The Delaware and Raritan Canal was my first book. Released by
Arcadia Publishing in 2002, it is a collection of historic
photographs of New Jersey's Delaware and Raritan Canal.
Did you know that for more than 170 years, the Delaware and
Raritan Canal has meandered across the narrow waist of New
Jersey? Did you know that the D&R was one of our nation’s most
successful towpath canals, carrying more tonnage in 1866 than
the more famous Erie Canal?
Did you know that Johnson & Johnson, Roebling, and
Fleischmann’s Distillery all had their start along the D&R? And
did you know that the canal provides the people of central New
Jersey with both a water supply and a premier recreational
$20.00 (includes NJ sales
plus @4.00 shipping
In 1866, its most prosperous year, the D&R carried more cargo than the longer, more famous Erie
Canal ever carried in any single year. As part of the Intracoastal Waterway, the D&R transported many
other products between the Chesapeake Bay region and New England. The unique “A” frame swing
bridges allowed vessels of all heights to utilize the waterway.  
In 1871 the Pennsylvania Railroad leased the joint companies, providing the railroad with vital
waterfront access to New York harbor. The railroad, manipulating rates in its favor, and being more
efficient, gradually took over more of the shipping and the canal’s business declined.  
After 1893, the canal was never profitable. In the 1920s, as commercial traffic lessened, pleasure boat
traffic nearly doubled. Unfortunately, this was not sufficient to overcome the loss of freight traffic.  
The canal closed at the end of 1932; a portion of the Trenton section was filled in 1936 as a WPA
project. In 1934 the State assumed control of the waterway and in 1944 began rehabilitating it to better
serve as a water conduit. The New Jersey Water Supply Authority now oversees the canal as a water
supply system and sells the water to public and private entities.
The canal and its buildings were included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The next
year the legislature established the
D&R Canal State Park, which provides much-needed open space
for the people of Central New Jersey. Visitors can hike, jog, canoe, ride horses, cross-country ski, bike
and fish in the tranquil ribbon of green which connects the floodplain of the Millstone with the Piedmont
hills and gives modern New Jerseyans a sense of their 19th-century heritage.
summit in Trenton. Seven more locks lowered the vessels to
tidewater at New Brunswick, on the Raritan River.
The canal’s main water source was the Delaware River. Water was
diverted at Bull’s Island, north of Stockton, into a 22-mile canal
feeder, which delivered water to the summit in Trenton.
In 1830 the Delaware and Raritan Canal Company was incorporated.
In 1831, by an act of the Legislature, the canal company and the
Camden & Amboy Railroad were combined as the "Joint Companies."
Digging began in 1830 under Chief Engineer Canvass White. When
White died shortly before the canal opened in 1834, Ashbel Welch,
of Lambertville, replaced him. Thousands of workmen, both local and
foreign-born, were employed to dig the canal, using picks, shovels,
and horse-drawn scoops. Twenty years later, the banks were lined
with stone, called "rip rap," to prevent erosion caused by the wake of
steam canal boats and tugs.