Thomas Edison National Historical Park: Glenmont

IMG_2581

Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

IMG_2600

On my previous visit to Thomas Edison National Historical Park, it was Edison Day and Glenmont was closed to allow all rangers to be on hand at the Laboratory Complex downtown. So I returned a few months later, hoping to see the rest of the park.

IMG_2582

Glenmont was Edison’s mansion, about a mile away from the labs and factories in West Orange.  It is on 13 acres on a hill in Llewellyn Park, which was America’s first planned residential community.

IMG_2602

To take a tour of the house, you must go to the Visitor Center on Main Street and get a ticket. Best to get there early as tickets often sell out by noon.  You cannot visit Glenmont, which is in a gated community, without a ticket and a pass for your car.

IMG_2561
The Visitor Center in West Orange

Edison bought Glenmont for his new bride Mina as a wedding gift. It was a bargain because the original owner, who was a clerk for a dried goods company,  built the estate with $250k in embezzled funds. Edison paid $125k for the house, outbuildings, furnishings for 29 rooms and 13 landscaped acres.

IMG_2568
Mina’s ‘Potting Shed’…she was involved in gardening projects in the community.

Photography is not allowed inside the mansion. The Park Service has kept the home as it was in Edison’s time, with most of his original belongings and furnishings displayed inside. The ranger who led our tour sternly cautioned us not to straggle behind or touch any of the valuable artifacts.

IMG_2594

Having previously toured the Laboratory Complex, I wondered if Thomas Edison had spent much time in this home. He was a genius and an insomniac prone to working on inventions through the night and sleeping for an hour here and there on a cot in his lab. But when we went upstairs, the ranger pointed out the family room where Edison enjoyed playing checkers and other games with his children.

IMG_2592

Upstairs was the noisy family room where the children could be as loud as they wanted (Edison was partially deaf.) Downstairs were the fancier rooms for entertaining guests. Mina Edison loved the conservatory with its windows and she loved to watch the birds.

IMG_2590

Thomas Edison put the house into Mina’s name to separate it from the Edison Company… in case something went wrong with the company they wouldn’t lose their home. Mina sold the house back to the Edison company for one dollar in 1947 with the stipulation that she be allowed to live there until her death and that the house become a museum afterwards.

IMG_2595

Mina and Thomas Edison are buried in graves in the back yard.

Edison NHP Posts:

Location: Llewelyn Park, West Orange, NJ 07052

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designation declared: 3/30/2009

Date of my visit: 8/18/2018

IMG_2605
The garage which houses several antique cars

Gateway National Recreation Area: Fort Hancock Women’s Barracks

IMG_3058

Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

March is Women’s History Month in the USA and this Friday is International Women’s Day, so today I am highlighting a stop on the New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail.

IMG_3059

The Women’s Army Corp was formed during World War II. Women were given stateside non-combatant positions so that the men who would normally do those jobs could be sent into combat.

IMG_3063

WAC soldiers were first assigned to Fort Hancock in New Jersey in 1943 and were originally destined for clerical positions. The women proved so invaluable to the war efforts that their roles expanded to the motor pool, commissary, finance office, etc…

IMG_3060

The WACs were assigned to building #25. Known as the WAC Mansion, the building was 17,000 square feet and luxurious by army standards.

IMG_3065

Today the Women’s Barracks is in need of repair, but fared better than some of its neighbors did during Hurricane Sandy. The National Park Service has offered many of the fort’s buildings for lease…lessees will be responsible for restoration and maintenance while preserving the historic integrity of the site. When I visited in September, there was an ‘under contract’ sign posted here, so hopefully it will soon receive some much-needed TLC.

IMG_3066
This is a few buildings over from the Women’s Barracks and has partially collapsed. The Park Service does not have the funds to restore all of the Fort Hancock buildings so has begun leasing them out. The Marine Academy of Science and Technology has a building adjacent to this one and may rebuild it to expand their campus.

My other posts on Sandy Hook:

Location: 128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732

Designation: National Recreation Area

Date designation declared: 10/27/1972

Date of my visit: 9/30/2018

IMG_3064

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

IMG_3804

Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

IMG_3800

The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge protects 7800 acres of wetlands and forested areas that are an important migratory rest stop and habitat for over 200 species of birds and other wildlife.

IMG_3785

Great Swamp was once the Glacial Lake Passaic formed by the retreat of the Wisconsin Glacier at the end of the last Ice Age. Today, the watershed feeds the Passaic River and serves to ease floodwaters and provides water purification for the surrounding water supply.

IMG_3777

A good place to begin your visit to the refuge is the Helen C Fenske Visitor Center. Fenske was a community activist who campaigned to stop the Port Authority of NY/NJ from building an airport in the wetlands in the 1960s. There are some displays in the center documenting how grass-roots organizations bought up parcels of lands and donated them to the federal government for inclusion in a refuge.

IMG_3764

The Visitor Center has a garden viewing area where you can watch birds come to the regularly stocked feeders. The refuge was participating in the Great Backyard Birdcount the day I visited and had a ranger presentation on the types of birds to be found locally.

IMG_3775

From the Visitor Center, I drove the park road to the Overlook, which is a parking area overlooking a swampy area where I’d imagine there are lots of birds during the right season. I could hear some in the distance, but there were none to be seen.

IMG_3779

I continued around the park’s dirt road until I came to the Wildlife Observation Center.

This side of the refuge has a mile or two of boardwalk trails through the marsh to three different observation blinds.

