Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring on the Historic Delaware Canal

The forsythia and daffodils are a sure sign spring has finally reached Bucks County, with the warmer weather providing the perfect excuse for a stroll along the Delaware Canal.

Delaware Canal State Park is one of the great treasures of the Delaware River Valley, with a towpath running 60 miles along both riverbanks, as it meanders past historic villages, rural farmsteads, and quaint country houses. The last surviving fully intact towpath in the country, it provides a rare glimpse into a lost world of nineteenth century America. After all what more better way to experience the longest free flowing river east of the Mississippi than on foot much as it was seen over a century ago.

The charming sign on this stately residence reads “The Boathouse”, alluding to the buildings original function in the days of the canal. Known as quarterboards, such fancifully carved and gilded signs are a nautical tradition especially beloved on Nantucket. Originally designed for display on sailing ships, the sign would be removed when the captain retired and placed on the exterior of his home.

Here another beautifully maintained historic building from the heyday of the canal sits right along the waters edge. The tiny historic village of Uhlerstown where these photos were taken was once a bustling commercial hub that now boasts the finest group of nineteenth century canal related buildings in the country.

This charming covered bridge at the heart of the village is one of several still to be found on the back roads of Bucks County. The towpath, which often runs directly along the river, diverts here to the west, allowing for a wide swath of farmland that isolates the village from the river road. These fields coupled with towering cliffs to the west have done much to help preserve the nineteenth century atmosphere.

This romantic old Victorian Gothic mansion boasts a porch richly ornamented with lacey cast ironwork. With only the occasional car rattling virtually unseen across the bridge, it’s easy to forget the modern world as you stroll the towpath through this well-preserved rural village.

Here a closer look at the facade reveals another pointed Gothic Revival window while allowing a better view of the frothy metalwork of the porch. The beautiful old slate roof has achieved a wonderful aged patina.

This view of the bridge as seen from the road gives a hint of the cliffs running along the west side of the canal, but these photos are just a small sampling of the miles of historical, architectural, and natural treasures that Delaware Canal State Park has to offer, in spring or any other season.

Photos by KS&D.
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