July 24, 2019
The towpath has been re-opened from Mile 31 on the north end of Lumberville to Mile 32.3 on the south end of Point Pleasant. Repair work to the stone wall between the Delaware River and the Canal is now complete.
The towpath has been re-opened from Mile 31 on the north end of Lumberville to Mile 32.3 on the south end of Point Pleasant. Repair work to the stone wall between the Delaware River and the Canal is now complete.
The towpath has been closed from Mile 31 on the north end of Lumberville to Mile 32.3 on the south end of Point Pleasant. The closure is due to repair work being done on the stone wall between the Delaware River and the Canal.
When the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania dug the 58.9-mile-long Delaware Canal between 1827 and 1831, it was responsible for connecting the private properties that the new ditch divided. Thus, more than 100 bridges were built, most of which were camelback bridges. A camelback bridge is a modified Queen Post Truss bridge, perfectly adapted for canal use since it has a hump in the middle, which allowed canal boats to more easily pass underneath.
Today the successors to the original camelback bridges are the Delaware Canal’s signature structures exemplifying the waterway’s history. Over the years, changes in vehicle types and traffic requirements have caused most of the bridge to be replaced with larger, hefty versions, but six authentic camelbacks still remain.
For over a decade, the Friends have been on a quest to ensure that these last six genuine pieces of history are restored. Not only are they vital factors to the Canal’s National Historic Landmark status, but their delicate design guides new construction. The Friends are directly responsible for the successful restoration of three of the camelbacks and were instrumental in the preservation of the fourth. Our volunteers perform continuing maintenance, such as painting and vegetation removal.
Two camelbacks are still in need of work – Woody’s Bridge south of Easton and Spahr’s Bridge in Bridgeton Township. This fall, the stars aligned in favor of Woody’s. It needed significant repairs so that it could continue to carry pedestrians, but was not so deteriorated that it needed a complete rebuild.
The Friends have partnered with the Delaware Canal State Park to get the job done now while the water is out of the Canal for other maintenance projects. Fundraising to cover the $31,800 labor cost is underway, and the Park has committed to pay for the materials. In the spirit of getting the job done this winter, Randy Myer of R-Shell Exteriors, Lancaster, PA is already at work. (Randy is a seasoned camelback restoration contractor having already completed the work on the Hazzard’s, Thompson-Neely, and Goat Farm bridges.)
So far, the Friends have raised $20,000 for this project thanks to generous contributors who want the Canal’s history preserved. Now we need your help to raise the balance of the needed funds. You may contribute on-line at www.fodc.org or send a check to Friends of the Delaware Canal, 145 South Main Street, New Hope, PA.
Please help restore Woody’s Bridge, the best example of how camelback bridges once were – delicate, graceful, utilitarian, and very beautiful.
The Friends’ Canal Action Team (CAT) has been tackling a wide variety of projects since it was formed in the winter of 2014. Everything from removing vegetation from stone walls to bridge painting to replacing interpretive signs to pulling out cattails is fair game.
As 2017 begins, we would like to reinvigorate our list of volunteers who are interested in working on the CAT.
WHO: Anyone who wants to and can be physically active. Especially needed are people who like to paint bridges and those who would like to lead a crew.
When: CAT projects can be undertaken both on weekdays and weekends. Usually they take no longer than 3-4 hours.
Where: Work sites are determined by the urgency of the job and the location and number of available volunteers.
The Plan: If you want to be part of CAT, please call 215-862-2021 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and give us your contact info and your preferred work locations (north, central, south). When a work day is developed, an e-mail notice containing the job details is sent to all the prospective volunteers about two weeks prior. Those who can help on a particular project just respond to the e-mail and show up on the appointed day.
Be part of CAT! Get things done along the Canal and enjoy working with your fellow Friends.
