Raritan River

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The Raritan River is a major river of northern New Jersey in the United States. Its watershed drains much of the mountainous area of the northern part of the state, emptying into the Raritan Bay on the Atlantic Ocean.

Description

The river rises in two branches in the mountains west of New York City. The North Branch rises in central Morris County south of Dover and flows generally southward into Somerset County, around the southern end of the Watchungs. The South Branch issues from Budd Lake in western Morris County approximately 10 mi (16 km) WNW of the source of the North Branch. It flows generally SSW, then turns eastward in a large arc in Hunterdon County. It joins the North Branch west of Somerville. The combined stream flows generally east, through New Jersey. It widens increasingly in an estuary that enters the western end of Raritan Bay (Lower New York Bay) between Perth Amboy and South Amboy.

The river has served an important water transportation route since the days of the Lenape. The name itself comes from an Algonquian language word meaning "stream overflows." The name is also applied to the Raritan people, an Algonquin tribe that inhabited Staten Island, near the river's mouth. In colonial days, the river allowed the development of early industry around New Brunswick, as well as the transportation of agricultural materials from central New Jersey. During the American Revolutionary War, the river provided a means for troop conveyance. The building of Delaware & Raritan Canal provided a critical link between New York City and Philadelphia on the Delaware River.

The river is also used for recreational boating, including use by the rowing team of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The river appears in the song On the Banks of the Old Raritan of Rutgers. The musical 1776 mentions troops bathing in the Raritan River.

Geologists believe that approximately 6000 years ago the lower Raritan provided the course of the mouth of the Hudson River. At the end, following the end of the last ice age, the Narrows had not yet been formed and the Hudson flowed along the Watchungs to present-day Bound Brook, then followed the course of the Raritan eastward into Lower New York Bay.

Near its mouth the river is spanned by the Driscoll Bridge, which carries the Garden State Parkway over the river.

Communities on the Raritan

See also

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