NEW JERSEY - New Jersey may be famous for cramming office parks and housing subdivisions into every square inch of land, but it also boasts some mysterious ghost towns in its Pine Barrens region. Their otherworldly landscape and mysterious history combine to make these locations hauntingly haunting.
1. Waterloo Village
Waterloo Village in Allamuchy Mountain State Park in Byram Township provides an idyllic place to appreciate nature. Home to stunning canals, historic buildings, and an exciting concert series - Waterloo Village offers something special.
Traffic along the canal peaked during the 1860s when nearby Sussex Branch Railroad and Morris Canal Line proved more convenient than traveling by barge. Hobos found refuge here while traversing America.
Today, the village remains an exquisite time capsule with historical buildings open for tours at certain times and popular with wedding parties and company retreats alike. Don't miss visiting this incredible spot in autumn when the foliage can truly make this trip worthwhile!
Feltville is located within Berkeley Heights' Watchung Reservation in its wooded surroundings and often known as "Deserted Village." As one of our go-to urban exploration spots, this historic district is one of our favorites to visit.
After clearing parts of the land for mill construction by Willcocks family in 1736, David Felt purchased it and developed an entire town along Blue Brook. By its peak population in 1845 it had 175 residents with church, schoolhouse and general store all on one parcel of property.
Multiple businesses attempted to revive the Feltville community, but by 1916 it had fallen out of fashion due to Jersey Shore resorts becoming more fashionable. Today, however, what remains is managed by Union County Department of Parks and Recreation for guided tours daily.
Harrisville in Bass River Township contains the foundation ruins of one of the first paper mills, built around 1795 and producing paper until 1914. Now all that remains are its relics.
Harrisville was originally known as McCartyville before brothers Richard and William Harris purchased it in 1850 and made extensive improvements to modernize and expand its mill. Furthermore, more houses were constructed for workers.
Visit this spot for an exhilarating adventure, just be aware that driving could take place on dangerous or neglected roads and darkness may envelop you from time to time - bring a flashlight if this becomes an uncomfortable situation! You won't regret this unforgettable experience that may leave you feeling discomfited but worth every second spent exploring!
4. Raritan Landing
Raritan Landing in Piscataway was an integral community prior to the American Revolution. Situated at the farthest point on the river that could be navigated by boats of its day, Raritan Landing served as a center for local trade - accepting farm products from throughout central New Jersey while shipping out goods either towards New York or even as far as West Indies.
Cornelius Vermeule, who resided nearby at that time, brought attention to the Landing through a reconstruction of its map and listing of owners. This work inspired others to research it further; by 2000 archaeological investigations in the path of Route 18 bridge began revealing eighteenth-century artifacts.
Mark Nonestied, June Sadlowski and Ken Helsby at the Cornelius Low House as well as others involved with highway excavation have helped rediscover its history through artifacts and building remains discovered over 30 years. This book serves to pay homage to its voices.
5. Batsto Village
Return to history at one of New Jersey's historic villages. Boasting blacksmith shops, working farms and historic houses from yesteryear, these places give families an insight into life during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Batsto Village in Hammonton consists of 33 historic structures and buildings, such as the Batsto mansion, gristmill, sawmill, general store and worker's houses - was once an industrial center specializing in glassmaking and bog iron production. Nestled within Wharton State Forest's largest tract of land for park preservation - visitors have an opportunity to delve into more than two centuries of American history during a visit.
Batsto has long been associated with the extraction of bog iron, an iron mineral produced when acidic groundwater travels underground springs to form deposits in bogs. Batsto provided vital supplies of this metal during the Revolutionary War when its iron supplied the Continental Army.