Lazy Summer Days – Not on the Delaware Canal
The summer of 2018 will be remembered for its seemingly unrelenting heat and its abundant rainfall that came down in torrents or tropical showers. The rain both helped and hurt the Canal.
The water level in the southern 24-miles of the Canal did not drop, as it usually does in the summer, because the frequent rains kept the level of the Delaware River high enough to feed the Canal through the New Hope inlet located behind the former Odette’s restaurant. The fish, wildlife, and visitors are happy to have a watered Canal from Lock 8 in New Hope to the Lagoon in Historic Bristol Borough.
In the northern end of the Canal, the rain hasn’t been so kind. On Saturday, August 11, a deluge (almost 3 inches over a short period of time) fell in the Williams Township area. Flash flooding resulted. Fry’s Run dramatically overflowed its banks and sent a wall of water into the Fry’s Run, aka Kleinhans, Aqueduct. The raging water completely blew off the aqueduct wall on the west side. The temporary bypass, which had been carrying the Canal’s water past the already structurally unsound aqueduct, was washed away. One of the pipes was found all the way south in Riegelsville.
To prevent further damage, the Delaware Canal State Park staff diverted the water out of the Canal at the Theodore Roosevelt Recreation Area between Raubsville and Riegelsville until repairs could be made. The pump at Durham Lock was turned on to keep some water in the Canal south of that location.
Much to the Park’s credit, the temporary bypass was put back in place very quickly, and Lehigh River water was again flowing south through the aqueduct site by August 23. The plan to replace the Fry’s Run Aqueduct was in the final design phase when the flash flood occurred. Now the plans are being revised to account for the additional damage.
Despite the rain, significant progress is being made on the two major construction projects on the Canal. The replacement of the Phillips’ Mill Bridge, north of New Hope proper, is moving along well, with the forms for the west abutment completed and the foundation for the east abutment poured. There is still hope that this project will be completed this winter ahead of schedule.
The contractors are finally preparing to drill the passageway through the Conrail embankment obstruction south of Morrisville. Securing access, approvals and clearances has taken a very long time, but, when the project is completed in 2019, one of the most hazardous detours along the Canal will be history.
Ever since Hurricane Sandy, trees have been falling in astonishing numbers along the entire length of the Canal. The recent rainstorms, sometimes accompanied by high winds, have done nothing to make the situation better. The Park’s policy is to clear the towpath first and then return to clear the remains of the almost always huge trees from the waterway. Tree removal has grown to be a job that cannot be accomplished on a timely basis by the current number of Park maintenance workers. Offers of assistance from tree services would be most welcome. Volunteers can clear limbs, etc., but are not permitted to use chain saws, unless they have been formally trained.
The repair of the sinkholes near the Mountainside Inn and north of Lumberville has been delayed because Bi-State Construction was called away from canal projects by an emergency sewer system repair in Easton. In the meantime, a few other sinkholes have been discovered. All are awaiting “flexible flow concrete” repairs.
The plans to install a submersible pump at Bowman’s Hill to supply water to the southern end of the Canal during summer dry spells are still moving along – slowly. An alternative pumping plan and location have emerged as a possibility. They are being investigated because the solution would be less expensive and could be put into operation more quickly.
The Tyburn Road detour trail in Falls Township is still awaiting permission to begin construction.
There is good news on the Delaware Canal State Park staffing front. A new full-time Maintenance Repairperson 2 is now at work to be followed by a full-time Equipment Operator in September.
All this persistence and care will pay off, and invigorating, crisp autumn days are bound to move things right along.
The Delaware Canal has doghouses, but not a single dog has ever lived in them. (Wasps and spiders are a whole different matter.)
Originally, the twenty-three lift locks on the Delaware Canal were all one-boat-wide structures with miter gates at either end. The miter gates were opened and closed by mechanisms protected by small structures called “doghouses,” located on the side wall adjacent to each gate. A rack bar extending from the center edge of each gate to the doghouse was moved in and out by gears connected to a crank. By turning the crank, the locktender could open and close the gates.
