The Delaware and Raritan Canal, my first book for Arcadia
Publishing, focused on the life of the Delaware & Raritan Canal,
from its construction in the early 1830s through its demise as a
freight carrier to its rebirth as a park in the late 20th century.
This volume, The Delaware and Raritan Canal at Work,
introduces new topics: businesses that operated along the canal,
the variety of vessels that used the waterway, the nuts and bolts
of how the machinery and structures operated, and a “then-and-
now” comparison using historic photographs and the
corresponding current view of the canal park.
From its opening in 1834, the Delaware & Raritan Canal
experienced great success. Due to the Civil War and the
expansion that followed it, the 1860s and 1870s were the most
profitable years for the canal. In fact, in 1871, a record 2,990,000
tons were shipped through the waterway – more tonnage than
was carried in any single year on the much longer and more
famous Erie Canal.
Because it was part of the Intracoastal Waterway, all types of vessels utilized the Delaware & Raritan
Canal. It provided boats with safe passage between the Chesapeake Bay and New England, avoiding the
longer, more dangerous journey around Cape May and into the Atlantic Ocean. We will see tugboats,
mule-drawn canalboats, steam freighters, luxury yachts, and even a submarine. (Professor John Holland
used the Delaware & Raritan Canal to safely transport Holland VI, the first successful submarine, to
Washington, D.C. for its trials before the U.S. Navy.)
Many people are interested in how the boats were raised and lowered to overcome the elevation changes
of the surrounding terrain. Using close-up photographs, the author explains the workings of the lift locks,
spill gates, miter gates, drop gates, and swing bridges.
During its 170-year history, the Delaware & Raritan Canal has undergone many changes. The homes of
the locktenders and bridgetenders have been restored, or, in some cases, removed; others have been
left to deteriorate. The locks themselves have been converted to dams that control the amount of water
that is released to customers of the New Jersey Water Supply Authority. The authority has also altered
some of the spillways and culverts, reflecting their new uses as water supply facilities. The famous swing
bridges no longer swing to the side, having been changed, by the Department of Transportation, to fixed
spans. Intersections and buildings along the waterway look vastly different, with some structures rebuilt,
others replaced, and still others removed. Through the use of “then and now” photographs, the reader
can compare many historic views with images of the sites as they look today.
The images will be photographs from the collections of the Canal Society of New Jersey, the Franklin
Township Public Library, local residents, and the author’s personal postcards and photographs.
plus $4.00 shipping
Immediately after its opening, the Delaware & Raritan Canal
attracted businesses that wanted to use the waterway to import
raw materials and to export finished products. Johnson &
Johnson, the pharmaceutical giant, had its start along the canal
in New Brunswick. John A. Roebling chose his location in
Trenton because of its proximity to the canal.
The Fleischmann Distillery also utilized the canal for shipping its
rye whiskey. Farmers in central New Jersey shipped grain and
other products to market on the waterway. Many local stores,
mills, factories, coal yards, and boatyards also set up shop
along the D&R to take advantage of the easy shipment