The Millstone Valley National
Scenic Byway Visitor Center 

OUR VISITOR CENTER IS CLOSED UNTIL APRIL 2022

Visitor Center under water

AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE IDA

The Visitor Center of the Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway will remain closed until April 2022 following the historic flooding caused by Hurricane Ida in September 2021. The D&R Canal bridge tender’s house at 2 Griggstown Causeway was inundated with five feet of water on the first floor when the Millstone River reached 23.4 feet at Griggstown, the second highest level ever recorded.

MVP Coalition volunteers saved many antiques, photographs, and records by moving them upstairs. Immediately after floodwaters receded, volunteers cleaned away mud and dried out floors and walls to minimize mold. Still, it will take months of restoration work before the building can be opened to the public. Donations to assist with the restoration can be sent to us at our Rocky Hill PO Box.

Despite the closing, we participated in the Somerset County’s Journey through the Past weekend on October 9 and 10 by putting up a tent in front of the building to offer maps, brochures, and answers to questions from the public. It was the perfect opportunity to take our self-guided driving tour.

The Visitor Center is the stone building with white stucco siding in this photograph taken by September 2, 2021, by Lambros Xethelis

Volunteers Bob Barth and Barbara Ten Broeke help to clean up the Visitor Center on September 4, 2021

THE MILLSTONE VALLEY NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY VISITOR CENTER

2 GRIGGSTOWN CAUSEWAY

PRINCETON , NJ

Located at the historic Griggstown Bridge-tenders House on the D&R Canal, the Visitor Center is open weekend afternoons April through October. It is operated by the Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition. We have an information room manned by knowledgeable volunteers, a museum room depicting an 1850s kitchen, and 19th century interpretive gardens. Visitors can watch videos that explain local history, pick up maps and brochures, and visit the museum room and garden.

What you will find inside

A place to relax and watch our videos
about the Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway and the history of farming in the Millstone Valley

Books, pamphlets, and maps to learn about the Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway and surrounding attractions

A museum room furnished as a kitchen that might have been used by the bridge-tender's family in the 19th century

The original fireplace in the kitchen has been restored.

The Visitor Center Museum and Garden

A  Nineteenth  Century  Kitchen and Kitchen Garden

     

The Millstone Valley Scenic Byway Visitor Center is located in the two-story, four-room house built in 1834 as a residence for the bridge-tender and his family. When a boat approached the Griggstown bridge, it was the responsibility of the bridge tender to swing it open so that the boat could pass. When the canal ceased operation, many of the bridge-tender's houses fell into disrepair. The Griggstown bridge-tender's house was restored in 2010 with grant money from the National Scenic Byway program to function downstairs as the Visitor Center for the Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway, and upstairs as the headquarters of the Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition.

     Hugh Blaney was the bridge tender at Griggstown from 1834 until he died of typhoid fever in 1853. He lived in this house with his wife and seven children.  

At his passing, Hugh Blamey left an inventory of his possessions. The inventory has been used to interpret one room in the house to the period of the family’s occupation during the mid-19th century. To see a copy of the inventory and learn more about the Griggstown Bridge Tender's house and its occupants, read The Griggstown Bridge Tender’s House & Its Tender Legacy, by Vicky Chirco, at the New Jersey Parks and Forests website.

Visitor Center Showcases

The Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition has been a regular participant in the Somerset County Weekend Journey Through the Past, staying open for longer hours during the weekend and presenting special programs. 

Past programs, left to right:
Barbara Beckley showing hand dyed yarn and teaching about natural dyes
Heidi Dallenbach Walker spinning wool on an antique wheel with hand sheared wool

Directions to the Millstone Scenic Byway Visitor Center

  • FROM NORTH
  • N.J. Turnpike: Take Turnpike South to Exit 9 (New Brunswick).  Bear right after toll booth onto Route 18 North.  Follow signs to Route 1 South (1/2 mile).  Take Route 1 South 10 miles.  Turn right on New Rd. (1st light after McDonalds). New Road becomes Bunker Hill road. Continue 5 miles to the end.  Turn left on Canal Rd.  Drive 1/2 mile, then turn right onto Griggstown Causeway. Visitor Center is on right.
  • Route 206: Take 206 South into Montgomery Township.  Make a left on Belle Mead Griggstown Rd. Make a right at the first Stop sign and follow to the end.  Make left onto River Rd. and then a quick right on the bridge at Griggstown Causeway (Caution advised at this one-lane bridge).  Proceed through park to Visitor Center on left.
  • FROM SOUTH
  • Route 1: Take Route 1 North to South Brunswick.  Take jughandle onto New Rd. (1st light after South Brunswick Shopping Center). New Road becomes Bunker Hill road. Continue 5 miles to the end.  Turn left on Canal Rd.  Drive 1/2 mile, then turn right onto Griggstown Causeway. Visitor Center is on right.
  • Route 206: Take 206 North to Rocky Hill.  Make a right onto Route 518 (WaWa on corner).  Continue down hill to the first traffic light.  Make a left on Canal Rd..  Drive 3 miles on left, then turn right onto Griggstown Causeway. Visitor Center is on right. 
  • Griggstown Causeway, Canal Road, and River Road in Montgomery are all subject to flooding, sometimes even in minor storms. Please plan your route  and your visit accordingly

Millstone Valley Scenic Byway Bridge Tender's Houses

Find out More

The canal houses are an integral part of the D&R Canal and its history. They are not grand, but they are irreplaceable. Their presence helps us connect to the history of our surroundings, the lives that were lived here, and the fabric of our own lives. The Kingston Historical Society, with headquarters at the Kingston Canal House and the Blackwells Mills Canal House Association, with headquarters at the Blackwells Mills Canal House, work to conserve these precious houses. 

Click to learn more about the bridge tenders who lived in the Griggstown Canal House.
Click to learn the history of the D&R Canal bridge and locktender houses.


Below: Vintage photograph of the Griggstown Causeway. The bridge tender's house is at right. The mill on the left is no longer standing, It was on the far bank by the tow path.

© Copyright 2021 Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition