The History of the Cedar Bridge Fire Tower

In 1924 records show that the first Cedar Bridge fire lookout (60 foot Aermoter) was erected on a small knoll near the Cedar Bridge Hotel on the old Cedar Bridge Barnegat Road. If you have read More Forgotten Towns by Henry Beck you may remember he visited the location in the mid 1930’s, and mentions it in the “Refugees At Cedar Bridge” chapter. Very near the time Beck visited the site the Coast and Geodetic Survey designated the fire lookout there as a “geodetic survey location” and added it into their records.

 HISTORY     - Date     Condition        Report By

In 1950 it was visited again and the tower was gone. The person visiting then took the time to check the State Forestry Department records and found it had been “torn down” in 1938.

 HISTORY     - 1950     MARK NOT FOUND   CGS



A 1951 visit mentions it was found to have been moved across the county line to Burlington County in 1938.

            STATION RECOVERY (1951)


So we now know that in 1938 is was gone from it original location and in Burlington County, but where? We only need to go on a tour to find out.

In 1939 a “Tour Guide” was published called “The American Guide Series” which describes traveling what is now Route 72 from Manahawkin to Route 70. It was designated tour #35. Points of interest along the route were pointed out for the traveler if they wanted to stop and visit locations mentioned along the route.

The tour started at the shore in Ship Bottom where unbelievably the population was noted as 277. From there the tour headed west pointing out points of interests. When the tour reached the turnoff on 72 that would take one to the above mentioned Cedar Bridge tower, they described it like this.

“Left on this road to Cedar Bridge Lookout, 0.8 (Mile). (open), a 60-foot tower with men on 24-hour duty. From the observation platform is a sweeping view of the forest”.

The problem is as we now know, the tour was published in 1939 and the tower was torn down in 1938. If they had traveled up that road they would have found the tower gone. It had been moved across the county line to Burlington County in 1938 as mentioned above.

The tour continues west on 72, and at Coyle Field just over the county line in Burlington County they encountered the now moved Cedar Bridge tower at it second location, on the top of the knoll, on the north side near the road, across from what then was the National Guard Airport and now Coyle Field.

It is described like this:

“At 18.8 (miles)., on a cleared knoll close to the road, is another fire lookout. An excellent view of the long stretch of the Jersey pine belt is available from the platform, reached by steel stairs. Even from the road there is a broad vista of miles of wasteland, covered with scrub oaks and stunted pines barely waist-high. The stubby growth is like a coarse lawn as it sweeps away to become a distant blue-green sea. A few straggling trees rise above the mass, emphasizing the lonely scene”. Remember, this was 1939.

Lookout historian Bob Spear in his unpublished manuscript describes what happened next.

“The tower stood there until about 1942 when it was taken down and what is believed re-erected at Old Bridge and became that tower. Still later, Old Bridge was removed and re-erected in Thompson Park as the Jamesburg tower still in use today. A new 110′ International Derrick tower, named Cedar Bridge was built on a sand road leading to the Forked River Mountains.”

The reason it was moved is not known by me, but there may be a clue mentioned above as to why. Coyle Field which was the National Guard airport was designated as a reserve landing area for bombers and other aircraft out of Atlantic City during the war. Landing a military plane on an airfield with a fire lookout so close most certainly was a hazard.

So the Cedar Bridge tower “designation” with a new tower mentioned above moved on to a lonely spot on a sand road leading from 539 to the Forked River mountains. It’s third location was in place. The 110′ International Derrick lookout had a unique flat roof with a railing attached so that it could be used to watch for enemy planes during the war. There was a trap door in the top for entering and leaving the roof. There was no other tower like it in NJ.

Unfortunately, this tower had no electricity and was so remote it was being vandalized during the 70’s and very early 80’s so it was decided that it needed to be moved. Around 1983 a Sikorsky helicopter took the tower on it’s one mile journey to it’s 4th and as of now last move to it’s present location along 539. During this move the unusual gable roof was removed and one 10′ section of the tower was damaged. It now is 100′ tall.


National Geodetic Survey Records

NJ Fire Service Records

America Guide Series:

An unpublished manuscript by fire tower historian Bob Spear

The Batona Trail Diary, the First 30 Miles


There is a small amount of information on the history of the Batona Trail available online, but what do we really know about how it all came about? And who really was instrumental in it’s development, how did they get permission to build it, and who gave that permission to allow them to proceed? I am sure over the years many a hiker of the trail asked these questions to themselves, with very little chance of finding the answer.

Recently, I acquired the notes of Morris Bardock who was the President of the Batona Hiking Club at the time of the trails inception, and in his writings that he calls “The Batona Trail Diary, the First Thirty Miles,” he answers some of these interesting questions and more. In later years he even worried that the history of the trail would be lost forever, and he made contact with at least one individual to try to insure it was not. I suspect you have never before viewed most of the information you will read below, and this is my attempt to make sure that Mr. Bardock’s worries were for nothing. I have hand typed this text from his diary, and so there always is a chance I made a few mistakes. And there are a few that he made that I have left in, and I have moved some of the text around for better clarity. Hopefully, you will find this as interesting as I have. Enjoy!


