Supporting the Natural and Cultural Resources along the Delaware River and Its Tributaries

Thanks to 100 plus volunteers, and many nonprofit and governmental sponsors including the D & R State Park, Hunterdon County, Delaware Township, West Amwell and Frenchtown Clean Communities, and the Delaware River Greenway Partnership, the 3rd Annual NJ Clean Communities Delaware River Cleanup was a success with over 100 bags of garbage, 20 tires and larger pieces of debris collected. We look forward to the 4th annual event tentatively on Sept. 18, 2021.

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November 13, 2019

America’s “Ancient Garden:” The Bartram Botanic Garden 1728-1850

Joel F. Fry

Four generations of Bartrams lived and worked at the family botanic garden in Philadelphia from 1728-1850 and made their livelihood by the exchange of plants and natural history specimens with the world. Bartram’s Garden became a gathering point for scientists, artists, gardeners, and the curious. Most of the native plants of eastern North America were in cultivation by the Bartrams, and the collection grew with contributions from each generation. When the garden left Bartram family hands in 1850, Bartram’s Garden could be described as a truly ancient garden.

This talk traced the careers of John Bartram and his son William, and their travels in North America. Their business in plants saw them collecting along both sides of the Delaware Valley almost every year. Bartram’s Garden has been preserved as a Philadelphia city park since 1891, and recent restoration work has seen the recreation of a garden from the third Bartram generation, the “Ann Bartram Carr garden,” and a new “Bartram Mile Trail” along the west bank of the Schuylkill, reconnecting the garden to Center City Philadelphia.

 Joel T. Fry has served as curator for Bartram’s Garden since 1992. He has participated in a number of archaeological and historic research projects at the garden site since 1975. He studied anthropology, historical archaeology, and American Civilization at the University of Pennsylvania, and has written extensively on the history of Bartram’s Garden and the Bartram family plant collections.

His several publications include: “Inside the Box: John Bartram and the Science and Commerce of the Transatlantic Plant Trade” (2014); “America’s ‘Ancient Garden’: The Bartram Botanic Garden, 1728-1850” (2011); “William Bartram’s ‘Commonplace Book’ and ‘On Gardening’” (2010); “William Bartram’s Oenothera grandiflora: ‘The Most Pompous and Brilliant Herbaceous Plant yet Known to Exist’” (2010); and “Historic American Landscapes Survey, John Bartram House and Garden” (2004).   

September 17, 2019

Robert McCracken Peck: Ordering the Cosmos:
Charles Willson Peale and the Philadelphia Museum

Charles Willson PealeRobert McCracken Peck

In 1790, Charles Willson Peale announced to the citizens of Philadelphia that he was prepared to open a museum of "objects of natural history and things useful and curious" which he hoped might one day be recognized as a cultural and scientific repository for the nation. It was to represent the culmination of a long and distinguished career in art and science that made Peale one of the most remarkably versatile figures of his age. Peale's Philadelphia Museum, which flourished well into the 19th century, began its focus on the flora and fauna of the Delaware Valley, but quickly expanded to include other parts of the country and ultimately objects from around the world. It set standards for museums that are still applicable today. Using images of Peale's remarkable collections of paintings and artifacts, naturalist and historian Robert Peck discussed Peale's seminal contributions to American art and science and place his museum in its broader cultural, artistic and scientific context.

Robert McCracken Peck, Senior Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, is a writer, naturalist, and historian who has traveled extensively in North and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. He served as Special Assistant to the Academy's President and Director of the Academy's Natural History Museum before being named Fellow of the Academy in 1983. The author of numerous books and articles on natural history and the history of science, Peck serves as the “humanist” on the staff of the Academy. He has provided commentary for NPR, PBS, BBC, the New York Times and other news outlets. 

May 7, 2019 

Dennis Bertland:
Delaware River Settlement & Commerce during the Pre-canal Era

Charles Willson Peale

A trade network had developed along the Delaware River by 1750, a half century after European settlers began to occupy the middle reaches of the valley. For almost a hundred years thereafter, the river served as the region’s major commercial artery. Dennis Bertland pointed out the boat landings, mill hamlets and market towns with their riverside storehouses, stores, and taverns that served as collection points for the shipment of marketable products shipped downriver to Philadelphia and overseas, and goods brought upriver for local consumers. He also discussed the products transported which included corn, flour, hemp, linseed, logs, and, later, pig iron, castings, preserved pork and beef, distilled liquor, roofing slate and fuel coal.

The speaker is the principal of Dennis Bertland Associates, a historic preservation consulting firm based in Stockton, New Jersey. He has an extensive background in historical research related to the early settlement patterns and architecture of the Delaware Valley. This program on early river trade and settlement along the Delaware River is based on research he conducted for the Knowlton Township Historic Commission, stewards of the Ramsaysburg Homestead, an 18th century property along the river in Warren County, New Jersey.

