Friday, June 24, 2022

1834-1892-1932 Delaware and Raritan (D&R) Canal Overview

Construction began in 1831, and it opened in 1834. The last profitable year was 1892. (There was an economic panic in 1893.) 1932 was the last year of operation. New Jersey took ownership in 1936. The canal still has water because it was repurposed in the 1940s as a water supply. (For about a million customers in Central New Jersey. [CanalSocietyNJ]) In 1974, 60 miles of the canal was turned into a linear state park. [see "+ Historic Canal" below]

The 22-mile branch to Bull's Island was originally a feeder canal. But a towpath was added to facilitate moving coal from Pennsylvania to New York City. The main route was 44 miles. The canal was relatively level with only fourteen 24'x220' lift locks. "The locks were operated by steam-powered winches and valves after 1868....Boats from the Schuylkill Canal and the Delaware Canal, both in Pennsylvania, used this waterway....The canal was a link in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, a link that is missing today. One of the most interesting aspects of the Delaware & Raritan Canal was the large variety of boats that passed through it. Theses included mule-towed canal boats and sailboats, steam tugs towing barges, freight boats, luxury yachts, and naval vessels. Canal boats from most of the canals on the East Coast traversed the D&R." The railroad was originally the "Camden & Amboy Railroad, the precursor of the Pennsylvania Railroad."

I wonder if this is the longest historic (built in 1830s or 40s) canal that still is watered. The Erie canal has been rebuilt, at least once. Indiana & Michigan Canal, Wabash & Erie and Whitewater Canals and Miami & Erie Canal have water left in just some tourist|scenic sections. Although some of those sections have become stagnant algae messes. One advantage of the D&R Canal now being a water supply is that the water is not stagnant.

"Click here for a more detailed history of the D&R Canal"


Photo via CanalSocietyNJ-gallery
Because of its large locks and lack of inclines, the D&R was more successful than the Morris Canal. In addition to being less of a hassle to use because of fewer locks and no inclines, many types of boats could use this canal, not just canal barges.


The state park consists of the feeder canal and the main canal between the feeder canal in Trenton and New Brunswick. [TrailMap]

So far, the only detail for which I have written notes is the Alexauken Creek Aqueduct.

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