A rare photo of the incredible Incline Plane Ten East.
The Golden History of Lincoln Park, NJ: Incline Plane Ten East
By Richard Mabey Jr.
Incline Plane Ten East played an important role in the economic and social development of the small farming village of Beavertown (the former name of Lincoln Park). It was built around 1825 and was in full operation until 1923, when the Morris Canal was officially closed. It was one of 23 inclined planes that were a part of the approximate 100-mile length of the Morris Canal that stretched from the Delaware Water Gap to Jersey City.
The plane house, which stood atop the long steep hill of the inclined plane, was located on the left-hand side of a service station now standing on Route 202 in Towaco. This is the very point where the canal crossed the road. There are still remnants of this historic landmark remaining just off of Route 202. If you walk a few yards to the left of the service station in Towaco and look into the woods you can see the remains of the Morris Canal. There are still a great number of canal stones still standing. This is one of the very few places in the State of New Jersey where there is a canal wall in good condition, made up of the big rectangular canal stones, still standing.
There was a sawmill located less than a quarter of a mile northeast from Inclined Plane Ten East. The foundation of this building still remains. Being close to Inclined Plane Ten East was very convenient, because the canal boats could be loaded up with planks of wood in the large basin that was at the base of the inclined plane. Most of the time the Captains of the canal boats needed to wait their turn to scale up the inclined plane, so the time taken to load up the boat with fresh-cut lumber was not an inconvenience.
William Mabey Sr., my great-great grandfather, owned and operated a small store and icehouse just a few yards east of the base of the inclined plane. Here the Captains of the canal boats would store up on ice for the ice chests on the canal boats that stored the food for the boat’s crew. The foundation of this icehouse still remains today.
At the base of Inclined Plane Ten East stood a large barn to feed the mules. While the crew waited their turn to ascend the steep hill they would tie their canal boat to a post and give the mules food and water. There was a big well just a few yards west of the canal basin, where the crew could get fresh water for themselves and their mules. Today most of this well still remains intact.
The basin of this inclined plane was also the point where peat moss was loaded onto the canal boats. The peat moss was brought in by horse-drawn carts from the area known as the Bog and Vly. This area, that once was filled with peat moss, is today the site of the Lin Park housing development.
The lake-like quality of the basin of Inclined Plane Ten East served one other very popular feature. Apparently, many of the canal boat Captains, crew, and their families enjoyed swimming in the wide canal basin on hot summer days while waiting their turn to climb the steep incline.
There was an apple orchard just southwest of the basin of Inclined Plane Ten East. Although there is no official documentation, legend has it that the children who rode upon the canal boats would often climb these apple trees and fill their pockets with a few apples to enjoy eating while traveling upon the still, murky waters of the old Morris Canal. Today there are still quite a few apple trees to be found at this site. Inclined Plane Ten East played a vital and important role in contributing to the colorful and dramatic history of Beavertown and Lincoln Park.