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New Jersey’s 1st State Park►
The State of New Jersey established Swartswood State Park as its first State Park in 1915. The state’s third largest freshwater lake lies within Swartswood’s 3460 acres. The retreat of the Wisconsin Glacier created Swartswood Lake about 20,000 years ago.
Governor Edward Stokes created the Forest Park Reservation Commission in 1905. The Commission acquired lands to set aside for state parks and forests. Albright, the original owner of Swartswood blocked efforts to create a park here. He didn’t want to share his fishing hole with the public.
In 1914, Albright’s heirs sold the lake and land to New Jersey for $30k. The State expanded the park with land donated by George Emmons. Today a picnic area in the park is named for Emmons.
I visited on two separate occasions in November. The first day was a nice autumn day and I walked the easy trail alongside the lake. The second day it was raining, and the waterfowl were playing in the misty waters.
Restoring the Lake►
It is normal for a lake like Swartswood to age. Over time, sediment washes into the lake promoting plant growth. The lake becomes a bog. A lake the size of Swartswood should last for 100,000 years before this happens.
In the 1960’s, scientists concluded that Swartswood was aging prematurely due to human activity, like the dam for the historic gristmill. A community group, the Swartswood Lake and Watershed Association, raised funds and did the work of restoring the lake, beginning in the 1980s. They installed an aeration system to oxygenate the water and removed weeds.
Location: 1091 E Shore Rd, Swartswood, NJ 07877
Designation: State Park
Date designated/established: 1915
Date of my visit: November 9, 2020