The Batona Trail Diary, the First Thirty Miles

By Morris Bardock

Sometime 1960 – The idea of building a hiking trail through the Wharton and Lebanon State Forests was first suggested by Dale Knapschafer of the Batona Hiking Club.

January 20, 1961- A letter was written to State Commissioner Salvatore A. Bontempo, of the Department of Conservation and Economic Development, explaining our plans, and hoping for endorsement. To our pleasant surprise a most favorable reply was received. We were to meet with J. C. MacDonald, manager of Wharton. Just about that time Mr. MacDonald was advanced to a post in Trenton, and our first meeting was held with assistant, Sid Walker. We had earlier received a letter from Mr MacDonald.

January 27, 1961- At a leaders meeting of the Batona Hiking Club, Morris Bardock President presiding, building the trail was made an official club project.

The original letter from the Batona Hiking Club to Mr Bontempo that started it all:

Dear Sir:

The Back to Nature Hiking Club of Philadelphia desires to make hiking a popular past time for more people. One contribution our club can make towards this goal is the laying out and maintenance of a hiking trail in an area accessible to a large number of people. We are considering a trail connecting the Wharton Tract and Lebanon State Forest since these areas have many visitors. Also, South Jersey has few if any developed trails: therefore, our project, we feel, would serve a function for the Forestry Service with no cost to the State.

The exact route will not be determined until we do more exploring, but it will probably go from Batsto to Pakim Pond or Deep Hollow Pond and beyond. The length will be about twenty miles, but people visiting in Lebanon Forest or the Wharton Tract could take shorter hikes along it. We will try to route the trail near campgrounds and picnic areas to make it easy to use.

We propose to use existing sand roads and trails to go across country only where necessary. Therefore the forest will not be harmed by the trail. The entire trail will be marked by painting blaze marks on trees at necessary intervals. On cross country sections we could simply mark the trail following an accessible route. We might perhaps clear out a little debris where it would greatly impede walking.

The Back to Nature Hiking Club is thirty-two years old and the most active in Philadelphia. The trail work will be done by competent out-of-doors people who have been hiking for years. We are conservation minded and can assure you that no damage would be done to any trees or vegetation.

The main purpose of this letter is to obtain the sanction of our State Forestry Service before undertaking this work. When completed, we would send you a detailed route of the trail and it’s name.

Enclosed please find one of our schedules which will help to acquaint you with our organization.

Respectfully yours,

Morris Bardock, President

Batona Hiking Club

And the reply from Salvatore A. Bontempo:

Sate of New Jersey

Department of Conservation

And Economic Development

Office of the commissioner


February 10, 1961

Mr. Morris Bardock, President

Batona Hiking Club

1233 Princess Avenue

Camden3, New Jersey

Dear Mr. Bardock:

Thank you for your letter concerning a hiking trail in the Wharton and the Lebanon State Forest.

I have asked Mr. J.C. MacDonald, General manager of Wharton Tract and Mr. J. P. Allen, Superintendent of the Lebanon State Forest to see if there is anything they can do to be helpful. Mr. MacDonald will be in touch with you directly.

I am pleased to know of the interest that your group has in conservation and recreation activities.

Sincerely yours,

Salvatore A, Bontempo


The letter from J. C. MacDonald that Mr. Bontempo mentioned would soon arrive. Notice it was written the same day.

State of New Jersey

Wharton Tract Office

Green Bank, R.D.#2

Egg Harbor City, NJ.

February 10, 1961

Mr Morris Bardock

Batona Hiking Club

1233 Princess Ave

Camden3, New Jersey

Dear Mr. Bardock,

Reference is made to your letter to Commissioner Bontempo concerning the establishment of a hiking trail connecting Wharton Tract and Lebanon State Forest.

We will be happy to cooperate with you in carrying out this project. We have regional maps and other information available at the Wharton Tract office at Green Bank, New Jersey (Telephone WOrth5-1367W) and will be glad to take you over the area on an inspection tour. Our office is open from 8AM to 5PM, Monday to Friday. We would prefer to have advance notice of your coming so we can have transportation available.

Sincerely yours,


General Manager

Wharton Tract

February 18, 1961- A letter was written to Mr. MacDonald stating our plan and suggesting a meeting date.

February 21, 1961- Letter received from Mr. MacDonald setting a meeting date of Saturday, March 11.

February 27, 1961- Letter sent to Mr. MacDonald acknowledging the meeting date.

March 11, 1961- Had meeting at Green Bank office. Mr. MacDonald couldn’t come. We met his assistant Sid Walker. We had a friendly discussion on plans.

April 13, 1961- Letter written to Mr. MacDonald requesting an additional meeting on April 29, at park office.

April 17, 1961- Reply received from Mr. Walker confirming meeting on April 2.

