ROXBURY, NJ - The township will spend up to $50,090 toward a proposed quarter-million-dollar restoration and stabilization of a piece of the former Morris Canal in Ledgewood if the bulk of the project is funded by state and county grants.

The township Mayor and Council voted last week to authorize the expenditure as Roxbury’s share of $250,450 that would be spent at the site of Morris Canal Inclined Plane 2 East. Known among canal aficionados as “P2E,” the 19th century engineering marvel is situated in Morris Canal Park off of Emmans Road.

Anti-Gravity Machine

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P2E and other similar inclined planes on the canal, used massive, water-driven iron turbines buried deep in the ground to allow canal boats to traverse steep hills. The boats were placed on “canal cars” that rode on rails and were connected to the turbines with chains or thick cables.

The plane in Ledgewood, which allowed the canal boats to go up and down an 80-foot-high ridge,  has been called one of the four best-preserved of the 23 planes on the 102-mile-long canal. It received initial stabilization in 2007.

The new project would include restoration of the integrity of the “stone elements” at the site, making the site’s appearance more historically accurate and completing some archeological investigations on the property.

Return to the Past

“Proposed scope of work to focus on the further restoration of extant physical elements of the inclined plane, including the stone-lined raceway, stone foundations of the wood flume, mule/tow path, existing foundations for the plane tenders’ house and other support structures still visible, and of the historic viewshed/overall physical landscape to reflect the time of canal operation,” says grant application paperwork

It was noted in documents that the township’s share is likely to be “significantly lower” than $50,090, due to some possible grants, and could be as low as about $10,000.

The plan, suggested by the township Open Space Committee, entails applying for funding from both the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust and the New Jersey Historic Trust. The Canal Society of New Jersey has offered to chip in money too, said a report by Open Space Committee Chairman Andrew Tybus.

After the work is finished, Roxbury would allocate money annually to maintain the site and also seek “professional and volunteer assistance,” says the grant application. One of the project’s goals is to “allow for a greater understanding and appreciation of inclined plane technology,” it says.

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