Narrows

The Narrows are located three miles south of the village of Kintnersville in Bucks County. This area derives its name from an old canal village called Narrowsville.

Narrowsville was named after the “Narrows,” a place where towering red shale cliffs constricted  passage along the shoreline of the Delaware River. Lock 20 of the Delaware Canal was located at The Narrows. Originally a single lock with a width of 11 feet, Lock 20 was widened to accommodate two canal boats during the 1850s. The lock was constructed next to a large grist mill built along the river bank by Samuel Rufe, before the canal was built. A narrow dirt wagon road also was built through The Narrows before the canal was constructed; it was retained after the completion of the canal. Today, the road has been widened and is locally known as River Road, or Pennsylvania Route 32. It is one of the most scenic highways in the state.

At one time the grist mill next to Lock 20 was used to grind hydraulic cement that was used on the canal’s locks, aqueducts and bridges. Hydraulic cement, which hardened underwater, was developed by Canvass White, who was the engineer on the Erie Canal before being hired by Josiah White (no relation) to work on the Lehigh and Delaware canals. The limestone that was used in the process was quarried across the Delaware River in New Jersey and burned in lime kilns near the quarry. The clinker (the burned limestone) was loaded in Durham boats and floated down the Delaware River to the grist mill at Narrowsville, where it was ground into cement. The grist mill continued as a flour mill until about 1900.