Dunellen is a one square mile small town in North-West Middlesex County, NJ, which is often referred to as the “Railroad Town”. Originally, the land had consisted of farmland, which was settled by Colonists. Up until 1887, Dunellen was a part of Piscataway Township. That was until October 28th of 1887, when it officially became a separate town.
The Elizabethtown & Somerville was chartered in 1831 as the "Elizabeth-town and Somerville Rail-road Company". Starting construction on the eastern end, the Elizabeth & Somerville Railroad laid tracks to Plainfield in 1839, which then passed through Dunellen on its way to Somerville . It later became known as the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The original station was then known as "New Market".
It was in 1866 when John Taylor Johnson, president of the Central Railroad, decided to establish towns along the line and formed the Central New Jersey land Improvement Company. Land was purchased by the company, which mapped out streets, parks, lots and land for churches and schools. Due to the fact that the town was built after the railroad was constructed, the city was designed so that railroad right of way did not cut directly through the city disrupting property owners and separating communities. A passenger on the railroad at those times would have seen backyard fences and a handful of factories as he zipped past the town not knowing a thriving community existed beyond the view from his window.
The railroad which brought the town into existence also brought its industry with the incentive of cheaper land. The town's biggest and well known industry was the Art Color Printing Company. The company printed publications and magazines, and was originally located in Manhattan when, by 1925, it had grown too large for New York and was moved to Dunellen. At its peak, the plant turned out over 10,000,000 copies of magazines a month. Among the more popular publications were True Romance, True Detective Mysteries, Modern Screen, and Modern Romances. The W. F. Hall Printing Company of Chicago bought Art Color in 1931, and ran it until 1968, when it closed the plant. The president of Art Color was Arnold A. Schwartz, who was known for his kindness to his employees and had a yearly ritual of distributing food-baskets to needy families during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. He remained as president even when W. F. Hall Printing Company had purchased the plant. He passed away in 1963, five years before the company closed.
Arnold A. Schwartz is also responsible for the establishment of the Arnold A. Schwartz Memorial Library, which is named in his honour. A portion of the Art Color parking lot on New Market Road was used to construct the library with funds from the Arnold A. Schwartz Foundation. The Foundation continues to service the library with purchases of books, computers, and equipment.
As Dunellen changed into an industrial town so did the demographics which came in response to the need for labor. Slovaks started to pour into the town in 1880, followed by Polish settlers in 1910. Other races soon followed.
In 1911, Dunellen became home to its first theater. J.G. Wolfe of Scotch Plains, NJ opened the theater at the Linke building on North Avenue and began charging 10 cents for admission. By 1912, business had declined and the doors closed. Arthur Heatherington was the next to bring theatre to Dunellen in July of 1913, when he built and operated a theater which displayed well-known vaudeville musical actors. The businesses passed around in ownership for a short while until ultimately closing in 1915. A few years went by when in 1921, Tony Hanko of Raritan, N.J., was granted a permit to erect a new movie house. The year 1927 brought about the “Blue Laws dispute” when the movie house opened for Sunday picture shows which was against the law at the time. “Blue Laws” are also known as “Sunday laws.” The manager, his wife and the projectionist were arrested and ordered the theater closed. Upon release, they returned to the theater and opened it yet again which resulted in the same outcome. The theatre went through a series of owners with John Fiorvanti owning it the longest. By the 80’s it was only showing Indian films and the building fell into serious disrepair. The operators proposed a plan to raze the building and construct a Indian Cultural Center when Richard Zupko, who owned the adjoining tavern, purchased the theatre, cleaned it up and combined it with his tavern and renamed it the Dunellen Theater and Cinema Cafe.
The original moviehouse was purchased by Van Blaricom Curtain Factory, which produced curtains, bedspreads and drapes. The company, which was founded in 1897, had located to Dunellen from Jersey City in 1917, and converted the old theater into a factory.
Quick Chek, the popular convenience store chain, had its beginnings in Dunellen. The first store opened in town on North Avenue in 1967. Its founder, Carlton C. Durling had an established dairy business known as Durling Farms, which was founded in 1888 by Augustus C. Durling, his grandfather, in Pottersville. Durling Farms, facing growing competition from supermarkets which began selling milk, had to evolve in the 1960s into a convenience store as a way for the farm to sell fresh dairy products, grocery, produce and deli products to its customers. They wouldn’t have been able to survive just from delivering milk door-to-door. The company also has a long history of giving back to its neighbors and sponsors the annual New Jersey Festival of Ballooning which is recognized as the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America.