April 29, 1961- Meeting held with Mr. Walker. Discussed advanced details of trail, and agreed to call it Batona Trail.

May 4, 1961- Received letter from Mr. Walker informing us that Mr. J. P. Allen, Superintendent of Lebanon would like to meet with us.

May 6,1961- Letter written to Mr. Allen suggesting a meeting May 20.

May 8, 1961- Letter received from Mr. Allen confirming meeting.

May 20, 1961- Had a friendly meeting with Mr. Allen and discussed the trail work through Lebanon Forest.

May 23, 1961- Letter written to Mr. MacDonald mentioning meeting with Mr. Allen, and requesting official permission to begin trail work.

May 26, 1961- Received letter from Mr. Walker giving official permission to start work on Batona Trail.

July 7, 1961- Letter written to Mr. Walker to give progress report on trail work.

August 15, 1961- Letter written to Mr. Walker to give second progress report.

August 18, 1961- Acknowledgment of “Progress Report” received from Mr. Walker.

August 19, 1961- Unscheduled meeting held with Mr. Allen of Lebanon to discuss trail work.

August 26, 1961- Had meeting with Mr. Allen. We met Mr. Mitchner, Chief Ranger of this area. He inspected trial work in this area, and found it satisfactory. He and Mr. Allen agreed to build log bridge over two streams at Pakim Pond. Mr. Mitchner suggested using existing trail beyond Carpenter Spring. Dale Knapschafer and Morris Bardock checked it, and found it satisfactory.

September 3, 1961- Walt Korszniak took George Sommer over the route to make sketches for the Batona schedule.

October 3, 1961- Letter written to Mr. Walker for meeting to give trail mileage and discuss final details.

October 9, 1961- Received answer from Mr. Walker that he couldn’t meet us on the 14th, but suggested the 21st.

October 13, 1961- Wrote Mr. Walker that we couldn’t meet on the 21st because of a Catskill camping trip, and suggested October 28.

October 28, 1961- Met with Mr. Walker. Settled final questions, and gave mileage for a system of signs.


The next paragraph undoubtedly refers to the many parcels of land that we know of as “Chatsworth Woods,” the failed development that the brick pillars at the entrance to Ringler Ave leading to Apple Pie Hill were made for.

May 13, 1961- Morris Bardock and Dale Knapschafer went to Chatsworth to see Mr. Schiess, the township tax assessor, in regard to some private parcels of land. He informed us that the land from 532 south to Apple Pie Hill was divided into small parcels, and that the owners had not stepped near the land in 30 years. He also stated that the owners would be almost untraceable without extensive research. He assured us that no one would know or care if we blazed the trail through there.

The half mile trail from 532 north, to the the gravel road is owned by Mr. Sloan of Chatsworth; the third gray house before the railroad, on the right, on 563 going south. We stopped there but Mr. Sloan was not in. We spoke with Mrs. Sloan, who was most pleasant and agreeable. She told us she was sure it would be alright with her husband and she would tell him. She told us to just go ahead and put up the blazes.

1978- Added 2 1/2 mile extension at northern end, to Ong’s Hat.

1978- Added 9 mile extension at southern end, to 563, Evan’s Bridge.

1987- Added 9 mile extension to southern end, to Stage Road.

Building the Batona Trail, The Original 30 Miles

During, February, March, April, and May, 1961, Walt Korszniak and Morris Bardock made exploratory trips almost every week-end to layout the route of the trail. Dale Knapschafer and Paul Peichaski took part in several of these trips.

The Work Trips-1961

June 17- Morris Bardock, Al & Osea McDonald

June 18- Morris Bardock, Walt Korszniak, Paul Peichaski, Al Shane

June 25-Morris Bardock, Walt Korszniak

July 1- Morris Bardock, Bud Carter, George (scout)

July 2- Morris Bardock, Walt Korszniak

July 8-Morris Bardock, Walt Korszniak

July 9-Morris Bardock, Al and Osea McDonald

July 22-Morris Bardock, Walt Korszniak

July 23-Morris Bardock, Walt Korszniak, Dale Knapschafer

July 28-Morris Bardock, Walt Korszniak

August 5-Morris Bardock, Dale Knapschafer

August 6-Morris Bardock, Walt Korszniak, Bud Carter

August 12-Morris Bardock, Walt Korszniak

August 19-Morris Bardock, Walt Korszniak

August 26-Morris Bardock, Dale Knapschafer

September 3-Morris Bardock, Dale Knapschafer

September 4-Morris Bardock, Dale Knapschafer

September 16-Morris Bardock, Walt Korszniak, Paul Peichaski, Dale Knapschafer, Bud Carter, Al & Osea McDonald

Work Completed

September 23-Morris Bardock, Paul Peichaski, Al & Osea McDonald made trail measurement with measuring wheel.

September 30-Walt Korszniak, and Dale Knapschafer completed the trail measuring.

October 14-Walt Korszniak, wife Dot, and children worked on the streams north of Carranza.

