Take a journey back to the life and times of the people who operated tow boats in the heyday of the Delaware & Hudson Canal.
The Pike County Historical Society's Columns Museum in Milford will host its Canal Days Dinner at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25. The program will focus on the effect of the canal on the small communities along the Lackawaxen and Delaware rivers. From Honesdale into Pike County, sleepy towns like Kimbles, Baoba, Baisdenville, Glen Eyre, and Rowlands all played a part in the history of this meandering canal system.
While the canal itself was an engineering marvel in many ways, the life of a canaller was just as extraordinary. In some cases, life on board was a family affair, with mother and children along for the ride. A small cabin below deck housed the boat’s operators. Its bunk, stove, table and chairs added a home-like feel to the journey.
The primary cargo was coal, but often other items were transported, especially in the Pike County area. It was easier to move large items on the canal than on the area's primitive roads. Passengers and animals could be found on the boats as well.
Life wasn’t always easy. The raftsmen's ongoing rivalry made for some dicey exchanges along the way.
Highlights of the dinner include the unveiling of an exhibit honoring the D&H Canal, a presentation of canal songs by Dan Engvaldsen, a delightful pot roast dinner, “mule races,” and general good cheer.
Each table of 6 to 8 will be hosted by an historical society board member, who serve as the table's "boat captain” for the evening. The themed tables will be created by the tables’ hostess. The meal will be enjoyed family style, reminiscent of Sunday dinners on the Morris Canal, which had its origins in nearby Phillipsburg, N.J., just across the river from Easton, Pa.
The cost for the event is $40 per person and includes dinner, dessert, libation, and entertainment. Reservations are a must and can be obtained by calling 570-296-8126 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.