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The Raritan River is a major river of
New Jersey New Jersey is a in the and regions of the . It is bordered on the north and east by the state of ; on the east, southeast, and south by the ; on the west by the and ; on the southwest by and the state of . At , New Jersey is the , but ...
. Its
watershed Watershed is a hydrological term, which has been adopted in other fields in a more or less figurative sense. It may refer to: Hydrology * Drainage divide, the line that separates neighbouring drainage basins ** European watershed * Drainage basin, ...

watershed
drains much of the mountainous area of the central part of the state, emptying into the
Raritan Bay Raritan Bay is a bay located at the southern portion of Lower New York Bay between the U.S. states of New York and New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United Stat ...
on the
Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
.


History

Geologist A geologist is a scientist who studies the solid, liquid, and gaseous matter that constitutes Earth and other terrestrial planets, as well as the processes that shape them. Geologists usually study geology, although backgrounds in physics, chemi ...

Geologist
s assert that the lower Raritan provided the course of the mouth of the
Hudson River The Hudson River is a river that flows from north to south primarily through eastern New York (state), New York in the United States. It originates in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York and flows southward through the Hudson Valley ...

Hudson River
approximately 6,000 years ago. Following the end of the last
ice age An ice age is a long period of reduction in the temperature of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and ...

ice age
,
the Narrows __NOTOC__ The Narrows is the tidal strait separating the borough (New York City), boroughs of Staten Island, New York, Staten Island and Brooklyn, New York, Brooklyn in New York City, United States. It connects the Upper New York Bay and Lower ...

the Narrows
had not yet been formed and the Hudson flowed along the
Watchung Mountains The Watchung Mountains (once called the Blue Hills) are a group of three long low ridges of volcanic A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only as ...
to present-day
Bound Brook
Bound Brook
, then followed the course of the Raritan eastward into
Lower New York Bay , 2. East River, 3. Long Island Sound, 4. Newark Bay, 5. Upper New York Bay, 6. Lower New York Bay, 7. Jamaica Bay, 8. Atlantic Ocean on Staten Island, New York (state), New York Image:Raritan_Bay_from_Sandy_Hook.tif, 250px, View over the Ra ...

Lower New York Bay
. The name Raritan possibly derives from a branch of the
Lenape The Lenape (, , or Lenape ), also called the Leni Lenape, Lenni Lenape and Delaware people, are an indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands include Native American tribes The term ...
people called the Nariticongs, the first people known to settle the Raritan Valley. Following conflict with the arriving Dutch colonists, the native people of the region were forced to sell their territory near the
Raritan Bay Raritan Bay is a bay located at the southern portion of Lower New York Bay between the U.S. states of New York and New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United Stat ...
and move further inland along the river valley. As
English colonists The colonial history of the United States covers the history of European colonization of America from the early 17th century (e.g., 1600s) until the incorporation of the colonies into the United States of America. In the late 16th century, Kin ...
took over the region, they took advantage of the river's location between New York and Philadelphia as well as a road network developed by the Lenape to turn the region into a transportation and commercial hub.DeAngelo, W. A. (2008)
THE HISTORY OF MIDDLESEX COUNTY.
New Brunswick; Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. p. 22-23
As a result, the Raritan River became an important waterway for colonial travel and trade, allowing for the development of trade centers like Raritan Landing and
New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , capital = Fredericton Fredericton (; ) is the capital of the Provinces and territor ...

New Brunswick
where agricultural and raw material goods could be sold. During the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from thirteen American colonies of British America British America comprised the colon ...
, the river was the site of guerilla warfare by American militiamen against British patrols, culminating in the
Battle of Bound Brook The Battle of Bound Brook (April 13, 1777) was a surprise attack conducted by British and Hessian forces against a Continental Army The Continental Army was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revo ...
where a large British force attacked an American outpost south of the river. The success of the
Erie Canal The Erie Canal is a canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a nar ...

