|Business Type: D&H Canal|
205 Hoag Road
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, anthracite -- the so-called "stone coal" -- was virtually unknown as a fuel, and the United States was facing an energy shortage. Before the War of 1812, bituminous (soft) coal had been imported from Europe, which now was in the throes of political chaos.
In 1814, two far-sighted and imaginative brothers, Maurice and William Wurts, began to acquire anthracite-bearing fields in the Lackawanna Valley of Pennsylvania. They were faced, however, with a most difficult problem: how to get the coal over mountainous terrain to the Hudson River and thence to New York City. They did manage to interest some investors, and the Delaware and Hudson Canal was born.
"A Massive Endeavor"
The completed canal, the first section of which was opened in 1828, was 108 miles long, ran from Honesdale, Pennsylvania, to an area near Kingston, New York, on the Hudson River, a trip that took 10 days by barge. The canal included 108 locks (not, however, one per mile), could handle barges 90-feet long carrying cargoes of 120 tons. The charge for a full barge of coal was $2.25.
The system incorporated four aqueducts designed by John A. Roebling, who, in 1867, would present his plans for the Brooklyn Bridge. One of those aqueducts, which carried the canal over rivers, crossed the Neversink River at Cuddebackville, and its massive stone abutments can still be seen at the D&H Canal Park.
Today, a one-mile section of the canal runs through a portion of the D&H Canal Park. The remains of a lock, a holding basin for barges, and the towpath along which mules or horses pulled those barges are fascinating relics of a period when men first visualized the advantages of long-distance haulage of goods and services for a fast-growing country. The walk is a pleasant one along the now shaded path, which is completely handicapped accessible.