Delaware River Scenic Byway Itinerary for a 2 day RV Holiday
Start: Old Barracks Museum
Your byway adventures begin at the Old Barracks, a State and National Landmark located in Trenton, next to the New Jersey State House. Built in 1758 by the Colony of New Jersey during the French and Indian War, the Old Barracks witnessed the 1776 Battle of Trenton, turning point of the American Revolution. From March of 1777 until the treaty of Paris in 1783, the Barracks served as a military hospital, primarily engaged in the inoculation of Continental Army soldiers with smallpox during an army-wide effort that was likely the first successful mass inoculation in Western history.
Today, the restored Old Barracks serves as an educational center for America’s early history and stands as the last remaining structure of its kind. Take one of the daily tours lead by Old Barracks’ staff and learn about the past from the living history interpretations of American colonial life. Be sure to peruse the museum of artifacts and weapons and stop by the gift shop. At the Old Barracks Gallery, check out periodic exhibits that relate to Colonial New Jersey and the American Revolution. Past gallery exhibits have focused on the Battle of Trenton, Hessians in America, women’s roles in historic preservation, and on selections from the museum’s collection of antiques and artifacts.
Stop 1: Washington Crossing State Park
Directions from previous place: Head north on Barrack Street towards Wilson Street. Turn left on West State Street, then left onto Calhoun Street. Turn right onto Route 29 to rejoin the byway. Washington Crossing State Park is located 7.5 miles north on Route 29.
Distance from Previous Site: 8.1 miles / 13.0 km
Travel Time from Previous Site: 15 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site: 1 hour 30 minutes
Arriving at Washington Crossing State Park, pull into the parking lot at Washington Grove, an excellent spot for a picnic lunch. A short walk will take you to the river bank and the historic marker where General Washington and the Continental Army landed on Christmas Night, 1776, prior to their march and victory at the Battle of Trenton. Check out the interpretive wayside panel and a reproduction ferry boat visible from this spot as well.
To tour the 18th-century Johnson Ferry House also in the park, just take the pedestrian bridge over Rt. 29. This site served as the home of the ferry owner during the Revolutionary War.
After lunch you may want to visit the park’s Visitor Center Museum by either by driving one-half mile east along Rt. 546 and turning left into the park, or by walking an additional five minutes to the museum along the nearby perimeter road that leads to the museum. Once you get there, watch the 27-minute interpretive video “The Ten Crucial Days: The Road to Liberty” in the center’s auditorium. After the film, explore the Museum, which is home to the Swan Historical Foundation’s collection of over 500 Revolutionary War artifacts.
If you came here on the first Saturday in May, you're in for a treat; Washington Crossing State Park, is home to the New Jersey State History Fair, which hosts 100 organizations and participants that bring the park to life by reenacting, interpreting and demonstrating four centuries of New Jersey history!
Stop 2: Howell Living History Farm
Directions from previous place: Head north on Route 29 and turn right onto Pleasant Valley Road. Make the first left onto Valley Road. Then turn right onto Woodens Lane.
Distance from Previous Site: 5.2 miles / 8.3 km
Travel Time from Previous Site: 10 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site: 2 hours
Your next stop, the Howell Living History Farm, is a time machine that takes you back to the year 1900-- a time when horses and buggies traveled the lanes of Pleasant Valley, and when farms were bordered by snake fences (a type of historic wooden fence) and Osage orange trees. Howell Farm’s “Living History” enriches the present through reenactment of the past. While you are here, learn how the past holds more than cultural riches. It holds tangible wealth for present and future generations. Millions of today’s farmers in Asia, Africa and India are using similar animal-powered technology to feed growing populations and to eliminate the drudgery of hand labor.
If you come here on a weekend, you'll get to see living history demonstrations such as shearing sheep, sawing lumber, and planting corn using 19th-century techniques that provide you with an unique opportunity to view the past farming life of the Delaware River Valley firsthand.
End: Stockton-Prallsville Mills Historic District
Directions from previous place: Turn left out of Howell Living Farm onto Woodens Lane. Make a right onto Valley Road and then another right to rejoin the byway on Route 29 North. Follow Route 29 North approximately 6 miles to the center of Stockton.
