Credit is given to William Penn in 1676 for thinking of the canal idea. Construction began in 1830 when two companies (the Delaware & Raritan Canal Company and the Camden & Amboy Railroad and Transportation Company) decided to finance the venture . The railroad opened first, in 1833 and the full length of the canal was in operation on June 25, 1834.
New Jersey developed into an industrialized stateby the early 1800's. The factories cut down and used most of it's surrounding forests for the making of charcoal to run their burners. Soon after the depletion of New Jersey's forests, Pennsylvania discovered coal and began mining for it. The canal became an important trade corridor. It was too expensive to transport coal by rail and other water ways took two weeks. Mules and barges charged by the ton and were more cost efficient. A trip from Bordentown to New Brunswick took only 2 days. Towns and farmers along the route benefited from the traffic generated by this new canal. Canal operations ceased in 1932 when traveling by rail was faster and less expensive.
The canal's peak period was during the 1860's and 1870's. Records indicate that in 1871, 2,990,000 tons of coal were shipped by canal. The Princeton University Rowing team also used the Delaware & Raritan Canal for practice. This activity eventually became too dangerous with the heavy amount of traffic in the canal. In 1886, the rowing club was dissolved.
Howard Russell Butler, a former coxswain, (Princeton University Class of 1876) approached his friend, Andrew Carnegie, in 1902 and asked him to finance a lake that would be used mainly as a course for competitive rowing. Butler acted as agent and project manager. The 3.5 mile long lake was completed by the fall of 1906, at a cost of $450.000. The Princeton University Rowing Association was reinstated with its first regatta in 1907.
Water to the lake is controlled by a dam. It is fed by the Millstone River and the Stony Brook. Three dredgings have taken place since the lake opened due to large sediment deposits. There are now 12 sediment collection lakes in the Stony Brook Sub-Watershed area to help control sediment flow into Carnegie Lake. The lake is V-shaped from shore to shore with a depth of about 11 feet in the middle.
The Delaware & Raritan Canal provides water for much of central New Jersey. A total of 70.498 millions of gallons of water per day is taken from the canal (64.7 mgd for municipal, 4.7 mgd for industry, and 1.098 mgd for fire standby and agriculture). The Delaware River at Raven Rock is the initial source. Twenty small streams and four large streams join the 44 mile canal. In addition, there are twenty-six overland flow areas and storm sewers that drain into the canal. Adjacent streams and the Millstone River will sometimes flood into the canal.
During insufficient flow periods, water is drawn from the Millstone and/or Raritan Rivers. When the canal was dredged in 1984-85 for silt and other sedimentary deposits, a clay lining was discovered that seemed to prevent ground water from permeating the canal bed.
Water quality from the Delaware River feeding into the canal is rated good. It is monitored and quality tested along the canal. Modern storm water management interventions, such as detention basins, protect the canal from storm water runoffs. The summer growth of duckweed, and green algae, seem to indicate higher concentrations of phosphates and nitrates due chiefly to farmers and homeowners fertilizing in the spring. A concern has been raised regarding the change in the wild goose population, from migratory to residential. The concern is the possibility of fecal contamination.
The New Jersey Water Supply Authority and the Canal Commission are concerned about the quality of the surface water, ground water, and water shed areas around the canal and the lake. Significant changes will effect the ecosystems that are related and dependent upon the Delaware & Raritan Canal and Carnegie Lake.
For more information on the Delaware and Raritan
(These links will take you away from our web page. Please bookmark our page so you can return)
Beal, Christy, Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring and Special Projects Manager, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, summer 1997.
Canal Society of New Jersey, PO Box 737 Morristown, NJ 07963-0737.
D & R Canal Commission by James C. Amon, Executive Director, Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, Master Plan second edition, May 1989, Canal Press Incorporated York, Penn, 1975.
Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park, Princeton, New Jersey.
Streamwatch Chemical Monitoring Program of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Assessment of the Carnegie Lake Sub-Watershed of the Millstone Watershed, April 1997
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