Canal News – Fall 2015
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Chalking Them Off the List
Cantankerous would be a good adjective to describe the Delaware Canal this summer, but the arrival of September has brought welcome improvement and progress.
From north to south, here is the Canal’s story.
On August 20, a section of the towpath bank collapsed south of Easton. The void was approximately 10o-feet-wide and extended approximately 12 feet from the Canal water line toward the River. The Park staff immediately dropped the level of the Canal to prevent further problems and closed the towpath trail. By August 24, DCNR engineers had evaluated the situation and formulated a plan of action. Bi-State Construction commenced the repair on August 27, which involved excavating the void and then filling and compacting to reestablish the bank and towpath. Fortunately, the Canal did not have to be fully de-watered for the project. In less than a week, Bi-State was finished, and the Park staff began to rewater the canal. Subsequently two other problem spots were identified, both of which were repaired by the Park staff. With these minor collapses fixed, the gate at the Lehigh River was opened wider, and the canal is now full from Easton south to the waste gate at Indian Rock Inn in Upper Black Eddy. The waste gate is as far as water can be run because of the High Falls Creek Culvert collapse.
The deliberations on how to repair the progressively failing High Falls Creek Culvert in Upper Black Eddy are done. The consultant has advised that a metal sleeve can be inserted through the full length of the stone arch culvert, and that this course of action will serve as a permanent repair. This is very good news because the project can move forward quickly rather than waiting for a new structure to be designed, funded, and bid. It is anticipated that Bi-State Construction will be given notice to proceed with the work very soon. At that time, the sleeving material can be ordered. the lead time for the material is 3 to 6 weeks. With luck, the High Falls Creek Culvert will be repaired and the canal prism and towpath rebuilt by the end of 2015. With the completion comes the capability to water the Canal from Easton to New Hope and beyond.
The Cuttalossa Culvert replacement project, which began in May, was completed by September 1 – right on schedule. The towpath trail is back in action, and the prism is ready for water. This is particularly good news for those who hike and bike the very popular canal loop trail from Centre Bridge to Lumberville to Bulls Island to Stockton to Centre Bridge.
During the exceedingly dry weeks of late August and early September, the level of the Delaware River fell below the level of the New Hope inlet, which is located behind the former Odette’s. Without this fresh water supply, the water level in the Canal dropped by feet and in some spots was non-existent.
By September 8, the situation was so severe that the Park staff asked the Friends to help them with their fish rescue efforts, and we put out a call. And then the rains came, the River rose, the Canal rose, and the Canal’s critters and people were exceedingly happy. We have been very lucky during the last several years that the southern end of the Canal hasn’t been water-starved more often. The Friends have been investigating the feasibility of installing an Archimedes screw pump that would transfer water from the River to the canal. The screw pump would be a substitute for the two waterwheels in New Hope that augmented the southern water supply from the mid-1830’s to 1936. The screw pump project has been deemed feasible by the equipment manufacturer, and a proposal has been received. Now on to consensus, funding and logistics.
The Friends continue to plan, advocate, implement, and assist. We were able to help with the towpath collapse repair south of Easton using the $4,925 that was contributed to the “Let’s Help Keep Water in the Canal This Summer” campaign last April. The funds were destined for the High Falls Creek Culvert project, but that became much more complicated. Instead, the contributions were used to help pay for the towpath collapse repair project. which was unanticipated and unfunded. The outcome of the project fit the original intent – keeping water in the Canal this summer. Thanks to all who contributed. Your support motivates quick action.
Back in Place
One of the Canal’s worst enemies in its mid-section is topography. Between the high, rocky hillsides to the west and the Delaware River to the east are narrow parcels of land. In that narrow band lie River Road, the Canal, and homes and businesses. When rainwater pours off those hillsides, it takes a direct path to the River often damaging whatever is in its way. The roadway, the Canal, and properties are all vulnerable.
This summer the Friends helped to minimize one of the hillside runoff problems. Paxson Creek in Solebury Township flows directly into the Canal at the southern end of the Virginia Forrest Recreation Area, 1.3 miles north of Centre Bridge. A canal waste gate is positioned directly opposite the point where the creek enters the Canal allowing excess flow to be dumped into the River rather than overtopping the Canal.
During the heavy storms of recent years, the rampaging waters of Paxson Creek eroded its downhill streambed and blew out the stone wall that established the berm bank of the Canal where the Creek and the Canal met. The erosion endangered an abutting residential property and destroyed the integrity of the Canal’s prism.
