Canal News – Winter 2018
The Canal Gets Signs With Help from Our Friends
The Friends of the Delaware Canal are pleased to report that four interpretive sign projects will move forward this year. Two involve replacement of sign panels that are the worse for wear after 20+ years. The other two will create new and long-awaited signs that will allow visitors to better understand what took place at special sites.
The Friends, Bristol Borough Council, the Grundy Foundation, Bucks County Conference and Visitors Bureau, and the Bristol Cultural and Historical Foundation have collaborated to replace the nine interpretive signs that tell the story of the Delaware Canal as it passed through Historic Bristol Borough from the Lagoon to Riverfront Park. Not only will the panels be replaced, but the content will be revised to include new information and photographs.
Eighteen wayside signs that tell the basic story of the Delaware Canal will be replaced thanks to the generosity of thirteen guests who enthusiastically contributed to their cost during the auction at October’s Faces and Places benefit.
The lost town of Uhlersville and the powerhouse at Groundhog Lock in Raubsville will have their stories shared on a new three-panel kiosk sign thanks to the initiative of several local residents and a generous contribution from the Williams Township Board of Supervisors.
A wayside sign about the fascinating history of Smithtown in Tinicum Township will be created through a contribution in memory of dedicated, long-time member Tom Copenhaver.
Exciting and challenging days lie ahead as text is written, illustrations are found, and the signs are designed – all in the quest to share the Delaware Canal’s rich history in the best, most understandable way.
We are so grateful to all our partners for their support of these efforts.
The Flowable Fill Solution
by Tony Giacobbe, Regional Engineer, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Park Region #4, and Bilal Baqai, Civil Engineer, PA DCNR, Park Region #4
Sinkholes have been an issue in the more recent history of the Delaware Canal, and an especially incessant and serious problem in 2017. Sinkholes are openings that develop in the canal prism and tend to be most prevalent in areas where the Canal is adjacent to high rock walls and their associated shallow bedrock.
The fractures in the upper strata of the bedrock serve as erosion channels or “pipelines” for the materials, such as soil and gravel, which lie under the Canal’s clay liner. The channels were revealed by the use of ground penetration radar (GPR) during DCNR’s latest study to understand why sinkholes form.
Previously, DCNR’s best practices included over-excavating the sinkhole, placing some bentomat (a geosynthetic clay liner), then finally packing clay above the liner to canal-bed elevation. This practice did not seem effective since there were locations where this repair had been done multiple times.
To minimize costs of repairing the same areas, alternatives were considered for repairing sinkholes. “Flowable fill” was chosen as an inexpensive and effective material for the task. Flowable fill consists of Portland cement, fine aggregate, fly ash, water, and may contain other admixtures as needed (admixtures are materials that are added to the basic mix to change or improve the quality of the product). Like concrete, flowable fill cures over time, but its curing process is less restrictive. The use of flowable fill has become much more common by PennDOT for structural backfilling, pipe and bedding backfilling, and utility trench back filling, among many other uses.
The unique aspect about flowable fill is that it can flow into interstitial spaces without the need of vibrators, and once it settles and cures, it leaves a level surface. Along the Delaware Canal, it has become a much-needed solution to preventing leaks through the fractured bedrock under the Canal.
Once a sinkhole or cavity is identified, it is excavated, if needed, to identify the extent of the cavity. Flowable fill is then poured into the hole to ensure that all voids are plugged. After placement of the flowable fill, the area is lined with clay and compacted. With the restoration of the clay liner, the repair process is complete.
Thank You So Much!
2018 is off to a splendid start thanks to all of you who so generously responded to the Friends’ Year-End Appeal. We asked you to help us accomplish more in the new year, and you did just that. Your contributions replenish the Canal Improvement Fund.
See It Before It’s Gone
Beginning in 1794, the River House accommodated rafters and boaters who tied up before making their way through the formidable Wells Falls on the Delaware River in New Hope. When the Delaware Canal opened in 1831, the River House also welcomed canal boatmen on their way south to Bristol. In the 20th century, the River House came to be Odette’s, a popular cabaret and restaurant.
Preparations are well underway to move the original portion of the fieldstone River House inland to the American Legion triangle on South Main Street. The move will make way for the new Riverhouse at Odette’s, a luxury boutique hotel catering to weddings, meetings and special events.