This letter shows his concern about the history of the trail.

February 1, 1999 (Includes Morris Bardocks home address)

Dear Mr. Salice,

Not long ago as I sat musing on Batona Trail and the early days of it’s construction, it suddenly dawned on me that no where was there any official detailed record of how the trail came to be. People in the future would be inquiring about the how, when, and why of the trail, no one would be able to answer. I felt that perhaps there aught to be an official state record of the trails history.

Fortunately, I had kept a detailed running record at the time, of everything as it happened. I gathered all this together and set it up in a somewhat organized form.

If you and any other related parties agree that there ought to be an official state record, or archive, on the history of the Batona Trail, please feel free to use any of the enclosed data, or any portion of it, in any way that you see fit.

I hope everything has been well with you, and that everything is going smoothly in Trenton.

Sincere Regards,

Morris (Bardock)

Signs Along Highways

In years past the state placed signs along major highways denoting the names of the creeks, streams, and rivers that the highways passed over. Some of those signs still exist, and I have been wanting for the longest time to photograph as many as I could that I came upon. I pass two in particular all the time on Route 70, and this morning Jessica and I were quite a bit early for what we had planned to do in the pines, so I stopped and took a few quick shots of them. If you have the booklet put out by the Batsto Citizens Committee title “A Journey Through Atsion” that is for sale at Atsion and Batsto, you can view the one that was at Atsion Lake.

There most likely was one on each side of the road, and at one location there is. So the two photo’s with the same name on the sign are on opposite sides of the road. There was one along 70 near the Red Lion Circle that said “Bear Swamp”, but that unfortunately disappeared about a year or so ago. I am a little late getting started on this. If you know of any other locations, and want to pass that info on, I will try to stop in and get a photo. Or, post one of your own if you so desire.

Sorry about the odd lighting, but it was a little after 7AM this morning when I took the photo’s. The sun was not at a very good angle.

The Augustus Richards Canal

In a remote section of woods in Hammonton one can find a mile and a half long canal dug by Augustus Richards in 1877 used to divert water from the Nescochague for use in his cranberry bogs. Building canals for a cranberry bog was nothing new; however, Richards was soon to see himself in court over his actions for this particular endeavor.

In 1858 Augustus Richards began inheriting property in the area that is now Richards Ave North-West of the the Pleasant Mills Church. This property totaled about 2500 acres and extended up to what was the Batsto Tract line along the Nescochague. With his various acquisitions Richards started growing cranberries, and in 1876 with the intent to irrigate the bogs he had on his property, he decided to build a canal to carry water from the Nescochague (also know as the Forge Stream) to their location. With the bogs fairly close to the river, his canal would not have to be very long, but Richards wanted it to start much further up the river making this a major undertaking. For some reason Richards was not happy with having the beginnings at the river on his property, instead, he preferred to have the canal connect to the river on a small piece of his neighbors land. His neighbor was Joseph Wharton and Richards soon contacted him asking if he could do just that. Wharton apparently was receptive of the idea, and set about getting Richards an easement for the beginnings of his canal. He assigned his surveyor Elisa Wright the task of making this happen, and in the days to follow Wright and Richards through a flurry of letters came up with a precise location. On May 20, 1876 the property passed to Richards hands. The easement was 40 feet wide and 230 feet long, and consisted of .2781 acres. After carefully examining the document and location in the summer of 1876, Richards proceeded digging that portion of his project.

To divert the water to the canal, Richards needed to dam the Nescochague. By pounding cedar pilings across the river and dumping remains of a glass factory, stones, and brickbat, he was successful. In August of 1877 he had finalized his project, and that very same month he set in motion the diversion of the river to his bogs. Soon, the flow of water in the river below his dam was diminished, and the workers and owner of the paper mill at Pleasant Mills were alarmed. With production cut in half because of the loss of water, William Farrell, the owner of the mill, set on foot up the Nescochague to find the cause. In court papers Farrell claims that after finding the dam and asking Richards to remove it, Richards refused and later even gave speeches about his right to divert the water, keep the dam intact, and prevent any water from taking it’s natural flow down the Nescochague.

With Richards refusing to remove the dam, Farrell elected to take him to court. To prepare for the case, both side took depositions which reveal a few facts about their property. The Pleasant Mills property consisted of 380 acres and included the Pleasant Mills and Batsto Forge Pond. William Farrell owned 2/3 of the property with the final one third owned by Amos L. Hollingsworth of Boston, Zachary J, Hollingsworth, Mark H. Hollingsworth, and Jennie H. Warren. Farrell’s deposition claims that the dam Richards built was 7 feet high and was built with the express intent to stop the flow of water down the Nescochague which at that time amounted to a $2500 loss to the paper mill.

Richards deposition centered on complaints by him concerning Farrell and his agents. He claimed Farrell had been hostile to him for years because of flooding on his property that Farrell blamed Richards for. Richards also claimed that larger and more modern equipment at the paper mill was causing the stoppage, and the normal water flow could not keep them running. Here is a portion of Richards deposition concerning just that. Richards is mentioned as the “deponent.”