The Friends contracted with Moyer & Jones Construction to both rebuild the stone wall and unobtrusively reinforce it with concrete. A grant from Solebury Township allowed the Friends to undertake this two-week-long project, which cost $8,900. A win-win, the reestablished wall benefits both the Canal and the properties along the Creek.
The Friends are here to help.
Park Manager’s Report
The project to replace the culvert that carries the Cutttalossa Creek under the Canal was completed at the end of August. The towpath trail had been closed at this site for months prior to and during the construction and is now open again.
We are working to restart work on the culvert that carries High Falls Creek under the Canal that failed last spring. Initially an attempt was made to repair that site utilizing the remaining culvert. During the removal of debris from the culvert it was determined that the remainder of the culvert is not structurally sound, and we had to reevaluate the repairs. We now have a plan, and we will begin to institute it this fall. The towpath remains closed at this location (about 2 miles north of the Park Office in Upper Black Eddy).
There is also the culvert at Airport Road in Bristol Township that caved in and needs to be repaired. Airport Road is currently closed at that location. Also a hole 10-foot in diameter formed in the towpath slope near the Easton sewage treatment plant. We were able to determine the cause and repair the site within a few days with little interruption of water flow. These repairs were done by Park staff and our equipment rental contractor.
DCNR is getting closer to starting work on the following bridges: Redfield, Lower Limeport and Phillips’ Mill. We are also continuing to pursue solutions to obstructions in the lower end of the Canal including the Conrail Crossing, Bridge Street and Tyburn Road.
DCNR is exploring the possibility of constructing a Visitors’ Center/Office building next to the Locktender’s House in New Hope. Survey work and a Master Plan (feasibility study) were recently conducted.
We are currently working on an inventory/evaluation of the wails along the Canal between the Canal and the River with the Army Corps of Engineers.
A Vision Study is currently being developed for the Canal spearheaded by the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and DC21. A series of public meetings were held in June. The results of those meetings are currently being discussed in a series of meetings with stakeholders and a second set of public meetings is scheduled for November.
As always I want to thank your organization for the help and support that you continue to provide.
How Do You See It?
The Delaware Canal Vision Study is intended to engage a wide range of regional stakeholders, advocates, and residents in a collaborative first step toward developing a next-generation plan for the Canal.
The study process got fully underway in July with public meetings held on three consecutive nights in Riegelsville, New Hope and Morrisville. Approximately 50 people attended each session and provided thoughtful comments that reflected their concern for the Canal. The public was asked to share their Canal experiences, and questions were posed in breakout sessions. “Why is the Canal important?” “How do you currently use the Canal?” “Who uses the Canal?” “Who doesn’t use the Canal?” “What are the obstacles to using the Canal?” “What are new ways to use the Canal?” “How can the Canal survive as a community, economic, social, and environmental asset?”
The project was initiated by Delaware Canal 21 and aims to address the entire 58.9-mile-long National Historic Landmark located within Delaware Canal State Park in Bucks and Northampton counties. The process, which began in April 2015, will continue to seek innovative ideas through a series of public meetings over the next several months. Funding for the project was provided by the William Penn Foundation, and the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (D&L) serves as project manager.
A second round of public meetings will be held in November. Please use these opportunities to share your thoughts about the Delaware Canal.
Tuesday, November 17
Meeting Hall in the Riegelsville Borough Building, 615 Easton Road, Riegelsville, PA.
Open House at 4:30 p.m. Share your memories and experiences. Learn about the Delaware Canal’s history. Engage team members with your ideas.
Presentation and Discussion at 7 p.m. Listen to a brief Vision Study presentation. Join in group discussions.
Wednesday, November 18
Washington Crossing Visitor Center, 1112 River Road, Washington Crossing, PA
Open House at 4:30 p.m. Presentation and Discussion at 7 p.m.
Thursday, November 19
Bucks County Community College, Bristol Campus, 1304 Veterans Highway, Bristol, PA
Open House at 4:30 p.m. Presentation and Discussion at 7 p.m.
For more information about the Delaware Canal Vision Study, visit delawarecanalvision.org.
Successful in Spite of Surprises
The venue changed quite unexpectedly, but this year’s Friends of the Delaware Canal Art Show was quite a success nevertheless.
