Delaware & Hudson Canal Park (and Neversink Valley Area Museum)
Hoag Road (off Route 209), Cuddebackville, Orange County, NY
300 acre park includes one mile segment of the D&H Canal
From Port Jervis take Route 209 north; near small green mileage marker 20 65, turn left onto Hoag Road; you can park at the Leura Murray Center that contains the Neversink Valley Area Museum with canal exhibits among others or continue past the center to go to the modern Visitor Center (with restrooms).
The name Cuddebackville probably comes from events surrounding the Battle of
Minisink, 1779. Iroquois chief Joseph Brant came down into the area from
Niagara. A group of men from Goshen, Orange County, NY, under the control of
Col. Tusten, gathered a militia group together to stop them. This despite the
fact that Dr. Tusten had advised against moving against the Indians without
waiting for the Warwick company.
Near the Delaware River, the militia found Brant. 20 widows were made in Goshen that day. Captains Tyler and Cuddeback were sent forward with a small scouting party to reconnoiter Brant's movements. Two militiamen shot at an Indian, wounding him fatally. In response an Indian located in the rear of the militia scouts shot and killed Captain Tyler. Capt. Cuddeback reported the events to the main militia body. Col. Tusten was also killed. (Sharts, 1960:86; Smith 1965:62-66)
1770-72 Dr. Tusten immunized more than 800 persons against small pox in
Goshen when it was outlawed by most physicians and authorities. (Sharts 1960:87)
1778 -- Tusten became the County Surrogate.
The Delaware and Hudson Canal
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, anthracite -- the so-called "stone coal" -- was virtually unknown as a fuel, and the United States was facing an energy shortage. Before the War of 1812, bituminous (soft) coal had been imported from Europe, which now was in the throes of political chaos because of the Napoleonic wars.
In 1814, two far-sighted and imaginative brothers, Maurice (1783-1854) and William Wurts (1788-1858), began to acquire anthracite-bearing fields in the Lackawanna Valley of Pennsylvania. They were faced, however, with a most difficult problem: how to get the coal over mountainous terrain to the Hudson River and thence to New York City. They did manage to interest some investors, and the Delaware and Hudson Canal was born.
The completed canal, the first section of which was opened in 1828, was 108 miles long, ran from Honesdale, Pennsylvania, to an area near Kingston, New York, on the Hudson River. The canal went from Honesdale down along Lackawaxen Creek to Hawley, then went across the creek and then across the Delaware River down to Mongaup and then to Port Jervis then north to Cuddebackville and on up to Kingston. The trip took 10 days by barge. The canal included 108 locks (not, however, one per mile) and could handle barges 90-feet long carrying cargoes of 120 tons. The charge for a full barge of coal was $2.25.
The first engineer was Benjamin Wright. The canal's chief engineer from 1827 to 1830 was John B. Jervis; from 1830 to 1863 it was Russell F. Lord.
The system incorporated four aqueducts, that carried the canal over rivers or
other waterways, designed by John A. Roebling, who, in 1867, would present his
plans for the Brooklyn Bridge. One of those aqueducts, which carried the canal
over rivers, crossed the Neversink River at Cuddebackville, and its massive
stone abutments can still be seen at the D&H Canal Park. The other major
aqueduct was over Rondout Creek.
At Cuddebackville was Lock 51. Two generations of the Hoag family worked for the Canal Company here.
At its greatest moment, in the mid 19th century, hundreds of boats were on
the canal at any given time each carrying 140 tons of coal. The Delaware and
Hudson Canal Company holds a special place in American corporate history, as the
country's first million dollar corporation.
Before canal construction began, the area it would traverse, particularly along the Delaware and Lackawaxen rivers was a virtual wilderness with few inhabitants.
Many small communities, now nearly forgotten, were created by and thrived because of the canal. Substantial population growth, communication and commercial development occurred as a result of the availability of transportation, energy and the flow of products to new markets along the route of the canal. Places like Honesdale, Port Jervis, Wurtsboro and Bolton were named after company officials and in some cases the company's engineers laid out plans for towns through which the canal would pass. (Port Jervis website)
The Railroads Move In
Activity on the canal began to wane in the 1880s with the coming of the railroads, with their speed (barge speed limit was 3 miles per hour), enormous carrying power, and the ability to move in all weathers. Gradually, customers transferred their shipments to rail, and the canal finally closed in 1898, just 70 years after the first section of the enormous engineering feat was opened.
Today, the canal is just a memory and the famed D & H Railroad Company, successor to the canal company, is bankrupt and now part of the Canadian Pacific railroad system. It is a far cry from when the D & H was one of the country's great transportation institutions. In Port Jervis at West Main Street (the former Onwood Lake) you will make a left turn and cross over the former canal basin and boatyard. To your right is the old canal hotel and across the street is a building that was also a canal structure.
