Paterson Great Falls: Overlook Park


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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


Barnegat Lighthouse State Park


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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.


After visiting Absecon in Atlantic City and then Tuckerton Seaport, I headed out to the northern end of Long Beach Island and Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. This historic lighthouse is a sister to the Cape May and Absecon lights and is similar in design.


In 1835 a 40-foot-tall lighthouse was erected in this spot, but its small stature and non-flashing light was inadequate. In 1859, ‘Old Barney’ replaced this older light, which had fallen into the sea.


Jetties have been built around the lighthouse to prevent the further erosion of the island. There were several people fishing from the jetty when I was there.


When completed, Barnegat Light stood 172 feet above sea level, four times taller than the original. The new light was a first-order flashing Fresnel lens.


The light became obsolete and was deactivated  in January 1944 and given to the State of New Jersey. The Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, a local non-profit organization, campaigned to reactivate the lighthouse.


A new, more modern light was installed and was lit on Barnegat Light’s 150th anniversary in 2009. It now shines daily from dusk until dawn. The original Fresnel lens is on display at the Barnegat Light museum around the corner.


After going to the adjacent visitor center, I climbed the 217 steps to the top of the lighthouse and was treated to spectacular views of nearby Island Beach State Park and the more commercial Long Beach Island.


Lighthouse Challenge and related posts:


Location: 208 Broadway, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006

Designation: State Park, NRHP

Date designated or established: 1957 (State Park), 1/25/1971 (NRHP)

Date of my visit: 10/20/2018

NJ Pinelands National Reserve: Batsto Village


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.


Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! In the spirit of the day, I thought I’d put up a post with some wintry photos. Enjoy the day!


The NJ Pinelands encompasses a large portion of southern New Jersey and was the nation’s first National Reserve, declared by Congress in 1978. The Pinelands are an affiliated unit of the National Park Service and so the protected areas within are administered by other agencies.


Historic Batsto Village is managed by Wharton State Forest. There is a visitor center in the village with souvenirs, NPS literature and information. We signed up here for a $3 guided tour of Batsto Mansion with a docent.


The village grew up around an iron works in the 1760s and provided artillery for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. As the need for iron wares diminished, the village turned to glass-making.


The State of NJ started buying the historic structures in the 1950s and the last residents were gone by the late eighties. Today, Batsto is a museum village with about 40 restored buildings, including the central mansion. Entrance to the mansion is by guided tour only.


The mansion was renovated by Joseph Wharton in the late 1800s to its current design. It has 32 rooms and many of the furnishings are intact. We were not allowed to take photos inside. We did enjoy the tour of the mansion, but it was too cold to explore any of the other buildings in the village.

Location: Batsto Rd, Batsto, NJ 08037

Designation: National Reserve, State Park, NRHP

Date designated or established: 1978

Date of my visit: 1/31/2016


Duke Farms


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In 2014, I attended an Instameet at Duke Farms, then a newly reorganized park open to the public. The history of the estate is an interesting one. The 2700 acres was purchased and developed in the late 1800s by James Buchanan Duke,  who founded the American Tobacco Company.


After Duke’s death in 1925, his 12-year-old daughter, Doris Duke sued her mother for the estate and took ownership of it by the age of 15. She further developed the property using sustainable farming practices and then designed a botanical garden that was opened to the public in 1964.


After her death in 1993, Doris Duke’s charitable foundation closed the gardens, demolished them and then renovated the estate to be a modern example of environmental stewardship. Non-native, invasive plant species were removed and the energy efficiency of the greenhouses was improved.


The mansion that Doris Duke lived in was torn down and a visitor center placed in the Farm Barn. There are extensive paved paths where you can bicycle or stroll past the network of man-made lakes and landscapes originally created by James Duke.


A curiosity is the maze-like foundation for a mansion that was never built. Speculation has it that James Duke chose not to complete that project because of the dissolution of The American Tobacco Company under anti-monopoly laws.


The estate is noted for being home to four of New Jersey’s ten oldest trees as well as two champion trees (the largest living of their species in the United States.)


An unexpected snow storm began during our visit, so we explored only as long as our frozen extremities would allow.


Location: 1112 Dukes Pkwy W, Hillsborough Township, NJ 08844

Designation: Public Park owned by a charitable foundation

Date designated or established: 1998

Date of my visit: 1/25/2014


Merry Christmas from Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District


Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! Merry Christmas to my followers who celebrate and best wishes to all for a Happy New Year.


Earlier this month, my daughter and I visited Ringwood Manor for the Victorian Christmas Event. The Manor was built in 1807 and then purchased by the Cooper-Hewitt family in 1853. The 51 room mansion was donated to the state by Erskine Hewitt, the last heir of the family’s iron fortune.


In December, the Women’s Club of West Milford decorates the first floor of the mansion and hosts an open house to raise funds for the park. We enjoyed browsing the rooms and I remembered some of the history from my previous visit and guided tour. A more detailed post on this park is coming soon! Happy holidays!

Ringwood State Park posts:
  • Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District (Coming Soon)
  • Merry Christmas from Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District
  • Victorian Christmas at Ringwood Manor (Coming Soon)
  • Skylands Botanical Gardens (Coming Soon)

Location: 1304 Sloatsburg Rd, Ringwood, NJ 07456

Designation: National Historic Landmark District, State Park

Date designated or established: November 13, 1966

Date of my visit: 12/8/2018


NRHP: Van Voorhees-Quackenbush

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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.

For the past 8 years, the Northwest Bergen History Coalition has been holding a themed History Day. On History Day, several historic sites in the area are open, running tours and stamping passports. This year, the theme was ‘How Immigration & The Railroad Shaped Our Towns’ with 10 sites participating.

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There are a few Zabriskie Homes in Bergen County, the family having been early settlers in the area. The Van Voorhees-Quackenbush-Zabriskie House in Wyckoff is actually two homes that were combined in later renovations. The original stone house was built around 1740 by William Van Voorhees and enlarged in 1824 by Albert Van Voorhees.

I first visited the original section of the house..two rooms off a side entrance downstairs. There were volunteers in period costumes there to tell me about the history of these small quarters.

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Then I went back outside and through the front entrance to the larger, later addition. The Van Voorhees mansion was purchased in 1867 by Uriah Quackenbush. His granddaughter Grace Quackenbush Zabriskie inherited the home and lived there until she died.

Grace Zabriskie was a collector of antiques and filled the home with beautiful furnishings and decor appropriate for its colonial origins. She willed the home and contents to the Town of Wyckoff in 1973. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places 10 years later.

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I wasn’t allowed to photograph anything inside the house…there are some fairly valuable pieces inside. This was probably the best maintained site I visited on history day. I did get a few shots of the lovely garden.

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I managed to tour five of the participating sites that day. To see my posts on the other NW Bergen County historic sites, click on the following links:

  1. The Old Stone House (Ramsey)
  2. The Schoolhouse Museum (Ridgewood)
  3. The Hermitage (Ho-ho-kus)
  4. The Zabriskie House (Wyckoff)
  5. The John Fell House (Allendale) Coming Soon

Location: 421 Franklin Ave, Wyckoff, NJ 07481

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designated or established: 1/10/1983

Date of my visit: 4/28/2018

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Great Egg Harbor National Scenic and Recreational River: Estelle Manor


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