Erie Canal
sparked a "canal fever" in the United States, catalyzing the construction of the
Delaware and Raritan Canal The Delaware and Raritan Canal (D&R Canal) is a canal in Central Jersey, central New Jersey, United States, built in the 1830s, that served to connect the Delaware River to the Raritan River. It was an efficient and reliable means of transporta ...
between New Brunswick on the Raritan and Bordentown on the Delaware to provide a critical link between
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
and
Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is ...
on the
Delaware River The Delaware River is a major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its co ...

Delaware River
. The vast majority of traffic along the canal was Pennsylvania
anthracite coal Anthracite, also known as hard coal, is a hard, compact variety of coal that has a lustre (mineralogy)#Submetallic lustre, submetallic luster. It has the highest carbon content, the fewest impurities, and the highest energy density of all types of ...
with the rest consisting mostly of agricultural goods, and at its peak in 1866 it transported more cargo than the Erie Canal. In 1932 the canal shut down for commercial use, though in 1974 it was turned into a state park for recreational use and remains used as a water supply for Central New Jersey.


Description

The river forms at the confluence of the
North North is one of the four compass points The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydro ...
and South Branches just west of Somerville at the border of Bridgewater, Branchburg, and Hillsborough Townships. It flows for approximately before slowing in tidewater at
New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , capital = Fredericton Fredericton (; ) is the capital of the Provinces and territor ...

New Brunswick
, and its
estuary An estuary is a partially enclosed Coast, coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime envir ...

estuary
extends more entering the western end of
Raritan Bay Raritan Bay is a bay located at the southern portion of Lower New York Bay between the U.S. states of New York and New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United Stat ...
at . Comprehensive measures have been taken to reduce the pollution and increase the water quality. These actions have benefited the fish population which include (but are not limited to)
largemouth bass The largemouth bass (''Micropterus salmoides'') is a carnivorous freshwater gamefish A few popular game fish around the world. Game fish or quarry are fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb ...

largemouth bass
,
smallmouth bass The smallmouth bass (''Micropterus dolomieu'') is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family (biology), family (Centrarchidae) of the order (biology), order Perciformes. It is the type species of its genus. One of the black basses, it is a ...

smallmouth bass
, sunfish,
catfish Catfish (or catfishes; order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, o ...

catfish
,
trout Trout are species of freshwater fish belonging to the genera ''Oncorhynchus'', ''Salmo'' and ''Salvelinus'', all of the subfamily (biology), subfamily Salmoninae of the family Salmonidae. The word ''trout'' is also used as part of the name o ...

trout
,
chain pickerel The chain pickerel (''Esox niger'') is a species of freshwater fish in the pike family (biology), family (family Esocidae) of order (biology), order Esociformes. The chain pickerel and the American pickerel belong to the ''Esox'' genus of pike. Ta ...
,
american eel The American eel (''Anguilla rostrata'') is a facultative catadromous fish found on the eastern coast of North America. Anguillidae, Freshwater eels are fish belonging to the Elopomorpha, elopomorph superorder, a group of Phylogenetics, phylogene ...

american eel
s,
carp Carp are various species of oily fish, oily freshwater fish from the family Cyprinidae, a very large group of fish native to Europe and Asia. While carp is consumed in many parts of the world, they are generally considered an invasive species in ...

carp
and
yellow perch The yellow perch (''Perca flavescens''), commonly referred to as perch, striped perch, American perch,American river perch or preacher is a freshwater perciform Perciformes , also called the Percomorpha The Percomorpha (Latin ''perca'' ("pe ...

yellow perch
.
Pike Pike, Pikes or The Pike may refer to: Fish * Blue pike or blue walleye, an extinct freshwater fish * Ctenoluciidae, the "pike characins", some species of which are commonly known as pikes * ''Esox'', genus of pikes ** Northern pike, common north ...
can be found in relative abundance in some portions of the river like Clinton and Califon. An occasional
Musky The muskellunge ''(Esox masquinongy)'', often shortened to muskie, musky or lunge, is a species of large freshwater fish native to North America. It is the largest member of the Esox, pike family, Esocidae. Origin of name The origin of the name ...

