On the first warmish day in a while, I took the Radmini to check out a new river crossing. Beginning on the Delaware and Raritan Canal at Scudder Falls in New Jersey, I rode up the brand new ramp to the 10 feet wide multi-use path on the new Scudder Falls Bridge, which carries I-295 over the Delaware River to Pennsyvlania. The first span of this bridge opened in July 2019. The old bridge (which had opened in 1961) was then demolished and construction began on the second span, which was completed a year later. The shared pedestrian/bicyclist path then opened this past November.
The overpass was busy with with other bikers, walkers, and a few dogs. Coming off the bridge into Pennsylvania, I turned north up the Delaware Canal towpath to Washington’s Crossing. I crossed back into New Jersey on the old and narrow Washington’s Crossing bridge. The piers that support this bridge date back to 1831, while the superstructure was built in 1904. Each car lane is only 7.5 feet wide (so, 2.5 feet narrower than the bike/walk path on the new bridge). After that, it was a quick ride up the D&R canal to my starting point.
Around the turn of the last century, James Reuel Smith documented and photographed the natural springs and wells of New York City. Why? Well, he was born into a wealthy family and was clearly interested in fresh water.
Most were in the northern part of the city where there was less development and drinking water piped in through the Croton Aqueduct was not as readily available. Smith rode his bike to these locations, and that’s presumably his ride in the photo below, taken in 1897. His kit includes a couple of leather bags attached to the bike frame as well as a rear rack, perhaps used to hold his camera. You can see a communal tin cup hanging on a branch of the tree growing next to the spring, as well as the flat rocks laid around the spring opening.
Smith’s interest in water sources was not limited to New York. In 1922 he published Springs and Wells in Greek and Roman Literature, their Legends and Locations. Springs and Wells of Manhattan and the Bronx: New York City at the End of the Nineteenth Century was published posthumously in 1938.
As in, you are forbidden to drive a car on it, but you can bike, walk, or ride a horse on it. The former Wissahickon Turnpike, the main drag through Wissahickon Valley Park in Philadelphia, was built in the 1820s and got its current name in the 1920s when it was closed to vehicles.
On a pleasantly cool weekend morning there were a lot of people in the park, meaning we had to drive around a bit before finding a parking spot. The gravel path is wide and the people spread out so it was a leisurely 8 mile ride.
As peaceful as it is, Hanover Pond is part of what has been called a “highly engineered agricultural water supply system” for growing cranberries. Whitesbog was already a large, established cranberry operation when Gaunt’s Brook was dammed in 1896 to create Hanover Pond. Water from the pond is channeled into Whitesbog’s Upper Reservoir, built around the same time.
Port Mercer was a small town along the Delaware and Raritan Canal in central New Jersey. Since the canal closed down in 1932, commerce has shifted east to U.S. Route 1, where shopping malls, car dealers, and restaurants are now located. On the west side of the canal, there are still extensive swampy wetlands between Lawrence Township and Princeton.
Serendipitous is not the right word to use when you find yourself riding your bike alone in the woods around Crystal Lake on Friday the 13th. Fortunately, this was not Camp Crystal Lake, the stomping grounds of infamous axe-murderer Jason Voorhees. That’s up in north Jersey.
This Crystal Lake Park is near Bordentown in central Jersey. The park is mostly farm fields, with some steep wooded areas along the bluff overlooking Crystal Lake. To get to the park, you do have to drive down Axe Factory Road. I saw no actual axe factory, nor, I’m happy to say, any axe-wielders.
Sunny ride over the leaf-covered trails at Clayton Park near Imlaystown in Monmouth County, New Jersey. I rode for over six miles, covering almost all the trails in the park. Sighted one horse, one bike, and three dogs.
Fall colors are appearing in the Pine Barrens. I rode about 10 miles on parts of the Mt. Misery trail and Glass House Road in Brendan Byrne State Forest, which provide a mix of paved roads, wide graded sand roads, and single track closely hemmed by bushes and trees. I must have been the first visitor that morning, because I was constantly riding through webs spanning the trail and when I stopped for a bit, there were at least three spiders still hanging on to the front of my bike.
Near the end of the ride, the Reeves cranberry bogs provided a peerless photographic opportunity. The bogs were created by William H. Reeves at the beginning of the twentieth century and remained in operation for at least half a century.
The roads around the bogs had some soft sand. The RadMini did not seem to have a problem with it, but I did almost wipe out plowing through a turn a little too fast.