Abandoned Camp in Sussex County

Located in between two active camps in the heart of Sussex County, lie two abandoned camps. There are the remains of a road which leads to one of the camps, and there’s evidence of recent vehicular traffic, but this camp has not seen use for at least 2-3 decades if not more. I’m still researching it’s name and history, so for now, I can only provide photographs. You can see all of them here on Flickr but below are a few teaser shots.

We hiked from the other camp (the one which doesn’t have road access, and followed a trail, but went the wrong way at the fork. Then the trail disappeared and we couldn’t find any more blazes. We knew it was at the base of a ridge so we followed the base of the ridge, mainly following deer trails. We encountered a snake, several tree frogs, but luckily no bears. We found bear scat and even owl vomit along the way before finally hitting the camp itself. At that very moment, the batteries on my camera died, and I did not have any spares as the camera gave me no warning at all. Luckily the boy scout leader who was leading the way gave me his batteries (since he didn’t have a memory card in his camera rendering it useless anyway) We had hiked (bushwhacked really) nearly 2 hours, and over the course of the day covered 7-8 miles.

Enjoy the pics…

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35 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jerry Levy on August 3, 2017 at 11:43 AM

    In 1955 I was 17 and on the staff of Altaha. As camp was getting ready to close,about August 17 we were warned that Hurricane Diane was likely to hit the camp area. We had the campers move their double decker bunks into the mess hall and use the truck to move what ever we could. We all hunkered down in the mess hall. After it passed we found tent in trees and trees on tents but luckily no one was hurt. The campers left the day after the storm but the staff spent several days closing up in what felt like being never endingly soaked. At least it was warm.

    Reply

  2. Posted by George Gikas on November 12, 2016 at 10:41 PM

    Great memories for me at Camp Towadena in the late 50s for couple summers..
    In the evening at revelry when activities were closing for the day each Camp on Fairview Lake would play their signature trumpet tune that soundelike a phonetic sound of the name of the camp,

    Reply

  3. Posted by Jim on June 16, 2016 at 4:33 AM

    I went to Camp Alhtaha in 1969 & 70 with Troop 15 Paterson. The rumor was it was sold to a country club. Camp Terrill was opened in 1971 to replace it. My scoutmaster was so upset with Camp Terrill that we went on a bus trip to Washington in 71 with the camp money raised. I remember the first building you saw when entering Alhtaha was the ranger building, with the only pay phone. As you went down the road there was a mess hall on the right and trading post on the left. Both summers the troop got food poisoning. My Order of the Arrow was 24 hours of silence while giving free labor to set up camp. The Council had enough money to keep that camp open. Never should have closed it.

    Reply

    • Posted by jim on June 16, 2016 at 4:55 AM

      I would have sworn Alhtaha was on Rt 517. One day our troop hiked to a neighboring camp. We made a left at the main road, hiked a short distance at which point the road made a 270 degree hairpin turn and crossed over itself. The other camp was a short distance fom the hairpin. I was driving rt 517 two years ago and hit that strech of road and the memories came flooding back.

      Reply

      • Posted by Alan Brooks on June 16, 2016 at 6:06 AM

        Not sure of the route but I do remember there was a small general store on the right a mile or so before the dirt road entrance to the camp, which was on the left about mid way up a hill. The general store had one or two pinball machines and was a good place to pick up “supplies” before entering the camp for 1-2 weeks.

        Reply

        • Posted by jim on June 17, 2016 at 4:58 AM

          Ah, we didn’t know about the general store. The trading post was our only source of junk food and it was the most popular building in camp. Do you remember in 1969 Alhtaha having an experimental campsite with psychedelic colored tents, just past the mess hall? Never understood what that was about. Took many pictures that year but can’t find any of them.

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          • Posted by Alan Brooks on June 17, 2016 at 10:38 AM

            Don’t remember the tent. One winter we did a week-end winter camp. We used the log cabin down near the lake for the over night. The pot belly stove was the only heat and we loaded it til it glowed. About 2 AM it went out and the cabin froze up. What a hoot. We tried to cook stew but forgot that potatoes take a little longer to cook so they were raw, we ate them anyway. While packing out on Sunday I didn’t were gloves and froze up all my fingers. Had to stay at the ranger station for several hours til they started to have feeling again. Live and learn.

            Reply

  4. Posted by Alan Brooks on February 17, 2016 at 5:48 PM

    Earned many a merit badge there ~65-69. Spent summers with scouts from troop 10 and with troop 18 and troop 20. My uncle was ASM of 18 and 10. Long live the “Bug Juice”!

