banner image
GANJ Home Annual Conference Executive Board Sponsorship Guidebooks Membership Geoscience Links About

The Morris Canal its impact on Pennsylvania Coal Mining and New Jersey Iron, Cement, and Building Stone Mining

Annual Conference and Field Trip
October 2023
(actual date will be determined by March 2023)

The 2023 GANJ lectures and field trip will focus on the discovery, mining, and transportation of coal from eastern Pennsylvania; iron ore in northern New Jersey; limestone in Morris County; and building stones along the Morris Canal.

From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, geology and mining was mostly a seat-of-the-pants science. Some colleges taught natural science. Few colleges taught geology.

GANJ 2023 lectures will include early coal discovery and mining in the Jim Thorp area of northeastern PA and transportation of coal down the Lehigh River to the Delaware River circa 1820-1840. The Saturday field trip will start at the confluence of the Lehigh River and Delaware River at Easton, PA and Phillipsburg, NJ.

Additional GANJ lectures and the full field trip will describe geologic and hydrogeologic considerations for building the Morris Canal across northern NJ, (figure below) transportation of coal on the canal and the stimulus that coal had on the existing but infant mining industries for iron ore, limestone, and building stone. Mining, smelting, and the need for geologic investigations increased exponentially upon completion of the Morris Canal in 1831. The refined and raw materials were transported via canal to the Hudson River and then used by New York City and Atlantic Coast communities.

The Morris Canal allowed rapid, voluminous, and inexpensive movement of various ores to market. Lectures will discuss the hydrogeologic and geologic issues of mining ore in the NJ Highlands and building a canal to cross the 900 ft high Highlands.

Saturday’s field trip will visit the western terminus of the canal at the Delaware River, and we will proceed eastward visiting locks to raise canal boats in 10 ft increment and incline planes to raise canal boats in 100 ft increments. GANJ will enter a stone-constructed pre-Civil War water turbine for lifting canal boats. GANJ will also visit an early short railroad that used stone sleepers to support wood rails long before creosote ties were developed. GANJ plans to visit an early 1800s limestone kiln used for cement and agricultural lime production and nearby outcrops where limestone was quarried. GANJ plans to visit early 1800s iron ore mines, learn how Thomas Edison conducted the first geophysical survey to map the iron ore bodies circa 1870. GANJ hopes to visit early building-stone quarries. Other stops include one of America’s first highways to use cement for pavement, a church made of serpentine, and the source of canal water at the apex of the Canal.

Planning for much of the 2023 GANJ lectures and field trips is underway. We have lined up some interesting and knowledgeable speakers. However, if you have an idea or would like to make suggestions for a geologic topic on this theme; be a speaker, or suggest a field trip stop, please contact Pierre Lacombe at before March 2023.

Geologic Map

Geologic map of northern New Jersey showing the path of the 107-mile-long Morris Canal (blue line).
GANJ 2023 will focus on geology and hydrogeology of the western half of the canal (red dashed line).

Thank you to our 2022 sponsors!