Canal News – Summer 2017
Park Manager’s Report
Since my last report, the Park Maintenance Staff has been able to plug up and repair all of the sinkholes in the northern section of the park. We began re-watering the upper section of the Canal at the end of April, and by mid-May the Canal was watered from Easton to New Hope. This was the first time in years that this section has been completely watered.
Then, on June 4th a large blowout was discovered along the berm-side of the Canal at the upstream end of the Tinicum aqueduct. The blowout drained the canal in this area and prevented any water from flowing south of the waste gate near the Golden Pheasant Inn. The towpath was also closed in this section due to the instability of the berm, walls, and aqueduct abutment.
DCNR was able to secure emergency funding and execute an emergency repair contract on June 19 to begin stabilization work on the aqueduct, walls, and towpath. Currently, the contractor is in the process of making these repairs and we anticipate a completion date in mid to late July.
The stabilization work will allow us to open the towpath up again, but will not allow water to flow south. Before any additional work can be completed, DCNR’s design consultants will need to complete some additional inspections of the structure and do geologic testing at the site. Then the plans for a complete repair can be developed, and the project can be put out for bid. In the meantime, after the stabilization work is complete, we will attempt to install a temporary bypass at the site to allow some water to flow through the site and south toward new Hope.
On a more positive note, river levels remain high, enough to provide water to the southern half of the Park from New Hope to Bristol. Good water levels are also being maintained in the north from Easton to Uhlerstown.
I’m pleased to announce that the Conrail Pedestrian Tunnel project in Falls Township has been advertised by PennDOT on its ECMS (Engineering and Construction Management System). The bid opening date is scheduled for July 13, 2017. Barring any issues with the bidding process, the initial job conference and possibly construction could begin as early as October 2017. This project has been a long time in the making and will be a major improvement for visitors who use the towpath in the Morrisville and Falls area. The pedestrian tunnel will eliminate one of the final three trail obstructions along the Canal.
The completion date for the reconstruction of the Lower Limeport Bridge in Solebury Township has been extended to early August, 2017 because of problems procuring the lumber for the faux camelback trusses.
Enjoy the Canal!
By Josh Swartley
A Pattern to Break
May 2016 – The Canal was watered from Easton to the Virginia Forrest Recreation Area in Solebury Township. The flow from the north was being released through the waste gate at the Recreation Area so as not to inundate the work site of the Redfield Bridge. The pump at Centre Bridge, 1.3 miles to the south, was filling the Centre Bridge to lock 11 in New Hope stretch thanks to the contributions from New Hope for Our Canal. From the New Hope inlet south to Bristol, the water level was good thanks to the Delaware River inflow.
And then came the leaks at the Kleinhans Aqueduct south of Easton. To prevent the collapse of the entire structure, the DCNR engineers ruled that water could no longer flow through it. Much to DCNR’s credit, it quickly moved forward with the installation of two 60″ pipes and associated coffer dams to allow Canal water to flow through the aqueduct structure without exacerbating the structural problem.
The pipes served their intended purpose, but the flow volume through the aqueduct area was reduced, and the water from the north made it no farther than Lumberville unless it was supplemented with rainwater.
May 2017 – The Canal was watered from Easton to Lock 11 in New Hope. In fact, on May 26, the water from the north was flowing over the Centre Bridge coffer dam for the first time in many a year. Hopes were high that the use of the Centre Bridge pump could be reduced saving $1,400 per month in electricity costs. The Canal from the New Hope inlet south to Bristol was beautifully full.
And then during the night of June 4 came the berm bank blowout at the Tinicum Aqueduct located just south of the Golden Pheasant Inn in Erwinna. See the Park Manager’s Report on page 1 for details. Again much to DCNR’s credit, the situation was declared an emergency and a contractor is working on the repair of the site. Plans are being made to install a system through which the Canal water can be run until the aqueduct can be replaced.
The one, if only, silver lining of the blowout is that the replacement of the Tinicum Aqueduct will be expedited. The existing structure is nothing but a steel I-beam trough that was put in place in 1952. The trough constricts the flow volume, so having a new aqueduct capable of carrying a full volume will be a great benefit to Smithtown, Lumberville, and all points south.
TWO YEARS. Two times when all seemed well with the Canal. Two failures related to aqueducts that quashed hopes for a fully watered Canal.
On the positive side:
- In 2017 the Canal has been fuller for longer periods of time than it was in 2016.
- DCNR continues to move quickly to restore water to the Canal.
- DCNR is taking more proactive steps to identify problem areas and plan for their repair or replacement.
