In Response to: From the Archives

There’s a place along the towpath, between Washington Road and Harrison Street, where the land broadens between Carnegie Lake and the canal. When my spouse joined the Princeton faculty in 2003, I aimed as a botany-type to bloom where I was transplanted. At the time, that broad patch of land was subject to frequent mowing, which I noticed was keeping many native wildflowers from blooming. Though the land is owned by the University, it is managed by the D&R Canal State Park. I made a suggestion that they save themselves some work and mow that meadow once a year rather than weekly, so the wildflowers could bloom. It’s not always easy to get institutions to change their ways, even when you’re saving them work, but they agreed. Though grass is still mowed along the edge of the towpath, users can now enjoy a loop trail through that broad meadow of Joe-Pye weed, cutleaf coneflower, ironweed, tall meadow rue, with the sound of rowing crews passing by. Seeds collected there have been used to add native diversity to other wet/sunny habitats around Princeton. 

Interestingly, I’ve heard that the towpath land was once landscaped as an ornamental entryway into campus, and one can still see remnants of the cherry trees, viburnum hedges, and other unusual specimens planted during that era.

Steve Hiltner
Princeton, N.J.