Restoration of the Morris Canal’s Lock 2 East is an example of what supporters hope to achieve with the Morris Canal Greenway, with a tow path along the river where people can walk, hike and fish.
The 17-year project in Wharton is coming to fruition, according to Joe Macasek of the Canal Society of New Jersey. Last October, work began on the lock tender’s house, with reconstructed walls and a roof and since then lots of interior work has been done, said Macasek, who provided an update on progress along the canal to the Morris Canal Working Group during its virtual meeting on May 18.
The Morris Canal runs 102 miles from Jersey City to Phillipsburg.
In Boonton, a partnership between the township, its trails committee and the Canal Society, has yielded a trail plan that will bring to use many of the canal assets, including a railroad trestle and rehabilitation of the Stone Arch Bridge. Macasek said they’re trying to work with a developer who has acquired acreage in Grace Lord Park to preserve some Ironworks features for the greenway, such as a retaining wall, which held battery pond of water power to run The Rolling Mill; a blacksmith’s shop; and the Esten House, the former Ironworks manager’s house, which they hope to save and make the center of a historic district. A new trail head and signage was installed and another three signs are in development for Ironworks.
Further west, the Canal Society is working with the Township of Mount Olive to acquire Inclined Plane 3, near Route 80, which previously was owned by the International Trade Center. It had been offered as a donation years ago, Macasek said, but never quite could get accomplished until recently. Mount Olive acquired the property with some help from the Canal Society, he said, and the deal will be done after some environmental cleanup. Access to the site is not easy, Macasek added, but they will work with the township in the future to create practical public access.
In Warren County, there are Greenway trail improvements slated for Plane 9 West, Bread Lock Park, Port Murray, Florence Kuipers Park and Bilby Road. “Funding is going to bring those sections up to snuff,” Macasek said, and improve public access.
Macasek also encouraged attendees to take advantage of walking tour guides the Canal Society has developed, which are available on its website.
The Waterloo Valley Trail is probably the longest stretch of the Morris Canal Greenway, running about 5 miles from Waterloo Village to the Bilby Road, and one of the most walked sections of the Greenway along Musconetcong River, Macasek said. There’s a walking guide in the works that he hopes will be public this summer.
Macasek’s presentation and other meeting materials are available on the Working Group’s website.