Today, a one-mile section of the canal runs through a portion of the D&H Canal Park. The remains of a lock, a holding basin for barges, and the towpath along which mules or horses pulled those barges are fascinating relics of a period when men first visualized the advantages of long-distance haulage of goods and services for a fast-growing country.
Displays and Collections
The Neversink Valley Area Museum, Hoag Road, Cuddebackville Museum is located in two Canal era buildings and features exhibits related to the Canal. Video and self-guided tour of the Canal. (Hours: 11am - 4pm Thursday through Sunday, April - December Saturday and Sunday, January - March or by special appointment.) The Museum has collections of the canal-era tools and household needs used by the families that lived on and along the waterway. It also has displays of artifacts, maps, photographs, and other memorabilia of the times are housed in period canal buildings, such as the Blacksmith's House, as well as in the Reception Center.
Next to the Blacksmith's House is a blacksmith's shop, which is used for demonstrations and tool exhibits.
Adjacent is the Carpenter's House which also has exhibits, such as kitchen implements. Upon completion of the restoration here it will also accommodate a gallery for revolving displays and exhibits from their collections and for special exhibitions.
If you pay to visit the museum you get a free "Self-Guided D&H Canal Walking Tour" booklet that gives a lot of historical details about the buildings and the sites along the short canal trail.
From the Leura Murray Center you pass the Aqueduct remains along the Neversink River, the Blacksmith's House, the canal wall, the power plant, Lock 51 and on to the towpath (Passing the Island Basin) and ending at the Canal Store.
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
Date = when plant was found in bloom
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Alnus serrulata (smooth alder) with only some speckles
Amelanchier arborea (shadbush)
Betula nigra (river birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Fagus grandifolia (beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Paulownia tomentosa (royal paulownia)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Populus grandidentata (big tooth aspen)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus ilicifolia (bear oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust) 6/19/97
Salix nigra (black willow)
Thuja occidentalis (arbor vitae)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)
Shrubs and sub-shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Berberis vulgaris (common barberry) 6/19/97 fruit
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Cornus racemosa (gray dogwood) 6/19/97
Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly) 6/19/97 soon
Kalmia angustifolia (lambkill) 6/19/97
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) 6/19/97
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry) 6/19/97
Sambucus canadensis (elderberry)
Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush)
Spiraea alba v latifolia (meadowsweet)
Vaccinium angustifolium (low bush blueberry)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium stamineum (deerberry)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum) 6/19/97
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet) 6/19/97
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honey suckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy) 6/19/97
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)
Vitis? river bank grape or Ampelopsis?
Achillea millefolium (common yarrow) 6/19/97
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) 6/19/97
Allium vineale (field garlic) 6/19/97
Apocynum sp. (dogbane)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asparagus officinalis (asparagus) 6/19/97
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress) 6/19/97
Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed)
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy) 6/19/97
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink)
Erigeron strigosus (lesser daisy fleabane) 6/19/97
Eupatorium (sweet vanilla Joe Pye weed)
Galium mollugo (wild madder) 6/19/97
Glechoma hederacea (gill over the ground) 6/19/97
Hemerocallis fulva (tawny day lily)
Hieracium (orange hawkweed) 6/19/97
Hieracium caespitosum (king devil hawkweed) 6/19/97
Hieracium sp. (hawkweed) 6/19/97 single flw, sml lvs hairy both side stem not hairy
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed)
Iris versicolor (blue flag) 6/19/97
Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag) 6/19/97
Krigia biflora (two flowered Cynthia) 6/19/97
Lactuca sp. (dandelion lettuce) 6/19/97
Leonurus cardiaca (motherwort) 6/19/97
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs)
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife) 6/19/97
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) 8/24/03 on brief visit to the museum
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Medicago lupulina (black medick) 6/19/97
Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel) 6/19/97
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) 6/19/97
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonatum biflorum (smooth true Solomon's seal) 6/19/97
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose knotweed) 6/19/97
Potentilla argentea (silvery cinquefoil) 6/19/97
Potentilla officinalis (common cinquefoil) 6/19/97
Rumex acetosella (field sorrel)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad-leaved dock)
Scrophularia sp. (figwort)
Silene latifolia (white campion) 6/19/97
Sisymbrium altissimum (tumble mustard) 6/19/97
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal) 6/19/97
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) 6/19/97
Thalictrum dioicum (tall meadowrue)
Thlaspi arvense (cowcress) 6/19/97 and fruit
Tragopogon pratensis (goats beard) 6/19/97
Trifolium pratense (red clover) 6/19/97
Trifolium repens (white clover) 6/19/97
Triodanis perfoliata (Venus looking glass)
Urtica dioica (tall nettle)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)
Carex (fat garlic not grayii) (sedge)
Carex vulpinoidea var. annectans (sedge)
Carex crinita (sedge)
Carex lurida (sedge)
Carex stipata (sedge)
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Festuca elatior (fowl meadow grass)
Festuca rubra (red (fescue grass) 6/19/97
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Ferns and Fern allies:
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Polypodium sp. (rock cap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)