Places NE New Jersey Raritan River
This is a copy of the Raritan River page that used to resided on the NJ Sierra Club Raritan Valley Group page. See the Raritan River Basin page there for the new version.

The Raritan watershed commonly known as the Raritan River Basin covers 1,100 square miles, including the lower Raritan River the North and South Branches of the Raritan and the Millstone River and tributaries. It is the largest river system entirely within New Jersey.

The Raritan River proper forms at the confluence of the North Branch and the South Branch just west of Somerville. It flows 16 miles before slowing in tidewater at New Brunswick. Its estuary extends 14 miles more until the Raritan Bay at South Amboy.

It supplies (via pumping) the Spruce Run (1963) and Round Valley (1965) reservoirs. The name was probably derived from an Algonquian word meaning "stream overflows," or "forked river.

Lower Raritan
Parks, Recreation and Picnic Areas:
New Brunswick Area
Somerville Raritan Area
North Branch
South Branch
See also: Public Access and Recreation
at The Rutgers Sustainable Raritan River Initiative
Lower Raritan - Walking, Biking & Parks
  at the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions - Fishing Environmental Issues Organizations Films & Books Terms Links
raritan river basin, north branch, South branch, Millstone River, Green brook, Lawrence brook, Stony brook Other Maps:
Raritan River Basin Maps at NoWater-NoLife (NWNL)

Click on map for a larger version. |
See also Lower Raritan - Walking, Biking & Parks
  at the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions -
  and their Interactive Google Earth Map
Parks near New Brunswick
raritan river parks near New Brunswick

-Gazebo or Pavilion; -Picnic tables
Google Map | RU Maps

Donaldson Park
Donaldson Park - Middlesex Parks and Rec-Parks

Boyd Park
Boyd Park - New Brunswick, NJ Patch

New Brunswick Landing
New Brunswick Landing - Middlesex Parks and Rec-Parks

New Brunswick Riverfront Plan
Click for larger version.

Johnson Park

Parks near Somerville-Raritan

raritan river parks near Somerville and Raritan
Google Map There is a 2 mi path from the picnic tables near River Rd to Duke Island Park.
and a 1 mi. paved bike path from the Hibernia Mine RR bridge to Duke Isl. Park.

Canal Street Park, Raritan

Duke Island Park
Duke Island Park -Somerset County Park Commission | Map | Brochure

Raritan Valley Park

nevis st bridge nevis st bridge plaque

Hibernia Mine Railroad Bridge Hibernia Mine Railroad Bridge Plaque

Duke Filter House Raritan Water Power Canal Plaque
  Duke Filter House                                           Power Canal Plaque.
Credits. Image originally submitted, by Alan Edelson of Union Twsp., NJ
In 1840 the Somerville Water Power Company built a canal alongside the Raritan River and leased waterpower and land along the canal to industry. In 1863, the company reorganized as the Raritan Water Power Company and improved the dam.
By the mid 20th Century, the mills had closed, and the canal was used to provide drinking water to area towns.

In 1897 James Buchanan Duke acquired control of the Raritan Water Power Company. In 1898 he completed his first Power house with 3 turbines one devoted to electrical power for Duke Farms.
In 1909 he competed the castle like filter house, using sand filters, one of the most advanced water purification systems of its day.
His pump houses were using most of the water from the river, so he designed a re-circulating system to put water back in the river.

Raritan Water Power Canal Marker
Duke Farms - Hydropower
Duke Farms - The 2,700 acre Duke Estate across the river.

Source: Lower Raritan Riparian Corridor Analysis and recommendations (
Map by Roxanne Ingram under the direction of Dr. Judy Shaw and Kaaren Lowrie.

Bakelite Park

North Branch:
Starts in Mine Hill that's also known as Black River and the Lamington Riveras.
North Branch Raritan River Site 2 | Raritan Headwaters Association
North Branch Raritan River - Wikipedia
North Branch Park

South Branch
The South Branch starts out of Budd Lake.
Daytrip along the Rarian River South Branch in New Jersey
Ken Lockwood Gorge Wildlife Management Area
Raritan River Watershed Project for Teens
Best of NJ--Fishing: Ken Lockwood Gorge is a hidden wonder for fishing enthusiasts
Columbia Trail and Ken Lockwood Gorge
South Branch Raritan River | New Jersey Fly Fishing Reports & Conditions
South Branch Watershed Association: The South Branch Raritan River Watershed

The Raritan is heavily stocked with spring trout.
In addition to American shad, hickory shad, herring and striped bass also come upriver from the ocean.
NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife - Fishing Access Locations on Trout Waters by County
In 2003 several dredging projects were proposed for flood mitigation, to help Revitalize New Jersey Waterfront and provide access to Brownfield sites.
They included projects in New Brunswick, Sayerville and South Amboy.
It would also foster recreational boating from the Raritan Bay up to the Albany Street Bridge in New Brunswick.
Dredging was done in the area of New Brunswick Landing in the Spring of 2013.
Waterfront Redevelopment[1].pdf
Environmental Issues:
Water Quality:
"Over 200 contaminated sites are adjacent or drain into the lower Raritan River, including abandoned industrial sites, Superfund sites, old landfills, dredge dumping areas and old army arsenals. Residents continue to be exposed to toxic waste through recreational use of the river and eating contaminated fish despite warning that it may be hazardous to their health." According to the Edison Wetlands Assn

The lower watershed, cited as 14th among US rivers polluted by direct and sewer discharges of toxic chemicals (from 1990-1994), has been heavily impacted by intense industrial and storm runoff pollution and heavy flooding due to extensive urban impervious surfaces and climate change.

