Posts Tagged ‘NJ Palisades’

The NJ Palisades

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Manuel Rionda’s Stone Tower: A large medieval looking tower which was part of an estate that stretched to the edge of the Palisades Cliffs

Old Bridge: In the woods of Creskill is a large stone bridge, which may be a part of the old Camp Merritt. A bit of research and a few emails from readers suggests this bridge is more likely a relic from the Rionda estate…..

There are tunnels and underground chambers in various places thruout the Palisades.

Hitler’s Rock Profile: A 160 ft tall profile of Hitler appeared on the cliffs of the Palisades during WWII

Complete history of the Palisades: A detailed summary of the history of the Palisades.

In an old cemetery in the Palisades is the grave of a fellow named “Whack me Jug”


I have hiked in the NJ Palisades dozens of time as a child with my father and dog. In all that time I never realized there were several abandoned buildings and remains of structures lying within these woods. I never knew the history behind the NJ Palisades and how they almost were destroyed due to quarrying of rock for New York city roads. I never knew that we only enjoy these woods today because of the efforts of numerous individuals, including John Rockefeller, to preserve the cliffs and the surrounding land. In the past 100 years nature has grown unspoiled giving us some of the best views of Manhattan, and some of the best hiking trails in northern NJ.

In the fall of 2001 I decided to hide a geocache in these woods. I came upon what appeared to be the ruined foundation of an old building. We hid the geocacher among some crumbling cinder blocks & pipes coming out of the ground. When we got home I went to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission website and discovered that we had hidden it in the remains of John Ringling’s estate, purchased along with numerous other estates in the effort to create the NJ Palisades.

There had been little coverage of the Palisades in Weird NJ at the time. One of the properties acquired was discussed in issue 10 and referred to it as the Elephant House. In it, the writer commented on this huge house he had seen (and photographed), but which no longer existed. He really knew nothing about the place, and he submitted it as a weird place. Someone from the Palisades Park Commission wrote in & explained a bit more about the background of the place. A picture of the NJ Women’s Monument, was featured as part of a larger story on castles. I began investigating the history of the Palisades, and wrote up a story which Weird NJ published in issue 19, page 30. I later established a lengthy series of geocache hikes.

I received these photos courtesy of Mr Schneider. He was the one who wrote into WNJ & reported the elephant house. He took these two pictures nearly 30 years ago before the estate of Cora Timken was taken down. I so much wish I could’ve seen that house. It looks so massive & impressive. Unfortunately all that remains now are some foundation stones & the pool….



The picture at the start of this post shows a small path jutting out over the cliffs. It is all that remains of the estate of Manuel Rionda. If his name sounds familiar to you, it should, since his stone tower has been written up in Weird NJ before. The walkway extends out over the ledge but is safe to walk on. Regardless it’s a vertigo inducing view… The next pictures are of the George Zabriski estate, which still stands almost fully intact. Hikers have reported finding burning candles in here, and supposedly homeless people (or maybe devil worshipers) have used it as shelter.






John Ringling’s estate is where this all began. There isn’t much to see aside from some pipes & a walkway leading to the best view from a front porch I can imagine…


This is called the Grey Crag bridge.


When the land was preserved, Route 9W was moved approximately a half mile to the west. The old road remains as a hiking trail.


At the northern end of the PIP are the ruins at Peanut Falls. The falls were built by an Italian artist to be used a scenic spot to eat….