Our thanks go to:
Rich Timmons who very kindly allowed the Friends to use his gallery space when the Rolling Green Barn was suddenly shut down for public use. Dealing with an unanticipated two-day show, an opening reception attended by 175 people, and highway construction is no easy task, but Mr. Timmons handled everything with grace and ease.
Richard Carlson, the owner of the Rolling Green Barn, who hosted the Friends’ Art Show for four years and thus significantly furthered our canal improvement efforts. Always generous and gracious, Mr. Carlson assisted so many local non-profits with their fundraising endeavors. He is a true “good guy,” and may that reputation ease the way to renewed use of the Barn.
Pearl and Chuck Mintzer who have led the Friends’ Art Show from its inception. In fact, it was their idea. Their creativity, drive, and extraordinary energy have made the Shows such successes. This year they deserve special gold stars for dealing valiantly with the many twists and turns of accommodating the location change.
Just in Time for the Holidays
To keep himself occupied during his newly achieved retirement, our favorite canal artist Dennis Gerhart decided to create a line of note cards and holiday cards featuring his charming pen and ink drawings. The Friends have added the note cards to our line of sales items and are ready to sell you as many as you would like.
The note cards are packaged in assortments of six. Featured are a mule portrait, a canal boat passing under a camelback bridge, Lock 8 in front of the River House in New Hope, a mule team pulling a boat through a lock, a pair of muletender’s shoes, and a muletender leading a mule. With each pack comes a poem, which captures the spirit of Dennis’ artwork.
Thoughts of long ago
Remembering America before machines
Very hard work, very long days
When muscle power was the only way
Remembering America before machines
The note cards are priced at $10 per pack and can be purchased at the Locktender’s House, 145 South Main Street, New Hope, or you may place an order by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 215-862-2021.
They’re perfect to send and perfect to give. Combining a pack of notecards with a pack of colored pencils can be a fun “color your own” present.
From the New York Times – June 22, 1941
OLD CANAL IS REBORN
Bucks County’s Waterway After a Century Will Foster Recreation
Morrisville, PA. – The old Bucks County canal threading northward to Easton, a hard-working waterway which carried coal for a century, will enjoy a revival in a happier role. To be devoted to pleasure henceforth, it promises to be a watery wonderland for those who like glimpses of idyllic countryside from little boats.
The State acquired the sixty-five-mile-long canal from the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company several months ago. Locks, gates, weirs and spillways, disintegrated through five years of disuse but not collapsed, are to be repaired. It is to be a haven for canoeists, picnickers and sportsmen. Having labored a lifetime, the canal is now to have a career of fun.
As a rowboat thoroughfare, it will present fascinating vagaries. It plays a hide-and-seek with the Delaware River, dodging inland behind sudden hills and cleanly woodlands. Red sandstone “palisades” tower above it near Upper Black Eddy, and it skirts a famous wild-flower trail off Bowman’s Hill. Ringing Rocks Park, where a clever tapper can play a tune, is a short hike overland from the waterway. Striking inland betimes, the canal reaches the heart of the country now tenanted by authors, actors and other New Yorkers.
Those with a liking for history will find here a little river of Revolutionary lore. Morrisville, near the southern terminal of the canal, honors the home of Robert Morris. In Broadway language, the “angel” of the young nation. To the north is Washington’s Crossing, where patriots braved the icy Delaware to surprise the Hessians on Christmas night, 1776.
Near by is the lookout from which the Colonials spied on the redcoats in New Jersey. Near Kintnersville is old Durham furnace, where iron-workers made cannon as early as the French and Indian War. An abandoned iron mine, dating beyond Revolutionary times, can be seen near New Hope. Pennsbury, restored manor house of William Penn, is a few miles from Morrisville. Twenty “unknown soldiers” of Washington’s army are interred near Neeley’s mill.
The canal itself has a sturdy story, dating from its opening in 1834 to its abandonment, for commercial use, in 1936.
Vistas Along the Banks
In season now, as then, rhododendron and mountain laurel blossoms prettily in groves and thickets along the canalway. Parts of the route are charmingly shaded by willows, elms, oaks, maples and ash. Enthusiastic residents say that the Atlantic Ocean can be seen across the flats of Jersey from the peak near Bowman’s Hill, provided the observer has good eyes, high-powered glasses and clear weather.
Several public parks will fit neatly into the canal scheme. Like the canal, some of them are supervised by the department of Forests and Waters with an alert eye to recreational possibilities. Williamson Park, at Morrisville, is at the junction of the Lincoln Highway, the Delaware River and the canal. Washington’s Crossing Park is State-owned, as is the Ralph Stover Park, farther north.