That the deponent has not entered the Mill at Pleasant Mills for many years and that he remembers when he last saw the machinery there, that there were not so many as six engines (as John W. Farrell swears there now are) in the mill at that time, that the number of engines has been increased by said complainant or some of them during the last few years, that every engine require a large increase of the power at the mill to run it with the other engines, and a large increase in the consumption of water at the mill in moving said additional engine and its connecting machinery, that said engines are large tubs or vats filled with pulp mixed with water, which is ground in the engines into a fine soft substance by wheels revolving in the same at great velocity, each engine using and consuming a large quantity of water itself to soften the pulp with while grinding it. That deponent has been informed and can prove, that a new and larger and heavier water wheel has been put in at said mill within a few years by the complainants, to move their machinery there, and that they have from time to time added to and increased the size and number of their other machinery in said mill used for various other parts of the process of making paper. That the increase in the number of engines, and the increase in the size and weight of the new water wheels, and the increase in the various other machinery has greatly increased the demand of said mill upon its water power, and the complainants need more water to run their present machinery than they needed to run their old works a few years ago. That deponent has had no means of examining into this part of the case, because the said mill is closely shut up, and a sign with the words “No Admittance” is fastened up outside of it, and no person is allowed to enter there.

Since Richards could not get in the paper mill to examine the machinery, he asked the court on February 26, 1878 for a two week delay so he could examine the equipment at the mill to prove his beliefs, and the court granted his request. When the case resumed it became apparent to Richards things were not going well. Farrell’s attorney Samuel H. Grey was claiming that Richards canal was not on the easement that Joseph Wharton had given him, and he was asking the court for an injunction to remove the dam. And not only did it appear Richards did not own the easement, Richards had given Wharton other property in return for the easement and now he owned neither. So on March 16, 1878 Howard Richards who was Augustus Richards brother and also his attorney, fired off a letter to Joseph Wharton. In the letter he outlines the problem, requests a quick solution, and also warns Joseph Wharton on the delicate situation that they all are in since his employees were testifying for Farrell. Here is the complete letter as best as I can read:

Howard Richards,

Attorney & Counsellor At Law,

Elizabeth, NJ

March 16 1878

Joseph Wharton Esq.

Dear Sir,

In 1875 or early in 1876 my brother Augustus Richards made an application to you for a right of way for a ditch to carry water from the Forge Stream to his cranberry bog. Your agent Elisa Wright had charge of the matter and my brother had a number of letters from him on the subject of the ditch and a draft for a conveyance made by said Wright from you to him. The matter was finally so far carried out that said Wright drew a deed in fee from you, and your wife, to my brother; for a strip of land forty feet wide and extending from a line of your property to the middle of the Forge Stream. This deed was delivered and after so long an investigation of it’s object and having been drawn by your surveyor, it was supposed by my brother to be sufficient to vest the legal title to him and the land agreed to be conveyed by you including the ditch then opened.

I regret to inform you however that in a suit in Chancery in the state of which my brother is defendant, Elisa Wright testified as a witness that my brother is not the owner of the land he supposed was vested in him by the deed aforesaid, and said Wright has made a map showing the lines of the property to be at one side of the ditch.

It seems that a mistake was made in (some) course or line, which has changed the lines of the (property) you conveyed. Mr. Samuel H. Gray as council in this suit is taking advantage of this mistake, and Mr. Wright is proving it as a witness for the purpose of obtaining an injunction against the use of the water for irrigation, and the matter was urged before the Chancellor at Trenton only yesterday strenuously as a ??? against the defendant my brother.

As the object and purpose of the conveyance in a ditch was well known to all the parties, before and at the time of the execution and the delivery of the deed by you, there is no doubt that the failure to convey the land including the ditch is a mistake, and I have no doubt that you correct it. It is important that this should be done promptly.

I now address you so that you may know the position Mr. Grey and Mr. Wright occupy in the case against my brother, and as I hear they are your advisors, or have been, to respectively request that you will take no steps at their insistence which will interfere with the proper adjustments of the lines ?? the ????? as my brother.

I should like to hear from you on the subject as soon as possible and I beg leave to suggest that you will not confer on the subject of this letter with either Mr. Gray or Mr. Wright who are too far engaged for Mr. Farrell to be well able to aid my brother in correcting the (error).

If Howard Richards thought the mistake was made on purpose, he did not let that known. Wharton on the other hand apparently still wanted Augustus Richards to have his easement, and someone wasted no time in correcting the matter. Just 12 days after Howard Richards wrote Wharton, two deeds were drawn up with Richards giving Wharton back the 40 foot wide property that was mistakenly given him, and Wharton giving him the the land 20 feet on each side of the canal. As you can read below the new March 28, 1878 deed from Wharton to Richards left no doubt that if it had been drawn up by Wharton himself he did not pull a fast one with the original deed.