My first seven months at the Canal have been exciting and full of challenges and successes. We wrapped up 2016 with several wall repair projects. During the maintenance drawdown in October we hired several contractors to make repairs to multiple walls that failed and collapsed along the Canal. Wall repairs have been completed at Lock 5 in Yardley, along Mile Post 21 in the Bowman’s Hill area, adjacent to Lock 22/23 in the Teddy Roosevelt Recreation Area, and at Woody’s Bridge in the Raubsville area. Also during the drawdown, Park and engineering staff were able to inspect several areas of the Canal and develop plans for future projects and maintenance work. Park maintenance crews were also busy repointing walls and waste gates, dredging, fixing additional sink holes ,and working on many other preventative maintenance projects. To close out 2016, the river/weather finally cooperated with us by providing enough rain and higher river levels to start re-watering the southern end of the canal during the middle of December.
2017 will bring its challenges and successes as well. We will be starting the New Year with several projects already in progress. First, in partnership with the Friends, an experienced contractor has been hired to make repairs to Woody’s Bridge in the Raubsville area. We have had another wall collapse in the Kintnersville area by Lehnenberg Road. A contractor has already been mobilized, and repairs to this wall have begun. Finally, the Park has discovered two new sinkholes in the northern section of the Park – one in Smithtown between Bridges 2 and 3 and the second in Williams Township just north of the Easton sewage treatment plant. Repairs to these sinkholes will be forthcoming once the weather decides to cooperate with us.
Also, work on the Lower Limeport Bridge in Solebury Township has begun and is expected to continue through April. We have another bridge project on the horizon as well. The final design work and permitting is being done for the Phillips’ Mill Bridge. We are expecting this project to go out to bid late this winter and to be ready for construction later this spring. Enjoy the Canal!
Our members just kept coming through the doors of the David Library of the American Revolution on November 15. The Rose Gallery, where the covered dish dinner was held, was filled with people and great food; and everyone was thankful for the spacious seating and high quality audio visual equipment upstairs in Stone Hall where our presentations were held. We are so appreciative of the Library’s willingness to share their facilities with the Friends.
We were pleased to have a wonderful turnout from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. With us were:
John Hallas, Director of the Bureau of State Parks, who gave a summary of DCNR’s accomplishments and plans
Jason Zimmerman, Manager of Park Region 4
Josh Swartley, Delaware Canal State Park Manager
Bethany Hare, Delaware Canal State Park Assistant Manager
Gene Gelfand, Engineer with DCNR’s Bureau of Facility Design and Construction, who was honored for his dedication to the preservation and improvement of the Canal and its historic structures, particularly its camelback bridges
David Kemmerer, retired Director of the Bureau of State Parks
The after-dinner presentation included some Friends’ Board of Directors business. Retiring Board member Stephanie Garomon was thanked for all her efforts on behalf of our organization, especially in terms of organizing fundraising events. Pam Can, Judy Franlin, Joan Fullerton, Lynn Vogel, and David Scheaffer were all elected to additional Board terms.
The Annual Meeting is always a great time to get together with old and new friends, take stock of the year’s activities, and gear up for the coming year. And that’s just what we did.
At its January meeting, the Friends’ Board of Directors elected its officers for 2017. Serving will be:
Brett Webber – President
Pam Can – Vice-President
Lynn Vogel – Secretary
Peter Sperry – Treasurer
As always, the Board welcomes your participation and input.
Movies taken of the Delaware Canal during the first half of the 20th century and interviews with men and women who worked on the Canal are now available for you to see and hear on your computer, iPad, or phone. These treasures are easily accessible thanks to the efforts of the Solebury Township Historical Society and the cooperation of the National Canal Museum in Easton.
Two members of the Society, who are also dedicated members of the Friends of the Delaware Canal, collaborated with the National Canal Museum to preserve the Museum’s cassette and film collection. Robert McEwan, Society Vice President and archivist, and Elizabeth Carrick, the Society’s web consultant have devoted a tremendous number of hours to evaluating the collection and publishing the best of it on the Solebury Township Historical Society website www.soleburyhistory.org.
