Known as "The Children's Town" Hamburg New Jersey is home to the Gingerbread Castle, a former children's amusement park based on a fairy tale castle since the 1930's. Passing through town one would notice the streets have fairy tale names such as Cinderella, King Cole, prince and Wishing Well Road. These are not the original names, the town renamed several streets in the mid 1950’s to honor its history.
About 1725-1730, the area was marked "Vallins" after the settlement of the Walling brothers, where Joseph Walling kept an inn.
In 1753 when the county was formed, Hamburg was part of New Town; in 1762 it became part of the newly established Hardyston Township. In 1792 when Vernon Township was formed from Hardyston, Hamburg was included within the boundaries of Vernon. In 1852 the boundary line was changed so that Hamburg was again in Hardyston Township, where it remained until its incorporation in 1920.
The Wallkill River, a tributary of the Hudson runs through the town. The Wallkill is said to have drawn its name from some families of Walloons who settled by it. Walloons were a French-speaking people who resided in Belgium.
Numerous communities developed around the early mining industry in Sussex County and Hamburg was one of them. The lands surrounding Hamburg contain rich deposits of iron and zinc ore. By the end of the 18th century, Iron works , lime kilns,mining and the iron industry had become important local industries.
The Hamburg Iron Works, which was located on the Wallkill River was first operated by Jesse Potts in 1792. The name comes from Hamburg, Germany. This is where the name of the town originates from.
When the Sharpe family came to town they also became active in the iron-mining industry. Joseph Sharp erected the Sharp Iron Works forge and furnace in 1768 on the Wallkill River. Sharp abandoned the property in 1774. Stephen Ford used it to secretly produce cannonballs for the British during the American Revolution. After reclaiming the property, Joseph Sharp Jr. built the stone grist mill in 1808. Sharp's mill provided the flour for the American troops of the War of 1812. The mill continued to serve the needs of the agricultural community of Sussex County.
Route 94, which is a state highway in the northwestern part of the New Jersey passes through Hamburg. It was once called King's Highway and was used by George Washington to move his troops through Hamburg. In 1804, the Hamburg Paterson Turnpike was built from Paterson to Hamburg. Route 23 follows this historic turnpike.
One of the most prosperous industries in Hamburg's history, a paper mill sits in ruins along the Wallkill River. It was erected in 1873, on the site of an old blast furnace by Samuel and Edward Sparks Its dam was raised 8 feet to create more water power.
Once Upon a Time there was …
F.H. Bennett entered the scene in the early 1900’s. He was the owner of F.H. Bennett Biscuit Company in New York City and bought the New Jersey property in 1921 to expand his operations and open the Wheatsworth Mills. F.H Bennett was the inventor of Milk Bone Dog Biscuits. In 1928 Joseph Urban designed and built the famous Gingerbread Castle. The Gingerbread Castle was originally the centerpiece of an amusement park built adjacent to Wheatsworth Mill.The site originally contained a number of fairy tale character statues, as well as a train that brought visitors around the park. Visitors were led by Hansel and Gretel through the Gingerbread castle while they recited the fairy tales connected with each display.The attraction remained in continuous operation for 50 years and was a hit, closing initially in 1978. In 1989 the castle re-opened, but lasted only a few years before once again closing down.
He was inspired to build the castle by viewing in Manhattan a production of Engelbert Humperdink's opera Hansel and Gretel .
In the early 1870s the National Hotel was built on the southwest corner of Wallkill Avenue and Orchard Street located not far from the railroad station.
The colorful Victorian home On route 23 was built in 1874 is now The Merry Go Round & Calico Rose Cafe.
Near the Merry Go Round is the Pellet House, the home of two former Hamburg physicians, Dr. Jackson Brainard Pellett and his son, Dr. Thomas Lawrence Pellett.
High up on a hill is the Hamburg Baptist Church and Cemetery.
The view on top of the hill in the cemetery is amazing.
"Old King Cole" is a British nursery rhyme and is the inspiration for the street "King Cole Road".
This interesting building housed Felix the Cat, unsure if it still does.
Entering onto the Main Street Area.
Felix The Cat
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Gonzalez is a photographer, blogger and historian currently residing in Newark, New Jersey.