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How It Works: The Morris Canal (with special tour!)
June 30 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm$5
For June’s special How It Works tour Mike Helbing will lead a talk and tour about New Jersey’s Morris Canal. The waterway was built in the 1820s and 1830s, eventually connecting the Lehigh Valley to the New York Harbor. Anthracite coal, iron, and other goods shipped on the canal spurred industrial development.
The afternoon will start at NMIH where Mr. Helbing will present a “then and now” slideshow describing history of the canal and what its route looks like today, 95 years after it closed. Some stretches remain watered while others have been redeveloped into new uses as diverse as the Newark City Subway. Helbing will detail how this engineering marvel took boats out of the water and raised them to higher levels of the canal using steep railroads known as inclined planes.
After the talk, around 3 PM, the group will carpool 30 minutes away to Plane 9 West in Stewartsville, New Jersey, just outside of Phillipsburg, to explore a fascinating remnants of the canal with guide Jim Lee. Wear your hiking shoes and a jacket because Mr. Lee will lead a special tour underground to see a subterranean chamber that still houses the circa 1850 hydraulic turbine that provided the muscle to pull boats up the inclined plane. Visitors can depart Plane 9 West at their own pace. Guests are welcome to return to NMIH, walk the canal, or talk with the guides and explore the site. Admission is $5 in addition to regular museum admission.
Mike Helbing is founder of Metrotrails, a unique hiking group that often traces the path of industry, whether it be on canal towpaths, former railroad grades, or foot trails through mining and factory landscapes. The purpose of Metrotrails is to assist in the planning, development, maintenance, and promotion of trail systems in the New York/Philadelphia metropolitan area, as well as education and preservation of natural and historic aspects of their routes. Mr. Helbing is a lifetime hiker; beginning at the age of three. Since then, he has worn out a multitude of footwear hiking over the tri-state area. Most weekends, you’ll find Mike on a trail somewhere, leading groups of outdoor enthusiasts on 15 to 20 mile hikes. He is also involved in the Warren County Board of Recreation, and countless other trail organizations.