IMG_3788

These are sheds with slots cut out for viewing scopes. In one of the blinds, a birder with a powerful spotting scope found a yellow eyed duck, but it was too far for me to capture a good image with my camera.

IMG_3802

Location: 32 Pleasant Plains Rd, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

Designation: National Wildlife Refuge

Date designated or established: May 1966

Date of my visit: 2/16/2019

IMG_3810

Paterson Great Falls: Waterfall Wednesday

IMG_3452

Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

IMG_3447

On a sunny day, you can often find a rainbow over the rear section of Paterson Great Falls National Park.

IMG_3455

I was visiting the park for the Native American Heritage celebration and walked over the bridge to this section. We’d had a downpour the night before so there was a lot of water cascading and creating mist. The mist acts as a prism and creates the rainbow.

IMG_3451

Scroll down for a video clip.

Paterson Great Falls posts:

Location: 72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson, NJ

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designated or established: 11/7/2011

Date of my visit: 11/4/2018

 

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park: Maritime Forest Trail

IMG_3363

Happy Blogiversary to National Parks with T! It’s been a year since I first started this blog. Many thanks to those who have come along for the journey!

IMG_3368

Every October the NJ Lighthouse Society runs the Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey in order to raise funds for the state’s historic lighthouses and maritime sites. This year, we purchased an incomplete commemorative deck of cards at our starting point and then tried to complete the deck by collecting cards at each of the participating locations. There were 13 sites included in the challenge this year and I got to 5 of them on the Saturday of the challenge.

20181020_145518

After climbing to the top of Barnegat Lighthouse, I decided to walk the quarter-mile Maritime Forest Trail behind the visitor center. Most people were in the visitors center, by the lighthouse or out on the jetty so I was able to take a peaceful, leisurely stroll on the sandy trail.

IMG_3366

A maritime forest grows on the dunes farthest from the shore and consists of trees, bushes and plants adapted to the salty environment. Many of the trees here are fruit bearing and so provide a bountiful home for birds and other critters.

IMG_3361

Maritime forests once covered the length of the Jersey Shore, but most were lost to agricultural or recreational development. In Barnegat State Park, there were 30 acres of forests, but erosion has washed away all but two acres. The short loop winds through this remnant with placards identifying the flora along the way.

IMG_3348
View of the Maritime Forest remnant from the top of Barnegat Light. The Visitor Center is the rectangular building at lower left. You can see the loop trail extending behind it into the trees.

Lighthouse Challenge and related posts:

IMG_3365

Location: 208 Broadway, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006

Designation: State Park

Date designated or established: January 1944

Date of my visit: 10/20/2018

IMG_3362

Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

IMG_3972

Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

IMG_3908

I visited the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in southern New Jersey with a photography group a few years ago. The group leader had reserved a tour for us on an electric tram with a naturalist. Check the Refuge Events page of the Forsythe website for information on reserving a tour.

IMG_3962

The National Refuge was created in 1984 out of the existing Barnegat and Brigantine refuges in order to protect tidal wetlands for migrating water birds. The refuge is located along most active flight paths of the Atlantic Flyway and is named for Edwin B. Forsythe, a conservationist and a former NJ Congressman.

IMG_3897

The tram took us around the 8-mile wildlife drive while the driver told us about the history of the area and the types of birds that can be found in the refuge. We stopped at several points and got out to take some photos.

IMG_3944

On one side of the loop, there is the incongruous juxtaposition of the refuge with the Atlantic City skyline.

IMG_3987

We wanted to take a more leisurely loop around as we hadn’t been able to stop everywhere we wanted on the tram. So once back at the visitors center, we piled in one of the cars.

IMG_3928

The snow geese were in the wetlands at the time of our visit…hundreds of white birds covering the wetlands as far as we could see. Snow Geese gather by the thousands at the refuge each winter.

IMG_3954

While there, we also saw a few different ducks, egrets/herons and a juvenile bald eagle. Osprey also come here to nest, but we were there too early in the season for them.

IMG_3984

Location: 800 Great Creek Road, Galloway, New Jersey 08205

Designation: National Wildlife Refuge

Date designation declared: 12/18/1986

Date of my visit: February 2016

IMG_4068
A juvenile bald eagle perches on an osprey habitat with Atlantic City in the background.

 

 

Paterson Great Falls: Overlook Park

IMG_3445

Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

IMG_3444

When I visited Paterson Great Falls for the Native American Heritage celebration, it was held in the brand-new Overlook Park. The Overlook’s main feature is an amphitheater facing the falls. The last time I’d been there, the area had been crumbling into the river with a chain link fence keeping people away from the edge (we’d had to find an opening to poke our lenses through to get a shot.)

IMG_3453

Besides the amphitheater,  a new stairway connecting the Overlook section with Mary Ellen Kramer Park was added. Previously, we’d had to exit the park, walk around the block and renter to cross the bridge to the far side of the falls. Much-needed improvements were also made to the parking area. Parking is still limited when there is an event happening…there were a few cars waiting for me to leave so they could pounce on my spot in the afternoon.

IMG_3441

Funds for the $2.8 million renovation came from New Jersey’s Green Acres fund, the NPS centennial grant, the county’s Open Space fund, the City of Paterson and Rutgers University.  The park has big plans for future improvements, including a Great Lawn on the Allied Textile Printing site and a fancy new visitor center which they are hoping to build in time for Great Fall’s 10th anniversary in 2021.

IMG_3440

Scroll down for a video clip of the falls taken from Overlook Park.

Paterson Great Falls posts:

Location: 72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson, NJ

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designated or established: 11/7/2011

Date of my visit: 11/4/2018