April 17, 2019

Teagan Schweitzer:
Sturgeon: Its History and Impact on the Delaware Valley from an Industrial and Culinary Perspective

Sturgeon: Its History and Impact on the Delaware Valley from an Industrial and Culinary Perspective

Did you know that sturgeon were once a significant part of Philadelphia’s fishing industry? In the 19th century, sturgeon from the Delaware River and its tributaries made up a major share of the local economy and foodscape. It also played a significant role in sturgeon consumption around the globe. Like many other depletable food sources, the sturgeon industry went through a significant boom-bust cycle. In this lecture, learn more about the history of the sturgeon and the industry that grew up around it, its various uses, its culinary impact on the local cuisine and hear some amusing historic sturgeon stories.

Schweitzer has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on Historical Archaeology and specifically on the food of the Philadelphia area during the 18th through 20th centuries. She works as a zooarchaeologist, specializing in the analysis of animal bones recovered from archaeological sites for AECOM, one of the biggest engineering firms in the world. This talk results in part from her research on AECOM’s I-95 project, to date the largest and most extensive archaeological excavation in any U.S. city. 

November 14, 2018 

Jeffrey Marshall:
Delaware River Towns: Full of Character and Full of Characters

Jeffrey Marshall

Rivers have always been important to people. A crossing or fording place in a shallow river often led to the emergence of a ferry and tavern and several houses. The presence of a tavern or ferry would encourage commercial growth, and if the crossing site was blessed with streams to provide water power for milling, a village would likely follow. Entrepreneurs often built a bridge across the river which funneled more traffic and business to the town.

River towns seemed to attract a special type of character. Hard working, fun loving people who could deal with the threat of flooding and other dangers of life along river as well as the beauty and vitality provided by the river.

Jeffrey Marshall, president of Heritage Conservancy in Doylestown, PA, has been involved in land conservation and historic preservation for 40 years. A strong advocate of community outreach and engagement, he has been the recipient of multiple tourism and historic preservation awards and is the author of six books on Bucks County architecture and history. Marshall serves as vice president of the Board of Directors of the National Barn Alliance and is a founding member and past president of the Board of Directors of the Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania. He serves on the Board of Directors of Preservation PA and is a former president of the board of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association.

October 18, 2018

Chuck Veit: The Alligator: The US Navy's First Submarine

The fascinating story of the Alligator, its missions, and its loss, is told against the history of underwater vessels in the first half of the 19th century.

In the late 1850s—on the Delaware River at Philadelphia and on Rancocas Creek in New Jersey--an immigrant French engineer named Brutus de Villeroi built a submarine. It was to be used for hunting sunken treasure, but, when war broke out, the inventor offered it to the Navy of his adopted country. Although not interested in submarine warfare, the U.S. Navy was willing to gamble on anything that might be able to sink the rebel Merrimack. De Villeroi's credentials were impeccable: he had a lengthy record of inventions and discoveries, and had built his first submarine in 1832. What could go wrong?

Naval historian Chuck Veit is author of a number of original research books on Civil War naval topics. Copies of his most recent book, Natural Genius, which tells the story of Brutus de Villeroi and the Alligator, was available for sale. Chuck is a frequent speaker on 19th century naval topics at area historical societies, Civil War roundtables and conferences and has published numerous articles in journals and magazines. He is president of the Navy & Marine Living History Association, an organization dedicated to sharing America’s naval history through the medium of in-the-field events.

June 3, 2018

Pedal & Paddle on Sunday 

A much-enjoyed blend of an 8.5 mile bike ride on the Delaware Canal Towpath and a 3 mile kayak paddle on the D&R Canal!
Co-sponsored by Delaware Canal State Park, D&R Canal State Park and Delaware River Greenway Partnership.

May 14, 2018 

Richard Hunter:
Trenton’s Other Canal: The Trenton Water Power 

Trenton Water Power

Built at the same time as the Delaware and Raritan Canal in the early 1830s, the Trenton Water Power arguably exerted as much influence over Trenton’s 19th-century industrial growth as its better known and larger sibling waterway. The 7-mile-long canal powered dozens of downtown factories – flour mills, saw mills, textile mills and foundries. It played an especially critical role in the rise of the Trenton Iron Company and the Cooper Hewitt iron and steel empire. Today, virtually all above-ground trace of the Trenton Water Power has disappeared. Much of it lies beneath Route 29, which faithfully follows its course from Scudder’s Falls to the Assunpink Creek. Once in a while, remains of the canal will come to light as the city redevelops. Dr. Hunter’s presentation drew heavily on his firm’s historical and archaeological studies carried out over the past quarter century in connection with the reconstruction of Route 29 and other downtown development projects.

Dr. Richard Hunter is President of Hunter Research, Inc., a Trenton-based historic preservation consulting firm founded in 1986. A long-time resident of Hopewell Township, Richard currently serves as a Mercer County Cultural & Heritage Commissioner, a trustee of the Hopewell Valley Historical Society, and a board member of the Trenton Downtown Association. He has authored numerous articles on topics of New Jersey history and archaeology and he lectures frequently throughout the region.

April 23, 2018 

Richard Veit:
Fever! The History and Archaeology of the Philadelphia Lazaretto, a Precursor to Ellis Island

Philadelphia Lazaretto, Frank H. Taylor c.1895Richard Veit

Lecture presented by historical archaeologist Dr. Richard Veit, Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Department of History and Anthropology at Monmouth University. The presentation examined the history of the Lazaretto and Monmouth University’s archaeological investigations at the site.

