The Morris Canal, which stretched from Newark to Phillipsburg, passed through Boonton, Dover and Port Oram (which would later become Wharton) while carrying anthracite coal from Pennsylvania to the Hudson River. Port Oram was the site chosen to develop an iron works industry and serve as an important port town. Today, Wharton is home to Picatinny Arsenal which has been an important army research and development center since 1880.
In 1902, Port Oram was renamed Wharton in honor of Joseph Wharton, a Philadelphia Quaker who went on to create a business empire that included iron smelting in Wharton. After his death in 1909, Wharton endowed the University of Pennsylvania with its business school.
Things to do:
Annual events like August’s Canal Day Music and Crafts Festival honor the Morris Canal, and especially Morris Canal Lock 2 East at Hugh Force Canal Park. At Hugh Force Canal Park you’ll find hiking trails along the former canal route and various abandoned railroad beds. Other parks in Wharton include Robert Street, Huff Street, Columbia Street, Langdon Avenue, Wilfred Hocking Park, Memorial Park and Schiffner Park.
Wharton presents fireworks every August, and veterans’ parades and ceremonies throughout the year organized by the William J. Hocking American Legion Post 91. Wharton hosts the Alliance 5K Color Run in early October at MacKinnon Middle School, and Hallowharton on October 31st.
Read about Wharton and 38 other great Morris County towns in our Town Blog