Soon the River House that has stood between the Delaware River and the Delaware Canal for nearly two hundred years will no longer be at the site that gives it meaning. It’s time to take a last look.
Many purposes will be served by the new Riverhouse at Odette’s complex. Sadly, historic preservation is not one of them.
Park Manager’s Report
Happy New Year!
It has been a cold, snowy winter so far with much of the Canal frozen and snow on the towpath. We still have several weeks of winter to come with, I’m willing to bet, several more snow storms. It may be a good time to dust off the cross-country skis and get them ready for a trip out on the Canal.
We are anticipating the beginning of several projects along the Canal this year. They are: the Kleinhans Aqueduct replacement in Williams Township, the Phillips’ Mill bridge replacement in Solebury Township, the construction of a tunnel through the Conrail embankment near Fairless Hills, and the trail bypass along Tyburn Road.
In addition, development in New Hope at Odette’s is beginning to move forward. The Gateway to New Hope group is in the process of installing a temporary access road at the northern end of Odette’s to provide trail access to Park visitors. They are also preparing and shoring up the oldest portion of the Odette’s building so that it can be moved to its new location at the intersection of New Street and Riverwoods Drive. The move is anticipated to be within the next few months. DCNR is in the process of developing a preliminary plan for its facilities in New Hope including the relocated Odette’s building. The Department is looking at the feasibility of building a classroom space, public restrooms, and a new concession building in New Hope along with repurposing the Odette’s building into a space where educational and interpretive activities can take place. We would also like to make the towpath more accessible by installing an ADA accessible ramp from South Main Street up to the Canal.
Enjoy the Canal!
Want to be a Canal Tender?
Canal Tenders are at work along the entire length of the Canal, and their year-round help is very much appreciated by visitors and the State Park staff. Tenders pick up litter and debris, remove any small obstructions from the towpath, make notifications concerning creeping invasive species, watch for and report significant changes or anything unusual about their section of the Canal, and submit written reports twice each year.
Two of our long-time Tenders have retired because they’ve moved inland. Marge Copenhaver and Robert McEwan cared for their sections for many years and we thank them for all of their efforts and concern.
Although nearly all of the Canal is covered from Easton to Bristol are covered, there are five sections that need adoption.
- Bristol Riverfront Park to the Lagoon (0.97 miles)
- Beaver Street to Home Depot/Levittown Shopping Center (2.91 miles)
- Wheatsheaf Road to the Conrail Obstruction (2.52 miles)
- Phillips’ Mill to Centre Bridge (1.54 miles)
- Smithtown Bridge 3 to Treasure Island Lock 17 (1.01 miles)
Please let us know if you can help fill these gaps. The sections can be divided into shorter lengths to suit Canal Tender’s needs.
Being a Canal Tender is an interesting and exciting volunteer opportunity. The Canal is ever-changing and Tenders get to experience it all. Please call 215-862-2021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Want to help the Friends help the Canal?
Here are some of the ways that you can –
- Work with the Canal Action Team (CAT) on projects that require some heft.
- Become a Canal Tender. Several sections of the Canal need adoption.
- Be part of a Friends’ committee and make things happen. The standing committees are:
Advocacy, Restoration and Maintenance
Education and Recreation
At the Board Table
During our Annual Meeting on November 14, several actions were taken concerning the Friends’ Board of Directors.
Retiring, but still active, Board member Peter Sperry was honored and thanked for his many accomplishments. The membership re-elected Jeff Connell, Bob Ketler, Eileen O’Neil, Pete Rosswaag, and Brett Webber to additional two-year terms.
Elected to their first terms were Laure Duval and Lawrence Reinfeld.
At its first meeting of the new year, the Board of Directors elected its officers:
Brett Webber – President
Pam Can – Vice- President
Lynn Vogel – Secretary
Judith Franlin – Treasurer
The Board looks forward to making progress in 2018 and having some fun, too.
Welcome, New Friends
Bristol Borough Business Association
Robin Federiconi and Daniel Popkin
Theresa Lynn and Kenneth Plunkett
Joanne and Alfred Reszka
Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Schrader
Yoga Love Studio