Worthington State Forest

by Frank Dale

Situated along the river, within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Worthington State Forest comprises almost 6,000 acres extending about seven miles along the Kittatinny Ridge. There is boating and fishing on the Delaware, and the park is almost completely covered in lush woodland making an ideal place for hiking and camping. In fact, the area has a long association with travelers and those seeking a secluded getaway.

River frontage at what is now Worthington State park has always been a popular place.

This section of the beautiful and still unspoiled Hardwick Township on the Warren County side of the Delaware River has had a variety of names. In its early days of human habitation, in the pre-Revolutionary 18th Century, it was called Shawnee. When a local man, James Gould, introduced ferries to this area in 1736, he gave his ferry an Indian name, "Nanatuman", but most local folks called it "Gould's Ferry", the name that was soon adopted as the name of the settlement. The river at this point was partially filled with two large islands, Shawnee's and Depue's; Depue's Island was the home of members of that renown family. The channel for the river's traffic, timber rafts going downriver and ferries crossing the river, was narrow and turbulent, and it hugged the Jersey shore. In the early 1800s, the ferryman at that time gave his name to this crossing: "Shoemaker's Ferry". The timber raftsmen, traveling during spring freshet, charged through this narrow stretch of river, and attempted to avoid destroying ferry boats. These raftsmen had a different name for this part of the river, a title more descriptive and colorful... and totally unprintable.

The second ferry owner and operator, the man named Shoemaker, took over Gould's business around 1760. His family, which operated ferries at several different river locations, stayed on the job here for at least fifty years, until they sold the business to Jacob Brotzman.

Jacob Brotzman went into this ferry business in the early 19th Century and established a home for himself and family right on the Jersey shore. Brotzman worked hard, made some money, and took part in the rapid growth of this river-front settlement. Before long, he ran for office and was elected as a township committeeman, and then, later, as a County Freeholder representing his hometown. He was so liked and respected by his neighbors that they named their village, officially, "Brotzmanville". Soon, Brotzmanville got the first post office in the area, and a new schoolhouse for its children. By 1833, big Pahaquarry Township had four mills in operation, two of which were at Brotzmanville.

Park Headquarters was once a ferryman's home.

In the second half of the 19th Century this now-prosperous ferry business was purchased by Charles Walker and became "Walker's Ferry". Young Walker stayed and prospered, operating this busy ferry to the end of the century. The closest bridge competition, the Columbia-Portland span, was miles downriver. In 1903, Charles C. Worthington, a big city businessman, President of the Worthington Pump Corporation, and probably a millionaire by this time, purchased the ferry as a small part of his major acquisitions in this Delaware Valley. Worthington's vast real estate purchases on both sides of the river made the ferryboat especially useful to him, personally. It continued crossing the river here, but as Worthington's private chauffeur-driven source of transportation, not as public transportation. Worthington initially farmed his land on the Pennsylvania side of the river, but he later opened it to the public as a resort area. On his vast acreage in Jersey he became, of course, the owner of Walker's house, and rented it to Harry Cudney who was the local game warden. After Cudney, he sold it to the Walter Van Campen family as a residence. They lived in it many years.

Charles Worthington erected his own elegant residence on a hillside half way between the river and mountain-top Sunfish Pond. He named his residence "Buckwood Lodge". Sunfish Pond, a good-sized lake in a wilderness 600 feet above the river on Worthington's property, supplied its "pure" water, thanks to Worthington's plumbing efforts, to the local residents. It was considered to be vastly superior to the Delaware's water. He renamed his beautiful Sunfish Pond "Buckwood Lake".

In this same area Worthington established a game farm. Deer had become extinct in New Jersey and he imported from Virginia a deer species that he raised, like a herd of cows, on a thousand acres of this part of Warren County. Eventually he tore down the eleven-mile long fence, and released his hundreds of deer in the area, resulting in the growing herds of deer that eventually occupied the whole state. And he did the same thing with his pheasant farm, which was one of the largest in the East.

Worthington also purchased both of those large islands in the river, the Shawnee and the Depue. He farmed the entire Shawnee Island for a while but later in life converted the Pennsylvania island to the Shawnee Country Club and Golf Course, which appealed especially to professional golfers; they eventually made it the official course for the annual PGA. tourney. The other island, a Depue property since 1783, also became a resort area open to the public until the severe floods of recent years.