The Philadelphia Lazaretto, located in the Delaware River community of Essington in Tinicum Township, Pennsylvania, is the oldest surviving lazaretto, or quarantine station, in North America. The 10-acre lazaretto, built with a hospital, offices
and residences on the banks of the Delaware River, processed ships, cargo and passengers sailing from the port of Philadelphia for nearly a century. 

September 13, 2017 

Charles Hardy:
Fish or Foul? A History of the Delaware River Basin through the Perspective of the American Shad 

Shad fishing on the DelawareCharles Hardy

Professor Charles Hardy is an authority on the Delaware’s best known fish species and its early shad fisheries industry. In this illustrated talk, Professor Hardy used the history of the Delaware River shad fishery as a window into the water quality of the lower Delaware and competing uses of its waters from the 1680s to the present.

A professor of history at West Chester University, Charles Hardy III is the producer of award-winning historical websites and documentaries. Dr. Hardy is the principal author of “Pennsylvanians and the Environment” on, for which he also serves as supervising historian.

May 22, 2017 

Richard Hunter:
Trenton –A Forgotten Port Community

Richard Hunter

In his lecture, Dr. Hunter discussed the history of Trenton as a port and trading hub at the head of navigation on the Del-aware River.

Trenton emerged as an important focus of the fishing industry in the mid-18th century. Beginning in the 1760s, Trenton Landing (aka Lamberton) became a satellite port of Philadelphia with transatlantic and Caribbean shipping docking on the riverbank where the Route 29 tunnel is today. Trenton Landing was a key supply station for American forces during the Revolutionary War and the port thrived into the early 19th century as sailing vessels began to be replaced by steamboats. Decline came as the Delaware and Raritan Canal and the railroads took business away from the waterfront from the 1830s onward, but Trenton maintained a portly presence well into the 20th century with its marine terminal. This presentation drew heavily on the historical and archaeological studies carried out over the past 20 years in connection with the reconstruction of Route 29.

Richard Hunter is president of Hunter Research, Inc., a Trenton-based historic preservation consulting firm founded in 1986. He holds a Ph.D. in historical geography from Rutgers University, an M.A. in archaeological science from Bradford University, U.K. and a B.A. in archaeology and geography from Birmingham University, U.K. A long-time resident of Hopewell Township, Dr. Hunter currently serves as a Mercer County Cultural & Heritage Commissioner, a trustee of the Hopewell Valley Historical Society, and a board member of the Trenton Downtown Association. Dr. Hunter has authored numerous articles on topics of New Jersey history and archaeology and he lectures frequently throughout the region.  

April 10, 2016 

Tom Folk:
Delaware River Views by the Pennsylvania Impressionists

Rosen Winter Patterns

This distinctively American school of Impressionist landscape painting focused on preserving views of the Delaware River. Starting in1898, painters settled along the river and the canal from New Hope to Point Pleasant. The river towns and landscapes — some views have changed while others have not — are featured in many of the best known works of this school. The paintings of Edward Redfield, Daniel Garber, Charles Rosen and many others were discussed.

Dr. Tom Folk is author of Pennsylvania Impressionists and regarded as the leading authority on the subject. He published the first book on this subject in 1997 and has organized more than a dozen museum exhibitions of paintings by the New Hope Impressionists. He is currently working on the definitive catalogue of the works of Edward Redfield, the leading painter of this group. Folk was formerly curator at the James Michener Museum in Doylestown. He has also published many articles on American ceramics. He is on the Education Committee of the Appraisers Association of America, and teaches at New York University.

April 22, 2014

Bruce Stutz:
Three Centuries of Earth Day on the Delaware River

Bruce Stutz

Environmental historian and journalist Bruce Stutz was the featured lecturer on Earth Day, April 22, 2014. Mr. Stutz’s books include Natural Lives, Modern Times, People and Places of the Delaware River, an environmental history that connected the natural history of this longest undammed river on the East Coast to the civilization that grew up along its banks, a civilization that eventually threatened the very river that gave it life.

His lecture, “Three Centuries of Earth Day on the Delaware River” addressed human impacts on the river. Within twenty years of William Penn's arrival in the late 1600s, Dutch, Swedish, and English colonists had irreversibly altered the nature of the Delaware River. According to Mr. Stutz, understanding the river's survival over the ensuing three centuries provides reason to be optimistic for its future.

Bruce Stutz is a contributing editor to OnEarth, the magazine of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and to e360, the online environmental journal of the Yale School of Forestry. For more than thirty years he has traveled the world to report on nature, the scientists who study it, and the challenges of environmental change. His articles have appeared in national and international publications, among them Discover, Natural History, Scientific American, The New York Times Magazine, Audubon, and Conde Nast Traveler. As a magazine editor—as features editor at Audubon and then as Editor-In-Chief of Natural History—he worked closely with international scientists from diverse disciplines and engaged some of the world’s best photojournalists. His museum projects include editorial concept design and content for “Science Storms,” a permanent exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry and exhibits at the California Science Center’s new Air and Space Center.  

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