Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park: Washington Crossing to Scudders Falls
From Trenton, travel north on Route 29. Take a right turn onto County Route 546. Before the intersection with County Route 579, turn left into the park area.
Or, off I-95, take exit 1 north (this is the last exit in New Jersey) onto NJ 29 north. Drive for about three miles and make a right turn onto county road 546. The entrance to Washington Crossing Park is on the right in about 0.5 mile.
The canal was built mainly to move Pennsylvania coal east. Irish immigrants, many of whom died in a cholera epidemic, built the 75 by 8 feet deep canal.
The canal opened in 1834. It went for 44 miles from Bordentown north to Trenton northwest to New Brunswick at the southern edge of New York Harbor. In addition, there was a 13 mile feeder canal that ran from Raven Rock south to Trenton, which brought water to provide the current for the canal. A dam across the Delaware at Raven Rock diverted to a continuous stream of water through a feeder ditch to Trenton and then over 60 miles to New Brunswick.
In 1834 the Camden and Amboy railroad built tracks nearly parallel to the waterway. The canal survived. In 1871, the Pennsylvania Railroad leased both the railroad line and the canal and later gave preference to the railroad. By 1932 the canal ceased operation and the railroad turned it over to New Jersey.
The locks and bridges that once existed have been rebuilt with concrete and steel. Today the old lock gates have been replaced by the triple sluice gates, which today are used to control the water level.
The larger of the white buildings at Kingston bordering the towpath was the lockkeeper's house. It was built in 1832. A smaller white building was the canal telegraph and toll station. Nowadays you can rent canoes here.
Near Mill Pond is a red building that used to be a gristmill (built in 1755 by Jacob Skillman).
It is said that over the bridge in this vicinity American troops retreated following their victory at the Battle of Princeton.
You will pass Lake Carnegie, created in 1906 as a gift from steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie. There is a gauging station of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey housed in a small concrete structure.
You will come to an intersection with the Millstone River.
This was Washington's Headquarters at Rocky Hill, NJ. It was also known as the Berrien Mansion. It is located east of Rocky Hill on Route 518. About 1764, John Berrien bought the mansion and made additions. He named it Rockingham. It consisted of 360 acres of orchards, farmland, meadows, and woodland. The main house contained about twenty rooms. The house was located on a slope rising from the Millstone River and was reached by a private road flanked by trees which cross the river at a shallow fork.
Washington arrived on August 23, 1783 with his wife, Martha, his staff and some of this troops who pitched their tents on the lawn. Congress was convening at Nassau Hall, Princeton University, awaiting the signing of the peace treaty with England. Washington was invited to attend the session and Congress rented Rockingham for his use during this period.
Blackwells Mills, Franklin Township
The Bridge tender's House, wooden bridge and mill site are reminders of the area's active past. Several annual events are held at the house. Picnic tables and grills are located around a large field with views of the river. This historic site provides access to the canal, towpath and river.
Griggstown and Blackwells Mills are located between the Millstone River and the D&R Canal and can be reached off Route 533, Millstone River Road in Hillsborough or from Canal Road in Franklin Township. Both historic sites provide access to the Millstone River as well as the canal and towpath.
The park office is a short walk south on Canal Road from Blackwells Mills. Trail heads for Six Mile Run Reservoir are near the office. Horse trailer parking is available.
Griggstown, Franklin Township
The wooden canal bridge, the Mule tender's Barracks Canal Museum, the Bridge tender's House and station and the site of the Griggstown Mill are situated along the canal. Canoes can be rented at a private canoe rental concession on the canal. The Griggstown Lock is less than a mile south on the towpath. A short walk brings you to grassy fields with picnic tables and grills.
The building for the Mule Tenders Barracks Museum was erected in 1830. The mule tenders led the mules on the canal tow path. Usually the mule tenders were children, some even younger than 9 years of age. Many times the children would be tethered to the boat so, if they fell into the canal, they could be hauled up again.
Most times the child workers would just have to sleep outside or sleep inside the packet boat. On this particular canal, there were facilities for children only in Griggstown, at the barracks at Bordentown and one in the middle of the canal.
When steam power came in, and mule tenders were not needed, the barracks were used as a store, a home or a post office.
Tropical Storm Floyd hit the area in 1999 and flood waters reached the second floor of the museum. The walls have to be replastered and the photos replaced.
You can start from Kingston and head south to Princeton.
You can canoe. One trip starts at Bound Brook and goes to Griggstown for 14 miles.
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharinum (silver maple)
Betula nigra (river birch)
Carya tomentosa (shagbark hickory)
Crataegus sp. (hawthorn)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Smilax sp. (greenbrier)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Impatiens sp. (jewelweed)
Lemna sp. (duckweed)
Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)
Nymphaea odorata (fragrant white water lily)
Peltandra virginica (arrow-arum)
Polygonum sp. (smartweed)
Sagittaria sp. (arrowhead)
Typha sp. (cattail)