Located on Pine Island Turnpike in the western part of Warwick is Edenville, which was once named Postville in honor of Colonel Jacobus Post, one of its pioneer settlers. The hamlet which is located near Mounts Adam and Eve was known for its beauty and fertile lands and thus the land became known as “Edenville”. Mineral deposits of granite, syenite, granular quartz, hornblende, arsenical iron, and white limestone were found in Mts. Adam and Eve and many predicted the growth of Edenville would soon follow. Soon the railroads came and passed through the neighboring towns on either side, and Edenville was left to its primitive means of transportation. The Orange County Granite Company and the Empire State Granite Company found the quality of the granite to be superior but due to lack of transportation the output suffered.
A old general store still in use.
The stone block home in the center of town is a private residence that was built by Dr. James P. Young, one of Warwick’s early physicians in 1816. The house has a separate side entrance which led to the public office area and upstairs medical storage and infirmary space. The current owners purchased the house in 1985.
James Young was born on Oct. 19, 1791. He arrived in Warwick from parts unknown, apparently at the invitation of Dr. Joseph Houston. The Houston homestead still stands next door. He built a new stone house on adjacent property and it was there that Dr. Young brought his bride Harriet, Dr. Houston's daughter. There he practiced medicine, studied local geology, and became a prominent member of the surrounding community. His civic and professional roles included: Warwick School Commissioner , elected to the Orange County Medical Society in 1814, Censor and Treasurer of the Society, and instructor of other physicians such as Dr. John L. Foster and Dr. Samuel Holly. He presented two papers to the Orange County Medical Society, titled "Sleep" (1815) and "Scientific Botany" (1833) . In addition to these activities he was an avid geologist, and one of his projects included mapping the geology of the area with Dr. J. Heron. He would have been acquainted with many of the prominent political figures of his time. He treated Aaron Burr at least twice, as shown in the list of articles in his possession at the time of his death filed at the Orange County Clerk’s office. He was one of the citizens active in renaming the hamlet of Postville as Edenville. His son Dr. Silas Young was also a geologist, and his valuable mineral collection, perhaps partly his father’s work, was sold to the New York State Museum in 1914. Among Dr. James Young's work is one of the first maps of Warwick's geological heritage.
The Edenville Country Store closed in 1987.
At 29 Edenville Road is the Nanny House built in 1870.
The Edenville Church has been turned into a private residence.
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.
At the intersection of Mount Holly-Juliustown and Pemberton-Arney's Mount Roads in Burlington County is a historic Quaker meeting house, which dates back to 1775, and has been remarkably preserved in the same appearance it had in 1811, despite succumbing to fire twice in its history.
Arneys Mount is an community located within Springfield Township in Burlington County. Its also the name of a hill located next to it.
The building is constructed of iron-stone quarried locally on Arney's Mount.
Engraved in the bricks is the name Samuel Smith, which is the person who built the structure.
The building is still without electricity or plumbing, and a wood stove serves as the only heat source.
Next to the Meeting House is the burial grounds, which are still in use and pre-dates the Meeting House by many years and includes early settlers in the area. The oldest graves are not marked.
In 1870, a wall was erected around the graveyard in sandstone. It encloses only a portion of the grave as some were buried "outside the wall" having lost favor with Meeting or were buried elsewhere on the grounds in unmarked sites before the walls were constructed.
Since 1941, meeting for worship usually has been held twice monthly.
Located in Somerset County of New Jersey is the small rural community of East Millstone. Located along the Delaware and Raritan Canal, the town grew and prospered during the 19th Century. It was originally called Johnsville, but that was later changed to East Millstone. The original manufacturer of famous Fleishman's Yeast was located here.
Built in 1752 by Cornelius Van Liew is the Franklin Inn, also known as the Van Liew Tavern is the oldest structure in East Millstone. It is located on Amwell Road, close to the canal. and was an important stopover for canal workers, boatmen and other travelers who utilized the canal system. It was recently operated as a used book store. Despite flooding due to Hurricanes Floyd in 1999 and Irene in 2011, the building still stands in excellent condition.
The Millstone Township First Aid Squad has been around since 1954.
Sitting beside the Delaware and Raritan Canal since 1834 is the East Millstone Bridge Tender's House which housed workers who opened the swing bridge of the canal. It was renovated and repainted in 2010.
The Millstone and New Brunswick Railroad once ran through town but the tracks have since been removed. The coming of the railroads was the reason the town changed its name.
The Wilson House (pictured above) is an example of High Victorian Eclecticism.
