The Delaware Division of the Pennsylvania Canal runs 60 miles from Bristol to Easton, Pennsylvania.
I’ll be walking the towpath from New Hope to Frenchtown, New Jersey, to Upper Black Eddy, then to Easton.
When Herbert Welsh passed this way a hundred years ago, this was still a working canal. Built in 1832, it floated limestone, lumber, and mostly anthracite coal to the port of Philadelphia until 1931. Welsh praised the “winding, secluded, dustless canal from New Hope to Easton…” and the “smooth and even tow-path,” even if he had to share it with the mules. “A lovely walk of two days it was, and one that to those who cannot get across the sea to Holland, I heartily commend”
I heartily concur with Welsh’s sense that the canal seems somehow “European.” Perhaps it is the civilized amenity of a cheerful, if somewhat shabby, country hotel every ten miles or so, where a hot and thirsty walker can enjoy a cool glass of beer.
(While he was a steadfast pedestrian who kept a steady pace, Herbert Welsh never missed the chance to pause for a cold beer, an ice-cream cone, or a pretty girl. I admire his old-fashioned style)