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Long Pond Ironworks State Park preserves the historic village of Hewitt, which was a bustling ironworking community in the 1700s.
I was driving by after a hike at nearby Jungle Habitat and noticed that the visitor center was open. I stopped in and chatted with the park ranger for a bit.
This building was once the General Store and also a boarding house for the iron workers. It now houses the museum as well as the visitor center.
The museum depicts life in Hewitt and showcases many iron artifacts from the period. The ranger told me one of the most precious pieces in the collection is the stove, made at Long Pond for George Washington.
At the ranger’s recommendation, I took the self-guided tour of the village. The village map depicts the town as it was back then. Today there are less than a dozen structures still standing.
Because of the water-power of the Wanaque River and the iron ore deposits in the Highlands region, Peter Hasenclever established his Ironworks here.
After following the path past historic buildings, some ruins and the river, I arrived at the furnace area. The original furnace is under a tarp and is one of the few colonial-era iron furnaces left.
There are other furnace ruins, built during the Civil War by the Cooper-Hewitt family. These furnaces collapsed in an unusual manner, falling forward instead of into a pile a rubble. The ranger said it could be from people stealing the fireplace bricks (long ago) that formed the arches.
In its heyday, Hewitt housed 500 ironworkers and their families, most of them German immigrants. The town had a church, a school and a post office. By 1882, the forges and furnaces at Long Pond had ceased operations as the industry shifted to coal power.
Location: Greenwood Lake Turnpike, West Milford, NJ
Designation: State Park, National Historic Landmark District
Date designated or established: 1766
Date of my visit: August 24, 2015