Archive for the ‘Warren’ Category

Abandoned farm in Phillipsburg

An explorer friend of mine messages me and says “Hey I found this great big farm! I didn’t have time to check it out because it was almost dark. Wanna go with me?” How could I resist? So I met up with him Friday and checked it out. It appears to have been abandoned for maybe 8-10 years or so. The place was pretty well cleaned out. We didn’t find the usual leavings, like mail and garbage and clothing. We found a few toys here and there, a little bit of junk amongst the weeds and bushes but very little else. There was no evidence of kids or squatters either. No beer cans, bottles or drug use. No graffiti. I like to find stuff left behind, sometimes you can learn a bit about the people or the place. Not here, but it was nice to not see a place ruined by vandals either.

It looked like your typical farm. there definitely were animals raised here, and there was a fairly large corn field that was fallow. Interestingly the corn was still growing in neat rows. Apparently the birds eats the corn cobs as they fall but enough kernels remain to seed new plants. The buildings are in rough shape but nothing that couldn’t be salvaged. The buildings were probably built in the 50’s. There was a garage/shed type building, one large main barn with some smaller wings built off to the side, as well as the two actual houses. The houses had a very weird layout, I suspect it was expanded at some point. Its the only way to explain the layout.

I’m surprised it is still here and that its pretty untouched. Its in what I would say a prime retail location and is easily visible from the road…..

All the photos are here or go to the Facebook group


Abandoned in the middle of Route 46

For a decade I’ve driven past this abandoned house that sits in the middle between the east and west bound sides of Route 46 in Warren County. I have always wondering who would build a home in the median between the sides of a busy highway. I don’t know how long it has been abandoned, I noticed it around 2001 on a trip to the Delaware Water Gap. Every time I would drive out that way I would either forget or it would be too late in the day and too dark or there would be police there. it seems the local PD likes to hang out there in the grass and either do speed traps or just chit chat with each other. it turns out there is nothing special about it. just another abandoned structure, ignored every day by thousands of drivers who probably never give it a second thought.

The Dinosaurs of Alpha

The G J Oliver Company was founded in 1960, and manufactures and designs lube oil systems, as well as fabricates steel for industrial use. The large metal dinosaurs on their back lawn and in front of the offices are the creation of Woody Hauser, one of the company employees. They were created at the request of the owner, whose grandkids love dinosaurs.

During slow periods at work, Hauser would design and fabricate these steel beasts, working from rubber toy dinosaurs given to him by Mr Oliver. Hauser estimates each dinosaur took roughly 6-9 months to design, build and erect. When he is done building one, he begins work on another, but only during slow periods at work. How many will he end up building? Hauser couldn’t say.

You can see the dinosaurs easily from the road outside the facility. Just find Industrial Drive in Alpha and head towards the end. They are on company property and are visible from the road.

Sierra Exif JPEG

EPSON DSC picture

Sierra Exif JPEG

EPSON DSC picture

Sierra Exif JPEG

EPSON DSC picture

Locals try to preserve 200 year old cemetery

The Hope cemetery has some graves that go back as far as the American Revolution. It is believed that if not for the efforts of locals to preserve it, it will succomb to the grass and dirt and weather and be lost forever.

Edison’s Concrete Road

In the late 1800’s the best highways and roads were in Europe. The US State Depts 600 page report confirmed this and determined it was because of government action in European countries that made them of higher quality. In all Europe the best roads were in France, thanks to the planning of Napoleon. Quality roads, they said, helped make their economy strong. “All roads in France receive perpetual attention. Roads in America receive perpetual inattention” it said. Congress, however, disputed the study however, and little was done to implement a federal government role in road construction and maitenance for the next 20 years.  In 1908, France held the first international Road Congress, where methods of road construction and maitenance were  discussed. In 1913 a report was again commisioned and it stated that “the resultant organization would assume very large proportions.” In 1915 the committee recommended a federal aid program, but warned against concentration of control in Washington as well as concerns about pork barrel projects.

