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Historians, Politicians, Public Celebrate Opening Of Griggstown Bridgetender’s House

Restored building will be used as the visitor's center for the Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway

bridgetenders house2

Visitors packed the Muletenders’ Barracks April 19 to hear former state Sen. Raymond Bateman, right and his son, state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R-16, speak.

The culmination of a 13-year effort to protect the historic and scenic Millstone Valley area from development was celebrated April 19 with the opening of the restored Griggstown Bridgetender’s House and Muletenders’ Barracks.

The house, which was once home to the Griggstown causeway bridgetender and his family when mule barges plied the Delaware River canal, will serve as the visitor’s center for the Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway.

The byway is a a 27.5 mile loop stretching from Kingston to Millstone.

On hand to participate in the celebration, sponsored by the Millstone Valley Preservation Commission, were former state Sen. Raymond Bateman and his son, current state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R-16.

The senior Bateman played a role in legislation creating the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park.

Attendees also saw the public introduction of a short film about the scenic byway. The film, which was screened at the recent Garden State Film Festival in Atlantic City, will be shown to visitors at the Bridgetender’s House.

After the ceremony, Kip Bateman said he’s spent much time on the D&R Canal towpath, so appearing at the event “was a great opportunity for me to come out and meet the people who make this all possible.”

Bateman said it’s important that the state come up with a stable way to fund the preservation of historic and open spaces.

“These buildings, once they go, they go,” he said. “History is so important, we owe it to our children and grandchildren to do what we can to preserve them.”

The Preservation Commission’s Barbara ten Broeke said the turnout was “wonderful.”

“We didn’t know what to expect because the invitations had no RSVP on them,” she said. “So it’s a beautiful day, and people just came.”

“People left their luncheons and their functions to come here,” she said. “I think the Batemans were a big draw and people want to finally see the bridgetender’s house and they want to see the muletenders’ barracks.”

The buildings, she said, are “very significant to canal history.”

She said the bridgetender’s house took about a year to restore. The restoration was paid for by the Federal Highway Administration, which kicked in $300,000, and the state Department of Environmental Protection, which contributed $75,000.

 

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