Walking The Morris Canal

Ledgewood, Byram, Stanhope, Waterloo, Saxton Falls

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Detrick is a Canal Society member who also chairs the Warren County Morris Canal Committee, a group under the Warren County Planning Department that has been working on that county's long-range plan to acquire, preserve and develop recreational facilities at sections of the canal. According to Detrick, visitors to Waterloo can walk across a replica of the mule bridge that traversed the Musconetcong River to the foot of Inclined Plane 4 West. The sleepers that held the plane's rails, the foundation of the powerhouse and plane tender's house, and a length of the plane's cable all are visible in this area.

Waterloo also has the distinction of being the spot where three years ago, the Canal Society put a boat on a watered section of canal and used mules to tow it. This marked the first time in some 74 years that mule and boat were reunited for a trip on part of the Morris Canal. Waterloo Village also is the location for the Canal Society's annual Canal Day, held each year in late spring.

Continuing to the west are further sections of the Morris Canal Greenway trail, leading to a largely abandoned hamlet that was known by names that included Byram, Stourport and Starport. There are sections of towpath cleared here along the canal, which frequently contains water. Remnants of those bygone days include ruins of buildings, a stone abutment for a bridge that crossed the canal, and stonework that supported the canal embankment.


The stone abutment from a Morris Canal waste gate along the Greenway Trail near the Waterloo concert field. The gate discharged excess water form the canal or enabled complete dewatering for repairs. The gate is marked by an interpretive sign and is spanned by a timber foot bridge constructed by NJ Parks & Forestry. Photo by Robert Barth

Another section of the greenway trail is accessible from Kinney Road, off Waterloo Road and near Waterloo Village's large concert field. Visible here is a waste gate that allowed water from a stream entering one side of the canal to discharge out the other side. The gate also could be used to completely drain that section of canal for repairs. Proceed west for about a half-mile as the canal skirts the concert field, offering scenic views of the Musconetcong River. The trail runs along Waterloo Road for a short distance and then to another historic industrial area, where a stream flowing from Deer Park Pond once powered a sawmill. Ruins of the sawmill remain, as does a lime kiln next to it. Morrell says an iron ore dock on the canal also existed in this area.

Nearby is the site of Lock 4 West, and the lock tender's house, now owned by the state, was once known as Elsie's Tavern. Morrell said the Canal Society is hoping to get this building restored.


Historic view of lock at Saxton Falls.

A tour of this section of the Morris Canal ends at Saxton Falls, where a dam was constructed so that the Musconetcong River could be used as a slack water navigation section of the canal. According to Morrell, the Saxton Falls area was at one time known as "Little Phillipsburg,'' because so many people from Phillipsburg had bungalows there. The bungalow community existed until about 15 years ago, but many of those properties were purchased by the state for a reservoir that was never built. Through the greenway project, "We're really opening up that area to people again,'' Morrell remarked.

Saxton Falls includes another lock that has been filled, but the top of its stone walls is visible, again giving the visitor a sense for the size of a Morris Canal lock. Morrell said the Canal Society would like to see a boat ride along Saxton Lake someday. Also at Saxton Falls is a commemorative plaque regarding the canal, and a cleared section of towpath stretching more than a half-mile.

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Comments

Chris Campbell
16 Apr 2013, 11:28
Hi\r\n I just moved to Hackettstown, and was exploring by Hackettstown Hatchery. I came across the Morris Canal trail.\r\n While hiking the trail, I came across what looks like an old Homestead.Right next to the canal. I was wondering if this could have been a place where they would stop to change the mules. As it seems to have what looks like many barns with multiple stalls in them. Any help you could give would be a great help. I'm interested in learning more about this Great Waterway.
Linda Salkins
25 Feb 2012, 14:57
this came into my old email address as spam so please update to the above email address. thank you
Rick Colarelli
25 Feb 2012, 10:01
Information concerning the Morris Canal is facinating. I am trying to gather photos and trying to overlay its pathway in Lincoln Park and Wayne to see where any evidence of it still exists.
linda salkins
10 Oct 2011, 11:51
sure wish they would re-fill the swimming area at saxton falls. The swimm area was originally one of the locks . When I was a kid, all the peope that had bungalows up there swam in that spot...it was fantastic. I use to row down the musconnecong river, doc the boat to the side of the waterfalls and swim all day. They had a food stand there "Engroffs" I think it was, hot dogs and hamburgers...my family used that area for 80 years or more. It was lovely..
mindy paulus (ditmars)
10 Oct 2011, 11:39
Hi this is a comment in response to Linda Salkins comment above. I too lived in one of the bungalows many years ago. My grandmother was one of the original owners,and I would love to see the area thriving again.
linda salkins
31 Jul 2011, 13:15
I am doing research and putting together family photos that go back to the 20's. I have many many pictures of the saxton falls morris canal lock because it use to be a fantastic swimming site for all the people that had bungalows up there BEFORE the state took it over. That piece of the history is not explained or shown, you choose to only discuss it when it was a lock. You are missing a fantastic history of families that grew up there and I am one of them...if you want more I can be called at 562 884-0338. I live in California now but come home once a year. Linda
D. Hay
08 May 2011, 12:22
What was the purpose of a mule bridge?\r\n
Mike Petonak
27 Aug 2010, 14:19
I am looking for a map to see where the Morris Canal ran from Denville Thru Boonton Township in the area of Hamillton Farms off Old Denville Road.
Jim Alden
16 Oct 2009, 08:42
Shirley,\r\nThe only lock in Denville was located at what was then known as Peer's Store, now known as the restaurant La Cuchina. In what is now the parking lot, the canal lock was located. (Interestingly enough, until a few years back, the top stones of Peer's lock could still be seen, before the previous owners had the lot paved. I have a strong feeling that under that blacktop the stones are still there!)\r\nDenville is one of those towns where you can still follow the line of the canal almost the whole way, with little obliteration, though it is much overgrown.
Shirley McCarroll (Adee)
30 Jun 2008, 10:06
Any information about the Morris Canal between Rockaway, off of the Rockaway River, near Denville (Paralleling Morris Ave?) I grew up in that part of Denville walking and playing on the towpath. Our Girl Scout camp encompassed one of the locks - it had a cement wide bridge-like crossing (wide enough for two people to walk together across and connected to the towpath. We as kids called it the "Yaki Dock" What was it really for? I lived on Harriman ave in Denville about a block from the canal. Shirley McCarroll '46-'56.
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