The house was built by Nathanial Wilson, a local entrepreneur who operated a hardware store across Market Street from the canal basin.
There's five churches in this little town, a big surprise when you take into account the town is comprised of just six or seven short streets of houses.
Cedar Hill Cemetery is a small cemetery located off of Wortman Street.
At the far western side of New Jersey is the small community of Brainards, which was once known as Martin's Creek. Martin's Creek takes its name from the stream that empties out just across the Delaware on the Pennsylvania side, that area is also known as Martin's Creek. In New Jersey the railway station was also called Martin's Creek. Martin's Creek was the junction point of the Pennsylvania railroad.
The name Brainards is taken from David and John Brainerd, who had their cabin across the river. The Brainerds were a missionary to the Lene lenape that occupied the area in the 1790s. The area has since changed to Brainards instead of Brainerds. Named after missionaries, one would expect to at least find one church in town, this is not the case in Brainards.
“David Brainerd was born at Haddam, Connecticut, in 1718. He was educated at Yale, licensed to preach in 1742, and was appointed missionary to the Indians within the Forks of the Delaware by the "Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge." He began his mis- sionary labors among the Indians in the Forks of the Delaware early in the summer of 1744. On the 13th of May, 1744, he came to Sakhauwotung (Martin's Creek) within the forks, and was respectfully re- ceived by the Indian king, who permitted him to preach most of the summer at his house.”
Warren County, at one time, had large cement mills in active operation which helped in growing the towns up around them. The mills of the Alpha Cement Company helped to make the small town of Brainards grow by building company housing to attract the many Slavic immigrants arriving to become workers. The workers would then walk to work on the railroad bridge which crossed the Delaware River to Martin's Creek. Before this time the area had been mostly vacant and nothing which resembled a town or village.
Broad Street is Brainard's main thoroughfare. It is lined with former company housing. Alpha would rent the homes to the workers for 9 dollars a month. For single men there were the boarding houses which were run by widows of factory workers who had died. By the time the 1960s rolled around, the cement companies decided operating elsewhere would be more cost effective. They sold the company housing to those who wished to stay for $900 a home or $1200 for a home with plumbing. Company housing is usually recognized when viewing the landscape as a whole in the little variation from house to house and simple architectural styling. I noticed this when i first visited Brainards, before i knew it had been a company town. Some of the Alpha company’s houses are on property formerly a part of the lot of George Depue who lived in a stone house one-eighth of a mile south of the station from 1850 until his death in 1897.
The Bangor & Portland Railway delivered slate from quarries in northern Northampton County, Pennsylvania, to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad junction at Portland. In 1885, a branch line was built to connect with the Pennsylvania Railroad at Brainards, New Jersey which at that time was called Martin's creek as well. The name was eventually changed to distinguish it from the Martin's Creek located across the water.
The town also would have its dark times....
On April 29, 1911, disaster struck the the area of Martins Creek when a Utica teacher's excursion train carrying 169 Up-State school teachers and friends were on the way to Washington, New Jersey. The train was hurled down a forty-foot embankment at Martin's Creek, where it crashed and caught fire killing 12 people and injuring 101 others
On March 26, 1942 an explosion at the Lehigh Portland Cement Co. in Easton took 31 lives, many had been residents of Brainards. The cement company gave deceased workers' widows only $11 per month for about six years as compensation for the loss of their husbands.
In 1945, it was the scene of a shooting after a fugitive escaped custody after being apprehended for the brutal slaying of his wife. Ernest Rittenhouse, 30, war plant worker had been a resident of the area and escaped back to his hometown to hideout after he murdered his wife with an ax and disappeared. The officers caught up to him and he somehow managed to wrestle the gun from the officers and shoot them both dead and jumped into the Martin's Creek to escape.
Now that the industry of the area is gone the town of Brainards is awaiting its next step, which is the development of its vacant parcels that line the Delaware River to spark life back into the once prosperous area.
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.
One of northwestern New Jersey's oldest communities, is Johnsonburg once known as "Log Gaol" , which means log jail due to it being the location of jail which was erected in 1753. It was once the seat of newly formed Sussex County in the 1750s before joining Warren County. The log jail was the first county building erected for Sussex.County. The town was renamed Johnsonburg after a store owner who had been of the Johnson family.
I found myself driving out to Warren County in New Jersey once again to see the small town which still retains its original general stores, mill and hotel. At one time in the 19th century, it was a place of importance, a place where horse-drawn carriages moved up and down the streets and the tavern became was an important meeting place where court meetings and elections would be held.