And it is the intention of this conveyance to give and secure to the said Augustus H. Richards and his heirs and assigns the benefit of the ditch already opened by him and conveying the water from the said stream into his lands and also the Ripple Dam constructed by him in the bed of the stream to assist the flow of the water into the said ditch. Excepting and reserving to him the said Joseph Wharton his heirs and assigns forever the right to cross the said strip of land with a wagon way, without any other cost to him than that of building and repairing the same.

In the end it appears it was all futile. During February 1879 the court made the decision for an injunction to end the diversion of the water by Richards. If he ever abided by it, or appealed the decision is unknown by me. However, according to John Pearce in “Heart of the Pines,” the paper mill run by Farrell burned in 1878 which would put that incident during the time of this court case, and before the court made the decision to side with Farrell. The paper factory did resumed in 1880 apparently after it was rebuilt.

It is interesting to note a few things. As late as 1957 in aerial photos of the area, it can be clearly viewed that there was recent dredging of the canal from it’s beginnings on the property mentioned in this article, all the way down to the land near Ace Campground. It also appears the canal was in use. This would mean that the owners of the land that Richards once owned still owned the easement for the canal and were using it or trying to. But when Joseph Truncer and the rest of the Wharton survey team carried out the massive survey of the Wharton property in 1954 to 1957, they only considered the easement first given to Richards by Wharton as an “Exception” that Wharton did not own. And as you have read that was not the property the canal was on, so the state considered the canal to be owned by them. If indeed the new deeds made up by Richards and Wharton were actually carried out, the state would have known to survey the actual canal location. The records show that they surveyed only the original location meaning the canal was owned by the state. The property owner who owned the rest of the canal would not have access to the river and legally could not use the canal.

The History of Rockwood

The area known as Rockwood lies on the east side of Route 206 in Hammonton just north of the Paradise Lake Campgrounds, down the long straight road officially known as Rockwood Road. Just like the Paradise Lake property, Joseph Wharton owned much of Rockwood in the 1880s. In fact Paradise Lake and Rockwood once were part of the larger West Mills tract. Wharton separated the two parcels when he sold most of the property that would become known as Rockwood. J.G.Wilson, historian and long time editor of the Hammonton News, writes about this sale in the Fall and Winter, 1981 edition of The Batsto Citizens Gazette, but unfortunately he incorrectly identified the man named Rockwood in his research. He names a George Rockwood of Newark as the purchaser of this property from Wharton.

enry Charlton Beck traveled through the Rockwood area many years before Mr. Wilson wrote the article, and even at that early date the workers at the bogs did not know about Rockwood when Beck asked them about him. Their only clue was a stone boundary marker they had viewed with a date and the initials C.G.R. incised into it. Beck mentions this in his book More Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey. This author has never uncovered anything written about Rockwood except that information noted above, but that is about to change. The following paragraphs attempt to clear the mystery surrounding Charles Greene Rockwood Jr., one of the most unknown men in NJ Pine Barren history.

Charles Greene Rockwood Sr. (1814-1904)

This story must begin with the subject’s father, Charles Greene Rockwood Sr., who may have played some role in the Rockwood venture, but no confirmation has been found yet. Charles Sr. was born in 1814, the son of Ebenezer Rockwood and Elizabeth Breeze Hazard, and the grandson of Dr. Ebenezer Rockwood. Dr. Rockwood served as a surgeon’s mate at Dorchester Heights near Boston in 1776, and as a surgeon in the years following. His ancestry can be traced back to Richard Rockwood, a planter from Dorchester England in 1636. Charles G. Rockwood Sr. would become a banker serving as the Cashier at the National Newark and Essex Banking Company in Newark New Jersey, apparently working his way upward in stature there in the following years. On January 13, 1887 after the death of the president four days earlier, Rockwood Sr. accepted the presidency of the bank.

In 1904 Mr. Rockwood completed compiling a book for the 100th anniversary of the bank that year titled One Hundred Years : a Record of the Oldest Bank in the State of New Jersey, but died before completion of the book’s publication. His work on the book, and the fact he did not survive to see the final outcome of his work is mentioned within its pages.

He married Sarah Smith (1812-1893) whose grandfather, Ebenezer Hazard, graduated from Princeton and, in 1775, served as Postmaster under the Committee of Safety, and in 1782 became Postmaster General. Both Rockwood and his wife’s family possessed very historical and strong ties to the American Revolution, but the subject of this monograph became their one surviving male offspring, although the couple had several children. Their son William died at age 1 and daughter Elizabeth just before her fifth birthday, leaving Johanna and Charles Jr. their only known surviving children.

