D&R Canal and Lake Carnegie
I’d run on the towpath between the two many times before remarking on the parallels and contrasts in their histories. The lake was excavated in 1905 as a site for Princeton University’s rowing team:
In 1903, a group of Princeton alumni began purchasing farmland that occupied areas of the projected basin. They, in turn, sold this land to Carnegie. This was done in order to avoid arousing the suspicions of local residents, and to allow Carnegie to purchase the land for the lowest possible price. By 1905, the needed land was purchased and the work of clearing the area and constructing the bridges and dam began.
The canal was excavated
mostly by hand tools, mostly by Irish immigrants. Work began in 1830 and was completed in 1834, at an estimated cost of $2,830,000. When the canal first opened, teams of mules were used to tow canal boats through it (the steam engine was not yet applied to such uses). The canal’s greatest usage occurred during the 1860s and 1870s, when it was used primarily to transport coal from Pennsylvania to New York City…