The layout is easy to read and follow
with interesting pictures highlighting
the route.  The comb binding really
works so you can lay a page flat.
Dennis Furbush, secretary, Canal Society of NJ
       Field Guide to the Morris Canal of   
                              New Jersey
                 (A Greenway in the Making)

by Jakob Franke with assistance from Bob Barth, Linda Barth,
John Drennan, and Ron Rice-Cartography by Gary Kleinedler
                reviewed by David Barber, president of the   
                             American Canal Society
This is probably the largest format, highest
quality field guide to any North American towpath     
canal yet produced. The author begins with a
history of the Morris Canal and of the recent
efforts to produce a guide to it. He then goes on
to describe the 102-mile main canal and the
feeders in detail in twenty-three sections,
including very detailed color maps. Each section
describes how to drive the route, where to park,
what sections you can hike, and what you will see
or not see. The guide also includes a table of
significant features, a glossary of terms, and a
The canal included 23 inclined planes and 33
locks to overcome the 760 feet of elevation
between the Delaware River at Phillipsburg, NJ,
the summit at Lake Hopatcong, and the 914 feet  
down to tidewater at the Hudson River opposite
New York City. After 87 years of service, the canal
was intentionally dismantled by the State of New
Jersey and many parts built over. But, not all.
While the opportunity to create a greenway
across the state was surrendered in the 1920s,      
it is being slowly won back in the twenty-first
Having hiked almost all of the Morris Canal  myself,
I find this an excellent guide and resource.
The guide is 8½ inches by 11 inches in size and
contains 160 pages. The back cover is a key map
to  all of the individual maps included. It is
wire-bound for easy reading.
Copies are available from the author, Jakob
Franke, 424 Tappen Road, Northvale, NJ
07647-1418, 201-768-3612; for
$25.00 plus $5.00 s/h. You can
       Review of Field Guide to the
       Morris Canal of New Jersey
By Phil Jaeger, Past Director, Canal Society of New Jersey

In the early 1980s, Frank Mentone, a dear
friend of mine and fellow railroad buff, and I
thought it would be interesting to trace the
remains of an earlier means of transportation
in northern New Jersey, namely the Morris
Canal. Over the next two years and 15 or so
outings we walked about 90 percent of the
canal’s 102-mile length and also rode the
Newark City Subway, which was constructed
in the canal’s bed after the canal was
abandoned. We both consider those
excursions to be one of the best adventures
of our lives.

The many hours Frank and I spent on the
canal gave us a deep respect for early
American technology and particularly for the
canal’s inclined planes. This was especially
true as we slowly walked up the same planes
that early Morris Canal boats had been pulled
up by water power 150 years before. We were
also amazed that so much of the canal still
existed after its dismantling in the 1920s.

All of those thoughts were rekindled while
reading the recently published Field Guide to
the Morris Canal of New Jersey. What an
incredible job the authors have done in
meticulously providing directions and maps
so that 21st-century explorers can easily
follow the route of northern New Jersey’s
earliest transportation system. The Guide
follows the canal from its western terminus in
Phillipsburg to the Hudson River and consists
of 23 sections of roughly 4.5 miles each so
the traveler can customize his journey as
needed. Directions and maps are extremely
detailed so the reader can easily follow the
canal as it twists its way across the state.
Canal history and photographs provide
background information to aid interpretation.
In addition, nearby points of interest as well
as available food and lodging are provided
for each section to make the journey as
informative and comfortable as possible.

If you enjoy discovering the past for yourself,
whether it be anywhere from urban
exploration to country walks, the Field Guide
to the Morris Canal of New Jersey opens the
door to a marvelous adventure. I know; I’ve
been there.