To share these valuable pieces of history with more canallers, the Society has very generously invited the Friends to place a link to the material on our website www.fodc.org. The movies and the interviews can be found here.
So, if you’ve wondered what the Delaware Canal was like when mule teams pulled coal-laden boats to market, you can now find out by just clicking.
The days of May were glorious along the Delaware Canal. In Easton, the abundant water being fed from the Lehigh River filled the Canal all the way south to the Virginia Forrest Recreation Area, 1.3 miles north of Centre Bridge. (At this location, the water had to be released into the Delaware River so that the Redfield Bridge replacement construction site was not inundated.)
A new, more efficient pump, purchased by the Friends and New Hope for Our Canal, supplied River water into the Canal filling the Centre Bridge to Lock 11 section in New Hope nicely.
After extensive culvert cleanouts in the southern end, the Delaware River water flowing into the Canal through the New Hope inlet filled the Canal so high that its water was overflowing the coffer dam at the Lagoon in Bristol Borough.
The key word is “filled.” The many sections that typically have had water were brimful. New to the watering scene were Smithtown, Point Pleasant, Devil’s Half Acre, and Lumberville – communities that haven’t seen consistently high water since 2004. The Canal levels from Morrisville to Bristol Borough were also uncommonly high.
Only 1-1/2 miles of dry-ish Canal prism prevented the achievement of our goal of a “fully watered Canal.” So tantalizingly close.
Then came the discovery of a leak in the Kleinhans Aqueduct, which spans Fry’s Run, seven miles south of Easton. The DNCR engineers confirmed that a previously identified issue with several of the structure’s steel beams had become an immediate problem.
Much to DCNR’s credit, it quickly moved forward with the installation of two 60″ diameter pipes and associated coffer dams that allow Canal water to continue to flow through the aqueduct structure without exacerbating the structural problem.
The amount of water coming through the pipes is impressive, but the flow volume through the aqueduct has been reduced. The use of the two pipes, rather than the full rectangular aqueduct structure, has limited the Canal flow to an amount that reached only as far as the north end of Point Pleasant. A donor paid the electricity bill for a week-long experiment to determine whether a boost from the 6,000 gallon per minute Durham pump would push water farther south. The boost seems to have produced a low level of water extending to the northern end of Lumberville, but a final determination of the effect is still in progress. The cost of operating the Durham pump is $180+ per day, so careful evaluation of cost and benefits is necessary.
The Kleinhans Aqueduct pipes are a temporary fix. Replacement or substantial repair of the aqueduct, which fortunately is the shortest one on the Canal, is the permanent solution. Replacement or repair is the only way to get a significant flow of “free” Lehigh River water flowing through Point Pleasant, Lumberville, Centre Bridge and New Hope again. DCNR has included the project in its 2016-2017 budget.
Another remedy may be the diversion of water form the Point Pleasant Pumping Station into the Canal at the southern end of the village. DCNR and DC21 have been working on an agreement with the Forest Park Water Authority to allow this diversion, which was first tried more than 15 years ago.
Now on to the Canal from New Hope to Bristol. The prolonged lack of rain has caused the Delaware River to drop below the level of the canal inlet located behind the former Odette’s in New Hope. This inlet supplies Delaware River water into the Canal and is the only significant water source for the southern 25 miles of the Canal from New Hope to Bristol. When the River drops below the inlet level, the Canal drops.
In earlier issues of Canal News, you have read about the Friends’ investigation into the installation of an Archimedes Screw pump near the inlet location. This investigation continues, but, meanwhile , the feasibility of installing at 6,000 gallon per minute centrifugal pump at the inlet location is also being pursued as a quicker fix to the need for water augmentation.
Another consequence of the dry weather is that evaporation and tree and vegetation absorption are outrunning the Centre Bridge pump’s ability to keep its section reasonably full.
The best and easiest cure for the water woes from New Hope to Bristol is moderate rainfall. Rain dances by all are most welcome.