Musky
has been taken out of the Raritan as well. The tidal portions of the river host migratory salt water species such as
striped bass The striped bass (''Morone saxatilis''), also called the Atlantic striped bass, striper, linesider, rock, or rockfish, is an anadromous Many types of fish migrate on a regular basis, on time scales ranging from daily to annually or longer, an ...

striped bass
, fluke,
winter flounder The winter flounder (''Pseudopleuronectes americanus''), also known as the black back, is a right-eyed (" dextral") flatfish A flatfish is a member of the ray-finned demersal fish order Pleuronectiformes, also called the Heterosomata, someti ...

winter flounder
,
weakfish The weakfish, ''Cynoscion regalis'', is a marine fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. They form a sister group to the tunicates, together forming ...
and
bluefish The bluefish (''Pomatomus saltatrix'') is the only extant species of the family Pomatomidae. It is a marine pelagic fish found around the world in temperate and subtropical waters, except for the northern Pacific Ocean. Bluefish are known as ta ...

bluefish
. Recently, efforts to restore anadromous fish populations have been made, done by removing many of the obsolete dams and the constructing dam bypass infrastructure. Hopefully this will result in restoring shad, striped bass, and sturgeon populations in the river. Many nesting birds and
water fowl The Anatidae are the biological family (biology), family of water birds that includes ducks, goose, geese, and swans. The family has a cosmopolitan distribution, occurring on all the world's continents. These birds are adapted for aquatic locomot ...
make their homes in and along the length of the river. Crustaceans such as blue claw crab,
fiddler crabs A fiddler crab, sometimes known as a ''calling crab'', may be any of more than one hundred species of semiterrestrial marine crabs in the family Ocypodidae. A smaller number of ghost crab and mangrove crab species are also found in the family Oc ...

fiddler crabs
and green crabs are also found in the tidal sections of the river.
Crayfish A man selling dried crayfish at an African market Crayfish are freshwater crustacean Crustaceans (Crustacea ) form a large, diverse arthropod taxon which includes such animals as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, Caridea, shrimp, krill, Dendrobran ...

Crayfish
can be found farther upstream. The river is also used for recreational boating, including use by the rowing team of
Rutgers University Rutgers University (RU; ), officially known as Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an orga ...
in New Brunswick. The river is featured in the title of Rutgers' alma mater, '' On the Banks of the Old Raritan'', and its flooding is mentioned in the song. Near its mouth, the river is spanned by the Raritan Bay Drawbridge, a
New Jersey Transit New Jersey Transit Corporation, branded as NJ Transit, and often shortened to NJT, is a state-owned public transportation Public transport (also known as public transportation, public transit, mass transit, or simply transit) is a system ...
railroad bridge which carries the
North Jersey Coast Line The North Jersey Coast Line is a commuter rail line running from Rahway, to Bay Head, New Jersey. Operated by New Jersey Transit New Jersey Transit Corporation, branded as NJ Transit, and often shortened to NJT, is a state-owned public tran ...
; the Victory Bridge which carries Route 35 (connecting
Perth Amboy Perth Amboy is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. ...

Perth Amboy
and
Sayreville, New Jersey Sayreville is a Borough (New Jersey), borough in Middlesex County, New Jersey, Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States. Sayreville is within the heart of the Raritan Valley region, located on the south banks of the Raritan River, and also loc ...
); the Edison Bridge, which carries U.S. Route 9 (connecting Woodbridge Township and ); and the Driscoll Bridge, which carries the
Garden State Parkway The Garden State Parkway (GSP) is a controlled-access network. A controlled-access highway is a type of highway that has been designed for high-speed vehicular traffic, with all traffic flow—ingress and egress—regulated. Common English ...
(connecting Woodbridge Township and Sayreville).


Water supply

The Raritan River is an important source of drinking water for the central portion of New Jersey. A water processing plant operated by New Jersey American Water is located in
Somerset ( en, All The People of Somerset) , locator_map = , coordinates = , region = South West England South West England is one of nine official regions of England The regions, formerly known as the government office regions, are the ...

