Plane 9 West - Greenwich
This site is the former home of the late James S. Lee, Sr. (pictured left), Morris Canal author and historian. Plan 9 West is located on Rt. 519 1/2 mile south of Route 57 intersection east of Phillipsburg. The address for obtaining directions is 477 County Route 519, Stewartsville NJ 08886.
Some facts about Plane 9 West:
Plane 9 West is the longest inclined plane on the Morris Canal (about 1600 feet) with the highest change in elevation (100 feet). The property was purchased by James Lee, Sr., one of the foremost authorities on the Morris Canal.
Another interesting bit about Plane 9 West was that it was a double-track. Two cradles meant that two boats could move at the same time, one coming up, one heading down. The other double-track planes along the Morris Canal were at Port Colden (Plane 6 West) and Newark (Plane 12 East).
By Myra Snook
On December 24, 1824 the New Jersey Legislature passed an act incorporating the Morris Canal & Banking Co., a private concern, to construct the Morris Canal. In 1831 the entire canal was opened. The first canal boat to travel east from Phillipsburg to Newark and return, started from Greens Bridge just west of Port Warren.
Shortly after the opening of the Morris Canal settlements began to develop at many of the locks and inclined planes along the canal. One such settlement was Port Warren. This settlement developed near the bottom of Inclided Plane 9 West. This area included a store, blacksmith shop, stable for mules, a tavern, a road bridge over the canal and several houses and farms.
Between 1845 and 1860 the canal was enlarged. The prism was increased to 25 feet wide at the bottom, 40 feet wide at the top and 5 feet deep. This allowed much larger boats to transport larger loads.
While the major item transported along the canal was coal, locally transported items included lumber, whiskey, sand, manure, ice in summer for use in ice boxes, and sawdust for use in storing ice in ice houses along the canal.
A small basin was located at the bottom of the inclined plane. Since it took about 15 minutes for boats to traverse the plane the basin provided a place where boats could wait their turn. Here the boats could also stop to load or unload at the store or tie up at night and wait for daylight to use the plane.
Small stores were located at locks and near inclined planes. They were necessary to provide provisions for the boatmen since the boats did not have refrigeration and had almost no storage. Some store owners also ran a stable providing oats and hay for teams pulling the canal boats.
At Port Warren the store was located adjacent to the road bridge over the canal. This store was built about 1831, just after the opening of the canal. This store was one of only three along the canal in Greenwich Township.
Robert L. Cline operated the store until his death in 1860. His wife, Elizabeth, took over and operated the store until 1890. The 30 x 50 foot 2 1/2 story rectangular stone building had a gamble roof with the north gamble facing the canal. Loft doors opened in the gable end allowing a hoist line to raise or lower items from canal boats. Farm produce and other local items were shipped via the canal from the store.
The store ceased operations when the canal closed in 1924. Only the foundation remains of the building that was demolished in 1950.
Today the village is no longer active and all but forgotten. However, the former store owner's house, next to the store site, is a private residence located on the old road alignment, now called Port Warren Road. Here too, the mid 1800s tavern is also a private residence. Several houses and small farm complexes also remains.
A bridge was built to allow vehicular traffic to cross over the canal. This bridge was used from 1830, when the canal was built, until just after the canal was abandoned in 1924. In 1927 a new bridge was built over the abandoned canal, and Lopatcong Creek when the old road was realigned. This road realignment altered the canal prism and created a new channel for Lopatcong Creek. County Route 519 was placed on top of a portion of the canal but much of the canal prism still remains.
The flood in 1940 took out the bridge leaving the heavy timbers to deteriorate. The north abutment, made of native stone, remains and is part of the most intact canal bridge site in Warren County.
Located near the bridge was the barn used to stable the mules where they were not pulling canal boats. This building was moved across the present road in 1927 and became part of the farm complex.
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