Ancient steps lead up from the Delaware to the remaining foundation of a once grand boathouse at the Kamarac Resort

Worthington's land holdings on both sides of the river, and on the islands in between, totaled slightly in excess of 8,000 acres. An already existing business that was not owned by Worthington was Camp Karamac, a river-front hotel and collection of cottages, with swimming pools, playgrounds, and boating on the river, all for adults. Karamac, named for a fictional Indian warrior, catered to the elite visitors and other tourists who soon flocked to the area. The resort owners were a couple of New Yorkers, John Newmarker and Arthur Feindt, who became close friends with Mr. Worthington. Worthington finally sold the camp owners his retired ferryboat so they could conduct guests on river tours or transport them over to the Pennsylvania side for a visit. And Worthington's two sons, Reginald and Edward, later opened a hotel, Buckwood Inn, on the Pennsylvania side, on nearby Shawnee Island, to get some of this business.

This fabulous life enjoyed by Charles Worthington had to come to an end as all lives do. Charles C. Worthington passed away in 1944 after a busy, fruitful, and honorable life. His sons, Reginald and Edward, and their families, remained here, operating the various family businesses until 1954, when the State of New Jersey made the initial purchase of these Worthington land holdings. Eventually, some 6,000 acres of the New Jersey Worthington property in this river valley became, and is today, the Worthington State Forest.

The Jersey side of the river here is not what it was 150 years ago. The great Flood of 1955, which destroyed much of Brotzmanville, was a contributing factor. Sadly, Brotzmanville no longer exists, but its past is recognized by a marker on the side of ancient Old Mine Road. However, the old home of Charles Walker and, then, Harry Cudney and the Van Campen family survived and is now the local headquarters of Worthington State Forest. In this unspoiled forest, two inexpensive state camping areas exist for guests, and the thousands of acres along the Delaware have several hiking trails. And that great 2000-mile Appalachian Trail passes through this State Forest. A little brook, Dunnfield Creek, babbles through the center of this forest and, in a mile, enters the Delaware. And where it enters the Delaware there was, in the old days, another river crossing service, named Dunnfield's Ferry, that served its area before there were roads on the Jersey side. And looking westward over the river, those two nearby islands, Shawnee and Depue, are as impressive as ever. The narrow opening between them, which provided the Gould-Shoemaker-Brotzman-Walker Ferry with some protection in high water, is still there; and a look upstream will provide a view of the not-too-distant and just as well-known river marker, Tocks Island, with a story of its own to tell.

Worthington State Forest: Old Mine Road, HC 62, Box 2, Columbia 07832 908-841-9575. More information from NJ Division Parks & Forestry

Nearby accommodations and attractions

  • Big Skylands Country
  • Warren County's Montana Mountain, Merrill Creek Reservoir, and the Pohatcong Valley is equally rewarding for students of history and devotees of the outdoors.

    , ,

  • The Farm In Harmony
  • 7-acre military themed Corn Maze, with mini maze for little ones, open Wed.-Sun. through November 10. Fresh produce at farmstand or schedule pick-on-demand. Homemade soaps available online. Always a discount for Veterans with proper ID.

    231 Brainards Road, Harmony 08865, 908/283-0721

  • Camp Taylor Campground
  • Private campground for RVers and Tenters with wooded sites available by the day to by the season. Rustic cabins also available. Home of Lakota Wolf Preserve.

    85 Mt. Pleasant Road, Columbia 07832, 908/496-4333

  • Wild Ridge Plants
  • Nursery propagated native plants available wholesale or retail by appointment. Our plants are chemical-free and local provenance. Consulting and growing services, presentations, guided walks.

    , Pohatcong, 908/319-7230

  • Inn at Millrace Pond
  • Located just one mile south of I-80, the inn includes comfortable guest rooms, wireless internet, exciting contemporary dining and intimate Fireside Tavern in a restored 1769 stone gristmill. An on-site meeting house provides a unique campus setting without distraction.