When Americans soldiers traveled French roads in WWI they experienced French roads first hand and were envious. Modern society was grappling with the issue of cars using roads designed for horse & carriages. Thomas Edison was a friend of Henry Ford & Harvey Firestone and noted that “I have have traveled over 4,000 miles of French roads built by the central government, and kept in perfect repair. I note with pain and humiliation the horrible mess made by us in our road building, arising from dense ignorance.”

Concrete and asphalt would become the future of the modern road. Concrete is created by combining sand or crushed stone with a binding agent.  There are various types of cement, and one of the earliest was Portland cement. Edison became infatuated with concrete and began exploring it’s uses for homebuilding, as furniture, and for roads.  Not much is known about Edison’s attempts at using concrete. He was responsible for the building of the first concrete road in the US. Located in Franklin Twp, NJ it was built in 1912 happen for another 30 years…

The Germans made great progress in roadbuilding, and after WWII Dwight Eisenhower was inspired to built a large national intrastate highway system which gave us such highways as route 80 and route 95.

Oxford Furnace

The Oxford Furnace was built in 1741 and was the third such furnace built in NJ, and the first where iron ore was actually mined. It was also the first “hot blast” furnace of its kind. Before that, unheated air was pumped by bellows into the furnace. This furnace used preheated air which was then sent to the furnace and this raised the temperatures even hotter. The air was blown in thru the 3 openings in the sides of the furnace, and molten iron came out thru a 4th hole. The furnace produced railroad car wheels, nails and many other objects, though there’s no evidence it produces cannonballs.

Originally 31 feet high, fill has been placed around the base, making it only 22 ft tall. The furnace was converted to use coal as their fuel in the 1800’s & this ensured it’s continued functionality. In 1935 it was donated to the state by it’s owners, the Warren Foundry & pipe Co, and in 1984 it was turned over to Warren County. With a grant of 315,000, the furnace began undergoing restorations in 2001. They are due for completion in spring 2006.

giant toothbrush

Lady Liberty of Hacketstown

Paulinskill Viaduct photos

Also known as the Hainesburg Viaduct, the Paulinskill Viaduct was built in 1909. It was (at the time of its construction) the largest viaduct of it’s kind in the world. The seven arched span is 1100 feet long and looms 115 feet above the roads, trees and river below. The Lackawanna Railroad was considered an engineering marvel as they built concrete overpasses rather then allowing for crossings, and built giant trestles rather then creating steep inclines to go over mountains. Read more here. It is part of the same line as the Byram Ice Tunnel and was the line that replaced the Manunka Chunk line, because it was shorter then Manunka Chunk and had fewer steep grades..

In the 1960’s the rail line was closed, and the rail beds torn up. It was neglected until the late 80’s when the State acquired it and the nearby land and added it to the state park. Of course going up top isn’t exactly encouraged mind you, safety and that kind of stuff. In May 2004, a man fell to his death and drowned in what is being labeled as an accident and possible suicide. Recently there are reports that there are now no trespassing signs posted around the PV.






If you go up this makeshift ladder you’d encounter some metal rungs which would lead you to a shaft which would lead thru a poop encrusted tunnel which would exit to the top of the structure. We didn’t use them because they looked rickety, and because getting severely injured 3 weeks before your wedding was not acceptable.

A turn by turn driving guide that lets you see all the various overpasses.

There are plans to resurrect the old rail line to carry commuters into NYC according to this article.


Plans underway to mark Morris Canal historic sites

There’s a lot of work ahead of them

Michael Helbing and a hearty group of avid hikers were not daunted by snow or cold last week. Bundled in warm weather gear, they trekked on foot through the woods of northwest Morris County, making their way to Lake Hopatcong. The 17-mile hike in sub-freezing temperatures took them on a portion of the route of the former Morris Canal, a 102-mile engineering marvel that once was the heart of the economic engine of much of North Jersey. It’s a part of the state’s history that Helbing wants more people to know about and explore. So the 28-year-old Warren County man, who grew up in Port Colden, an old canal village, has embarked on a personal crusade to create a Morris Canal trail, one that will run the length of the former canal from Jersey City to Phillipsburg.