Charles Greene Rockwood Jr. (1843-1913)

Charles Greene Rockwood Jr. was born January 11, 1843 in NYC and graduated Yale University in 1864. After graduation he continued his studies in higher Mathematics and Modern Languages, and received his Ph.D. in 1866. Later, as class historian, he would publish a book titled History of the class of 1864, Yale College, and the Supplement to the History of the Class of 1864, Yale College. Besides being a Mathematician he also graduated as an Astronomer, with interests in Seismology, Vulcanology, and Solar Heat to name just a few. He served as a Professor of Mathematics at Bowdoin College in Maine (1868-1873), at Rutgers (1874-1877), and eventually at Princeton (1877-1905) where he spent 28 years teaching and resided a block away from the university at 34 Bayard Avenue in downtown Princeton. Ironically, Bayard Avenue today is Route 206 in Princeton, so he lived on the same road as his cranberry venture near Hammonton.

Rockwood held a membership in the American Metrological Society and served as their first secretary. He wrote numerous articles and monographs that appeared in the American Journal of Science concerning his studies on America earthquakes. He also penned annual summaries of progress in Vulcanology for the Smithsonian Institution. He became a member of the National Geographic Society, the U.S. Geological Society, and the New Jersey Historical Society.

Because of his knowledge and interest in the various fields mentioned above, the Director of the U.S. Geological Society asked him to take part in the preliminary report on the August 31, 1866 earthquake in Charleston, South Carolina that killed more than 50 people. After he joined the faculty at Princeton, he participated in Princeton’s expedition to view the Solar Eclipse in Denver, Colorado, and study submarine temperatures in the Gulf Stream.

On June 13, 1867, at New Haven, Connecticut he married Hettie Hosford Smith and had a daughter Katharine (Katie) Chauncey Rockwood who was born on 2/2/1872 in Hudson New York. Hettie’s family, like Rockwood’s, had a rich history dating back to the Revolutionary War and before. She was the daughter of Simeon Parsons Smith and Hettie Hosford Smith, the granddaughter of the Rev. Davis Smith and Catherine Goodrich, and the great granddaughter of Ebenezer Smith (1746-1816) and Sarah Dean. Ebenezer Smith served as a minute man in 1775 and as an ensign in 1776. He served at Ticonderoga, Bunker Hill, the seige at Boston, the capture of the British army officer John Burgoyne, Sullivan’s campaign in Rhode Island, and the Battle of Monmouth.

To help raise Katharine and do the work around the house, Rockwood employed a widowed older black servant from New Jersey (mistakenly overwritten on census schedule with the word “Ireland”) named Catherine Farmer according to the 1880 census. He was not alone in this since his father and many of his neighbors also did the same. Frequent travels to Europe must have been easier with her around.

ockwood was a religious man and attended the First Presbyterian Church in Princeton New Jersey, where the congregants ordained him as a Deacon on April 25, 1880, and an Elder on May 23, 1897, a position he held until his death.

In 1905 Rockwood resigned from Princeton; however, his title just changed to Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, retaining his ties to the institution. At some time after retiring, he and his family moved into the Princeton Inn and he apparently sold his home. With his wealth the luxury of this address may have suited him well. Letters from Rockwood suggest that sometime between this point in time and the end of his life, he resided in Newark as historian J. G. Wilson claimed he did.

By circa 1910, Rockwood’s health began deteriorating from what his doctor determined to be General Sclerosis. During the summer months the Rockwood family lived at the luxurious Monomonock Inn in Caldwell New Jersey, and it was there on July 2, 1913 at 3:00 a.m. that Rockwood’s life ended from this disease. His obituaries and various funeral reports in the Princeton Press in the days following his demise gave testament to a well liked and respected individual. The family held his funeral in Caldwell New Jersey the day after Independence Day, with internment in the family plot located just a few feet off the main road through the center of the Rosedale Cemetery in Orange.

Katharine Chauncey Rockwood (1872-1957)

After her father’s death, documents show Katharine substituted and completed some of his responsibilities in his various ventures. She would occasionally have contact with Princeton University concerning her father’s tenure there, but very little has been learned about her in the years following her father’s death. On November 29, 1925 her mother Hettie passed away, and 43 days later Katharine sold the property at Rockwood to Franklin E. and Frank Earl Haines.

By 1931 she still dispatched correspondences from the Princeton Inn with her initials on the stationary, but by October 1933 she resided in Durham Center, Connecticut on Sunset Hill across the street from the Goodrich house, which had been the home of her grandmother, Catherine Goodrich, daughter of Ebenezer Smith. It seems apparent that historical ties to her mother’s family remained strong, since her middle name of Chauncey is obviously taken from her famous relative Chauncey Goodrich, the lawyer and politician from Connecticut.

She died in 1957, retaining the last name of Rockwood to the end, apparently never marrying. Relatives, presumably from her mother’s family, interred her remains in the family plot with her parents. Since she was the only child, the Rockwood family name ended with her.

The Rockwood Property

How Joseph Wharton came in contact with Rockwood is currently unknown, but one could speculate that as a banker the elder Rockwood surely could have had financial contacts with the Quaker land baron. It seems obvious that Wharton, while buying much of the land in that area, sold many parcels to what may have been friends and business partners. One example of that is the portion of the West Mill tract we know as Paradise Lake Campground, which Andrew Rider, the founder of Rider College, purchased from Wharton in 1898, and various cranberry companies purchased many of the parcels along what is now Route 206 from Wharton, in many instances just a year after Wharton had acquired them from their previous owners, some of them being cranberry companies.

On February 9, 1887 Charles G. Rockwood purchased what appears to be over 500 acres from Joseph Wharton, all of it on the east side of 206 just north of what is now Paradise Lake. Most likely when Rockwood purchased it, lessees already operated the cranberry bogs there along with a possible blueberry operation.

The Bear Swamp Hill Airplane Crash

In January of 1971 the war in Cambodia was expanding, George McGovern made his presidential bid official, William Cahill was NJ Governor, and practice at the Warren Grove bombing range was ongoing. On January 16, 1971 an F-105 Thunderchief took off from McGuire Air Force Base on what was intended to be a routine bombing run at Warren Grove. The F-105 is a single seat, single engine supersonic jet capable of traveling at 1,386 mph that was the first jet designed to release Nuclear warheads at supersonic speeds.

At the controls of the F-105 was a United Air Lines pilot who was also the flight commander with the Air National Guards 141st Tactical Squadron. Residing in River Vale NJ, he was on his weekend assignment for the short flight from McGuire to Warren Grove. Major William F. Dimas, age 36, was en-route when something happened that my investigations have not yet revealed.

At about 11:35 A.M. Major Dimas who was married and a father of two sons and a daughter, lost his life when his plane struck some trees 100 feet from the Bear Swamp Hill Fire Tower, and then proceeded to hit the tower and a generator building at the towers base. The tower was struck 19 feet 6 inches from its base completely destroying the tower and observation platform. The plane ended it’s journey 3/4 of a mile away coming to rest at a spot near the Papoose Branch.

The crash cut a path across the top of Bear Swamp Hill 32 to 40 feet wide destroying about 988 trees during the incident. Blurry black and white photocopies taken after the crash pretty much look the same as this photo taken by a friend of mine in 1976.

On January 29, 1971 the USAF sent the N.J. Bureau of Forestry the claim form that was needed for the state to be refunded the money for the cost of the damage of the accident. On February 10, 1971 William B. Phoenix the State Fire Warden sent a revised claim to the USAF for the damage. Excluded from the claim was the cost for a $1.250 radio base station that was found to be inoperable at the time of the crash. A partial list of the claim are as follows.

  • 40 Foot Tower with Cab from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma $4,015
  • Observation Platform from Braden Industries (estimate) $2,050
  • Freight from Broken Arrow Oklahoma $450
  • Wooden Steps and Platform $450
  • Erection Costs $10,000
  • 8 X 10 Tower Building (Estimated) $750
  • Tower Electrical Installation $200
  • Radio Microphone $37

There was an estimated 988 trees damaged at a cost of 1 dollar per tree which would be replaced by a professional forester. The total cost came to $19,277.27.

On November 8, 1971 Allan M. Tyrrell, a claims officer for the Air Force notified William B. Phoenix that due to the amount of the claim, the jurisdiction was passed to the Air Force “Headquarters” for consideration.

We have all wondered why the tower was never replaced, and I think you all can surmise by the length of time from the accident until the last letter from the Air Force why there is not a tower there presently. Also, when a claim is sent to “headquarters” there usually is a reason for that and it rarely is good. Read on:

Here is the abbreviated text of a letter dated Jan 14 1972 almost one year after the crash from Colonel William E. Shannon of the USAF to William B. Phoenix the State Fire Warden.

Dear Mr. Phoenix

The claim of the state of NJ for property damage arising out of the crash of a NJ ANG aircraft on 1/16/71 has been considered and denied. This action was necessitated because of claims for property damage caused by members of an Air National Guard unit who are employees of the claimant state are excluded from payment. Under the circumstances, there was no alternative but to deny this claim.

William E. Shannon, Colonel, USAF

Today all that remains on Bear Swamp Hill are the crumbling cement foundation of the fire tower. Even the wooden bathrooms for the recreation area have been removed by either the state or by vandals. The only evidence left of the plane is one landing gear located in the swamp nearby, which is slowly sinking into the ground. Serial numbers on the gear are still in perfect shape due to the high quality chrome used on supersonic planes.

About the F-105

The F-105 Thunderchief flew for the first time on My 27th 1958, and was capable of twice the speed of sound. It was the first jet that was able to drop it’s bombs at supersonic speed and was used extensively in Vietnam. It is one of the few military jets that was never exported for foreign use, and many were used by the Air Force Reserve and the National Guard. The F 105 was a single seat fighter with a top speed of 1,386 mph, and was built by Republic Aviation Corp with 833 of them manufactured at a cost of 2.14 million each. It was originally built to deliver Nuclear weapons, but many of them were used with conventional bombs, and it was the largest single-seat, single-engine fighter ever built. It was retired from service in August of 1981 and up until that time it was the first Air Force aircraft to have a formal retirement ceremony.