Bi-State Construction is making good progress with the replacement of the Redfield Bridge just north of Centre Bridge. The project extended beyond its anticipated duration because the east abutment had to be replaced rather than repaired. The project’s completion will be happy news to the bikers and walkers who use this popular Centre Bridge/Lumberville/Bulls Island/Stockton/Centre Bridge canal loop trail.
Additional project updates are included in the Park Manager’s Report. For the latest information, check the Breaking News page.
The Delaware Canal does present its challenges, but we have come so far and the magnitude of the challenges continues to decrease. We always keep on trying during trying times because the glorious days of May have proven that the canal is more than worth our efforts.
It is truly an honor for me to be named the new Park Manager at the Delaware Canal State Park Complex. I am looking forward to working with the staff, the local communities, and multiple partners seeking to improve the park. This is an excellent opportunity , and I am looking forward to the new challenge in my career.
I began my career with the Bureau of State Parks in 1994 working as a semi-skilled laborer at Neshaminy State Park. I have held positions as a semi-skilled laborer, intern, and DCNR Ranger at several state parks and as a Park Manager trainee at the Park Region 4 Office. In 2005, I was named the Assistant Park Manager at the Hickory Run State Park Complex, and in 2007, I was named as the Park Manager of Neshaminy State Park.
I hold a bachelor’s degree in Recreation from Lock Haven University and will be moving to the Pipersville area with my wife and three children.
We currently have two projects in progress – the culvert replacement on Airport Road in Bristol Township and the Redfield Bridge replacement in Solebury Township. Also, in 2016, a large wall repair will be taking place at Mile Post 21 in Upper Makefield Township. We are anticipating that the replacement of the Phillips’ Mill Bridge and Lower Limeport Bridge, both in Solebury Township, will take place later this year or early in 2017. Also in 2017, we are planning for several projects. They include the tunnel through the railroad embankment just south of Morrisville and a large capital project to replace 12 bridges and culverts along the Canal.
In New Hope, the Bureau has been developing conceptual plans for the relocation of Odette’s and the development of an enhanced visitor services area located by the old mule barge concession.
Finally, work is progressing by PADOT to improve the towpath crossing at Green Lane and Route 13 in Bristol Township. The pedestrian crossing should be completed by the end of the year.
Enjoy the Canal!
More than 350 people turned out this spring for the Friends’ annual Canal Clean-Up Day. Thirty-two coordinators organized coverage of all 58.9 miles of the towpath and waterway. Most of the trash picking and brush clearing took place on showery Saturday, April 2, but some Canal Tenders and other groups chose other days with Falls Township Boy Scout Troop 46 finishing off the effort on May 7.
THANK YOU ALL!
We were especially pleased to have several new coordinators step up to carry on their predecessors’ traditions of successful group clean-ups – Pam Can in New Hope Borough, Mayor Dave Rivella in Morrisville, and Ed Armstrong of GOAL (Greenbelt Overhaul Alliance of Levittown.)
The very good news is that the Canal Clean-Up Day volunteers say that they find the Canal cleaner every year. In a May 11th Letter to the Editor to the Bucks County Courier Times, Friends’ member Joe Linus of Washington Crossing wrote, “I annually volunteer to clear trash from the Delaware Canal towpath. I am always amazed at how little trash we find. This year, I and four others could not fill even half a trash bag.”
Another validation of “the cleaner the Canal is, the cleaner it stays.”
The Locktender’s House in New Hope is a “bank building” set into the canal bank at Lock 11. It rises three stories high on its South Main Street side, and two stories up on its towpath side. This spring three slates fell from the house roof on the towpath side, and the copper gutter on the Main Street side was miserably clogged.
