The house built on a volcano

This is part of an article about a woman whose home is built on a 440 million year old dormant volcano in Sussex County.

Stories about suburban sprawl in New Jersey usually contain a lament for lost farmland, but this story is about new homes on something much more scarce — the state’s last available volcano. The old “Beemerville Volcano” in the rural Sussex County township of Wantage now has a house on top. “I’m on the cone” of the volcano, said Kathryn Kelly Herkert of Hasbrouck Heights, Bergen County. “It’s been extinct for 440 million years. I’m comfortable with that.”

The placid, picturesque knob last spewed lava in the Precambrian era and is officially classified as an extinct volcano. Now, it’s just another plot of ground on which to build a home, although one with spectacular views of the neighboring countryside and a history dating to Mother Earth’s childhood. Geologists lament losing the old volcano to a house because the formation is the oldest of the very few volcanic necks, or magma pipes, found in New Jersey. (The most well-known volcanic neck is the jutting “Fraternity Rock” alongside the New Jersey Turnpike in Secaucus.)

Michael Carr, a geology professor at Rutgers University, once brought students to visit the Beemerville Volcano, but stopped about 20 years ago when homes began to crop up on the apex. “It is too bad that a geological rarity is turned into a suburban lot,” Carr said after learning of the latest home built there. After blasting began for construction of the home, some residents mounted a petition to try to preserve the volcano, but nothing ever came of it, Kelly Herkert said. At least one resident does not begrudge Kelly Herkert her home on the volcano. Henry Byma had a dairy farm at the bottom of the hill for some four decades until moving three miles up the road in October. His son runs the farm now.

7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Clyde B. on December 28, 2016 at 5:46 PM

    Herkert’s a Jerk


  2. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this
    topic to be actually something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang
    of it!


  3. Posted by Paul V on October 17, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    My name is Paul and I am a Wantage resident, I am familiar with Volcanic Hill Road. I live near the High Point High School and found several rocks while digging my garden one year. I am convinced the two rocks are meteorites. I have attempted to get proffessional opinions on this but have been unable to find someone who might be willing to check them out. Can you help or direct me on how I might be able to find out more? My e-mail is



  4. Posted by Piano Man Larry Hunt on June 2, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    I found The “Beemerville Volcano” . It’s located on VOLCANIC HILL ROAD, WANTAGE, NEW JERSEY. If you go there, please let me know


  5. John, great to hear about you and the volcano. Is it near Space
    farms? Just would like to get the feeling of it since I my self
    live in Wantage towards High Point. Charlie B


  6. Hello,
    I am a long family friend of Henry, myself and my family are all Sussex County born and bred.
    Many of whom are buried in Beemerville which are my instructions.
    Most of us reside in Branchville or Culver Lake, except me.
    At ten years old I picked apples at the base of the volcano which no one knew about, except for some old survey documents and geologic studies I “dug” up while researching as achild at the Sussex County Liabrary and Newton documents from the County Courthouse.
    My family is Wolfe, Watson, Mott, and Cook or Cooke. My grandmother Lilian Mott Wolfe was born in 1899 and was buried in Beemerville in 2003. A Sussex County tri-centarian.

    I am a professional consulting Geologist practicing from Oakland California. Planning to relocate to Culver Lake before I get buried near the Beemervile Volcano.
    After all I was born on an old eruptive sill, Mountainside Hospital. Nice circle.
    I still have a child geologists lifetime NJ rock collection in our Barn on W Shore at Culver Lake, soon to be my home I hope.

    I used to be the only one to tour and map a bit with Henries permission. As a kid he had great apple trees.

    I am very intrested in any Sussex County and area geologic updates.
    I can offer any info from my area.


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