Somerset
and draws its water at the confluence of the Raritan River and its largest tributary (the
Millstone River The Millstone River is a tributary A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or parent) river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem riv ...
), providing an average of of water per day. The New Jersey Water Supply Authority operates two reservoirs off of the Raritan river, the
Spruce Run Reservoir Spruce Run Recreation Area is a New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by t ...
and
Round Valley Reservoir The Round Valley Reservoir in Clinton Township in Hunterdon County, New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It is ...

Round Valley Reservoir
, and controls releases of water to ensure the “minimum passing flow rates” enforced by the
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is a government agency A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commission, is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government The machinery o ...
. Additionally, the Delaware and Raritan Canal, managed by the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, serves as a water supply that pumps over of water per day from the Delaware to the Raritan river and serves over 1 million customers along the way


Flooding

The Raritan River has persistent flooding problems when excessive rain from storms affects the river basin. The flooding problems mainly affect the town of , which is partially built on a natural floodplain at the junction of several tributaries, and , which has a large neighborhood known as Lost Valley that lies on the floodplain between the Raritan River and its largest tributary river, which is known as the
Millstone River The Millstone River is a tributary A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or parent) river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem riv ...
. Other towns in the Raritan River basin also experience flooding to a lesser degree. Record flooding in the aftermath of
Hurricane Floyd Hurricane Floyd was a very powerful Cape Verde hurricane which struck the Bahamas and the East Coast of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Cont ...
in September 1999 () flood crest, above flood stage) caused renewed interest in a flood control project called the Green Brook Flood Control Project, which is designed to protect Bound Brook from a 150-year flood. In August 2011, record flooding occurred once again after
Hurricane Irene Hurricane Irene was a large and destructive tropical cyclone A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm, storm system characterized by a Low-pressure area, low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, Beaufort sc ...

Hurricane Irene
swept through the area. This problem was exacerbated by well-above average rainfall that fell in the weeks before the storm hit, and spurred completion of the Army Corps of Engineers flood control project. As of 2015, the current status of this project is: # The R2 levee system is functionally complete – The R2 Levee System is designed to provide Bound Brook with protection from a 150-year flood level. The levee is built to the height of the raised Talmage Avenue Bridge. # Closure gates along Raritan are functionally complete – The gate closures across the New Jersey Transit railroad tracks on the western side of Bound Brook and at the South Main Street railroad underpass that leads to Queens Bridge have been completed and are used to keep flood waters out of Bound Brook. # The new Talmadge Avenue Bridge that connects Bound Brook and
Bridgewater, New Jersey Bridgewater Township is a township A township is a kind of human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can r ...
is functionally complete. The replacement bridge was built to the height of the R2 Levee to prevent Middle Brook and Raritan River waters from entering Bound Brook from the west. # To improve water flow through Bound Brook, the former Conrail bridge over the Raritan River and its associated railroad embankment that were located east of Bound Brook were removed during 2007. The bridge and embankment, when they were in place, acted to block the river flow through the Bound Brook area. To build the main Bound Brook R2 levee, the bridge and embankment needed to be removed.Valinski, Robin Blackstone, "Green Brook Flood Control Project: Saving Bound Brook" (2012). Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects. 48. https://repository.upenn.edu/mes_capstones/48


Gallery

File:Raritan River, NJ - South Branch and North Branch confluence.jpg, Confluence of the South Branch and the North Branch with the Raritan River in Branchburg File:Raritay River viewed from Queens Bridge in Bound Brook.jpg, Raritan River viewed from Queens Bridge in File:Raritan River in Rutgers.jpg, Raritan River at the
Fall Line A fall line (or fall zone) is the area where an upland region and a coastal plain meet and is typically prominent where rivers cross it, with resulting rapids or waterfalls. The uplands are relatively hard Basement (geology), crystalline basement r ...
, as seen from File:Victory Bridge from US 9.JPG, The Victory Bridge over Raritan River, as seen from the Edison Bridge in File:Raritan_Bay_Bridge.jpg, Raritan Bay Drawbridge in its open position, between
Perth Amboy Perth Amboy is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. ...

