New Jersey has a rich industrial history, and countless towns sprung up around our mills, mines and ports; many of these settlements have long since been abandoned. Some sit in ruin, while others have been revitalized and opened to the public. All are unique, interesting sites that you won’t want to miss. Enjoy some of the most well preserved on this 2-day road trip.
First Stop: Long Pond Ironworks
Enjoy a hearty breakfast at Goldberg's Famous Bagels, open 7 days a week at 6 a.m. After you've had your morning cup of coffee, head to neighboring Long Pond Ironworks State Park in West Milford. The park offers fishing and boating on the beautiful Monksville Reservoir and numerous remnants of the Long Pond Ironworks.
The ironworks were founded in 1766 and operated until 1882. You'll find the remains of 3 furnaces and several unique structures. One of the waterwheels has been reconstructed and the Old Country Store has been renovated; it now houses the Long Pond Ironworks Museum. Tours are offered by the Friends of Longpond Ironworks on the second Saturday of the month at noon and 2 p.m., between April and November. The museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays year-round from 1-4 p.m., with extended hours during peak tourist season.
Second Stop: Waterloo Village
Waterloo Village is a restored 19th-century canal town that serves as an open air museum. It is located in Kittatinny Valley State Park and is open daily from sunrise to sunset. The site contains a 400-year-old Lenape Indian Village along with several well preserved buildings from the early 19th century. You'll find a working mill complex with grist and sawmills, a general store, blacksmith shop and homes.
Pack a picnic and explore the surrounding state park after your visit to the village or head to nearby Bistro 46 for lunch (open at 11:30 a.m. on weekdays/3:00 p.m. on weekends).
Third Stop: Feltville
Located in the Watchung Reservation, buildings here date back to the 1700s. At its peak, the mill town had nearly 200 residents. Now, you'll find just three families in the area along with eight houses, a church, cemetery and a carriage house. Feltville is open to the public daily and county staff provides special events on select weekends. There is a visitor's center open on weekends from noon to 5 p.m. The best time to visit is just before Halloween as the haunted hayrides are truly unique.
You can stop for dinner anywhere along the way, but I recommend making the trip to Moonstruck in Asbury Park. It's a bit out of the way, but worth the detour. The charming multi-story restaurant offers views of Wesley Lake, fantastic cuisine and a full bar. The American-Mediterranean Grill is ADA accessible and provides opportunities for outdoor dining in the summer months.
Where To Stay
After dinner, head to the Asbury Park Inn. The luxurious bed and breakfast offers beach tags to guests, an extensive selection of books and DVDS, cooked to order gourmet breakfasts and numerous additional amenities. If you'd like, extend this road trip and spend the day in Asbury Park, or head to your next ghost town destination.
Fourth Stop: Allaire Village
Allaire Village, located within Allaire State Park, now serves as a living history museum. It was once a thriving factory town known as the Howell Iron Works. There is so much to do here and you typically won't need to spend a cent. Admission is free except for special events which support the non-profit that manages Allaire Village.
You'll find numerous buildings including row houses and a blacksmith shop. Tours are offered of James P. Allaire's home until 3:30 p.m. and nearly each building offers historical demonstrations or interpretations. Be sure to pick up a treat at the bakery and shop at the charming general store.
Fifth Stop: Double Trouble State Park
This popular park is home to a historic village complete with a sawmill, schoolhouse, general store, maintenance shop, cook house and a cranberry sorting and packing house. Buildings date back to the late 19th century. The restored sawmill and cranberry packing house are open during guided village tours.
Sixth Stop: Batsto Village
In 1766, Batsto Village thrived. Developed around a profitable mining operation and the Iron works industry, the town was home to hundreds of residents. When the demand for iron declined, Batsto turned to glass making. This endeavor was unsuccessful and the population dwindled.. The state of New Jersey bought the land in 1950 and residents continued to reside on the property until 1989.
Though much of the village was demolished or destroyed, several buildings still remain. A 32-room mansion is the center of the village, surrounded by cabins, a general store, blacksmith shop and church. The site is a popular place for reenactments and living history demonstrations. The mansion is open for guided tours. After your immersive visit, enjoy a picnic lunch.
Final Stop: Atsion
Once a thriving iron community, you can find just a handful of remaining buildings including the Atsion Mansion (pictured). Tours of the mansion are available seasonally; call 609-268-0444 for more information. After enjoying the historic site, head to the nearby Atsion Lake for swimming or sunbathing.