When the D&H Canal was first built, a 16ft high slackwater dam was built to form a pool or deep, slow-moving water, which allowed canal boats to safely cross the river. Mules and their drivers crossed the Delaware River on a rope ferry, while canal boats poled or floated across the river to the guard lock. This slackwater dam and rope ferry crossing of the Delaware at the Lackawaxen had been a major bottleneck from the time of the canal’s completion in 1828. It also caused conflicts with raftsmen as man timber rafts were damaged navigating the dam. The aqueduct operated for fifty-five years until the canal closed in 1898.
To ease congestion and speed the flow of traffic across the Delaware, the D&H Canal Company hired John Roebling to build an aqueduct. Roebling designed four suspension bridges for the D&H Canal; the Lackawaxen and Delaware Aqueducts, the Neversink Aqueduct and the High Falls Aqueduct. After the canal closed in 1898, three were abandoned. The Delaware Aqueduct’s strategic location and value as a road bridge prevented its demolition.
When the National Parks Service started the restoration work, the primary goal was to preserve the structural integrity of the bridge and as much of the original ironwork as possible. Almost all of the Delaware Aquedust's existing ironwork — saddles, cables and suspenders — are the same materials installed when the structure was built. Two of the suspension cables are made of the wrought iron strands, spun on site under the direction of John Roebling in 1847.
The Tollhouse, on the Minisink Ford, NY side of the bridge, contains self-guiding exhibits and historic photographs. The D&H Towpath Trail provides a one-mile stroll along the 1828 towpath. The bridge itself contains a walking path for visitors to view spectacular sites of the Delaware River and witness several year-round nesting eagles.
Minisink Ford, NY
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