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Posted Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Register Now: April 28 Canals and Local History Symposium is Selling Out

Newly acquired letters, documents and drawings reveal an untold story of the daily operations of the Morris Canal, a thoroughfare that was considered a technological marvel in the 1800s for its innovative use of water-driven inclined planes.

Morris County History: New Research to Tell Story of Morris Canals and Port Delaware

Joe Macasek, president of the New Jersey Canal Society, has been digging through 200 historic documents related to the business operations of the canal since the society acquired the historic collection in January.

Macasek will focus on the western terminus of the canal, Port Delaware in Phillipsburg, and Jersey City, the eastern terminus, as keynote speaker of the 3rd Annual Local History Symposium on April 28 at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township.

“It’s rare to find that kind of collection loose in the world. It’s full of useful information dating from the 1820s to 1920s: Letters, deeds, agreements, boat contracts, drawings; all manner of business communications,” said Macasek. “It includes minutia of every day operations of a 102-mile-long business and how it conducted its activities.”

photo of canal boars docked on the Delaware

Canal boats on the Delaware — courtesy NJ Dept. of State

Another half-dozen historians also will speak at the Canal Society of New Jersey and Morris County Heritage Commission’s symposium, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., April 28, at the Haggerty Center at Frelinghuysen Arboretum.

Other featured topics include:

  • Dredging the D&R Canal, by Bill McKelvey;
  • Waterloo Smiths vs. Mountain Smiths. by Rick Giles;
  • Paterson Water Power Canals, by Patrick Harshbarger and Jim Lee;
  • The Rockaway Rambler, A Turn-of-the-Century Automobile, by Joyce Kanigel;
  • The Railway to the Morris Canal, by Marty Kane;
  • Inclined Plane, Before and After the Morris Canal, by Joe Macasek.

The full-day event starts with a continental breakfast and includes lunch. Handouts, exhibits, artifacts, book sales and videos will round out the event.

Admission is $20 per person and attendance is limited to 100 participants.

To register, mail a check payable to Canal Society of New Jersey to P.O. Box 737, Morristown, NJ 07963. For more information, call Joe Macasek at 973-292-2755 or email [email protected].

For more information on the Morris County Heritage Commission, visit:

For more information on the Canal Society of New Jersey, visit: