By Will Sohn
The D&R Canal is located in central New Jersey and was built in 1934 to connect the Delaware and Raritan rivers. Before the arrival of railroads, the canal allowed shippers to transport coal from the anthracite fields in eastern Pennsylvania to the businesses and factories in New York. Moreover, the canal served as an efficient means of transportation that shortened the journey from Philadelphia to New York City by 100 miles.
In 1816, the New Jersey legislature created the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission to survey and map a proposed route for a canal. The commission quickly planned a route; however, the project did not progress until 1830 when the New Jersey legislature created the charter for the D&R Canal that allocated money for the construction, which was required to be completed within eight years. Finally, the project was completed in 1934.
The main section of the canal stretched 44 miles and the total length of the entire canal system was approximately 66 miles. The canal was primarily used until the 1860s to transport coal from Pennsylvania to New York City. Moving into the 1870s, the canal’s use began to slow as the railroad industry began to grow.
Now the canal route has become a part of the D&R Canal State Park. The park offers nature programs, a biking and hiking path along the river, and camping sites. I have visited the canal route and have biked there several times with friends and family. I have always had great experiences at this park and recommend it highly for anyone interested in getting outdoors and appreciating our shared history that is only a few miles away. Check out www.dandrcanal.com for more information.