Honoring the Irish Who
Built the D&R Canal
DEP Commissioner Campbell
and Senator Codey Dedicate an Irish Immigrant Memorial
(03/30) STOCKTON - Department of
Environmental Protection's (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M.
Campbell today joined Democratic Senate President Richard
J. Codey to dedicate a memorial honoring the hardships and
triumphs of the people who built the Delaware & Raritan
Canal, many of whom were Irish immigrants.
"It is fitting to dedicate this memorial
on St. Patrick's Day to honor the thousands of Irish immigrants
who helped build the D&R Canal - a vital transportation
corridor of the past and a popular recreational corridor
today," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell.
"This memorial will stand as a testament to the tireless
army of laborers who created a key piece of the state 's
The event, held at Bull's Island Recreation
Area, Hunterdon County, paid special tribute to the Irish
immigrants who dominated the canal work force in New Jersey
and throughout the northeast in the 1830s. Many of the canal
workers died during the cholera epidemic of 1832, and were
buried in unmarked graves along the canal. One burial site
is believed to have been on Bull's Island.
Robin Boyle, a local resident from Lambertville,
sparked the interest of legislators for this project. Through
her efforts the memorial, along with two sets of exhibits
that were dedicated previously, were funded through legislation
co-sponsored by Senators Richard J. Codey, Henry McNamara
and Leonard Lance.
"I would like to thank Robin Boyle
for her efforts in preserving the memory of these Irish
workers who came to America in pursuit of their dreams,"
said Senator Codey, D-Essex. "The canal itself is a
testament to their labors, but this memorial will help future
generations know about those who helped build this country."
The two-ton granite stone chosen for the
memorial was taken from a lock in the New Brunswick section
of the canal.
Built during the busiest decade of canal
construction in United State's history, the D&R Canal
provided a safe and short waterway between New York and
Despite many hardships, the canal became
a navigable waterway that facilitated the industrial revolution
throughout New Jersey. Although more efficient forms of
transportation eventually surpassed it, the canal today
remains a wonderful link to the past and is one of New Jersey's
most popular corridors for canoeing, jogging, hiking, bicycling,
fishing and horseback riding. The 70-mile linear park is
also a valuable wildlife corridor connecting fields and
The D&R Canal and towpath are part
of the National Recreational Trail System.