Fall 2016 Issue

Sidebar: Traversing the Tow Path

New Jersey's Morris Canal

At Moris Canal Plane 9 West in Warren County visitors can walk through
the tail race tunnel into the turbine chamber.

Once an engineering marvel that connected the coalfields in northeastern Pennsylvania with New Jersey’s iron industry and major industrial cities, the Morris Canal is transforming into a popular greenway.

Built in the 1820s, and extended through Jersey City to the New York Harbor in 1836, the canal employed a system of 23 lift locks and 23 inclined planes to overcome an elevation change of 1,674 feet—more than any other canal in the world.

Today, portions of the canal are preserved, including Waterloo Village, a restored 19th century canal town in Sussex County. Work is underway to connect the various segments to turn the 102-mile length of the canal, traversing six counties, into a continuous greenway.

The Canal Society of New Jersey, a non-profit organization formed in 1969 to push for the restoration of New Jersey’s two towpath canals, has driven the effort to preserve the Morris Canal in northern New Jersey and the D&R Canal in central and southern New Jersey. 

The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, which publishes InTransition, formed a working group to coordinate the many activities to preserve the greenway and has awarded grants for studies and projects along the canal.

Melissa Hayes is managing editor of InTransition.