Although no longer in the same location, one needs to not look far as there is one directly across the street.
Over on the corner of Washington and Front is the Dunellen Hotel, which is nestled along an old stage coach route, and was the first home for the Alvah Gray family, founders of the First National Bank of Dunellen in 1907.
The First national Bank Building can still be seen along North Avenue. This national bank opened in 1907 and stopped printing money in 1935.
During its life, The First National Bank Of Dunellen issued 8 different types and denominations of national currency which is noted by its assigned charter number 8501.
The Dunellen Volunteer Rescue Squad which was established in 1933.
I love small mom and pop shops such as Dunellen TV Shop.
O.K. Soft Water Service, a family-owned business which has been there since the 80's.
Towards the quieter residential parts of town is Mountain View Terrace, which at one point had been known as Fifth Street. It is over here that the historical Edward Maurer house, which Maurer, an international rubber magnate purchased from the Central New jersey Improvement Company.
Located at 520 Washington Avenue is the Ernest L. Ransome House
More grand homes along Washington.
And here I'll leave you with more pictures from my walk through Dunellen.
Along the Pequest River and U.S. Route 46 in White Township within Warren County, New Jersey is Buttzville which is frequently listed on lists of odd and unusual place names.
Buttzville was not known as Buttzville until 1839, when Micheal Robert Buttz purchased the land from a miller who had used the property for a gristmill in its past. He soon opened a hotel and his descendants lived and worked in the town. Michael Robert Buttz named this little settlement Buttzville and that is still the name today.
Before Michael Buttz had come to Buttzville, he had a teaching gig near his former residence along the Delaware River before buying property in New Market and opening a saw mill, hotel and apple and rye distillery. He was also a justice of the peace and in the army. He sold it all in 1831 to George and John Troxall. He then took his chances in Politics and was elected on the Democratic ticket but finally gave up due to financial reasons. He next took his chances in Easton but again grew restless and made his final move to the Pequest River where he opened a grist mill, plaster mill and a general store.
By 1854, he sold the mill property to Elisha Kirkhuff. It, then, later passed hands to Linaberry and Anderson and then to Thomas Craig.
Buttzville United Methodist Church in Belvidere just commemorated 175 Years last year
He would die there at the age of 72 and was buried in the M.E. cemetery.
Thomas A. Edison once had a manufacturing plant and quarry in the area. Edison would often stop at Craig's Store in Buttzville. He and Tom Craig(also owned a store in addition the mill) became good friends. The original homes which were built in the last century are located off a street called Mill Street.
No members of the Buttz family live here today, although the name remains and many people still pass through and remark on the odd naming of the town.
Located on New Jersey's Lawrence Brook is the small-town of Milltown, which is the only municipality in Middlesex County to see a population drop from 1980 to 2014.
The history of Milltown is so named for it being a “mill town” for as long as we can go back in its history. The earliest written documentation of a mill in Milltown is in 1769, when Fulcard Van Nordstrand advertises for sale a gristmill with 2 pair of grist stones, a fulling mill and a press house standing on a constant stream with 2 dwelling houses on 112 acres of land, 3 miles from New Brunswick, on the northwest bank of the Lawrence Brook.
First owned by Fulcard Van Nordstrand, then Ferdinand Schuurman, ownership changes many times before finally falling into the possession of Jacob Bergen in 1811. The town is soon named “Bergens Mill“ but is advertised in a local paper as “Milltown”. After the death of Jacob Bergen, the mill ceases operation, apparently due to a fire. This is when Christopher Meyer acquires the property and its fame as a town for manufacturing rubber is put in history with the formation of The Meyer Rubber Company. The name “Milltown” is used hereafter.
A fire, yet again, damages the mill and a John R Ford comes forward with his own finances and puts the mill back into motion. This is where Ford street gets its name from; after Ford & Co. . German immigrants soon arrive in Milltown from New York City after suffering from poverty and general hardship. After experiencing the opportunities of the mill some workers return to Germany to bring friends and family back putting German Phillip Kuhlthau as leader and role model of the German population of the town.