Each lock had four individual miter gates and four doghouses. Some of the doghouses disappeared when several locks were converted to two-boat-wide locks in the 1850’s. To achieve better efficiency, the northern miter gates were replaced with drop gates, and wicket shanties took the place of doghouses.
More doghouses were lost when the Canal closed commercially. Without the need to accommodate boats locking through, bulk heads took the place of miter gates; other gates were simply removed.
Today the only doghouses that remain on the Delaware Canal are at locks that still have two sets of miter gates. There aren’t many, and most of those were in a sad state.
To the rescue came a team of the Friends’ Canal Action Team volunteers ready to replace roofs, sand and paint, and sometimes completely rebuild our pieces of canal history. The plan of action was to tackle the doghouses at four locks. The two relatively new doghouses at Lock 11 in New Hope only needed a minor roof board repair and painting. The four doghouses at Lock 12 in Lumberville had their roofs replaced and painted. Lock 13 in Point Pleasant required the same work, and then came nearby Lock 14. Oddly, the roofs on two of those doghouses were in good shape and only needed painting, even though they stood on the shady berm bank. The two doghouses on the towpath side were badly deteriorated requiring lead carpenter Josh Gradwohl to fabricate all new pieces at home. After one more carpentry and painting session, CAT’s work was done. Fourteen doghouses stand ready to tell their stories for years to come. The Friends’ Canal Improvement Fund supplied the $700 needed for materials, and the CAT members provided all the labor and expertise.
Many, Many Thanks to
The Painting Crew
The Carpentry and Painting Crew
Building a Legacy
Back in the 1980’s, Bill Farkas was cajoled into attending a Friends of the Delaware Canal meeting by his friend and fellow Yardley Commons resident Zabel Davis. Living close by the Canal, he had taken walks and bicycle rides on it. With his introduction to the Friends, he now had a way to help it, and he has been ever since.
Through the years, Bill has participated in scores of activities – clean-ups, walks, programs, fundraisers, and, most importantly, as a member of the Friends’ Board of Directors. Bill’s expertise as a retired accountant for US Steel made him the natural choice for Board Treasurer, a position that he held with dedication and precision for seven years.
All good Boards are deeply concerned with the fulfillment of their mission, so in the mid-1990’s, the Friends’ Board began to plan for the establishment of an Endowment Fund. Its purpose would be to provide a sustainable and reliable source of additional income to support the activities of the Friends in perpetuity. Bill Farkas was one of its strongest proponents. The Endowment Fund (now the Legacy Fund) was officially established in 1998 with a $25,000 bequest from Anna Billa of Point Pleasant. Bill created a very successful investment strategy and has been implementing it and, more recently, providing guidance since the Fund’s inception. In addition, Bill has generously contributed on a regular basis, particularly when challenge opportunities were offered.
This recounting of Bill’s longtime commitment leads us to his most recent momentous contribution. Bill has long envisioned contributing his house in Washington Crossing, PA to the Friends. This May he decided that the time had come to act. He donated his rancher, which is situated on a lovely canal-side lot, to the Friends. The attractive home was put on the market and quickly sold to a couple with two young children. The proceeds from the sale are now invested within the guidelines of the Legacy Fund – just as Bill had envisioned.
Bill Farkas’ legacy of commitment to the Delaware Canal and the Friends is a shining inspiration. We are so very grateful! His greatest hope is that his contributions will motivate others to demonstrate their commitment to an ever better future for the Canal and its surroundings.
To learn more about the Friends of the Delaware Canal Legacy Fund, visit www.fodc.org or call 215-862-2021.
“I heartily support the efforts of the Friends because in today’s hectic world, I appreciate the Canal’s serenity and beauty and find it a wonderful place to reconnect with our past.” –
William W. Farkas
Is Barn Red Your Color?
Sprucing up restored camelback bridges is next on the Canal Action Team’s to-do list. First up this fall will the Thompson-Neely Camelback Bridge in the northern section of Washington Crossing Historic Park.
