This is an amazing 1914 map of the entire Delaware & Raritan Canal system. The map was drawn by the Pennsylvania Railroad, who owned the canal from 1871 until 1933. The canal then reverted to the state of New Jersey and used as a water supply. The 70-mile Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park was created in 1974.
== View the full-size 1914 D&R Canal Map (large!) ==
The D&R Canal was opened in 1834, to connect the markets of Philadelphia and New York by water. The canal ran from the Delaware River (at Bordentown) through Trenton, and then up to the Raritan River (at New Brunswick). This main section of the canal was 44 miles long.
An additional 22-mile feeder canal ran along the Delaware to Trenton, feeding water from the higher elevations to the north into the main canal. This Delaware River Scenic Byway ran south from Bull’s Island (across from Lumberville, PA) to Trenton.
The 1914 map provides a detailed view of the canal route and the adjacent rivers, with town names, townships and counties, railroad lines, and major roads. It also identifies the bridges and locks along the canal, and has details on the overhead bridges along the route, particularly in Trenton.
At the top of the map is a wonderful Profile schematic showing the dramatic changes in the depth of the canal cannel along its route – from its maximum in the Trenton section, and then dropping to the levels of the Delaware and Raritan Rivers at each end.
Seven locks, each 24 feet wide by 110 feet long, raised boats to the summit level in Trenton, 56 feet above sea level. From Kingston to New Brunswick, seven more locks carried boats to the Raritan. Only one lock was required on the feeder between Bulls Island and Trenton.D&R Historic Map – NJ 1976
The water in the main channel was 8 feet deep, with the channel 60 feet wide at the bottom and 75 feet wide on the surface, plus a towpath along one side. The feeder channel was smaller: 6 feet deep, and 50 feet wide at the bottom and 60 feet wide at the surface.
The Canal Route
The main canal starts north of Philadelphia, above Bordentown at the curve in the Delaware River, and continues up to Trenton. It then turns northeast from Trenton to Bound Brook, and then southeast along the Raritan River to New Brunswick.
The section up from Trenton first follows the Assunpink Creek through Bakers Basin and along Route 1, and continues through Princeton and Carnegie Lake. The canal then follows the east side of the Millstone River from Carnegie Lake through Kingston, Rocky Hill, Griggstown, and Millstone. Then above Weston, the Millstone joins the Raritan River, and the adjacent canal continues to its northmost point at Bound Brook.
At Bound Brook, the canal turns southeast, and continues along the south side of the Raritan River until it joins the river in New Brunswick, with the open waterway to New York.
The feeder canal along the Delaware now is the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail, also combined with the former right of way of the Bel-Del Railroad that also ran along the river. The feeder’s route south starts at Raven Rock / Bull’s Island (below Frenchtown). It then passes through Prallsville, Stockton, Lambertville, Titusville, Washington’s Crossing, and Scudder Falls to Trenton.
So what does the Pennsylvania Railroad (“P.R.R.”) have to do with a canal?
In the short version of the story, by 1867 the D&R Canal was part of the United Company conglomerate of N. J. transportation lines, which was absorbed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1871.
The United Company also owned the New Brunswick and Trenton Railroad (now the Northeast Corridor line that runs north from Trenton to New York), the older Camden & Amboy Railroad (north from Camden to South Amboy), and the Belvidere Delaware Railroad (“Bel Del”), which also ran along Delaware River, from Trenton north to Belvidere, Warren County.
The map shows these Pennsylvania Railroad lines (bottom to top):
- Camden & Amboy Railroad (C&A) – From Camden through Bordentown, and up to South Amboy
- Pennsylvania Railroad, New York Division – From Philadelphia to Trenton, then north to New Brunswick and up to New York (now the Northeast Corridor line).
- Bel-Del Railroad – From Trenton north along the Delaware to Belvidere, Warren County.
Plus the map shows part of one competing Reading line:
- Philadelphia & Reading Railroad: The current freight track through Pennington and Hopewell, part of a route from Philadelphia to New York. The map shows up to Yardley and across the Delaware, from Trenton Junction to Pennington, then a gap (Hopewell and beyond are off the map), and picked up again from Belle Mead to Bound Brook, where it meets the Central Railroad of N. J.
See Hopewell Railroad Lines for more on these railroads and the Frog War.
More information on the canal and its history, and on the groups supporting the canal.
- D&R Canal History – D&R Canal State Park
- D&R Canal – Canal Society of N. J.
- History of the D&R Canal – D&R Canal Watch
- Historic Photos – Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission
- History of the D&R Canal (2005) – Video with Linda Barth
Thanks to Rich Anderson for sharing this map. The original map is blueprint style (white on blue), but this version is an enhanced negative image, so it is more readable (and burns through less ink when printed).
== View the full-size 1914 D&R Canal Map (large!) ==
We welcome contributions of other maps and other materials that we can share on the History Project site.