    Reply

    • Posted by Alan Brooks on April 12, 2016 at 4:51 PM

      As an aside, one year there were two brothers from another troop. I do not remember which troop. However, their name was very memorable. Their sir name was “Luker” I believe their first names were Keith and Steve but we all called them “Slucker and Klucker” If either of you see this post please respond. It’s been quite a while.

      Reply

    • Posted by George Rhodes on May 11, 2016 at 7:25 PM

      Spent some of my summers from 62 to 66 at Camp Towadena. Did my Order of the Arrow initiation in the swamp leading down to the lake. Couldn’t get enough of scouts from troop 13 (Weehawken) but we enjoyed stays with provisional troops. One year we had a drought and caught about 50-75 snakes in one week not to mention a small forest fire between the two camps. I remember racoons sneaking into our tents and robbing us of our cookies and snacks. Those memories will always have a warm place in my heart!

      Reply

  5. Posted by Brian Murphy on August 5, 2015 at 12:23 PM

    I spent part of the summer of 1967 at Camp Towedena. The picture of the cabin on the bottom of your blog page was the nurses cabin. I remember very clearly, I stabbed my leg with a pocket knife and I was carried to this cabin – where the nurse applied sulfur in the wound and clipped the skin together. Of course, all the other campers were mad at me, as they all had to give up their pocket knives.

    Reply

    • Posted by Adam Herchold on December 25, 2015 at 9:50 PM

      There was no nurses cabin. My dad was the doctor, he often used sulpha powder to treat lacerations. On one occasion when he was at Camp Altaha, because he was the doctor for both camps, a scout came in with a laceration. I butterflied the wound, and sent him to the hospital in Newton. The doctors there liked the job I did, and didn’t give the scout stitches. This cabin was the first aid station, and living quarters for the doctor and his family.

      Reply

      • Posted by Adam Herchold on December 25, 2015 at 10:47 PM

        Correction – Camp Alhtaha

        Reply

        • I was there too in 67 and 68. and I was examined by a nurse, in a cabin, I was brought there after having been beaten by some of the other boys. So there was some type of cabin where a nurse was stationed at Towadena. I saw that picture on another website and it looked familiar. However, it’s been 48 years, so it’s difficult to tell if that’s the one.

          Reply

  6. Posted by jay Farrell on June 29, 2015 at 3:52 PM

    Hey, my stepfather Bob Rein, was a camp director of camp Alhtaha in the late ‘ 60’s, is there anyone out here know anyone else who went there?

    Reply

    • Posted by Joel on November 24, 2015 at 11:06 PM

      I went to Camp altaha in 1964-1967 does anyone know if a camp still exists? Is there a way to get an address of the camp?

      Reply

      • Posted by Adam Herchold on December 25, 2015 at 11:12 PM

        Most, if not all, of Camp Alhtaha is now owned by the YMCA that was at one end of the lake. You take 206N to StillwaterRd. to 521S to Fairview Lake Rd. Google it. When you’re on Fairview Lake Rd. you don’t want to go to YMCA, you’re looking for a dirt road on your left that was the original entrance to Camp Alhtaha and Camp Towadena, about a mile up this dirt road, maybe two, is Alhtaha. I believe the Y uses the former Headquarters building for it’s own purposes. But, during off season, I didn’t see anyone around. Be unobtrusive and enjoy reliving your childhood. My directions aren’t great, but use Google for Fairview Lake, Stillwater NJ, and you should find it without too much difficulty. Just be careful of bears. Saw a lot of scat around, and so far it’s been a mild winter.

        Reply

        • Posted by Joel on December 26, 2015 at 6:51 AM

          Thank you Adam..I am definitely going to take a ride and visit the camp. I have certain images of the camp that have stayed with me all these years….wooden planked stairs that lead down from the dining hall..the discs we would hang on a board when we were in the lake swimming. I also remember the ” cable ” trail … I will be sure to let you know when I visit and what I find there! Thanks again!

          Reply

          • Posted by Adam Herchold on December 26, 2015 at 12:27 PM

            Please do. I plan to go there again soon. On the dirt road that leads to Alhtaha, the first left turn leads to the Bond cabin, a great family who owned property on the lake. If you don’t take that turn and continue straight on the road, the rifle range is on the right, and the Headquarters building is another quarter to half a mile up the road on the left. The parade ground is up a short road on the right. I don’t know Alhtaha as well as Towadena, because we lived at Towadena, and I was a scout and counselor at Towadena, but I would walk to Alhtaha with my Dad most every day to be with him on first aid calls, etc. My mother and Mrs. Gabriel cooked for the scouts one summer when the cook at Alhtaha quit the day before the camp opened. Mr. Gabriel was the Camp Director at the time we were there, and the scouts ate really well that summer. If you have time, go to Towadena too, just up the road. All the best!

