Between 1831-1834, the Delaware and Raritan Canal was built to facilitate faster shipment of goods between Philadelphia and New York. The marker here at the Millstone Aqueduct in Plainsboro Township describes what it was like for both the skilled and unskilled laborers who worked on the canal. Some locals were hired to work on the project but these were supplemented by the hundreds with workers from Ireland. Many of those men had been recruited in the early part of the 19th century to work on the labor intensive Erie Canal project. Those who could not pay were allowed to work for a period of time, such as six months, to make up for the travel time. When the Erie Canal was completed in 1825, many laborers moved on to find work on the many canal projects getting underway across the young country. The D&R Canal was one such project. Because their labor was highly sought after, they were enticed to work the on the D&R Canal by a salary of $1.00 per day - 25 cents more than could be had on other canal crews. However, working and living conditions were harsh. Disease took its toll, especially during the summer of 1832 when an epidemic of Asiatic cholera swept through the US. It hit the makeshift canal camps and killed many workers. Despite these struggles, the 66-mile canal was completed, allowing for the faster transport of freight, most importantly coal from Pennsylvania to New York City. Today the majority of the historic 44-mile main stem and 22-mile feeder of the D&R Canal survives. In 1974 it officially became part of the New Jersey State Park system as the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park.
"Canal Dug By Irishmen." Accessed June 20, 2017. https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=36956.
"Delaware and Raritan Canal History." Delaware and Raritan Canal Park. Accessed June 20, 2017. https://dandrcanal.com/index.php/history