Originally a stagecoach stop in which an east-west route carried mail from Dover, New Jersey to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and a north-south route which carried mail from Albany, New York to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the routes crossed through here and the town grew.
But the 19th century saw a new era, the age of canals and trains, which didn't make its way through Johnsonburg. The result was a town which grew little and remained stuck in the past. Many of the buildings were built in the 1800’s.
Upon entering the town I am greeted by the Hardin's Store, which dates to 1871 when is was built by Samuel Hardin, who had ownership of the mill at the time.
The wheelwright shop still stands on Allamuchy Road.
At the end of the road is the Johnsonburg Hotel with a store on its left. I had a nice talk with the man who currently owns the hotel and hes been in the process of renovating it for quite some time.
Next to the hotel is the Old Stone Episcopal Church.
Drake & Mackey store is pictured below, which was built in 1860.
Frelinghuysen Township Hall which is housed in the former Presbyterian Chapel.
On the western edge of town is an old barn.
Below is the Armstrong-Blair house. The home first was owned by William Armstrong and then was was acquired in the 1840s by James Blair. William Armstrong was a principal landowner at the time in the area and had control over the gristmill, tavern and a store. Blair is responsible for the Greek Revival remodeling of the home. The wagon house of the property sits on the site of the old jail.
William Armstrong was known as the village's pioneer merchant.
On Route 661 , I come to the mill which has been a focal point in the town since the 18th century. It ceased operation in 1937. The large mill pond to the north was created by damming Bear Creek and connected to the mill by a short head race while an underground tail race returns water to the creek.
At the end of the town on the western side of Route 661 are the ruins of the Van Horn Farm which sits upon the site of the Petite tavern which was operated by Jonathan Pettit as early as 1753. This was definitely a surprising find after reading a 1874 map of the area. The site was destroyed by a fire.
On Allamuchy Road is the small Johnsonburg Christian Church Cemetery which was established in the mid 19th century, and contains a variety of 19th and early 20th-century grave stones.
Johnsonburg today is a quiet residential neighborhood.
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
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.
If we go back to the 1950s, western and cowboy culture had completely taken over. By 1959, 26 cowboy themed shows aired during prime-time and eight of the top ten shows were westerns. Howdy Doody was every child’s hero as the merchandise flew off the shelves. Americans were hooked.
In Post war America, tourist culture blossomed and Wild West City stands as testimony to that era. It was once rated by the American Cowboy Magazine as one of the top five “must see” western theme parks in the United States. It is oftened compared to Buffalo Bills’ Wild West Show.
It was around this time that (1956 to be exact) that the American Foundation for the Preservation of the Old West purchased a tract of land in Byram Township, New Jersey. An architect was flown out to Kansas to research actual towns and shortly thereafter construction began on a replica western town.
Operated by Justus Neinaber, the site opened in the spring of 1957 and lasted until 1962. The town was leased unsuccessfully for a season and then closed until 1963. The Stabile, Rospond and Maitalasso families purchased the theme park in the fall of 1963 planning a short term real estate investment. Michael and Mary Stabile of Nutley, New Jersey were the operators of the park and eventually bought out their partners in 1966.
The Stabile’s continued to run the site . Micheal Stabile passed in 1993 and his wife, Mary in 2002. Members of the family still operate the park.
Stepping into the park, children run around with plastic pistols and cowboy hats.
There is a slight creepiness factor looking over the display of a western town with antique dolls.
The tiny shops each house artifacts from the past giving also a educational experience as well as a morbid one.
Of course, I wouldn't be telling this story without a little darkness involved.
In 2006, controversy struck the park when a actor was accidentally shot in the head with a real bullet. During the “Sundance Kid “ skit after the smoke cleared and the applause died down, the actor was still lying on the ground, blood trickling down his face. The happy city of a era long gone turned to scene out of a horror movie as a afternoon of fun turned to memories not to be forgotten.
Coworkers thought he had fallen, and rushed him to the hospital. After he underwent CT scanning that doctors realized he had been shot with a real bullet. Another actor, who fired at Mr. Harris, had inadvertently loaded his gun with .22 caliber bullets instead of blanks. He had been late to work and grabbed a coworkers bullets not realizing he now had a loaded weapon for the show. The actor remains partially paralyzed and has won a 2 million dollar lawsuit against the business.
All their performers must now receive safety training before working at the park.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Gonzalez is a photographer, blogger and historian currently residing in Newark, New Jersey.