Photo of Big Timber Creek
Photo courtesy of Michael Hogan

Watershed Facts

- 18.6 total stream miles
- drains 50.9 sq. mi. of land
- has 3 tributaries

Locator Map for Big Timber Creek

Mantua Creek and its two major tributaries, Edwards Run and Chestnut Branch, drain over 50 square miles of Gloucester County. From its headwaters near Glassboro, Mantua Creek flows northwest for 18.6 miles to the Delaware River at Paulsboro. In its upper reaches, the creek flows through gently rolling, wooded terrain marked by a number of small lakes. Further downstream the creek flows through a relatively broad, flat valley which is part of the creek's floodplain. It finally flows through low, tidal marshland form the New Jersey Turnpike to the Delaware River.

A major tributary to Mantua Creek, Chestnut Branch flows just over seven miles from Glassboro to Mantua. Over that stretch it drains 9.9 square miles of land. Edwards Run, the second major tributary, flows north for 6.9 miles from its headwaters in Mantua Township, through East Greenwich and empties into Mantua Creek at Mt. Royal. Edwards Run drains an area of 10.6 square miles. Duffield Run is also a tributary to Mantua Creek from the headwaters and drains an area of 2.3 square miles.

The early settlement of the Mantua Creek area dates back to the time of the Lenni-Lenape Indians. The Indians valued the area for its abundance of fish and game and utilized the creeks extensively for transportation.

The early white settlers built saw and grist mills on many creeks and streams throughout the county. These early mills encouraged development of flood plain land and established a trend for development that continues today. Agriculture was also an important industry for the early settlers and continues to be one of our major industries.

Threats to the Creek
Twenty years ago, a large part of the flood plain of Mantua Creek was rural, wooded and undeveloped. Much of the area was devoted to farming with scattered residential homes throughout the flood plain.

Development has been most concentrated near Pitman and down stream where Mantua Creek passes through developed areas of Deptford, West Deptford and Mantua Townships. This development resulted in flooding as early as 1940 when a September storm caused severe damage to the homes in Mantua Terrace in West Deptford Township.

Further downstream, development of the flood plain increases in Paulsboro, where residential, commercial and industrial development can be found on or near flood plain land. This area is adjacent to low, tidal marshland that is susceptible to flooding from high water flowing down Mantua Creek.

In addition to the buildings situated on Mantua Creek's flood plain there are streets, highways, railroads, utilities and sewage treatment plants which are subject to flooding.

Upper Mantua Creek Greenway Project
Winding through Mantua Township's residential developments, enduring behind parking lots, abused in some places, often crossed but little known except to long-time Mantua residents is the Greenway. This interconnected, naturally-occurring system of woodlands, wetlands, stream corridors and associated valleys and slopes has recently been mapped.

The primary purpose of designating Greenway lands is to recognize the importance of these areas to our air and water quality, wildlife habitat, overall quality of life and to encourage residents to preserve these areas. A second purpose is to provide areas for recreation in publicly owned portions of the Greenway while respecting the private property rights of land owners.

Mantua Township's Greenway runs the length of the Mantua Creek within the township's borders and also surrounds the Chestnut Branch, Edward's Run and several other small streams and ponds. Washington Township is now in the process of establishing its own Greenway in its portion of the watershed. Several streams within Washington Township feed Mantua Creek including Duffield's Run and Bethel Run. Washington Township also contains several tributaries which feed into Big Timber Creek.

Additional information on both the Mantua Township and Washington Township Greenway projects can be obtained by contacting the Environmental Commissions in those communities, or through the South Jersey Land and Water Trust.