The Thompson-Neely Camelback Bridge in its finished glory.

Extensive repair work on the historic camelback bridge that crosses the Delaware Canal in the northern section of Washington Crossing Historic Park has been completed. To preserve one the canal’s most iconic and well-used structures, the Friends of the Delaware Canal raised $78,000 in private contributions to fund the project. The work was completed by camelback bridge restoration expert Randall Myer of R-Shell Exteriors, Lancaster, PA.

Myer began work in late January, was drawn off the job by the COVID-19 restrictions, and then returned to the project when construction activities were allowed. After elevating then stabilizing the bridge on cribbing, the main floor beams, posts, cross bracing, X braces, roof boards, and many deck boards were replaced with appropriate timber. The bridge then received its coatings of signature barn red stain. The final inspection by representatives from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Friends took place on June 3.

Known as the Thompson-Neely Camelback Bridge, this historic bridge is one of only six along the 58.9-mile-long canal that still retains its authentic structure. The camelback design was used on the Delaware Canal because it has a slight hump in the middle allowing clear passage of canal boats underneath. Today they are picturesque and useful reminders of the canal’s colorful past.

The final inspection team – present and cautious on the bridge.

The Friends of the Delaware Canal quest to restore and preserve the canal’s six remaining camelbacks began in 2002. Since then, five of the six have been restored. Their quest continues.

Friends’ volunteers undertake maintenance projects each year to keep the already restored bridges in good condition. The sixth bridge, a victim of earthquake damage and extensive deterioration, is a major undertaking and remains a goal.

The Friends are very grateful to the generous donors, who love the camelback bridges and ensure their preservation.

The Friends of the Delaware Canal is an independent, non-profit organization working to preserve, restore, and improve the Delaware Canal its surroundings. To find out more about the organization and its many activities, visit www.fodc.org. or the Friends’ Facebook page.

Photos provided by Friends of the Delaware Canal.