Welcome back to National Parks with T! As our nation mourns the passing of George H.W. Bush this week, it seems fitting to showcase one of the 14 National Park Service units designated during his presidency. Rip, 41.
The Great Egg Harbor river was designated a National Scenic and Recreational river in 1992. It is a unit of the National Park Service but the park service shares the administration of the area with state and county parks. This was my 75th NPS unit visited…343 more to go 🙂
Great Egg Harbor and the river got their name from the Dutch Explorer who discovered the harbor. When he sailed into the inlet, he called it Egg Harbor because of the abundance of water fowl eggs on the shores. It is considered one of the top places in the country for birding.
I stopped at the Warren E Fox Nature Center in Estelle Manor Atlantic County Park to visit this unit. In the nature center, I was able to get my national passport stamp and see some of the local wildlife native to the area (both stuffed and live.)
I took the 1.8 mile boardwalk trail from behind the nature center to a view of the river. The boardwalk was slick with wet leaves and pine needles, but I managed not to fall on my butt. Even if I had, there would have been no one to witness it.
Along the way were the ruins of the Bethlehem Loading Company. The Bethlehem Loading facilities were built during World War I to produce munitions.
At about one and a 1/2 miles down the trail, there was a bump out with a wide view of the South Branch of the Great Egg Harbor river. The river is 55 miles long and travels through the NJ Pinelands National Reserve.
I continued on the boardwalk trail, following the signs pointing towards an artesian well. That turned out to be a pipe trickling out water near the ruins of the Bethlehem Loading Company Power Plant (scroll down for a video.) Nearby was the Smith-Ireland Cemetery which has graves dating back to the 1800s.
At this point, I could hear a lot of shouting off in the woods and so I turned back and retraced my steps along the peaceful river walk. Because of its significance in WWI industry, Estelle Manor was named a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
Location: 109 NJ-50, Mays Landing, NJ 08330
Designation: National Scenic & Recreational River
Date designated or established: 10/27/1992
Date of my visit: 10/20/2018