BYRAM TOWNSHIP, NJ – Visitors were able to take a step back into the past this weekend, because of volunteers with the Canal Society of New Jersey, and in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry.
On Saturday, August 30, members of the public were able to enjoy a no-cost experience, at one of the Waterloo Canal Heritage days.
In addition to the Waterloo Canal Day in June, the Waterloo Canal Heritage Days took place on July 12 and 26, and August 9. Upcoming Canal Heritage Days will take place on Saturday September 13 and 27, and October 11, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Buildings that were open for view included: the church (which has remained open to the public since 1859 for worship services), the Seymour Smith House, Smith’s Store, the Sawmill, the Gristmill, the Blacksmith Shop, the Seamstress Shop, the Rutan Cabin, the Carpentry Shop, the Canal Museum, and the White Barn. Lenni Lenape Indian Village tours and boat rides along the preserved section of Morris Canal, also took place.
Waterloo Village was a forge in the 1700s, and then formed a community around its Morris Canal attributes beginning in the 1860s. In the 1960s, after the canal had been abandoned, and for a time, the village was as well, it became a well-known tourist destination.
A hands-on village, Waterloo is set apart from other villages of a similar kind like Old Sturbridge Village, because Waterloo features the actual buildings from its heyday on the original site location.
Waterloo thrived until 2007 as a popular concert venue on top of its historical value. Unfortunately, that was not enough. While the site is owned by the State of New Jersey and is part of the Allamuchy Mountain State Park, the foundation that assisted with the village faded away by 2007.
Today, volunteers such as the Friends of Waterloo (click here to read our story about the Harvest Moon fundraiser), the Canal Society of New Jersey, and the New Jersey State Park Service work tirelessly to bring the village back to its glory. One by one, the historical buildings are being refurbished and reopened for public view.
Visitors to Waterloo Village had an opportunity to watch a blacksmith demonstration as one activity, and to tour Smith’s Store, and to learn about the items for sale there. Author John R. Giles, who wrote The Story of Waterloo Village: From Colonial Forge to Canal Town (published July 29) was one of a number of volunteers at the village who shared insights with visitors about the village, the Morris Canal, and its relationship with the canal.
Another attraction for the day was live musical entertainment.
Click here to learn more about the Canal Society of New Jersey.
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