There’s no doubt about it, the Delaware Canal can be a heartbreaker, but we also know that it fills so many hearts with joy. Together we will continue to advocate and work for the Canal that we all desire. A Canal with patterns that are positive.
10,452 and Climbing!
Nearly 10,500 people are now our Facebook Friends, and here’s a reason why…
On June 24, Carole Mebus took this photo of the juvenile Bald Eagle that was hatched in a nest on a Delaware River island visible from the Canal towpath.
Throughout this year’s breeding season, Carole has been capturing images of the Bald Eagle parents, the huge nest in a sycamore tree, the parents sitting on the nest, the eaglets popping their heads out, and now a “teenager” showing its independence.
All the photos were posted, day-by-day, on the Friends of the Delaware Canal Facebook page. Carol’s amazing photos of nature along the Canal aren’t to be missed.
Consider becoming a Friends of the Delaware Canal Facebook Friend and watch for a new presentation by Carol next year.
Marking the Miles
While walking or biking along the 58.9-mile Delaware Canal, it’s natural to wonder “What mile is this?” Fifty-nine answers to that question do exist if you look down and to the side of the towpath.
The current system of granite Belgium blocks cut with the appropriate mile numbers and set in concrete at ground level is the successor to two earlier marking projects. A few older wooden markers followed by plastic “flippers” installed in the mid-1990’s by former Board member John Nay and his grandson Josh can still be found. Both the wood and the plastic, which stood above ground level, could not withstand the wrath of park mowers.
Then along came Pete Sperry, who, after participating in his first Canal Walk, was filled with “where” questions. He became a member of the Friends’ Board of Directors in 2012, and jumped into documenting and setting distances correctly on the towpath. His approach was two-pronged. A more lasting type of mile marker had to be found and installed at accurate intervals, and a detailed chart of mileage and landmarks needed to be developed.
After consulting with the Park Manager, Pete set his course to install the Belgium block system. He inspired his fellow Board members to embark upon a mile marker fund-raising campaign, which was enthusiastically supported and quickly completed. (A list of the donors can be found at www.fodc.org under The Canal/Maps/Mile Markers.). Pete’s next step was to determine the correct locations. Through a painstaking process of using historic maps, a measuring wheel, and his GPS unit, he found that the beginning point of Canal now lies in the Delaware River in Bristol. From that point, he measured and calculated the points going north to the end of Easton.
With locations pinpointed, Pete hand-selected the granite blocks, had the numbers sandblasted by a local gravestone maker, and then drilled and fastened an anchor bar in each stone. Twenty-four energetic volunteers came forth to undertake the digging, concrete mixing, pouring, placing, filling, and finishing needed to place the 59 markers.
As with most Canal stories, there are a few buts. The floods of 2004, 20o5, and 2006 greatly impacted the mile marker project. The severe damage to the Canal banks prevented the installation of some of the markers, and earth had to be replaced around some of the already installed markers. (It is a testament to the quality of the volunteers’ work that mile markers stayed in place even though the banks around them were heavily eroded.) Lastly, quite a few markers did not survive the heavy construction involved with the flood repair work.
Pete and volunteers have been tackling marker repair and replacement projects on a periodic basis ever since the floods. This spring, three construction-damaged Mile Markers were replaced.
- Mile Marker 13 in Yardley
- Mile Marker 31 in Lumberville
- Mile Marker 46 in Upper Black Eddy
The crew will head to Easton to tackle Mile Markers 57 and 58 in the fall. When these two blocks are installed, the Mile Marker system will again be complete from #1 at the Grundy Mill in Bristol to #58.9 at the Forks of the Delaware in Easton.
When you’re out on the towpath, look for the markers and thank all the people who were dedicated to putting them there.
One Fine Day
Community crews and Canal Tenders joined forces on Saturday, April 8 to give the full length of the Canal its spring cleaning. 340 volunteers turned out for the Friends’ annual Clean-Up Day. Collectively they spent 785 hours clearing trash, debris, and vegetation from the towpath and accumulated 348 full bags of trash and 17 tires.
The Proof is in the Egg
Friends welcomed spring by hiding 15 plastic eggs along the towpath from Easton to Bristol. Inside each egg was a coupon for a Friends’ tee shirt or a Canal Critter finger puppet. By the end of May six of the 15 eggs had been claimed. Nine eggs may still be out there waiting for you to find them. What the egg hunt proved is that Delaware Canal visitors come from near and far. The finders were from Bethlehem, Easton, Lederach, and New Hope in Pennsylvania and from Stockton and Trenton in New Jersey. We’ll have another hunt next April after Canal Clean-Up Day, so keep your eyes peeled!
