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Raritan River facts for kids

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Raritan River
River with autumn trees in background
Raritan River as seen from Highland Park
Raritan River watershed: empties near Staten Island in Raritan Bay on the Atlantic Ocean.
Other name(s) Rariton
Country United States
State New Jersey
Counties Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Somerset
Municipalities Bridgewater Township, Raritan, Somerville, Bound Brook, South Bound Brook, Piscataway, Franklin Township, New Brunswick, Highland Park, Edison, East Brunswick, North Brunswick, Sayreville, Woodbridge, Perth Amboy, South Amboy
Physical characteristics
Main source Confluence of South Branch Raritan River and North Branch Raritan River
47.7 ft (14.5 m)
40°33′20.0″N 74°41′15.6″W / 40.555556°N 74.687667°W / 40.555556; -74.687667
River mouth Raritan Bay
0 ft (0 m)
40°29′41.4″N 74°16′13.2″W / 40.494833°N 74.270333°W / 40.494833; -74.270333
Length 69.6 mi (112.0 km)
  • Average width:
    200 ft (61 m)
  • Minimum depth:
    9 ft (2.7 m)
  • Maximum depth:
    25 ft (7.6 m)
Basin features
Basin size 1,100 sq mi (700,000 acres; 2,800 km2)
Population ~1.2 million
Bridges Victory Bridge, Edison Bridge, Driscoll Bridge, New Jersey Turnpike, U.S. Highway No. 1 Bridge, highway bridge over South River at the town of South River

The Raritan River is a major river of New Jersey in the United States. It is receives water from the mountainous area of the central part of the state. The water empties into the Raritan Bay on the Atlantic Ocean.


Geologists believe that the Raritan provided the course of the mouth of the Hudson River.


The river forms at near the border of Somerville, of Bridgewater, Branchburg, and Hillsborough Townships. It flows for 16 mi (25.7km). Then it slows into in tidewater t New Brunsw. Its estuary extends 14 mi (22.5 km) m.oIt re ensing the western end of Raritan_Bay at South Amboy.

The river has served an important water transportation route for a while. The name Raritan comes from the Raritan people, an Algonquian Native American tribe that inhabited Staten Island. In colonial days, the river allowed the development of early industry around New Brunswick. During the American Revolutionary War, the river provided a means for troop conveyance.

Wildlife and pollution

Efforts have been taken to reduce the pollution and increase water quality. These actions have helped the resident fish population. These include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, sunfish, catfish, trout, chain pickerel, american eels, carp and yellow perch. Some parts of the river include striped bass, fluke, winter flounder, weakfish and bluefish. Many birds live along the length of the river. Crustaceans such as blue claw crab, fiddler crabs and green crabs are also found in the tidal sections of the river. Crayfish can be found farther upstream.


The river is also used for recreational boating, including use by the rowing team of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The river is featured in the title of Rutgers' alma mater, On the Banks of the Old Raritan, and its flooding is mentioned in the song. The musical 1776 mentions troops bathing in the Raritan River.


Near its mouth, the river has a New Jersey Transit railroad bridge. There is the Victory Bridge that carries Route 35 (connecting Perth Amboy and Sayreville, New Jersey); the Edison Bridge, which carries U.S. Route 9 (connecting Woodbridge Township and Sayreville); and the Driscoll Bridge, which carries the Garden State Parkway (connecting Woodbridge Township and Sayreville).

Water supply

The Raritan River is an important source of drinking water for the central portion of New Jersey.


The Raritan River has flooding problems when massive rain from storms affects the river basin.

In August 2011, record flooding occurred once again after Hurricane Irene swept through the area.

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