep out are met with force. Strangers are persuaded to leave peacefully, and force is used only when strangers are persistent.