Archive for the ‘Geocaching’ Category

My experience exploring North Brother Island

If you know nothing about NBI, here is my original entry detailing the long and varied history of this unassuming island in the Bronx River. it’s well worth a read and I won’t repeat it here because this is about my own journey exploring the island. I don’t recall exactly where I first heard about it, but I had known about it for well over a year. I had researched it thoroughly, making particular note of the dangerous currents and tides. I was also keenly aware that it was very close to Riker’s Island, which presented a security issue. I certainly did not want to be mistaken for someone escaping the infamous prison. What became clear was that if one was going to go to the island it would have to be by canoe, so one could scuttle the boat on shore. After numerous aborted discussions i finally found someone w/a canoe and someone else crazy enough to make the trip. We made the trip in January 2006. It would be approximately 1,000 feet from shore to shore and I am woefully out of shape, I cant remember the last time I was in a canoe. Complicating things is the fact that the tides are vicious and the water was ice cold. There had been a nasty ice storm the night before so air temperatures were sub-freezing. I can’t imagine what the water temperature would be like. Even with a life jacket, hypothermia could easily set in before I could reach shore. If you haven’t figured it out, this journey probably ranks as the most unintelligent exploration I have ever taken.

As fate would have it, I made the trip over successfully. The island is home to numerous birds which nest there and it’s a a protected bird sanctuary. The hospital buildings are all in severe disrepair. Many stairs are crumbling and there are holes in many walls and floors. This has allowed many thaw cycles to do further damage to the facility as snow and ice have gotten inside and rotted away the wood that held it together. There are 3 main buildings as you can see in the aerial picture below from google. There was almost nothing left in any of the buildings except for rusted out desk and chairs. The one area that was most interesting was the kitchen which still had purchase orders for the patients. In here I also found a 1950 phone book. I found it amazing to see phone listings as KL5-3325. Unfortunately the pages crumbled in my hands so I could not take it home as a souvenir. We spent several hours carefully poking around, but our visit was cut short because we wanted to go back when the tides were just right. Below are several pictures, but you should really check out all the pics on flicker

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North Brother Island

If you know nothing about NBI, here is my original entry detailing the long and varied history of this unassuming island in the Bronx River. it’s well worth a read and I won’t repeat it here because this is about my own journey exploring the island. I don’t recall exactly where I first heard about it, but I had known about it for well over a year. I had researched it thoroughly, making particular note of the dangerous currents and tides. I was also keenly aware that it was very close to Riker’s Island, which presented a security issue. I certainly did not want to be mistaken for someone escaping the infamous prison. What became clear was that if one was going to go to the island it would have to be by canoe, so one could scuttle the boat on shore. After numerous aborted discussions i finally found someone w/a canoe and someone else crazy enough to make the trip. We made the trip in January 2006. It would be approximately 1,000 feet from shore to shore and I am woefully out of shape, I cant remember the last time I was in a canoe. Complicating things is the fact that the tides are vicious and the water was ice cold. There had been a nasty ice storm the night before so air temperatures were sub-freezing. I can’t imagine what the water temperature would be like. Even with a life jacket, hypothermia could easily set in before I could reach shore. If you haven’t figured it out, this journey probably ranks as the most unintelligent exploration I have ever taken.

As fate would have it, I made the trip over successfully. The island is home to numerous birds which nest there and it’s a a protected bird sanctuary. The hospital buildings are all in severe disrepair. Many stairs are crumbling and there are holes in many walls and floors. This has allowed many thaw cycles to do further damage to the facility as snow and ice have gotten inside and rotted away the wood that held it together. There are 3 main buildings as you can see in the aerial picture below from google. There was almost nothing left in any of the buildings except for rusted out desk and chairs. The one area that was most interesting was the kitchen which still had purchase orders for the patients. In here I also found a 1950 phone book. I found it amazing to see phone listings as KL5-3325. Unfortunately the pages crumbled in my hands so I could not take it home as a souvenir. We spent several hours carefully poking around, but our visit was cut short because we wanted to go back when the tides were just right. Below are several pictures, but you should really check out all the pics on flicker

The Belle Meade Depot

The GSA-Belle Mead Depot was located in Hillsborough and had several purposes thru its history. It was primarily a warehouse and there were numerous railroad lines running into the facility. During WWII, the facility was used as sort of 20th century Guantanamo, housing Italian POW’s. After the Vietnam war, the property was then turned over to the GSA from the Army until it was closed in 1991. In 2009 the Belle Meade Depot property was transfered over to the Somerset County Improvement Authority. Bought for $15M, the 369 acre property will be jointly owned by the county and the town of Hillsborough. it is hoped that after any contimination is removed (which cost another $20M) the property will become ball fields and recreational areas.