Raritan River Basin Watershed Management Project (RBWMP) Technical Reports -Surface Water Quality and Pollutant Loadings
  SWQTR Tables of Trends of Probability - (PDF) at

Video: Rescuing the River: The Raritan | NJTV Public Media NJ Video, 2012, 57 min.
Watchdog report: Raritan River canoeist decries the junk in our drinking water|
Routine Monitoring Program for Toxics in Fish - Year 3 Raritan River Region - DEP, 2008
See also Water Quality.
The South Branch Watershed Association: The South Branch Raritan River Watershed
The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association

Dams restricting fish spawning:
According to a 2012 Rutgers Report "Dam Removal in New Jersey: Background, Regulatory Guidance, and Practical Aspects",

"Dam removal benefits public safety and welfare, water quality, biodiversity, ecological integrity, and the local economy. For these reasons, a consortium of conservation organizations, watershed groups, and other restoration practitioners approached the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to encourage them to address regulatory constraints and modify procedures with the intention of fostering the practice of dam removal in the State of New Jersey.

"The dams restrict optimal ecological diversity and functionality and consequently fall short of supporting multiple social benefits(e.g., boating, angling, bird watching)."

By Converting a free-flowing river to an impounded one, dams dramatically alter the species composition of the aquatic community and lead to elevated water temperatures. They also interrupt sediment transport, which often causes geomorphic impacts downstream

The removal of three dams in Somerset County is intended to open a 10-mile stretch of the middle and upper portions of the river to a spring spawning run of American shad all the way to the Headgates, a waterfall dam at the upstream west end of Duke Island Park.
In addition to American shad, hickory shad, herring and striped bass also come upriver from the ocean.

The second dam was removed in the Fall of 2012. In July 2013 Duke Farms settled a dispute with the DEP and removal of the Nevis St. was scheduled to start.
The fishing hole below the Nevis St. Dam which had bass and panfish the year-round and trout in the spring, will probably be lost.

The removals were financed by the Houston-based El Paso Corporation, which is now Kinder Morgan, as compensation to the public for harm to natural resources from pollution at a refinery and three polymer plants operated by them.
See Environment News Service (ENS) article.
DEP says Raritan River dam removal in Somerset County will kick start fish spawning |, 2011
Raritan River already benefiting from Bridgewater dam removal |, 2012
Shad of the Raritan River |
Endangered New Jersey: January 2010

Be River-Friendly - What you can do
River-Friendly Resident Technical Materials
Be River-Friendly!

Organizations:             [Top]
The Rutgers Sustainable Raritan River Initiative -
Raritan Riverkeeper at NY/NJ Baykeeper
Raritan Riverkeeper | Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance - Bill Schultz
The The Lower Raritan at the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions -
Edison Wetlands Association - Raritan River Initiative
Raritan Basin Watershed Alliance
NJDEP - Water, Coastal & Watershed Information
Raritan Headwaters Association - NJ's Watershed Watchdog
South Branch Watershed Association: The South Branch Raritan River Watershed
Upper Raritan Watershed Association, URWA
The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association
Blue Raritan
Raritan Riverkeeper | NY/NJ Baykeeper
Central Jersey Stream Team
Delaware and Raritan Canal Watch
New York - New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program
  at The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission
Raritan River Watershed Project for Teens
Raritan Organizations and Municipalities at
Video: Rescuing the River: The Raritan | NJTV Public Media NJ Video, 2012, 57 min.
Twin Rivers : The Raritan and the Passaic : The Rivers of America Series: Harry Emerson Wildes,1943
Ground Water - Rainwater runoff that seeps into the ground to become ground water. Ground water moves into water-filled layers of porous geologic formations called aquifers.

NJDEP - New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Nonpoint Source Pollution - Contamination that results from everyday activities such as fertilizing the lawn, walking pets, changing motor oil and littering. With each rainfall, pollutants generated by these activities are washed into storm drains that flow into our waterways and ocean.

Riparian Area - Riparian areas are ecosystems adjacent to a river or waterway that, in an undisturbed state, provide habitat for wildlife and help improve water quality. Riparian areas are usually transitional zones between wetland and upland areas and are generally comprised of grasses, shrubs, trees, or a mix of vegetation types that exist within a variety of landscapes (e.g., natural, agricultural, forested, suburban, and urban).

Surface Water - Water in lakes and streams

Watershed - The area of land that drains into a body of water

WMA - Watershed Management Area

See NJDEP-Watershed Restoration-Watershed Information

The Raritan Riverkeeper - Bill Schultz
Contact: Lorraine McCartney - (732) 442-6316

The Sustainable Raritan River Collaborative at Rutgers U. - Dr. Judy Shaw, Project Director
Contact: Sara Malone

Edison Wetlands Association (EWA) - Robert Spiegel, ED
Contact: Dana Patterson - 732-321-1300

Sustainable Raritan River -
Lower Raritan Riparian Corridor (
Lower Raritan River Access (   Lower Raritan - Walking, Biking & Parks (
  Environment and History (
Visioning the Future Raritan River, 2010
Raritan River Access Points by the Raritan Riverkeeper, 2009
  Printed maps available for $2 at Raritan Riverkeeper

DEP says Raritan River dam removal in Somerset County will kick start fish spawning |, 2011
Raritan Takes on Waterfront Development - New Jersey League of Municipalities, 2012
Natural History of the Raritan River Headwaters Region and Watershed - Upper Raritan River | Raritan Headwaters Association
The Raritan River; where we were, where we are (
NJDEP-Watershed Restoration-Watershed Information
Duke Farms

Colonial Park Brochure (also with beautiful rose and perennial gardens, as well as bike paths, etc)

North Branch Park Brochure

Duke Island Park

Delaware and Raritan Canal
Raritan River - Wikipedia,
Endangered New Jersey: January 2010
Duke Farms

Return to: North East New Jersey & New York City

last updated 22 Mar 2014