my first experience with Button Woods

In 1994 my wife & I had just moved out of my father’s house & moved into a cute little basement apartment. We had nothing better to do so we started driving aimlessly. Isn’t life wonderful and carefree before you have kids? We saw an open house & checked it out. Intrigued, we decided to check out more, and drove around looking for “open house” realtor signs. When we lived with my dad in Boonton, the fastest way there was to take Route 80 to 23, then get right off in Mountainview and take 202 to his place. Alternately you could get 80 at Lincoln Park and go back roads. More scenic but not as fast. We found our way out to Morris County and decided to go the back way. We turned off 80 and got onto Two Bridges Rd and crossed the Passaic river. The first side street had a for sale sign so we turned onto Lincoln Blvd.

Remember the show “Tales from the Darkside?” How does the intro go? “There is a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit. A dark side…” Then the image of the woods turns into a reverse negative ght and the light is now dark? Well we crossed into “the dark side” that day… It took us a while to realize we had crossed a line, perhaps because we were young and foolish and more intent on enjoying the warm day and each others company.

The neighborhood had a ramshackle run down look to it. The houses were old and held together with chicken wire and spit. An army of This Old House guys couldn’t fix them. Rusted boats lay in bushes, awaiting the eventual flood that would come with Hurricane Floyd, praying it would never come because they wouldn’t survive. There was a basketball post with the hoop broken off and we could see washing machines lying in the woods.


We saw the house for sale. There are handy man specials, fixer uppers, then there are places like this. Beyond help. The doors were missing, there was graffiti, the windows were broken out and boarded up. If this were in another neighborhood, it might’ve had some appeal. Here it seemed pointless. Why make it cozy when everything else about the neighborhood screams “Deliverance”? We quickly left and found our way back to civilization.

The house was located several hundred yards from the Passaic River and it didn’t take a genius to figure that this was a problem. As we would later discover, the Army Corp of Engineers was prepared to build a tunnel to drain the Passaic River when it might flood and send the water into Newark Bay. The price tag? 2 billion dollars. Eventually the state said it was cheaper just to buy people out, though it’s 15 years later and the buyouts still continue…


6 responses to this post.

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  2. i like to see that place sometime i live in boonton nj


  3. Posted by Bill on March 6, 2009 at 10:46 AM

    My name is Bill and I love your website, which I only recently started visiting. I have already checked out one location thanks to the site, and I am planning on exploring others as well. About “Buttonwoods”: It is actually situated in Wayne of Passaic County. I used to live three blocks away from the edge of the woods, in the then-nice middle-class section of Lincoln Park. If you were to go there, in Lincoln Park, take Sycamore Avenue, heading away from Valley Road, to the end. There are countless stories I’ve heard since part of my childhood was dedicated to hanging out in those woods. Some are ridiculous, some are partially believable, and a few I can strongly admit to being true. For instance, the ‘giant’ mention on your site’s page actually had a brother who was almost as big. Schultz was their last name and they lived near the end of Lincoln Boulevard, which is in fact Lincoln Park. If you were to walk about a mile or so through Buttonwoods from the Sycamore Avenue side, the Schultz house/junkyard would be at the very end of the woods, where they meet the Passaic River. The Schultz brothers had their way for a long time in that rundown neighborhood, especially because the Lincoln Park Police would not want to bother with them. I recall one ex-officer telling me that if he had to confront either one of these two monsters and the situation escalated towards violence, “I don’t think my pistol or even my squad car could stop them”. Any response by the police would result in multiple units being dispatched to the home, which was usually because of the fighting between the siblings. I couldn’t blame them after witnessing the sheer size of these two. About three or four years ago, the older brother died and the town managed to clean up the area around their house a little. I’m not sure if the younger Schultz is still residing in the house there or not. After years of exploring, riding bikes and whatnot in these woods, I could go on and on here. You can reach me back at this address with any questions you may have. Keep up the good work!


  4. Posted by Tim on March 6, 2009 at 10:45 AM

    On 10/30 at night, a few friends (overall 3 cars) and me went to Button Woods to check it out. We did no property damage (not that the place looked like crap anyways) but simply drove around it three times. At one point a really large “hickish” looking man stepped out of his house and seemed angry so the 2 other cars left ASAP while I got stuck on a backroad in there. While I was making the turn out, this guy stopped me in a white pick up truck and he basically threatened our lives and talked about some guy who died farther up the road. He was somewhat incoherent with his story about the man who died up the road and couldn’t explain anything. He said there’s no cops who go back there and he’s the “law” of those parts. I am just suggesting if any of you

    r readers plan to go there, take my story as a word of caution. P.S. Bring a gun if you’re so daring to meet with this guy…..


  5. Posted by Terri on March 6, 2009 at 10:42 AM

    If you’re interested in going to the island in Montville in Button Woods, we have some adventurous types in our little group that may be willing to join you. Email us back if you’re still looking. Thanks!


    • Posted by jay on May 8, 2010 at 5:50 PM

      I grew up blocks away from Button Woods which, with the Twin Meadows Golf Course, was our playground for us as kids. This was the mid 70’s into the 80’s. During the summer we would be back there every day with our bike’s, mopeds, motorcycle’s, and sometimes a “borrowed” car..LOL
      The only person we ever feared was Papa Joe…We left him alone and he us.. Although there was one time we were chased by a Jeep Wrangler and shot at with Rock Salt.
      I went back a few years ago and found many of the cars we used to shoot up with BB Guns and the markings of young love, etched into the old Maple trees..

      Ahhh Great memories!!


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