For the first time since Waterloo Village closed to the public, the grist mill at the historic site will be open to the public on Saturday as part of Canal Day.
The Canal Society of New Jersey and the state Department of Environmental Protection have joined forces for the event. They will open the section of the Morris County adjoining the village, the most intact canal town between Jersey City and Phillipsburg.
The society’s crew will provide rides on the pontoon boat on the portion of the canal at Waterloo and Captain John Hummel will spin his yarns about life when the canals were the thoroughfares of the country.
The Morris Canal opened in 1831 and was a boon for shipping to and from the anthracite coal regions of Pennsylvania. The village in Byram grew to support the canal operations, but faded as it was eclipsed by the railroad.
After a period of questionable administrative decisions, though, Waterloo Village abruptly closed when its state funding was eliminated from the 2007 budget. The canal days are among the few times each season that it re-opens for visitors.
Activities will include live period music and guided walking tours of the town, including the New Jersey Canal Museum and carriage barn, which will have exhibits and video presentations.
The society’s table will sell books on canal history and other items. Also open to the public are Smith’s Store, a well-preserved Morris Canal store that exemplifies a mercantile establishment of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The 1820s Rutan Cabin and the Lenape Village will also be open as will the blacksmith shop.
For more information and to check on the weather, log on to canalsocietynj.org. The rain date is Sunday, June 26.
SOURCE: CANAL SOCIETY OF NEW JERSEY