    319 Hope Johnsonburg Rd. (Rt. 519), Hope 07844, 908/459-4884



09 Oct 2014, 06:18
My Fiance is Reginald's Great Grandson, from his Daughter Elizabeth Worthington, her Daughter "Betsy's" Son, John W. Hayes. As information, I have done research, and John has a "Worthington" memoir book (A family Memoir). So if anyone is looking for historical information, feel free to contact me.
23 Sep 2013, 14:02
Hi, I am looking for a place to stay with a cabin for 2 nights in January. Please get back to me. \r\n\r\nThanks
Wendy Costello
15 May 2013, 13:56
Hi there, I am trying to find out if there is any way to waive the 2 day minimum stay at this site. We are trying to book in August, we are section hiking on the AT before heading off on the Greyhound from Stroudsburg. Your site is perfectly placed for us to arrive off a side trail and get cleaned up then get to the bus station in the morning. If you could let us stay for just one night I would be reallt grateful, we are 2 people with 1 tent and no vehicle. Thanks.
04 Aug 2011, 17:46
Thank you for the informative article. I am related to Jacob Brotzman. So this information is a great help. Anything else you might be able to share would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again so much.
13 Jun 2011, 07:48
We are camping on labor day weekend and I was wondering what sites are wooded or NOT in the field. There map is not very helpful. Thank you\r\n
kenia pittman
12 Apr 2011, 09:32
I need the correct number to make a reservation. I have been calling the one on the website and has been busy for days. please get back to me. We went to make reservations for this friday-monday.( april 15-18)
Angelo Olavarrieta
11 Aug 2010, 08:20
Hi,\r\n\r\nI have been calling the 908-841-9575 number all week to reserve a camp site for this weekend Aug 13-15, But I get a busy ring. Please, can someone provide me an alternate number or tell me what's the best time to call? It's my anniversity this weekend, and we would like to stay there to celebrate where we first got introduced to each other by friends.\r\n\r\nThanks
13 Jul 2010, 10:05
hi I am coming up for the weekend this week and I was wondering are there any stores nearby to get supplies if needed. thanks
15 Jun 2010, 18:08
We stayed at Wortington for four days last year and, while we loved the location on the river, the bathrooms were disgustingly filthy all week. Is this typical or were we there at a bad time?
Paul Wider
03 Jun 2010, 19:18
Dear Sir (or Ms.),\r\nI lost a sun hat last Thursday (a week ago) that is off white in color. It looks kind of funny because it has a part of the hat that reaches down to cover the back of the head and neck. If someone returned it would you please email me. \r\nThank you, \r\nPaul Wider
Mark Giannullo
17 May 2010, 05:25
I can "almost" remember many weekends camping at Worthington, during the late 60's & early 70's. You could drive your car into the campsites then. Back in my young hippie days. It was a wondereful place to commune with nature and be free to express yourself(of course there was "never" any alcohol or illegal substances to consume or smoke!!! I learned a lot about nature and life back during those camping trips. Wish I could go back for just one more of the same! I returned sometime in the late 80's but it just wasn't the same. Great family camping place. Peace, mark
steven kossup
16 Apr 2010, 13:06
I have been trying to reach you at 908 841 9575 all week. Busy.\r\n\r\nI am trying to reserve sites 75 or 76 for the June 4th weekend.\r\n\r\nI cant reach you and ask that you contact me at 973 948 9731. \r\n\r\nSteven J. Kossup, Esq.
Jim McClelland
02 Apr 2010, 19:39
Hi, as a 17 year old I worked as "Little Mac" directly under Mr. Feindt in the office at Camp Karamac the summer of 1953. Both he and Mr. Newmarker were very kind while teaching responsibility to and respect for the guests. Fond memories harken back to dancing, singing around the tables,playing ping-pong in the Wigwam,to never-ending activities after work, and to really tasty food prepared by a cantankerous German chef. We became good friends after my catching an eel which he coveted and made into a delicious meal. The friendships fostered unfortunately have faded over time, but Karamac has through the years been remembered as a place where "a great time was had by all!" Mr. Neumarker was dedicated to that. Looking back, my life-long work in the field of parks and recreation had its incubus in my Camp Karamac experience, and had I any idea at the time what my calling would be I would have worked there throughout my college summers. It was a wonderful camp-resort, made that way through caring and talented owners and employees.
Sam Litzenberg
05 Dec 2009, 13:14
Hi: I worked at Karamac "48-'51, camp name was Sambo. Great place for a young guy to spend the summers and meet lots of girls. People came from all over, Baltimore, Phillie, New York City and everywhere in between. I will never forget delivering telegrams to NatGds & Reservists on June 25th, 1950, calling them to the war in Korea. I'm sure they don't either. My mother also worked there in the early '20s.\r\nAnother place in a long forgotten world with wonderful memories. I understand that after the flood, Karamac was dynamited to destroy the buildings to keep the hippies out. So sad.\r\nCiao...Sambo\r\n
