So why is Port Jervis here? Well, it has a lot to do with our location. We live in a valley located between two rivers, the Neversink and Delaware, and bordering two states New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The rivers provided a way to travel, rafting, and the valley provided fertile land, large stands of timber, and rich mineral strata. All of which led to the area being settled and later growing into a transportation hub
As the country began to expand, so did the need for improved transportation. New York decided to solve this need by building canals. First, the Erie Canal was built to serve the Mohawk region of the state. Next was a canal in our area, The D&H Canal.
The construction of the D&H Canal became the job of John Bloomfield Jervis. John Jervis left his home on Long Island and traveled upstate to work on the Erie Canal, which led him to become an engineer. Now he was chosen to bring his expertise to our area and oversee the construction of the D&H Canal. Construction started in 1825, they built approximately 110 miles of canal and locks to connect the Hudson River at Kingston with the anthracite coal country of Honesdale, PA. At Port Jervis, the canal extended seven miles east and west of the basin, providing a 14-mile stretch without locks. Fort Decker, the oldest building in Port Jervis, was used to house the construction workers.
The canal opened in 1828 and established Port Jervis as a center of commerce. It follow
the Delaware River east from Honesdale, curved around Point Peter to connect with the Neversink River towards Kingston. By 1832, the canal carried 90,000 tons of coal and three million board feet of lumber over its route. Soon docks, warehouses, and hotels sprang up in the West Main Street section of town. The canal was opened only nine months of the year but travelers would spend nights here at the Union House (later the Colonial Inn) and were delighted to hitch their mules to the large stone posts that dotted the rim of the canal. For over sixty years canal mules furnished the power for the big boats and soon the town had five stores and groceries, three taverns, a three-story gristmill, three churches, and a schoolhouse. Unfortunately with the rise of the railroad industry the canal’s days were numbered and on November 5, 1891, it saw its last use. It was drained and permanently closed in 1898. Supposedly a man drowned in the abandoned canal in 1900, causing the
town to fill it in. The appropriately named Canal Street is the former canal bed, where you can also see the stone pillars used to secure the boats and anima