Assemblyman Thomas B. Stockham and Wilson L. Yeakel, sponsors of the law by which the State acquired ownership of the canal, see the waterway as a historical landmark because it speaks so typically of America’s early transportation. Whether canoeists will ponder long on history is doubtful, but the canal machinery, restored, may attract those of an engineering turn.
The potentialities of the canal as a fish preserve are being explored, a step readily approved by sportsmen. If all plans materialize, the 107-year-old canal will enjoy a rebirth of grandeur indeed. Coal which it carried south made people warm and wealthy for years; it will be fitting if the hearty old waterway in its second career is devoted to beauty and romance.
Welcome, New Friends
Pamela Blake & Steven Cohen
Elizabeth & Michael Mirisola
Diane & Thane Tagg
Joan E. Webber
Rachel F. Wood
Our Business and Institutional Members
Learn more about these Friends by clicking on their links here.
Golden Pheasant Inn, Erwinna
Tinicum Civic Association
Rockwood Wealth Management, New Hope
Walter’s Nursery, Inc., Point Pleasant
1740 House, Lumberville – NEW Member
Acadia Mortgage, LLC, New Britain
The Boat House, Lambertville
Brett Webber Architects. P.C., Philadelphia and Erwinna
Donnelly Marketing Services Associates, LLC
Ellenoff, Underwood & Norman, Doylestown
First Savings Bank of Perkasie
Holly Hedge Estate, New Hope – NEW Member
Newman & Company, Inc., Philadelphia
Newtown Bicycle and Fitness
Odell Painting, LLC, Ottsville
The River House at Odette’s, New Hope
The Thompson Organization, Doylestown
William B. Parry & Son, Ltd., Langhorne
Ahlum Gallery, Riegelsville
Appalachian Mountain Club, Delaware Valley Chapter
Borough of Morrisville
Bucks County Riverboat & Trolley Companies, Upper Black Eddy
Cramer Bakery, Yardley
Dilly’s Corner, Centre Bridge
Edgar H. Denson, Post #79 American Legion, New Hope
First National Bank & Trust Company of Newtown
First Savings Insurance, New Britain
T. Foster & Co., Inc., Yardley
Fox Chase Bank, Lahaska
Gratz Gallery & Conservation Studio, New Hope
The Grundy Commons, Bristol
Hobensack & Keller, Inc., New Hope
Homestead General Store & Coffee Roasters, Upper Black Eddy
La Chele Medical Aesthetics, New Hope
Leisure Craft, Warrington
Liberty Bell Wanderers, Philadelphia
Logan Inn, New Hope
McCaffrey’s Markets, Yardley
Mueller’s General Store & Kitchen – Easton – NEW Member
NAM Planning & Design, LLC, Lumberville
John Paton, Inc., Doylestown
Peddler’s Village, Lahaska
Pete’s Bike & Fitness Shoppe, Flemington, NJ
Porches Bed & Breakfast, New Hope
River Road Business Alliance, Erwinna
Sand Castle Winery, Erwinna
Shearer Penn Corp., Trenton, NJ
The Stephan House Inn, New Hope
Tinsman Bros., Inc., Lumberville
Univest National Bank & Trust Co.
The UPS Store, New Hope
Canal Tenders at Work
The Delaware Canal is a cleaner, more pleasant place to visit thanks to all the people who have volunteered to be Canal Tenders. They are vigilant year-round. They pick up trash, clear away limbs, report problems, and care in every way for the sections of the Canal that they have adopted.
To find out more about becoming a Canal Tender, visit the Get Involved page or call 215-862-2021. It would be wonderful to have a full complement of Tenders.
Much of the work of the Friends gets done within the structure of five committees.
- The Advocacy, Restoration and Maintenance Committee deals with the bricks and mortar projects, clean-ups, nudging, planning, etc.
- The Education and Recreation Committee delves into programs, signage, exhibits, etc.
- The Membership Committee builds the organization.
- The Fundraising Committee sustains the organization through fundraising and volunteerism.
- The Finance Committee make sure that the bills get paid and the future of the organization is ensured.
The Board of Directors would very much like to have assistance, guidance, and insights from Friends’ members. Please consider joining a committee or helping out with specific tasks of interest to you. For more info, call 215-862-2021 or e-mail email@example.com.