John McClain
05 Oct 2009, 18:43
Hi I was very happy to read John "The General" commenting on his involvement with Karamac. I am one of those happy Kampers and have over the years tried to find information on its history. I have revisited the site many times walking through the remnants. I would greatly appreciate any information about Karamac from its begining until the time it was demolished or suggestions on how to obtain any historical information,publications, maps or pictures/photos. Many thanks!\r\n\r\nJohn "Big"
21 Sep 2009, 17:57
Can you please send me info on camping in the campground? My husband, dog and I would like to come there in the next few weeks.... would love more info!\r\n\r\nThanks!\r\n\r\nAlison
07 Sep 2009, 10:54
can i have an email sent to me on campaing info for september?
04 Sep 2009, 09:58
Worthington State Forest is the best!! We camp all over NEPA and North Jersey and I have to say Worthington is the nicest. The wooded sites are very nice with great views of the river.
20 Aug 2009, 18:20
Barbara...I had the same problems with the phone. I kept getting a busy signal. Keep trying
20 Aug 2009, 11:32
Awesome story. I have been trying to make a reservation for the last week in August to camp at Worthington State Forest all week but their phone number doesn't work. Any suggestions as to how I can reach them?
John L. Grannis
22 Jul 2009, 21:54
What a fun story - I find a few errors? I worked on the "Social Staff at Karamac, co-owned by my Grandfather John Neumarker. The resort catered to Kampers from Pittsburg, Philadelphia, and New York City. Ariving by train, Bus, and a few in cars. The stay there was very much like the resort featured in the "Dirty Dancing" Movie. Every one was given a kamp name - mine was "General" I worked at the Waterfront "Boat House" and River Swimming Area. The Resort was featured in the "Saturday Evening Post" magazine. I have many unbelievable Photos of the '55 flood. Staff from Karamac went to the Worthington Farm (now,camp ground Office), roped it in place to trees so it would not float away when lifted off the foundation. We lead live-stock from the barns to higher ground. High water licked at the bottom of the interstate bridge crossing the river where the Old "Copper" Mine Road now begins. Oh so much to say - so little space!\r\nThanks for reading - - A special Place. We should arrive to camp on Monday or Tuesday for a few days.\r\n\r\nJohn "The General!"
09 Jul 2009, 10:46
21 Jun 2009, 09:20
please keep eye out lost horse palomino lost in columbia nj may have been stolen\r\nblond copper color white face and legs name is peaches
pete parsons
19 Jun 2009, 21:56
I am CC Worthington's great grandson. What a fun read!
Don Howey
04 Jun 2009, 05:57
I was driving on old mine road on the 02jun 2009 see some work being done next to the river. i hope that it is a new swimming and boat ramp.
James Mendez
06 May 2009, 05:21
I've been going there since 86 camping, and its one of the most beautiful places on earth. I stood there for a week and a half and the pictures i took there,people thought i went to an exotic resort, its great there.Planning a canoe trip soon.
Eric Morales
28 Apr 2009, 15:27
i want to reserve atleast 3 or 4 sites for the end of May..is there any way i can get a site map? thank you
18 Dec 2008, 07:59
andrew \r\nworthington camp grounds are closed from nov-spring you can probally camp on the applalachian trail by dunfield creek off of rt80.hunting is open until feb for small game also winter bow is open for deer
13 Nov 2008, 15:35
I am interested in tent camping during the first week of January 2009 with 5-6 people and I was hoping you could send me some more information. I need a campsite with a modern bathroom/running water. Also, we are interested in hunting small game while we are in the park. How does this work for campers? What are the NJ State Park rules for hunting?\r\n\r\nThanks!
Jeremy Hendry
28 Aug 2008, 22:16
I camped there at the end of july and I loved it! It was the cleanest and most peaceful campground that I have ever camped at. The only problem I had was all of the the friendly skunks. We had a skunk come visit us while finishing dinner and we didnt know what to do so we jumped in our car and waited 45 mins for it to go away. I also saw a group of wild turkey and a skunk while hiking back from the waterfall off old mine road. I will definately be back next time Im driving out east. To see some pictures and a short video of the wildlife I saw heres a link. \r\n\r\nhttp://s26.photobucket.com/albums/c137/FASTNTEGRA/?action=view&curr ent=434cf5ec.pbr\r\n\r\nJeremy Hendry St.Louis MO\r\n
25 Aug 2008, 19:09
Are there any grocery stores around the campgrounds at Worthington? I'm concerned with where the nearest food place is.
