Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park: General Overview
Franklin Township, Somerset County, NJ


Delaware and Raritan Canal

New Brunswick
Blackwells Mills
Rocky Hill
Princeton -- Basin Park at Alexander Street
And on Feeder Canal:
Lambertville  --  Bull's Island
Washington Crossing State Park

1823 -- the legislature orders a survey for a possible canal.

1830 -- an act approving construction of a canal passes. At about the same time the Camden and Amboy Railroad, later the Pennsylvania, got a charter.

Engineer Canvass White drew up the plans and Irish immigrants spent three years digging the canal. One huge boulder is now used as a marker on the site of the Battle of Bound Brook, April 13, 1777.

1832  -- Asiatic cholera swept through the canal workers' ranks, killing many.

1834 -- the canal finished; it went back of Princeton, up along the Millstone River to the turn below Bound Brook. New Jersey Governor Peter Vroom opened the Canal on June 24. Governor Vroom was towed on a barge from Bordentown to Lambertville for a banquet. 202-203

There was a time when the D & R was the greatest inland avenue of water traffic in the United States. It was seen as superior to the Erie Canal. At its height there was an unending procession of barges moving from Bordentown to New Brunswick. The locks were always full. 202

1846 -- 600 boats at work. Profits were cut by the enlargement of the canal.

1850 -- two severe storms damage the canal.

1859 -- the peak with 1400 boats carrying almost 200 tons.

1869 -- miners go on strike effecting coal shipments. When it was over, a drought dried up much of the canal water. Then a flood came. Management leased the canal to the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroad. Then the railroad took over coal carrying from the canal with the purchase of the Camden and Amboy Railroad.

Few of North America's rivers flow northward. One of the exceptions is the little Millstone, the axis of a charming valley of modest hills and green prairies. The river, from Carnegie Lake at Princeton to its junction with the Raritan near Bound Brook, provides a delightful canoe trip when the rains have been adequate and if one is willing to portage occasionally.

Parallel to the river is the Delaware and Raritan Canal, which extends all the way from the Delaware River at Trenton to New Brunswick on the Raritan River.

Lambertville. The crown jewel with 80 percent of the buildings dating from the 19th century.

Lambertville House is at 32 Bridge Street, built of stone by Captain John Lambert in 1812. The house was a stage coach stop on the New York to Philadelphia route. Those here were Pres. Andrew Johnson, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Robert Todd Lincoln, Tom Thumb of P.T. Barnum circus fame, and Pearl White, the film star of the "Perils of Pauline." It is now a restaurant-hotel.

Lambertville Station. A restaurant that was once a railroad station and depot located at the end of Bridge Street overlooking the Delaware River. Designed by noted Philadelphia architect, Thomas Walter, it was built in Victorian "Railroad Gothic" style in 1873.

Bridgetender's House (1830). On Bridge Street. Houses an antique shop.

At Princeton the path follows the shore of Carnegie Lake.

Three miles from the start, a huge red mill and abundant water at Kingston form an impressive picture.

In another 2 miles is Rocky Hill; here at the Berrien House, overlooking the canal, General Washington drafted his Farewell Address. The locks, the little swing bridges, and the canal tenders' shacks are characteristic of the route.

From Griggstown on, the scenic beauty is especially notable.

From Blackwell's Mills north, the road on the east side of the canal to the village of East Millstone is little traveled and provides an attractive alternate route to the towpath to Millstone.

Between Millstone and Bound Brook, the religious community of Zarephath is of interest.

The path continues along the Raritan Valley, another 7 miles beyond Bound Brook to New Brunswick.