Everyone loves a little mystery! Being one of the oldest states in the nation, New Jersey has its fair share of secrets. From hidden attractions to little-known facts, read on to learn something new about our great Garden State.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The beautiful town of Beachwood had a strange start.
It was actually founded as part of a newspaper promotion. In 1914, the New York Tribune offered lots of land in the area in exchange for subscriptions.
2. Abandoned Howard Stern rest stop.
In 1995, Christie Whitman joked that she would name a rest stop after Howard Stern in exchange for his endorsement. She kept her word when she became governor, installing a plaque in his honor at a rest stop. Unsurprisingly, the plaque was stolen within days and there were multiple reports of lewd activity at the stop. It was shut down in 2003. The "Howard Stern" rest stop is located on Southbound 295 near Burlington Township; the building still stands but no facilities remain.
3. The wreckage of U-869.
A German U-boat came 'thisclose' to the coast of New Jersey during World War II. The wreckage was found by divers in 1991, just around 250 feet from the shores of Point Pleasant. (Pictured is a WWI U-boat.)
4. The bust of "The Boss."
The bronze-plated concrete bust can be found at the intersection of Alexander St. and Faculty Rd. in Princeton. The sculpture, made by Stephen Zorochin, has a plaque reading, "Bruce Springsteen, Soulful Humanitarian."
5. A woman's right to vote.
The 19th amendment was ratified in 1920, granting women in the United States the right to vote. Women in New Jersey, however, had the right to vote since 1776, as long as they owned land. Women regularly voted in our state, until a law was passed in 1807, excluding women from politics.
6. Hadrosaurus Park pilgrimage.
Many New Jerseyans know about the discovery of the Hadrosaurus in 1838, marking the start of modern paleontology. It was the most complete set of fossils ever found at the time and it is still considered significant. What many may not know is that the spot where these fossils were found is a national historic landmark, and dinosaur enthusiasts from around the world flock here each year. If you bring your boots, you can even explore the pit where the Hadrosaurus bones were found.
7. A fairy tale castle in Hamburg.
The Gingerbread Castle was an amusement park attraction built by famed Austrian architect Joseph Urban in 1928. Though it was a truly magical place, this whimsical spot shut down in the 1980s. The castle is currently fenced in but can be seen from the road.
8. Minerals and mining.
Not only was New Jersey home to America's first copper mine (built by Dutch settlers in the Kittatinny Mountains circa 1640), but our state is home to the largest concentration of fluorescent minerals in the world. Pictured is Hardystonite.
9. The expiration dates on bottled water.
Does bottled water really go bad? No, but because of New Jersey, they still have expiration dates. A 1987 law required that all food sold in our state have an expiration date. Instead of bottled water manufacturers printing special labels for New Jersey, they just threw expiration dates on all the bottles.
10. Ancient history?
Tripod Rock is located in the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historical Area, Kinnelon. The rock is a highly unusual glacial erratic that lines up perfectly with the setting point of the sun on the summer solstice. It balances mysteriously and differs significantly from other rocks in the area.
11. Our dirty little secret.
In 2007, a local New Jersey Comcast station accidentally aired explicit content on the Disney Channel for six whole minutes. The broadcast was limited only to areas of our state served by this particular station.
12. Cocaine extraction in a North Jersey neighborhood.
A Stepan laboratory in Maywood is the nation's only legal commercial importer of coca leaves. The company extracts the cocaine so that the leaves can be used nationwide in Coca Cola products. The extracted cocaine is taken from the facility in armored trucks and is used for medical purposes including local anesthesia.
13. Ocean Grove's own Tent City.
You may have heard of this spot before, but here's what you don't know: Seasonal rentals can run over $5000 and the lengthy waiting list means prospective residents can wait years for a spot. One current resident waited 19 years! Air conditioners are now allowed but dogs, cats, beer cans and wine glasses are not. Tent City has been around over 150 years, and once hosted 600 tents - there are now 114.
14. We're all part of the Addams family.
The creator of the spooky series, Charles Addams, was born in Westfield. The eerie Addams family home was inspired by two homes in the neighborhood - one on Dudley and one on Elm.
15. You'll do, Lobelia.
This moo-morial to Elsie the cow can be found in Plainsboro. The burial site of "the most famous cow that ever lived," it is a loving tribute to Elsie, Borden Dairy's mascot. A fictional character, beloved by fans, she was brought to life in the 1930s and 40s by a Jersey Cow named Lobelia.
16. German sabotage on Jersey soil.
Pearl Harbor wasn't the only foreign attack on US soil. Black Tom Island, a major munitions depot, was located off the coast of Jersey City. During WWI, the factory exploded, killing at least 7 and shaking the ground with the force of a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. Debris from the explosion left permanent damage on the Statue of Liberty. The 1916 explosion was believed to be an accident for years, though Germany took responsibility in 1979, paying $50,000,000 in damages.
17. The home of the future.
Think this structure is strange? There are at least two in New Jersey. One is located near Hancock Harbor Road in Greenwich, the other at Mill Creek Park in Willingboro. There was also a similar structure located at Morey's Pier in Wildwood, but it was sold on ebay a few years back for $29,000. (Pictured is a Futuro home located outside of the state, but the New Jersey "homes" are nearly identical.)
18. Frank Sinatra's towel.
You can find great subs and a bunch of vintage Atlantic City memorabilia at White House Sub shop. The towel used by Frank Sinatra at his last show can be found at the Arctic Avenue location.
Of course New Jersey has many more secrets waiting to be discovered, I won’t give them ALL away just yet. Let me know if you learned anything new and share your favorite New Jersey secrets in the comments.