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Archive for new jersey

A Wetland of International Importance

By Linda Tancs

Located along the Delaware River estuary in Pennsville, New Jersey, Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is designated a Wetland of International Importance. Vastly comprising slightly brackish tidal marsh, this unique habitat contains a mixture of fresh and saltwater plants and wildlife and is an important resting and feeding area for waterfowl, shorebirds and other wildlife. In fact, it has been identified as the most important habitat for wintering American black ducks. Two foot trails through the refuge’s varied habitats provide excellent opportunities for wildlife observation. This time of year the Forest Habitat Trail offers choruses of spring peepers and southern leopard frogs.

New Jersey’s Last Mill

By Linda Tancs

Ralston Cider Mill is New Jersey’s last remaining cider mill. Located in Mendham just minutes from historic Morristown, it’s the site of the state’s once thriving cider and applejack industry, where millions of gallons of apple cider, applejack and bootleg New Jersey Lightning were produced until 1938. Still evident is a hidden still that allowed the mill to operate through Prohibition. It’s the only operational cider mill functioning as a privately funded museum and educational experience for students of all ages. Volunteers lead tours, explaining the production process and history of the mill.

America’s First National Historical Park

By Linda Tancs

America’s first national historical park, Morristown National Historical Park commemorates the sites of General George Washington and the Continental Army’s winter encampment from December 1779 to June 1780. Two main areas of the park are Ford Mansion, Washington’s headquarters, and Jockey Hollow, where 10,000 soldiers camped during the most brutal winter ever recorded. The park has about 27 miles of designated hiking trails.

The History of Forest Hill

By Linda Tancs

A jewel of the North Ward of Newark, New Jersey, Forest Hill is a state historic district (the second largest) that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. The tony enclave is a treasure trove of period revival architecture dating mostly from 1890 to 1925. The range of styles includes Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Tudor, Italian Renaissance, Romanesque, Spanish/Mediterranean, Neoclassical, Beaux Arts and French Chateau. In its heyday, the area (formerly an agrarian region) was settled by some of the country’s most influential magnates, including the Ballantine brewery family, the Clarks (milling) and the Hellers (rasp and file). Despite a downturn in the early part of the 20th century and the conversion of some of the early baronial estates into commercial and multi-family dwellings, the district has enjoyed a resurgence that includes restoration of its palatial homes.

New Jersey’s Industrial Age

By Linda Tancs

Just over one square mile in the heart of Florence Township, New Jersey, historic Roebling is a symbol of the state’s industrial coming of age. Unchanged for more than 100 years, the locale was built in the early 1900s as a planned community for hundreds of workers at the John A. Roebling’s Sons Co. steel plant. Once the plant closed for good in 1982 and the site was remediated, the main gatehouse to the plant was rehabilitated and now houses a museum about the community. Scheduled trolley tours of the steel town itself, which has evolved into an international tourist attraction, take visitors beyond the gates of the museum. Roebling is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

New Jersey’s Mighty Oak

By Linda Tancs

In an area replete with Revolutionary War history stands a mighty white oak, its age estimated at 600 years. The tree in question is lovingly referred to as the Holy Oak, a Nature-supplied frontispiece for the 1717 Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church. The New Jersey gem is credited as the oldest white oak tree in the Northern Hemisphere and possibly in the world. Given its age, you can imagine the degree of lore associated with it. Is it the burial spot for flag maker Betsy Ross? A meeting point for George Washington during his march to Morristown after the Battle of Princeton in 1777? No one knows for sure, but there’s no doubt that the old gal has seen her share of action since colonial times. Although it has managed to exceed its usual lifespan of 300 to 350 years by at least as many years, the grand dame is succumbing to the effects of old age although the locals will continue to investigate all means to maintain the relationship between town and tree.

From Ore to Orchards

By Linda Tancs

The area in and around Hacklebarney State Park in Chester, New Jersey, is rich in history—from ore to orchards. The park itself was a mined iron ore site in the 19th century. Nowadays, it’s a favorite place for avid anglers, hikers and picnickers. The Black River that cascades amidst the boulder remnants of this moraine provides excellent stream fishing year round. For hikers and naturalists, the park offers three rare and endangered plant species: American ginseng, leatherwood and Virginia pennywort. Over 100 bird species and wildlife such as black bears, woodchucks, deer and foxes also live in the park. Less than a mile away is a cider mill now in its seventh generation, where apple and pumpkin picking among the orchards is a popular activity this time of year.

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