On a brisk Sunday afternoon, close to a hundred people from around the area — some from South Jersey others from New York — joined in a hiking expedition to tread across the old Morris Canal, a water transportation route for coal in the days of yore, now an undeveloped greenway. In the years to come the former canal way is to be turned into a walking route for visitors.
One woman, who was waiting for the event to start, came from New York City. Another, who once lived in Paterson, returned to the city from Lincoln Park for the walking tour. Chuck Hoppe, the Lincoln Park man, shared some of his old memories of boyhood when he and friends would run around the Lambert Castle doing what little kids did, he said: “We used to play in the castle, running around, and things.”
Cathy Singer Dolan, whose family once resided in West Paterson, also recalled of her memories living nearby, prior to moving out of the Paterson area.
Although a number of the hikers had roots or lived in Paterson or a nearby township and came to learn more about the area’s history, some simply came to a sunny Sunday hike, like Ron Bowlin, who, simply came for a hike. However, Mr Bowlin was exposed to a great deal of history as he hiked with the group.
After the group headed up the hill from Lambert’s Castle every 10 to 15 minutes there was a historical lecture delivered by Joe Macasek, historian and tour guide, who explained each piece of the trail and the importance it had in the industrial development of Paterson and the surrounding areas. In one such lecture Mr Macasek explains the purpose of the raceways, “The Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures — they were going to use the water power of the Great Falls…for industry. So their challenge was to make that work. They need to channel the water from the river over to where it could be used. So they built a series of raceways.”
These informative lectures informed hikers of the historical path in which they were walking, and almost every single person at the event seemed immensely interested in history, much more than hiking one would assume.
A woman, who was hiking with the group, collected discarded bottles and cans because, in her own word, “Cans and bottles are not part of nature and therefore they do not belong in this path”.
The tour which began in Lambert’s Castle, crossed through the Garret Mountain, briefly paused on McBride Avenue, where Mr Macasek talked about the invention of the colt and the locomotives, ended at the Great Falls National Park.
Jennifer Gonzalez, who played a pivotal role in the tour, announced that a similar hiking event is scheduled for Woodland Park and Little Falls section of the Morris Canal on May 19th, 2013, sponsored by the Passaic County Department of Planning and Economic Development.