Perth Amboy
and , right before the Raritan River drains out into the
Raritan Bay Raritan Bay is a bay located at the southern portion of Lower New York Bay between the U.S. states of New York and New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United Stat ...
File:Raritan Flooding from Irene.jpg, Flooding damage from in New Brunswick File:Boundbrook041607.jpg, The Raritan River flooding Bound Brook, Spring Nor'easter, April 16, 2007 File:RaritanRiver1948.PNG, A gauge inspector and the gage house built into Van Veghten's Bridge abutment during the flood of December 31, 1948


Communities on the Raritan

(In alphabetical order) * * Bridgewater * East Brunswick * * Franklin Township * * Hillsborough * *
Middlesex Middlesex (; abbreviation: Middx) is a Historic counties of England, historic county in South East England, southeast England. Its area is almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London and mostly within the Ceremonial counties of En ...

Middlesex
*
New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , capital = Fredericton Fredericton (; ) is the capital of the Provinces and territor ...

New Brunswick
*
Perth Amboy Perth Amboy is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. ...

Perth Amboy
* Piscataway * * * Somerville * * * Woodbridge


Tributaries

The Raritan river is formed by the confluence of: *
North Branch Raritan River The North Branch Raritan River is a tributary A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or parent) river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main ...
*
South Branch Raritan River The South Branch Raritan River is a tributary of the Raritan River in central New Jersey in the United States.Gertler, Edward. ''Garden State Canoeing'', Seneca Press, 2002. Description The source of the South Branch is the outflow from Budd Lake ...
Its main tributaries are: *
Green Brook Green Brook is a tributary of the Raritan River in central New Jersey in the United States.Gertler, Edward. ''Garden State Canoeing'', Seneca Press, 2002. Course The Green Brook rises in the Watchung Mountains at an elevation of 410 feet in F ...
*
Lawrence Brook Image:HPIM0893 wmp fall.jpg, 260px, Westons Mill Pond section of Lawrence Brook, with Rutgers University on the opposite side Lawrence Brook is a tributary of the Raritan River in Middlesex County, New Jersey, in the United States. Course Origina ...
*
Millstone River The Millstone River is a tributary A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or parent) river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem riv ...
* South River Others are: * Arrarat Creek * Crows Mill Creek * Cuckholds Brook * Dukes Brook * Garron Creek * Manalapan Brook * Middle Brook *
Mile Run The mile run (1,760 yard 300px, Bronze Yard No.11, the official standard of length for the Treasury Department A treasury is either *A government department related to finance and taxation, a Finance minister, finance ministry. *A ...
* Buell Brook * Mill Brook * Padilla Creek * Peters Brook (Raritan River), Peters Brook * Pine Creek * Randolph Brook * Red Root Creek


See also

* List of New Jersey rivers * List of crossings of the Raritan River *
Raritan Bay Raritan Bay is a bay located at the southern portion of Lower New York Bay between the U.S. states of New York and New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United Stat ...
* Raritan Bayshore * Sandy Hook Bay *
Delaware and Raritan Canal The Delaware and Raritan Canal (D&R Canal) is a canal in Central Jersey, central New Jersey, United States, built in the 1830s, that served to connect the Delaware River to the Raritan River. It was an efficient and reliable means of transporta ...
* Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park * Manasquan River * Navesink River * Passaic River * Rahway River * Shrewsbury River * Arthur Kill * Raritan River Project * Hudson Canyon


References


External links


Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park

Duke Island Park

Raritan Basin Watershed Alliance

U.S. Geological Survey: NJ stream gaging stations

The Raritan-Millstone Heritage Alliance


{{authority control Raritan River, Rivers of Middlesex County, New Jersey Rivers of Somerset County, New Jersey Rivers of New Jersey Delaware and Raritan Canal Bodies of water in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey