7 New Jersey Ghost Towns You Might Not Find on Your Map

New Jersey is known for many things, such as its beaches, casinos, and the Jersey Shore. But did you know that the Garden State also has a rich history of ghost towns? These are places that were once thriving communities, but were abandoned for various reasons, such as fires, floods, economic decline, or environmental hazards. Some of these ghost towns are still accessible, while others are hidden or off-limits. Here are seven of them that you might not find on your map, but are worth exploring if you are looking for some adventure and mystery.

1. Batsto Village

Batsto Village is located in the Wharton State Forest, in the heart of the Pine Barrens. It was founded in 1766 as an ironworks, producing iron for the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Later, it became a glassmaking center, and then a farming community. The village was abandoned in the 1930s, when the state bought the land for preservation. Today, you can visit the restored historic buildings, such as the mansion, the sawmill, the post office, and the general store. You can also hike the trails, canoe on the lake, or camp in the nearby campground.

2. Feltville

Feltville is located in the Watchung Reservation, in Union County. It was founded in 1845 by David Felt, a businessman who built a mill and a village for his workers. The village had a school, a church, a store, and 14 houses. Feltville prospered until the 1860s, when the mill closed and the workers moved away. The village was briefly revived as a resort town, called Glenside Park, in the 1880s, but it failed to attract enough visitors. The village was abandoned again in the 1910s, and the land was acquired by the county for a park. Today, you can see the remains of the mill and the houses, which are sometimes called the “Deserted Village”.

3. Ong’s Hat

Ong’s Hat is located in the Pine Barrens, near Pemberton. It was founded in the 1700s as a tavern and a stagecoach stop. The origin of its name is unclear, but one legend says that it came from a hat that was thrown into a tree by a man named Ong, who was angry at his lover. The tavern was a popular spot for travelers, hunters, and smugglers, until it burned down in the 1800s. The village gradually declined, and the last residents left in the 1930s. Today, you can see the ruins of the tavern, the cemetery, and some foundations. You might also hear about the Ong’s Hat conspiracy theory, which claims that the village was the site of a secret experiment that opened a portal to another dimension.

4. Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth is located on the Maurice River, in Cumberland County. It was founded in 1764 as a port and a trading center. It was a busy place, with ships, warehouses, stores, and hotels. It also had a glass factory, a sawmill, and a brickyard. Port Elizabeth reached its peak in the 1850s, but it declined after the Civil War, when railroads replaced river transportation. The village was hit by several fires and floods, and many buildings were destroyed or damaged. The village was abandoned in the 1970s, when the state bought the land for a wildlife refuge. Today, you can see the remains of the port, the mill, and the church.

5. Raritan Landing

Raritan Landing is located on the Raritan River, in Piscataway. It was founded in the 1720s as a port and a market town. It was a prosperous place, with over 100 buildings, including taverns, shops, warehouses, and houses. It was also a cultural center, with a theater, a library, and a newspaper. Raritan Landing was an important hub for trade and transportation, until the 1800s, when the river silted up and the canal bypassed the town. The village declined, and many buildings were demolished or moved. The village was buried under landfill in the 1950s, when the state built a golf course and a highway. Today, you can see some archaeological excavations and historical markers, but most of the village is hidden underground.

6. South Cape May

South Cape May is located on the Atlantic Ocean, in Cape May County. It was founded in the 1890s as a beach resort town. It was a popular destination, with hotels, cottages, and a boardwalk. It also had a lighthouse, a lifesaving station, and a railroad station. South Cape May was a vibrant place, until the 1940s, when a series of storms eroded the shoreline and flooded the town. The village was abandoned, and most of the buildings were demolished or washed away. The village was annexed by Cape May Point in the 1950s, and the land was turned into a nature preserve. Today, you can see the remains of the lighthouse, the railroad tracks, and some foundations.

7. Walpack Center

Walpack Center is located in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, in Sussex County. It was founded in the 1730s as a farming community. It was a quiet place, with a church, a school, a post office, and a few houses. Walpack Center survived the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the Great Depression, but it could not survive the federal government. The village was condemned in the 1960s, when the government planned to build a dam and a reservoir on the Delaware River. The project was later canceled, but the village was already abandoned. The government owns the land, but some of the buildings are leased to private owners. Today, you can visit the historic buildings, such as the Rosenkrans House, the Van Campen Inn, and the Walpack Church.

Conclusion

New Jersey may be a small state, but it has a lot of history and mystery. These seven ghost towns are just some of the examples of the places that were once alive, but are now forgotten. They are reminders of the past, but also of the present, as they show how nature and time can change the landscape and the people. If you are looking for some adventure and discovery, you might want to check out these ghost towns, but be careful, as you never know what you might find.

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