Just Good Old Fun
More decorated boats, more decorated ducks, and more people! The Delaware Canal Festival held on June 16 at the Lagoon Park in Historic Bristol Borough was the best yet.
Defying a gloomy forecast, the weather on the evening of the Festival was perfect. Youngsters, oldsters, and in-between flocked to Lagoon Park to indulge in the offerings of the food trucks and have fun decorating ducks, playing games, listening to the pop/rock band Finster, and finding out about local organizations. They were also there to see the creativity and ingenuity shown off in the Decorated Boat Parade, the Decorated Duck Contest, and a Cardboard Boat Float. It’s always wonderful to see families and friends working together on their entries.
The Friends thank their fellow event co-sponsors Historic Bristol Borough and Raising the Bar and also Allied Electronics, Driftwood Water Adventures, Grundy Commons, Mignoni Jewelry, Penn Community Bank, Blue Chip Cpopy Center, and numerous individuals for generously supporting the event. It takes an enthusiastic community to make a good event happen, and Btistol Borough is exactly that.
The Board has a Challenge for You
The 11 members of the Friends’ Board of Directors have committed $10o,000 of their personal funds to create a new Legacy Fund Challenge. Each dollar contributed by you and other Friends’ supporters will be matched from the Board’s contribution pool. The goal of the Friends of the Delaware Canal Legacy Fund is to provide a sustainable and reliable source of additional income to support the mission and activities of the Friends into the future. Since the Fund reached it s threshold value of $100,000 in 2011, each year the Board has voted to withdraw a sustainable amount (between $4,000 and $6,000) to supplement our organization’s income from membership, donations, and fundraising.
The Legacy Fund investments have done well over the years. Assuming no significant market retreat, if an additional $20,000 can be contributed, the Legacy Fund balance will reach $200,000. At that level, the Legacy Fund can provide 10% of the Friends’ annual income, which is used to fund our projects, activities, and advocacy work. To help grow the Legacy Fund, you have a number of options:
- Outright gift of cash, marketable securities or real estate
- Gift from a tax-deferred retirement plan
- Bequest in your will
- Gift of a life insurance policy
To contribute now, you may go on-line and click on the Legacy Fund Challenge button on the homepage of www.fodc.org or mail your check to Friends of the Delaware Canal, 145 South Main Street, New Hope, PA 18938.
Why I Love the Canal
By Board Member Judy Franlin
In New Hope, the Canal forms a tranquil green space that contrasts with the bustle of the community’s many restaurants and shops. From my home, I can watch dog walkers, moms, and dads with strollers, school kids, bikers and hikers all enjoying this natural and historic marvel. It reminds me that the Canal belongs first to the people, and we all share in keeping it clean, watered and safe for everyone.
Faces & Places
SAVE THE DATE: October 8
You are cordially invited to join the Friends of the Delaware Canal for our eighth annual signature event – Faces & Places, a Celebration of Art and History along the Delaware Canal.
This year we will head south to Bristol Borough, a prize-winning small town overflowing with history and vitality. Our chauffeured tour will include:
- The splendid Margaret R. Grundy Museum and its riverside grounds and garden. This Victorian house renowned for its woodwork and original furnishings, was home to Bristol’s illustrious citizen Joseph R. Grundy and his sister.
- Canal Works, an 1880’s era industrial building that was used over the years by a wallpaper printer, a seed company, and a radio equipment manufacturer. It has been masterfully rehabilitated and is now occupied by numerous up and coming businesses. The owner of Canal Works has created a two-floor display of Canal photos and fascinating documents and artifacts from the businesses of old.
- Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey Distillery, located in the historic Grundy Woolen Mill complex, makes small batch, classic rye whiskey with natural local ingredients. Esquire named it “one of the 10 best distilleries in America outside of Kentucky and Tennesee.”
- The Bristol Wharf at the foot of Mill Street, the heart of the Borough. A short walk will lead to Riverfront Park with its new pier, the Canal Basin, the King George II Inn, the shops of Mill Street, and some Bristol stomping going on.
- When the tour concludes, join with friends, old and new, at the Centre for the Arts on Mill Street for spirits and an abundant array of hors d’oeuvres and desserts catered by the King George II. Highlighted at the Centre will be vintage and new canal and river-themed art works that will be up for sale, either direct or by auction.
Individual tickets are $150 each; patron tickets are $250.