I visited there in 2007 with the intent to scale the most notable thing on the property: a giant water tower. I went there with several friends and we scouted the property which was very close to some ball fields. After scouting out a handful of remaining buildings that were in serious disrepair, we headed for the tower. I have to say that this was not a smart move. We didn’t know the structural stability of the tower, or more importantly the ladder. Like stupid spider monkeys we one by one climbed up and were treated to an amazing 360 degree view of the area. At the time there was a geocache up on the top, easily one of the riskiest geocache finds ever. Still, this isn’t the stupidist or riskiest thing I’ve ever done in my explorations. All the pictures are up on flickr

Tripod Rock

Tripod Rock is a 170 ton rock balanced on 3 small boulders. There are many tripod rocks in the US but this is the largest. Geologists say it was left there during the retreat of the glaciers thousands of years ago, however it does line up along magnetically lines, and the summer solstice sets thru a small notch in the rock. Coincidence? The site held a spiritual significance for the local Indians, and even today for the spiritually inclined.

There is a geocache here

Tripodrock.org

NJ Skylands article complete with hiking directions

underrocks

tripodrockgoodshot

It is a good 30 minute hike to get to Tripod Rock, over rugged terrain. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under 11 or for dogs, although I’ve seen both on my trip there. Nearby to the North is Whale Rock, and to the SE is Bareroke aka Bear Rock, shown below) They are much more mundane. Nothing weird, just two reallllly giant boulders left by retreating glaciers thousands of years ago.

holybalancing

Hermann City

Just imagine an entire town for only three short years. This community of about 70 homes and stores, complete with hotel was centered around the Waplers Glass Works which manufactured Christmas decorations and “shades”(glass covers for collectables). The town also had a wharf into the river and history speaks of the vessels “Frances” and “Argo” sinking on this spot. As is typical of many types of abandoned Pine Barrens towns, there’s not much left but some foundations and walls.

hermancity4

hermancity6

hermancity8

Old French cemetery

This is an old graveyard which is very much forgotten, with graves dating back to the 1800’s. The graveyard sits atop a hill that is almost inaccessible due to its steep incline and heavy grass, but it is doable. The graves are in mostly good shape for their age, and it has a desolate feel to it in an industrial, mostly un-populated part of town. I enjoyed my quick visit immensely, since old, abandoned, little noticed graveyards are always a cool find for me. Other then its unusual location there isn’t anything extraordinary about this spot, but I still had a good time. My son demanded I take a picture of him with the grave. I didn’t put him there, ask him to pose or anything. I think this whole weird NJ hunting thing is wearing off on him. Which is a good thing I guess. Umm… yea. A good thing.

andygrinning

frontsign

Mary Ellis cemetery

Mary Ellis lived in the area of NJ that 200 years after her deat would become Edison & Rahway. She lived near the Raritan River, and in 1813 purchased a piece of farm land near its banks. She married a sea captain, but he went to sea & never returned. In 1827 she passed away, her husband’s whereabouts unknown. She was buried on her own property, with her sister and even, some say, her husband’s beloved horse. The property was passed down through the family, and heirs maintained the graves. In the early 20th century, the wooded area surrounding the Ellis property was sold to developers and became strip malls. The land immediately around the grave itself was leveled, then paved, leaving the grave site an island in a sea of asphalt. The terms of sale of the property give the descendants the right to visit the grave and to maintain it. Currently the grave sits directly behind a Lowes Multi-plex. Biding by the agreement, the grave should remain undisturbed for years to come.

mefar

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