By 1852, the factory suffers another fire is rebuilt as The Ford Rubber Co. Before changing back to the Meyer Rubber Company, then India Rubber Company followed by international Rubber Co. and finally in 1907 the the Michelin Tire Company comes from France.
J. Habette-Michelin, of New Brunswick, was given the job of resident vice-president, and R. B. Meyers, industrial manager. New buildings were soon erected.
In 1919, Michelin built 53 bungalows in town, which would later increase to 200, to house their employees. Michelin was so successful it would eventually employ more than 2000 men and women. When the depression rolled around Michelin was forced to cease operations and move back to France.
Many of the company homes can still be seen. One such street is Riva Avenue.
In an Issue of American Builder we can see the streets of the original homes.
The seventeen-foot Victorian-style street clock placed at the intersection of Main Street and Washington Avenue was funded by private sponsorships and was dedicated at a ceremony on July 2 in 2010.
The large Italianate Industrial building on Washington Avenue has housed many businesses, one including the Russell Playing Card Co. which was opened in 1906 by Willis W. Russell. In 1936, Russell Playing Card Co. moved to Ohio after acquisition by the United States Playing Card Co. It was constructed in 1899 as the Milltown India Rubber Company factory. It is now “The Mill” Condominiums.
Across the street is Milltown Ice Cream Depot.
Milltown Freight Station is the only surviving station of the Raritan River Railroad with its first passenger train reaching Milltown in 1891. After the Great Depression, ridership decreased dramatically finally forcing the Raritan River Railroad to stop passenger service altogether in 1938 between South Amboy and New Brunswick. The Milltown Station would no longer service passengers.
After passenger service ended, the station building was moved slightly down the tracks and the platform height was raised so that the building could be utilized for freight service. Eventually even the express freight would not pass through the station.
As of June 2016, Tom Reynolds, the president, and Kenneth Durrua, the vice president, of the Raritan River Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society working with the Milltown Historical Society have raised enough money to restore the Raritan River Freight Station to its former glory and hope to complete it by 2017.
On the corner of J F Kennedy Drive and Washington is a Bell AH-1F Cobra, which is a two-blade, single engine attack helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter. In an effort to honor its war veterans, the Joyce Kilmer American Legion Post 25 put it on display.
The Golden Lion (structure in left of picture) was once Hotel Marguerite which was built in 1905. It was also Findon's Tavern through the 1940's and 1950's.
Main Street has numerous shops and places to eat.
The Milltown Lodge No. 294, Free and Accepted Masons, is over 50 years old.
Revilla Grooves and Gear which is owned and operated by Darren Revilla who got his start selling records online via Ebay.
In the center of town is the Mill Pond.
And this post wouldn't be complete without talking about the fate of the Milltown Michelin Site which was in the process of being demolished the day I went to take my final pictures.
They were hoping to save water tower and smokestack but the Environmental Protection Agency wanted them to come down. Several businesses used the factory after Michelin left including Chicopee of J&J, Heidingsfeld Printing Co., Algro Knitting Mills and Alphaduct Wire.
In the Wortendyke section of Midland Park is the former railroad station of the New York, Susquehanna and Western line. Passengers service was discontinued in 1966 and now is strictly freight.
The Wortendyke station now houses a pottery studio and gallery while an adjacent Pullman car is used as restaurant and catering hall and caboose has been transformed into a hot dog stand.
Located in Northampton County, Pennsylvania is the small quiet town of Slateford, which is located on the edge of the Northampton Slate Belt. Many, many years ago, slate quarries were set up and the town was named Slateford. Immigrants from Wales and England came in the 19th century to work in the quarries. At its peak, in the first decade of the twentieth century, the Slate Belt accounted for about half of the slate produced in the United States.
A local historian, Matthew S. Henry, writing in 1851, stated that a slate quarry "At the northern line of the Township along the Delaware River at the Gap" was incorporated on April 16, 1808, under the title "the President Managers & Co for the purpose of obtaining Slate from quarries within the County of Northampton." This title was changed on April 1, 1836, and again on February 22, 1853, to the Kittatinny Slate Company. The organization of this company was believed to be the first attempt at quarrying slate "in this Country."
Delaware Water Gap , Historic Resource Study
The small Slateford settlement consisted of twelve houses at first, which were erected in 1805 by Hon. James M. Porter, the owner of the Pennsylvania Slate Company. The people of the village were quarry employees as the quarry was located about half a mile northwest of the village. In 1877, ownership of the quarry was transferred to J. L. Williams. When the railroad came to town, 26 homes were in existence. The last quarry closed in 1917.