            Reply

            • Posted by Joel on December 26, 2015 at 1:44 PM

              Once again thanks for the information.. Btw where are you from? Perhaps when you plan on going I would go as well…Its probably been close to 50 years since I was there and may need some help navigating..

              Reply

              • Posted by Adam Herchold on January 4, 2016 at 12:42 AM

                Busy time right now; but next week looks like a good week weather wise if you want to venture forth. I probably won’t be up there for a few months unless I just pop up for grins on a decent day. Enjpy!

                Reply

        • Posted by lostinjersey on December 30, 2015 at 10:18 AM

          when I went there I hiked thru the woods from nobebosco, was led by a scout leader who was familiar. took us forever and a day but we got there. we exited out thru the road that led to what I assume is the YMCA based on your description. we had been out a while and were out of water so we headed into a building, asked for water. they were very cool about it.

          Reply

    • Posted by Adam Herchold on December 25, 2015 at 11:15 PM

      He must have taken Mr. Gabriel’s place. My dad was the camp doctor during this time period.

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    • Posted by Chris Myers on April 12, 2016 at 4:12 PM

      Jay: I worked with Bob and your Mom (Ma) at both Alhtaha and Silver Lake YMCA. Both gone now, but great memories. Let’s connect. Chris Myers

      Reply

    • Posted by Thomas H Baker on July 3, 2016 at 11:23 AM

      Yes, I remember Bob well. I camped as a scout with Troop 44 from West Milford during the mid ’60s and I worked for Bob from 1967 until 1970 as a camp counselor at Alhtaha. Bob always had Dog with him.

      Reply

  7. Posted by John Tranes on May 27, 2015 at 5:43 PM

    I believe camp towadena was just south of camp altaha, but altaha was one camp, not three,

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  8. Posted by John Tranes on May 26, 2015 at 4:19 PM

    Camp Altaha was an old apple orchard, and had a barn, health hut, administration building, and I believe that log cabin, which was used as a nature hut. Also had a rifle/bow and arrow range. Worked there in the summers of 63-64. Believe part of the camp is now owned by the YMCA of orange.

    Reply

    • Posted by Adam Herchold on December 25, 2015 at 11:18 PM

      You’re absolutely right. I still remember the rifle range with the .22 rifles with the peep scopes.

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      • Posted by Thomas H Baker on July 3, 2016 at 11:19 AM

        Yeah, remember to skinny little guy who ran the range. He’d hold up the .22 and ask “what is this?” and most kids would say “it’s a gun” and he’d go “No. It’s a rifle.”

        Reply

  9. Posted by Richard Commaille on September 11, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    I actually attended Towedena as a scout in the early 60’s. Altaha was actually 3 camps. Kenetawapec and Nobebosco were close by. Towedena was owned by Alexander Hamilton Council, NJ. Somewhere, I have pix of the camp when it was active. My understanding was they closed it because they were going to flood Fairview lake and make it a reservoir. I guess that never happened. I’ll try and remember more facts. rlcpa@aol.com

    Reply

  10. Posted by Bruce on November 5, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Most likely Towedena, or Alhatha which were on Fairview Lake and near each other.

    Reply

  11. Posted by Ryan on March 23, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    hey. im doing a project on abandoned houses in sussex county for my art history class and was wondering if you could give a more detailed description on where this campground is. I’d aprreciate if you emailed me the details. thanks!

    -Ryan

    Reply

    • Posted by lostinjersey on April 5, 2011 at 12:22 PM

      i wish i could. I dont have coordinates. I dont think you can get in there though. it’s somewhere between camp nobebosco and some other camp of some kind. I dont know the name of the other camp and I dont think you are allowed to park there except for camp business which you won’t have any…. sorry

      Reply

  12. Posted by paul on February 26, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    Was this kineta wa pec. A boy scaount camp west of still water, nj?

    Reply

    • Posted by lostinjersey on February 28, 2010 at 8:49 PM

      its not far from nobebosco is all I know cause thats where me and the scouts were camping at the time. very very close to whatever is the enarest camp that is still active. maybe a 5 minute walk from there, and 45-50 mins from nobebosco.

      Reply

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