Distance from Previous Site: 6.5 miles / 10.4 km
Travel Time from Previous Site: 16 minutes
Continue on to the quaint, historic Stockton Borough, which is home to several eateries and overnight accommodations that abound with history.
If you are looking for more rustic accommodations, the nearby Bulls Island Recreational Area offers family campgrounds and plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures.
Another place to stop while you're in the area is the historic district of Prallsville Mills, the river area’s “silicon valley” of the late 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. If time allows, visit this district and take part in a docent-lead tour of the 18th-century Mill Site, and learn how this small complex was once the heart the community. This district includes the John Prall Jr. Museum. Here you'll find displays documenting the evolution of transportation from ferry to canal to railroad to roads and recreation. The oldest three-room school house in operation since 1872 is also found in this charming little town along the National Scenic and Recreational Lower Delaware River.
Totals for Day 1
Total Distance Traveled: 19.8 miles / 31.7 km
Total Travel Time: 41 minutes
Total Stopping Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Stop 1: Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead Museum
Directions from previous place: Head onto Route 29 south for 2.5 miles and make a right turn into the Holcombe Jimison Farmstead Museum. There is a sign for the museum at its entrance located directly off Route 29.
Distance from Previous Site: 2.5 miles / 4.0 km
Travel Time from Previous Site: 4 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site: 1 hour
At this stop, see the techniques used to create tools and hardware once needed by 19th-century farms in the local blacksmith shop. Also explore a completely equipped 1910 combination doctor/dentist’s office. Tours here highlight the life of the farmer and his family between 1825 and 1925. Through the season, participate in many hands-on activities the museum offers.
Stop 2: Delaware & Raritan Canal
Directions from previous place: Walk over to the Delaware and Raritan Canal path, which lies directly behind the Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead Museum.
Distance from Previous Site: 1 miles / 1.6 km
Travel Time from Previous Site: 15 minutes
Suggested Time at This Site: 15 minutes
Enjoy a peaceful stroll, walking along the feeder canal of the Delaware and Raritan Canal. This unique linear park’s significance as a national and state historic site will become evident as you walk past the 18th and 19th century houses and industries that thrived during the canal’s operation. Even today, the D&R Canal is still an important part of New Jersey as it offers a walking and biking corridor the length of the byway and beyond. It also serves as a public water supply, providing over one millions gallons of water a day to the public.
End: Lambertville Historic District
Directions from previous place: Walking option: Visitors will head south on the D&R Canal Towpath from behind Holcombe Jimison Farmstead Museum. It is a one mile walk to Bridge Street, the beginning of Lambertville’s downtown historic district, in Lambertville.
Driving option: Turn right out of the driveway of Holcombe Jimison Farmstead Museum onto Route 29 South. Drive approximately 1 mile to the downtown area of Lambertville.
Distance from Previous Site: 1 miles / 1.6 km
Travel Time from Previous Site: 1 minute
End your tour of the byway in the Historic District of Lambertville. Tour the Marshall House Museum, the boyhood home of James Wilson Marshall, who later discovered gold in California in 1848 and then join a guided walking tour to explore Lambertville. Here, you'll encounter key ferry sites used by General George Washington, evidence of transportation history from rail lines to canal waterways, remnants of a rich industrial past, and spectacular homes in architectural styles from the Late Victorian and Federal Periods.
If you come in spring, you might be lucky enough to catch the award-winning celebration held during the last weekend in April to herald the return of spawning shad. This annual event once celebrated by American Indians and colonial settlers is again possible with the improved water quality of the Delaware River. Lambertville is home to the Lewis Fishery, the only remaining commercial shad fishery in New Jersey that annually harvests the fish while the shad are running (generally from mid-April through May) using the family’s traditional shad hauling techniques employed for over 100 years. During the ‘Shad Fest,’ watch the fishery in action, demonstrations of historical cooking techniques, and enjoy music, crafts and other family events held throughout the weekend.
Totals for Day 2
Total Distance Traveled: 4.5 miles / 7.2 km
Total Travel Time: 20 minutes
Total Stopping Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Featured content and image from www.byways.org