As I walk down the main road something catches my eye, the foundation of the Union church. Most of the stones were moved to Riverview Cemetery when the railroad was put in but somehow these ones were left behind.
The town is home to Slateford Junction which connected the Lackawanna Railroad to the Lackawanna Cut-Off. The site had an interlocking tower (which still stands) and a small turntable, which didn't get much use. The Slateford turntable was dismantled in the 1930s and filled in after.
The tower opened on December 20, 1911 and closed on January 11, 1951; its operations were shifted to the tower at East Stroudsburg.
Not to far from the junction is the Delaware River Viaduct.
Constructed between August of 1908 to December of 1911, it is often called "Alice in Wonderland", "Alice", or "Wonderland" to those in the urbex community. Standing at 65 feet tall, the structure offers amazing views of the Delaware to those who venture to see it. The inside of one of the chambers is called "Hitlers Closet", which one makes a choice of two views at different heights . Of the four concrete arch viaducts constructed by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad on straightening projects during the early twentieth century, the Delaware River Viaduct is the only one with a curving, skew alignment. Smith & McCormick of Easton, Pa was the builder.
The Lackawanna Cut-Off (also known as the New Jersey Cut-Off or Hopatcong-Slateford Cut-Off) is a railroad line that was built by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad (DL&W) between 1908 and 1911. Noted for its large cuts and fills, and two large concrete viaducts, the line was part of a 400-mile (640 km) main line between Hoboken, New Jersey, and Buffalo, New York. The Cut-Off ran west for 28.5 miles (45.9 kms) from Port Morris Junction — near the south end of Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey, about 45 miles (72 km) west-northwest of New York City — to Slateford Junction near the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania.The Cut-Off was 11 miles (18 km) shorter than the Lackawanna Old Road, the rail line it superseded; it had a much better grade profile (0.55% vs. 1.1%); and it had 42 fewer curves, with all but one permitting passenger train speeds of 70 mph (110 km/h) or more.The Cut-Off also had no railroad crossings at the time of its construction. All 73 structures on the line were constructed of reinforced concrete, which was considered a pioneering use of the material. The construction of the roadbed required the movement of millions of tons of fill material using techniques similar to those used on the Panama Canal.
Although the tales of the NJ viaducts being haunted have run rampant, I have found no known evidence to support the legend that a worker, or workers, fell into the concrete during construction and could not be extracted because of the need to keep pouring. It is often confused with the Paulinskill Viaduct, although it is lower and longer in length. It takes the title for the largest reinforced concrete structure built with a continuous pour process. It went through a series of changes in ownership, including the DL&W's merger with the Erie Railroad in 1960, acquisition by a Norfolk & Western Railroad subsidiary in 1968, and by 1976 it was transferred to Conrail where it was abandoned and the tracks ripped up in 1989. It has deteriorated since then and at a faster rate than the Paulinskill.
In the area is also the waterfalls of Slateford. Im told this where the quarry was, although I see no evidence of it existing besides the slate and cuts in the rocks.
Slateford is a cute small Delaware River town and the waterfalls make it a great day trip. Please note, I do NOT condone trespassing on private property.
More pictures on my flickr!!
December 16 2015
The Meadowlands is a large ecosystem of wetlands in northeastern New Jersey. The 20,000 acres of wetlands was once home to hundreds of species of plants and animals. The region was formed by the Wisconsin Glacier which was the most recent major advance of the North American ice sheet complex happened about 20 thousand years ago. The glacier stretched all the way to Perth Amboy. When the ice sheet began to melt and retreat, it gouged out the area between what is now the Palisades and the ridge along Schuyler Avenue. It also formed a deep freshwater lake now known as Glacial Lake Hackensack. This, in turn, formed a large swamp.
The area of the Meadowlands includes portions of Kearny, Jersey City, North Arlington, Secaucus, Lyndhurst, Rutherford, East Rutherford, Carlstadt, North Bergen, Moonachie, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, and Little Ferry. The history of the Meadowlands is filled with Landfills, (no pun intended), pig farms, abandoned rails, and marshy polluted swampland.
You can read the rest of the story here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Gonzalez is a photographer, blogger and historian currently residing in Newark, New Jersey.