ROXBURY, NJ – An important section of the former Morris Canal in Roxbury would be preserved under plan endorsed by township officials.

The Roxbury Mayor and Council voted Tuesday to offer $15,000 toward the potential preservation of the remains of Morris Canal Inclined Plane 1 East, off Shippenport Road in Landing.

The money, which would come from the township’s Open Space Trust Fund, represents 20 percent of the estimated $75,000 it would take to create “planning documents” related to the preservation project. The balance would come from a grant by Morris County for which Roxbury would apply, said officials.

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Inclined planes used water from upper canal levels to create the power needed to raise and lower canal boats riding up and down slopes on cable-drawn cradle cars that rode on rails. Inclined Plane 1 East, near Lake Hopatcong — the canal’s main source of water — allowed canal boats to be raised and lowered about 50 feet.

The remains of Incline Plane 1 East are adjacent to the planned Villages housing development on Shippenport Road.

“As part of the Villages project that is finally beginning to move forward, the developer will be dedicating a parcel along Shippenport Road that contains significant remnants of Inclined Plane 1,” wrote Roxbury Township Manager John Shepherd in a memo to the council.

He said the township “enjoys a Deed of Historic Easement” on another piece of land adjacent to Shippenport Road, which contains other canal artifacts.

The proposed planning documents would address matters including parking and safe pedestrian access to the canal remains.

Existing historic resources in the area include above-ground elements such as the inclined plane’s “sleeper stones” which supported the beams that held the rails, pieces of a bloomery forge foundation, the plane’s turbine tailrace and tailrace tunnel and the tow-path to-and-from Lake Hopatcong, says the proposed grand application.

The plan also would involve “an archeological management plan to investigate, document and preserve subterranean historic resources in the area of Plane 1 East.”

The site off Shippenport Road was one of 23 inclined planes on the 102-mile canal that were used to raise and lower canal boats making journeys between the Delaware and Hudson rivers in the 19th century. It was one of three inclined planes in Roxbury; Ledgewood is the site of Inclined Planes 2 East and 3 East.

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