05 Aug 2008, 03:08
Can someone please post an answer here?\r\n\r\nI'm gonna be staying at Worthington soon. If I plan on cooking meals on a little propane grill, where do you wash your pots and pans at? I've been camping before, but never really brought along food that needs to be cooked.
Marshall and Brittany
31 Jul 2008, 16:38
Camping at Worthing is GREAT!!!! Lots of deer, raccoons, chipmunks and BEARS!! quiet nights at wooded or open sites have been enjoyed by my daughter and I many many times. I highly reccomend camping there!!!! I cant tell you how much fun we have had there---Just go!!
Chris Sonne
29 Jul 2008, 11:39
Hello - someone told me they saw a sign saying that NJ state parks were looking for part-time help. How can I find out more about this, or apply for it (and what kind of work would it be / what positions are available?) I went to the Worthington Office but there was no way in unless you're an employee, so I tried calling their number twice but it was always off the hook. How can I actually get in touch with anyone in the Worthington State Park office? I am very interested in this and would greatly appreciate being able to talk to someone who knows about it.\r\n\r\n-Chris
Reinaldo Williams
26 Jul 2008, 22:16
Reinaldo\r\n26 july 2008 01:12\r\nwould like info on camping the last week end of aug, this year
15 Jul 2008, 12:29
I was wondering if the power was still out at Worthington State Forest because the phone is continuous busy. I am trying to book a trip for this weekend (18th-20th).
15 Jul 2008, 09:58
Please send me info on hiking trails, maps, etc. Does the Park have cabin rentals? Thank you.\r\n
Jared Klinger
14 Jul 2008, 02:59
I would like to camp in Worthington State Park, in a tent. Please send me info. I have driven by a campground on Old Mine Rd., on the way to Walpack Center, and would like to stay there.\r\n\r\nJared Klinger\r\n216 Dickinson Rd.\r\nGlassboro NJ 08028
Joe Odee
04 Jul 2008, 05:04
looking for camping info in the park. Can you bring a RV trailer?
james tatesure
13 Jun 2008, 19:52
please email me info on backpacking in the park
wayne parker
13 Jun 2008, 12:18
Hi is it true the park is closing? Also could you tell me the name of your head ranger
11 Jun 2008, 13:15
Joseph D... they've had a power outage up there and it's still out at the moment. Just keep trying. They can't take reservations 'til the computer's back up anyhow... good luck!\r\n\r\n---<ribbit>
Joseph Dabulas
11 Jun 2008, 09:52
Hello, I would like to Worthington park July 11- 12th at sites 36 and 37 . I tried calling but there must be a problem with the line. Can you help with this? \r\nJoe Dabulas
03 Jun 2008, 13:03
Lisa Johnson
03 Jun 2008, 10:48
Interested in staying at your campground this weekend or in the next few weeks. Was there last year and had site#19 we loved it. Was wondering if you had this site available this weekend. Or when do you have it available? Please let me know asap. Been trying to call but the line has been busy all day.\r\nThank you.\r\nLisa
Bob Dudajek
01 Jun 2008, 22:51
Is Governor Corzine still planning to close Worthington State Park in July,2008 or at any time in the near future?
Mary Ann
20 May 2008, 07:44
I would like to know where I can get information for camping in Worthington State Forest. Thanks.
Nancy Willliams
06 May 2008, 07:41
5/6/2008\r\nHi There:))!\r\nI was wondering if you are hiring Ranger's for the summer months to come.\r\nI have recently graduated from East Stroudsburg University with a degree in Recreation& Leisure Services Management,in December 2007.I live in Mount Bethel, PA.\r\nWhere do i send a resume' if you are hiring?\r\n\r\nSincerely,\r\nNancy Williams\r\n
Melissa Damian
05 May 2008, 09:53
Please send me information about tent camping in the park. Thank you.\r\n\r\nMelissa
Dianne Ross
05 May 2008, 06:56
Please send me info on camping and any other related info (hiking trails, maps, etc.) Thank you.\r\n\r\n12 Maher Lane\r\nNewtown, PA 18940
01 May 2008, 07:29
Hi \r\nI am interested in camping at your park with my family. Could you email me back with more info on the campsites. \r\n Thank you \r\n Tara
Heidi Schaub
01 May 2008, 02:17
I learned about your camping area from a friend at my Husband's work. This particular family have been there to visit for the last 10 years, atleast. This says a lot about your facility.\r\n*****
Lauren Macrae
22 Apr 2008, 16:01
please send info on camping in Worthington Plan to use our touring bikes\r\n\r\nThanks\r\nLM
robert williams
15 Apr 2008, 08:01
please email me any information about camping in the park.my email address is rjwilliamsii@hotmail.com
franco dacunha
07 Jan 2008, 20:26
hy my name is franco da cunha im interested in getting some lituature mailed too my house please about camping thank you
19 Jul 2007, 13:30
Hi just looked a the great story on Worthington Park and wanted to correct that Depue island is not open to the public. Also, C.C. Worthington died in 1944 Washington D.C. NOT 1920his 2nd wife died 1873-1945.
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