Tuckerton Shell Mound, Tuckerton, NJ

We learned about the Tuckerton Shell Mound while reading the book Ghost Towns and Other Quirky Places in the New Jersey Pine Barrens by Barbara Solem-Stull. It is a huge deposit of shells that covers about one-tenth of an acre and it is believed to be about 1,500 years old! The mound was thought to be a burial site for Lenape Indians who lived in the area, and other sources say it was used as a landmark for navigation purposes. From the road it looks like a large clump of trees in the middle of the marsh, but when you get up close you can see that the entire mound is made up of shells. If you turn onto Great Bay Boulevard (also known as Seven Bridges Road) off of Route 9 in Tuckerton, Ocean County, the mound will be in the marsh to your right, before you get to the first bridge.

HELPFUL TIP: When looking for anomalies that are located on the side of a road, always look for places in the shoulder where it looks like people pulled over.

Right before the bridge, past the shell mound, there is also a pull-off and a small sign with a map showing the location of the shell mound.

Also located nearby are the Mystic Island Blocks.

Grave of Mary Ellis, New Brunswick, NJ

Mary Ellis, born in 1750, lived in New Brunswick, Middlesex County, NJ along the Raritan River. She fell in love with a sailor and visited the same spot along the Raritan everyday with hopes that his ship was coming in and he had returned to her, but he never did. She is buried, along with two family members, at the same site that she had gone to each day while waiting for her love. Today, a movie theater parking lot surrounds the grave site, which now sits high above ground level after development of the property leveled the hill it originally was placed on. The address is 17 US Hwy 1, New Brunswick, NJ and the coordinates are 40.489199, -74.416589. It is situated behind the movie theater in a fenced in plot.

Click here for a link to more detailed history.

Click the pictures to make them larger.

Mary Ellis Mary Ellis

Hampton Furnace, Shamong, NJ

We made several attempts to get to Hampton before we actually found success. The first time we scoped it out, it was nighttime in late September and we were almost eaten alive by bugs. After getting a face full of spiderwebs, we came across just one of the house foundations and a big cement cylinder so we knew we had to try again in better conditions. In March, we had the pleasure of attending the 9th Annual Lines on the Pines Convention in Hammmonton, NJ where we met none other than Barbara Solem-Stull, the author of Ghost Towns and Other Quirky Places in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Her book gives a detailed history of the Hampton furnace and includes a hand-drawn map with the location of all the ruins. That same day, we attempted to follow her directions to the abandoned town by following Hampton Road off of Route 206, just before the Atsion Ranger Station. However, this road gets really muddy and I had to turn around for fear of getting stuck.

About a week later, we took an alternate route by making a right onto Glossy Spung Road off of Carranza Road. After about two miles we finally emerged to find the ruins of the old town. The Hampton Furnace was built in 1795 and the town was initially an ironworks village. It was later converted into a cranberry bog and packing facility that operated through the turn of the 19th century. The ruins and foundations are mostly from the cranberry era, but you can still see the site of the furnace by the bridge on the Batsto River. The waters of the raceway are full of iron and it is said that an old furnace wheel lies buried deep below. This town has a fascinating history including a robbery that occurred in 1916. Andrew Rider, former president of Rider College and owner of Hampton Park during the cranberry era, was returning to the town with $4,000 in cash to pay his cranberry workers. As he turned onto Hampton Road, he was followed by a car that was parked at the Atsion store. The bandits fired upon Rider and his party, fatally wounding his brother Henry. Rider and his group made it to Hampton with the money intact, and the bandits were later found because a neighbor was able to note the license plate number of the car. Hampton is a wonderful place to visit and I highly recommend using Stull’s book for a walking tour reference.

Palisades Interstate Park, Bergen County, NJ

The Palisades Interstate Park is a fabulous area that has a ridiculous amount of spectacular views, fascinating history, and trails for all levels of hiking. The Palisades are cliffs that stretch along the Hudson River from Jersey City, NJ into NY state.

 During our trip to the Palisades, we were excited from the beginning simply after driving up the Palisades Interstate Parkway, the stunning road that travels through the park. We had our minds set on seeing Peanut Leap Cascade and on taking the challenge of the Giant Stairs, which is an insane hike that takes you through a very strenuous boulder trail. The Giant Stairs would only be appropriate for those who have proper footwear and a few hours to spend in case you need to take time to rest. There is a stone monument marking the separation between New Jersey and New York. Be prepared for a perfect view of the Tappan Zee Bridge as well as Manhattan. We also stumbled upon ruins of an Italian Garden that was built circa 1900. There were a set of swings tied to a tree, which was a magical touch to an already magnificent hike. All in all, out trip to the Palisades were breathtaking (in more ways than one,) and we already can’t wait to return. There are just too many sights to see in just one day.

