Watchung Reserve

Watchung Reserve - NJ Travel Blog

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Blue Brook used to power a paper mill

Watchung is a borough in New Jersey. The name always gives me the feeling that I have to be really careful. Probably because it sounds like a combination of the English word "Watch (it)" and the German word "Achtung" (attention!). The origin of the word, by the way, comes probably form the Lenape Indian language in which Wachunk means "high hills".

Watchung Reserve is situated within the urban Watchung area and is a nice 7.8-km² (1945 acre) nature reservation that shows what the hills of this area looked like in the past. The Reserve is located, like a kind of Central Park, next to the houses.

Although it comes close to an untouched area, the area itself has been affected by man in the past. There was (and still is) quarry activity, agriculture, activity in a water powered paper mill, there has been a complete village (Feltville), and there is still a cemetery.

Feltville. The two houses in the front are said to house ghosts!
Later on there was even a missile launch base of the US army. Plans to build the Interstate 78 in the reserve could be partially deflected. I78 did come but was diverted to the north border and build in some kind of open tunnel to minimize noise.

The ghost village of Feltville drew my attention of course. It was founded in 1844 by business man David Felt. Felt built a mill in this area and in order to house his workers he constructed several houses that grew into Feltville. Felt also built a church and a school. The village prospered for 15 years. Then Felt sold the property and the village got deserted. In 1882 it was bought and transformed into a vacation resort. But after the invention of the automobile vacationers preferred the Jersey Shore. The village got once more deserted and got added to the Watchung Reserve.

At the old cemetery
Some restoration is in progress. Just in time since the houses do not look really stable anymore. Some nice websites on Feltville are here and here!

I hiked almost the whole Sierra Trailthe longest trail in the reserve. This trail leads along the entire reserve and its special places. Although the maximum valley-summit height difference is only 90 meters (295 ft) the fact that you keep walking up and down makes it still a challenging hike! I spent almost 4.5 hours in the Reservation and arrived back at the car almost half an hour after sunset. Just in time for the complete darkness.

More pictures below!

sylviandavid says:
nice blog.... It does sound like it's challenging
Posted on: Feb 11, 2012
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Blue Brook used to power a paper m…
Blue Brook used to power a paper …
Feltville. The two houses in the f…
Feltville. The two houses in the …
At the old cemetery
At the old cemetery
The typical Basalt rocks face near…
The typical Basalt rocks face nea…
Foundations of the former paper mi…
Foundations of the former paper m…
Basalt rocks
Basalt rocks
Decaying house in the ghost town o…
Decaying house in the ghost town …
Feltville
Feltville
Feltville
Feltville
The interior of one of the ghost h…
The interior of one of the ghost …
This house in Feltville seems to h…
This house in Feltville seems to …
Feltville
Feltville
The church boarding house of Feltv…
The church boarding house of Felt…
At the old cemetery
At the old cemetery
Surprise Lake, man made.
Surprise Lake, man made.
GPS Height profile
GPS Height profile
The hike in the map (map by gpsvis…
The hike in the map (map by gpsvi…
Watchung Reserve - NJ
photo by: mdalamers