“There is an incredible history here, one that people should know about,” said Helbing, who has led long-distance hikes for the past dozen years, including recent once-a-month treks along some portion of the canal route. “I envision a heritage trail, kind of like Patriot’s Path that runs through Morris County. A walking and multi-use route, maybe even for biking and horses.” Helbing’s effort has caught the attention of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, a federation of 104 hiking clubs and environmental organizations dedicated to building and maintaining marked hiking trails and protecting related open space. Brenda Holzinger, the organization’s New Jersey field representative, said they are committed to working with Helbing to try to make the trail a reality.

“It’s most exciting and very dear to our hearts,” said Holzinger. “But whether we can take the next step and cement all the needed connections to make this happen is a question.” Helbing’s quest is not the first attempt to create a connected canal trail. The Canal Society of New Jersey has long worked to save parts of the former canal and call attention to its history. Warren County also has a committee that successfully preserved portions of the route for a potential canal greenway. “Absolutely, creating a trail is something we’d like to do. But it’s no small initiative,” said Brian Morrell, president of the Canal Society.

The brainchild of George McCulloch, a Morristown businessman, the canal opened in 1832, an artificial waterway that eventually ran 102 miles from Phillipsburg to Jersey City. An alternative to the state’s rutted and muddy road system, flat-bottomed boats were pulled by mules along the canal to ship iron ore, coal and many other products. Unlike other canals built in relatively flat terrain, the Morris Canal literally climbed hills and mountains, rising a total of 1,674 feet and containing 23 lift locks and 23 inclined planes. From the Delaware River, the canal went up gradually from one plateau to another, crossing lakes and rivers until reaching the Lake Hopatcong area, which was its summit. From there it dropped down as it headed east toward Newark.

“It was world renowned,” said Morrell. “It overcame more elevation change than any other canal in the world, to the present day.” But with the advent of railroads, business on the canal declined. By 1924, it was abandoned and drained. Much of it has been developed, especially in more urban areas, making creation of a connected trail a tough task. A portion of the trail in the Branch Brook Park section of Newark, for example, is now the route of the city’s light rail line. “There have been some efforts in the past to create a connected trail,” said Holzinger. “Unfortunately, a good part of the canal route was sold. It is difficult to negotiate easements with all the individual property owners to get access to their lands. And it can be expensive because some owners want to be paid.”

The good news for canal trail advocates, however, is that much of the Morris Canal route is in public ownership. Dave Detrick, chairman of Warren County’s Morris Canal Committee, said 11 of 33 miles of the canal route in his county have public access right-of-ways. Near Hackettstown there is a 1.5-mile canal walkway and there is a five-mile section near Saxton Falls, among others, he said. “Problem is, those sites are not contiguous,” said Detrick. Morrell’s group, meanwhile, has been working for the past two decades to save portions of the canal route and explore greenway possibilities. They cleared a three-mile trail through Allamuchy State Park and are working on a trail initiative to connect Waterloo Village in Byram to Stanhope.

They also have canal projects under way throughout Morris County and in Pompton Lakes, Wayne, Little Falls and Woodland Park, formerly West Paterson. There are many benefits to creating a Morris Canal trail, said proponents. Historic preservation, environmental protection, education and recreation are obvious ones, they said. For Helbing, who grew up in a house in an old canal town named after Cadwallader D. Colden, second president of the Morris Canal and Banking Company, there’s also a more personal reason. “I’ve lived near the Morris Canal all of my life. It’s a great place. The canal has a great history,” said Helbing. “We need to get public awareness, to expose people to what an amazing treasure it was. “I know there will be a lot of frustration and it’s going to take a lot of hard work to do this. But I’m sure it’s going to be worth it.”