Coordinates for parking- N: 40.98919, W: 73.90711

These sites were very helpful in planning our trip:

http://www.nynjtc.org/hike/giant-stairslong-path-loop-state-line-lookout

http://www.njpalisades.org/maps.html

And here are some sites that are informative concerning the extensive history of the Palisades:

http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=676&ResourceType=Site

http://www.njpalisades.org/history.html

Click the pictures to make them bigger

Alexander Hamilton Death Rock, Weehawken, Hudson County, NJ

The Alexander Hamilton Death Rock trip was exciting! After a trip into Brooklyn we decided to swing up to Weehawken while we still happened to be in the relative area. Hamilton has always been my favorite founding father and I planned on visiting the bust for years, but never seemed to have the opportunity. As we drove into New Jersey from Manhattan, its was hard to imagine what the Alexander Hamilton Park, located right down the block from the death rock and bust, could look like surrounded by all the twisting road ways, railways, and tunnels. The address is Hamilton Ave, Weehawken, NJ, which is a very small road just off of J F Kennedy Boulevard. The neighborhood was very charming, and of course our jaws dropped as we got our first good view of the spectacular Manhattan skyline from the top of the cliff. The Death Rock is gated and sits behind a handsome sculpture of Alexander Hamilton, our nation’s first Secretary of Treasury, as well as Revolutionary War Veteran.

There are some signs that explain about the Hamilton-Burr duel, which occurred on July 11, 1804, below the Palisades of Weehawken, NJ. The exact spot of the duel no longer exists, but the monument is believed to be close to the location. Hamilton was mortally wounded by Burr and died the following day. More information on the duel can be found here.

The Alexander Hamilton Park is located right down the street at 773 Blvd E, Weehawken, NJ 07086. This park has the perfect view of Manhattan and was still pretty busy at 11 pm, when we finally arrived.

Timbuctoo, Westampton Township, NJ

Founded in the 1820′s along the Rancocas Creek in Westampton Township, Burlington County, New Jersey,  Timbuctoo was a community of free blacks and former slaves. This village was a stop on the underground railroad and included a church, school, cemetery, and 37 houses. In 1860, the Battle of Pine Swamp struck when slave-hunters attempted to capture Perry Simmons, a fugitive slave, but were thwarted by residents of Timbuctoo. Later, many of these residents served in the Union Army and some of their graves can still be found there today.

To visit the cemetery of the Civil War soldiers who lived in Timbuctoo, take Rancocas Road in Westampton Township (near the Rancocas Nature Center) and turn down Church Street until it dead ends. You will see a sign indicating where the cemetery begins.

Some great links to learn more about Timbuctoo:

Excavation

Battle of Pine Swamp

Conover Beacon, Leonardo, NJ

The Conover Beacon dates back to 1856 and was used to guide vessels along the Chapel Hill Channel in the Sandy Hook Bay. Originally, the tower was hexagonal and made of wood, but in 1941 it was replaced by its metal form and relocated to the town of Leonardo in Monmouth County, NJ. It was deactivated in 1957 and is now owned by the county. To get there, make a right onto Leonard Ave off of Route 36 and drive all the way to the shoreline. The lighthouse will be on your right. There is a door at the bottom where you can get into the tower but be very careful because the stairway is rusted away and completely caved in at some points. It’s a really neat little anomaly that we visited when we were exploring the Sandy Hook area.

For more on the history, visit this great site: www.LighthouseFriends.com

Holmdel Horn Antenna, Holmdel, NJ

The Holmdel Horn Antenna changed the history of cosmology in 1964 when Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson used it to discover cosmic background radiation, said to be the radiation left over from the birth of the universe. This discovery changed the world of physics because it provided evidence that supported the Big Bang Theory. Penzias and Wilson were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1978, and the antenna was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

You can find the antenna off of Holmdel Rd in Monmouth County, NJ. The site comes up in Google Maps just by searching “Holmdel Horn Antenna.” This huge piece of scientific history sits at the top of a very steep hill and you can park and walk right up it.

Holmdel Horn Antenna

Roseville Tunnel, Byram Township, NJ

The abandoned Roseville Tunnel, located in Byram Township, Sussex County, New Jersey was by far one of the most magical North Jersey anomalies we’ve ever visited. Driving north on Roseville Road in Byram Township, NJ , turn right into C O Johnson Park. Use the last entrance into the park, drive around the tennis courts and all the way back to the baseball field. There will be a parking lot and a path which leads into the woods. Follow the path and use the following coordinates to guide you: 40°58’15.6″ N  74°42’38.2″ W.This tunnel was once a part of the Lackawanna Cutoff, a railroad which runs across New Jersey and includes the Paulinskill Viaduct, another fantastic North Jersey site.

Roseville Tunnel Roseville Tunnel Roseville Tunnel

Swede Run Barn, Moorestown, NJ

Not too much is clear about the history of this little barn. Said to be preserved as a testament to Moorestown’s farming heritage, it is approximated to be more than 150 years old. It is located on Westfield Road on a 130-acre plot of land called Swede Run Fields where there are also a few walking trails. In 2011, the structure was declared unsafe and with restoration costs estimated at $160,000, the barn was in danger of being torn down. However, supporters of the Swede Run Barn rallied to preserve it and money is currently being raised by the Historical Society of Moorestown to pay for the restoration. By the time we visited, the barn had a brand new roof and a  fence was put up with a a sign asking for donations. If you are interested in supporting this project, contact the Historical Society of Moorestown regarding the “barn restoration.” It is a beautiful area, and hopefully this anomalous little barn can remain here for years to come.

 

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