If you can lend a hand with applying barn red stain to the Canal’s iconic structures, please contact us at 215-862-2021 or email@example.com. We’ll put you on the CAT contact list, and let you know via e-mail when the workdays will occur.
Spotted Lantern Fly has been identified in Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven) trees adjacent to the parking lot at Virginia Forrest Recreation Area north of Centre Bridge. If you are visiting the
area, be on the watch for the adults and their egg masses. Feel free to go ahead and squish the adults and destroy their egg masses. When you leave, please make sure that none are hitchhiking home with you.
The Spotted Lanternfly was first encountered in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014, and now is here. It’s a distinctive-looking leaf hopper native to China, India and Vietnam. In this country, the invasive insect has the potential to greatly impact the viticulture (grape), tree fruit, plant nursery, and timber industries.
Autumn is the time to be particularly watchful for Spotted Lantern Fly. As has been found at the Virginia Forrest Recreation Area, the adults prefer Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), another introduced invasive species, as their primary food source, mating, and egg-laying location. The Spotted Lantern Fly isn’t very fussy, though. It will lay 30 to 50 eggs covered in a brown, mud-like substance on any smooth surface – trees, stones, cars, yard furniture, or any item stored outside. Egg laying begins in late September and continues through late November and early December. The egg masses
pose the greatest risk for accidental transport of Spotted Lantern Fly to new areas.
The Spotted Lanternfly is a “Bad Bug.” Please be on the lookout and do what you must to stop its spread, especially if you like apples, peaches, grapes/wine, and hardwoods. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture encourages the public to report sightings by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 1-888-422-3359. For more information on the Spotted Lantern Fly, please visit the PA Dept of Agriculture SLF website here: https://bit.ly/2MAVdGF
For more information on the Spotted Lantern Fly, please visit the PA Dept of Agriculture SLF website here: https://bit.ly/2MAVdGF
“The Good Life” at the Locktender’s House
New Hope Borough Council has contributed a piece of the Canal’s more recent history to the Friends. We are so grateful to have received the metal silhouette sculpture, entitled “The Good Life,” that once graced the entry gate to The Towpath House, located by the Canal on Mechanic Street in New Hope. Thank you, New Hope Borough, for allowing us to display “The Good Life” in the Locktender’s House where the public can enjoy it in the context of Lock 11 on the Delaware Canal.
The sculpture has very special significance because it was the inspiration for the Friends of the Delaware Canal logo. Many of the initial gatherings of the Friends in the early 1980’s were dinner meetings held at the Towpath House. Since nearly every canal organization uses a silhouette as its logo, the Friends’ leaders thought that it would be a good idea to do likewise. How the decision was made to use “The Good Life” as a model remains a mystery, but it was a good one since the design is light-hearted, draws attention, and gets many compliments.
As the plans to redevelop The Towpath House property have progressed, the sculpture was removed from the gate of the restaurant and sold to an individual. That individual generously donated it to New Hope Borough, and subsequently New Hope Borough Council voted to allow it to be displayed at the Locktender’s House. The six–foot-long cutout, mounted in a wooden stand, sits by the lock model in the parlor.
“The Good Life” is an appealing, ever so appropriate addition to the offerings at the Locktender’s House, and we are very pleased that our visitors will be able to enjoy it thanks to the generosity of New Hope Borough.
Welcome, New Friends!
Spread the Cheer
If you are planning to use Amazon for holiday shopping this year, please remember that the Friends of the Delaware Canal is eligible to receive contributions from the AmazonSmile Foundation. Designate the Friends when you make a purchase from Amazon, and the Friends will receive a contribution.
Here’s how it works. Visit AmazonSmile on the internet, and choose Friends of the Delaware Canal as your charitable organization. For eligible purchases, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5 percent of the purchase price to the Friends. There is no cost to you. You’ll find the exact same low prices, choices, and convenience as Amazon.com. It’s a quick and easy way to spread holiday cheer, not only to the people on your gift list, but to the Canal, too.