To the rescue came Jeffrey DeFrehn, Sr. and Jeffrey DeFrehn, Jr. of DeFrehn Roofing of Langhorne. They offered to fix the slate roof and clean the gutter at no charge because “we love historic buildings and want to help those who work to preserve them.” We are so thankful to the DeFrehns for this very necessary help. Jeffrey DeFrehn has been in the roofing business for over 40 years, and he and his team handle roofing projects from historic buildings to new construction expertly and efficiently.
This year’s Delaware Canal Festival has evolved into a series of summer-long events.
On June 17 the Delaware Canal Festival kicked off in Historic Bristol Borough. Lagoon Park and the green at Grundy Mill were filled with people who bought their dinner at a variety of food tracks and then stayed for the fun. The local Irish folk band, The River Drivers, set the rhythm for a parade of decorated boats and paddleboard exercisers who plied the calm waters of the Lagoon. Kids and adults decorated ducks for the big contest, played games, visited the tables of community groups, and sat relaxing on a perfect summer evening.
The Delaware Canal Festival will arrive in downtown New Hope on Saturday, July 30. From noon to 4 p.m. come see plein air artists at work along the towpath, Civil War re-enactors at the Parry Mansion, and performers from the Bucks County Folk Song Society at Ferry Street Landing. There will be duck decorating at the Locktender’s House, a scavenger hunt, a guided walking tour of the Canal and an Instagram contest.
And there will be more duck decorating at the Delaware Canal Festival in Morrisville on Saturday, September 10. The State Park educators will be offering the opportunities to paddle kayaks in the Canal, and there will be plenty of good music, food, and fun, too.
Don’t miss out on the rest of the ducky Canal Festival season!
Paul and Roberta Butler
Michael and Alberta Duncan
David and Mindy Emerson
Sue Ann Rainey Gillen
Gale Griffiths and Laurie Sauter
J. Brian Stalter
Paul and Donna King Trenchard
Break in your hiking shoes because the Friends are embarking on their 29th annual 58.0-mile-long Canal Walk this fall. Conducted over five successive Saturdays, the Walk is starting at the Forks of the Delaware in Easton and ending at Waterfront Park in Historic Bristol Borough.
Join in one or all of this year’s walks. The full Canal Walk 2016 itinerary will appear in the fall issue of Canal News and on-line at www.fodc.org. We hope that this is your year to take part in the challenge, the camaraderie, and the fun.
“I’m thankful that I walked the entire length of the Canal back in the ’90’s. I have the stock certificate framed and hung on my bedroom wall to remind me of the thrill I had taking the walks, and I still recall them when we ride along River Road where the towpath is visible. I feel so proud and happy that I took the walks.”
Friends of the Delaware Canal member ever since her first Canal Walk
Annette Heintz and “The Housewifes of Rolling Hills” have adopted the Uhlerstown to Lock 17 section in Tinicum Township.
Sheree Cote and Tom Lurz are taking care of the Mountainside Inn to Lock 12 section in Plumstead and Solebury Townships.
Monica Hemmers and Steve Heimann are back at work on the Lock 12 to Virginia Forest Recreation Area section in Solebury Township.
Ricki Fisher is covering the Rabbit Run Bridge to Bridge Street section in New Hope.
The work of our Canal Tenders truly makes a difference, and we’re grateful to have these new volunteers. We also thank the people who have taken care of these areas in the past – Joe Cloran, Sally Getchell, Nan Kirstein, and Bill Rorer.
You can be a Canal Tender, too!
Here are the sections of the Canal that need adoption:
Only 5.9 miles of the Canal’s 58.9 mile length remain orphans – just 10%. Please help to bring our orphan rate down to 9%.
Last week the Lehigh River water reached Point Pleasant. Last Sunday it had made its way to Lumberville, and today is just north of the Virginia Forrest Recreation Area.
Friends of the Delaware Canal
145 South Main Street
New Hope, PA 18938
Susan Taylor, Executive Director
Helping on Canal Clean-up Day is just one way you can get involved and help to restore, preserve and improve the Delaware Canal. Big or small, the perfect job for you awaits – all you need to do is get involved! FIND OUT MORE