Finding History in NJ on the D&R Canal

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Griggstown, NJ on the D&R Canal. 

As recent photographs indicate, I was in New Jersey a few weeks ago. I’m a native Long Islander (forever a Vermont flatlander) who grew up with jokes about New Jersey. Sorry, NJ, though I know you grew up with Long Island jokes. Fair is fair. My experience with New Jersey was limited to long trips that traversed the New Jersey Turnpike (traffic!) and getting lost on the Garden State Parkway (teenagers + navigation = trouble) and the Jersey Shore (great beaches, not to be confused with the TV show). Imagine my surprise while visiting friends in Princeton and we discovered the gorgeous architecture of Princeton and the unexpected discovery of the D & R Canal State Park.

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The Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park is a 77 mile linear park that transformed the former canal towpath into a recreational resource for walking, running, biking, horseback riding and kayaking. The canal opened in the 1830s, constructed (hand dug) by mostly Irish immigrants. Originally the canal connected the Delaware River to the Raritan River, the Philadelphia and New York City markets. The canal opened in 1834 and continued in operation until 1932. The land became a park in 1974. The heyday of the canal existed prior to the railroads. Mules towed canal boats, yachts, and vessels along the towpath, in the middle of or alongside the canal. The canals operated with locks and spillways to account for the elevation changes.

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Today you can see all of these elements on the D&R Canal on foot, on bike, on horse, or even driving from lock house to lock house.

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At the edge of Princeton, NJ in the village of Kingston. 

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View of the lock at Kingston. 

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Lock tender’s house, bridge, and the lock at Kingston. 

Further down the canal you’ll come to Griggstown.

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Historic Village of Griggstown, NJ. 

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The view of the canal from the bridge in Griggstown. 

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Wood deck bridge. 

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Griggstown, NJ. The building appears abandoned from the exterior, though a peak through the windows shows that it’s not. NJ State Parks have an ongoing restoration project. 

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The Long House, formerly a store and post office and grain storage. Currently under restoration for an interpretive center. 

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The bridge tender’s station. 

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The 1834 bridge tender’s house, built for the bridge tender and his family. Historically, the bridge tender had to raise the bridge for the boats and mules to pass along the canal. 

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A perfect, tiny front door on the bridge tender’s house. 

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An abandoned state park property in Griggstown, due to flooding damage. 

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More flood damage. Keep out! 

The canal continues on, and whether you travel by foot or bike or car, I’d recommend a visit!  Read more of the D&R Canal’s history here and plan your trip.  Have you been here? Or other canals? The C&O Canal is on my list, too.

With Your Coffee

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Traveling this weekend? Feels like spring. Have fun! Seen here: Vermont I-89.

Hello preservation friends and happy weekend! How goes it? Big successes to share? Are you simply glad to have made it through the week (preservation and life can do that to you once in a while. You are not alone)? What are you working on these days? Have you watched House of Cards yet? I’m super psyched to do some binge-watching. Here are a few links from around the web if you’re looking for something to read this weekend.

What have you been reading lately?

Coffee cheers! 🙂

 

Searching for a good preservation related podcast?

Need a preservation podcast? It took me a long time to get into podcasts. I’m the type of person who likes to have music playing all of the time, but podcasts to which I needed to pay attention were never quite my thing. However, after getting addicted to Serial podcast (Season 1) for my commute, I’ve been on the hunt for others that hold my attention.

I’ll browse Fresh Air, On Point and Vermont Edition to catch up on the news or hear new stories. I love Dear Sugar and Modern Love, and look forward to the new episodes every week. Yet, I was still looking for something preservation related or planning related. With a call to Twitter friends, @smithpres said 99% invisible is 100% awesome. She was right.

99% Invisible discusses the unnoticed architecture and design of the world that most of us do not stop to consider. Each episode has a unique topic and ranges from 15 min to 30+ minutes. You can scroll through the feed and listen to whateer catches your eye; no need to listen to them in order. There are so many fascinating episodes! I want to share so many new things with you! But, rather than reiterate what the podcast has to say, you should just listen to these episodes:

Episode 202: Mojave Phone Booth. There was a phone in the middle of the desert, miles away from pavement and towns.

Episode 200: Miss Manhattan. One woman was the model for so many of the statues in New York City.

Episode 188: Fountain Drinks. Did you know water fountains originated for public health reasons?

Episode 162: The Winchester Mystery House. It’s still a sad story, but not exactly what you think.

Episode 154: PDX Carpet. How the decades old carpet became a thing and became so loved.

Episode 93: Revolving Doors. The reason for the invention is hilarious.

Episode 75: Secret Staircases. What, there is more in LA than just freeways?

And there are so many more! Architecture, the built environment, random objects. I am obsessed. It’s like sitting in on my favorite class (Bob McCullough’s History on the Land at UVM) whenever I want.

Let me know which episode is your favorite, and of any other podcasts!