Spring, 2017

Warm greetings and best wishes for an exciting season! This is our twenty-seventh year of exploration among the hills and valleys of Northwest New Jersey. We hope you keep the personality of the New Jersey Skylands near and dear when you need to freshen your horizon!

Here are some highlights from the region's calendar of events, along with some other suggestions for you and your family.

March 22 - 29

March Madness

Who new spring could be so complicated? (photo: Melinda Nye)
Spring had to sneak in under a snow bank; nevertheless it is here. The calendar says so! It's filled with events that invite exploration of this most magical of seasons. Nine months of non-winter ahead!

How Sweet It Is!

You don't have to go to Vermont for the luxury of maple syrup! You can get the real thing at Lusscroft Farm in Wantage during this weekend's Sugarin' Open House (March 25-26, 10am-3pm). You'll see how they tap the trees, collect the sap and boil it down to that deliciously sweet and thick concoction that's so hard to resist. Then buy some to take home and pour it on! It will taste even better when you know that revenue from the maple sugaring operation benefits the ongoing maintenance of the sugar house and support the restoration of historic Lusscroft Farm, part of High Point State Park. 50 Neilson Road, Wantage, 973/262-4732.

An Angler's Spring

Nothing announces spring like fishing season. And although it doesn't begin until April 8, it's time to get ready.
This Saturday's (March 25) Anniversary Open House at Knot Just Flies will definitely put you in the mood, with some fly casting instruction and a host of other outdoor demonstrations. You can also take advantage of a 10% discount all weekend, or even book a guided fishing trip. The shop is located on the banks of the Paulinskill at 61 State Route 94 in Blairstown.

The Long Way Home

Workers discovered this Morris Canal boat under a Jersey shore home that they were raising onto piers after damage from Hurricane Sandy. The Canal Society of New Jersey brought it home to Waterloo Village.
Read about how a Morris Canal boat completed its long journey home. If you're inspired to learn more,you can enjoy a day of presentations by the Canal Society of New Jersey on a wide range of canal and local history topics at this Saturday's (March 25) Canals and Local History Symposium. Plan on a full day, including snacks and lunch, with the Canal Society’s traveling exhibit, artifacts, books for sale and videos. Haggerty Center at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum, 353 E. Hanover Ave., Morristown. To reserve a spot ($15), email macgraphics1@verizon.net or call 973/292-2755.

Find Your Furnace

It is not difficult to track down the Andover mine's location. But beware that the property is private and that trespassing is prohibited.
What's in a name? As far back as the early 1700s the name Andover was used by the Penns, owners of a large tract here granted to them by the Proprietors, to refer to the whole general area in Sussex County. Over the years, various sites have borne the Andover name, including local iron mines, forges, furnaces, factories and settlements with a connection with these early iron interests. More...

Reporting for Duty

Lucy's calf is getting ready to join the herd at Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse where they (the cows) live outside, eating grass and being milked seasonally, and not indoors, being fed grain, animal by-products and hormones, and being milked to death. Happy cows make delicious natural cheese, the artisanal cheeses that Bobolink is known for. Take a tour this weekend and you'll find fresh Irish Soda bread at the bakery this weekend, just in time for St. Patty's festivities! 369 Stamets Rd, Milford (Hunterdon County) 08848, 908/86GRASS

Picture of Health

Vilma, a barred owl found by the side of the road when she was a year old, had a compound fracture of the left wing has no sustainable flight. She is known for her beak snapping during programs at The Raptor Trust.
Its BBS! (baby bird season) The thing about baby birds is that some of them fall out of their nest. What to do if you come across an orphan or two? Call The Raptor Trust! Although it's known for rehabilitating hawks, eagles, and owls, The Raptor Trust, in Millington, looks after all avian styles. Want to guess how many they've fixed over thirty-five years? You can also go there and see some amazing "rock star" raptors.

Schooley's Elusive Spirit

Mysteries of the woods
Running northeast for twenty miles from Glen Gardner to Lake Hopatcong, Schooley’s Mountain’s steep sides rise to a broad top between the Musconetcong River and, for most of its length, the South Branch of the Raritan. The mountain presents a dichotomy of striking scenes from the past, interspersed with groups of modern homes and stores. Heavily traveled periphery highways are connected by a web of narrow rural roads that still meander as they did when “horse power” meant just that. The mountain’s southern portion holds routes worthy of exploring, hamlets for artists to ponder, and natural areas for hikers, all shrouded in tantalizing lore that begs a historian’s query. Read on...


Bill's Luncheonette, the repository and symbol of Ironia’s heritage.
In "Lower Ironia", Main Street still exists today. It is a small residential roadway to nowhere... unless one is familiar with the history. Today, the former railroad bed, from the location of the Ironia station and through to the Chester station, is part of the Morris County Park System's Patriot's Path. Additional trails connect through the Black River Wildlife Management Area and up to Bill's General Store. More...

My Summer Eduvacation

Peters Valley
The serene atmosphere at Peters Valley invigorates a diverse community of artists.
Does this weather have you dreaming of warm summer days? Start planning ways to make the best of them! How about a class at Peters Valley Crafts Center? One of only six craft schools of its type in the country, and unique to Northwest New Jersey, it has grown from a small artists' collective in the early 1970s to a nationally recognized center for craft education. Here's what happened one summer...

Fertile Ground

Happy community gardener.
Who can think of an argument for not having a garden? It’s not easy to do, but you still might have a good reason for not growing your own. Perhaps the deer have finally gotten the best of you. You might not have enough room in your yard, or maybe you have no yard at all. But even if any of these apply to your personal situation, most likely, in the best of all worlds, you’d like to have a garden in your backyard. Gardens are good!
If you're considering a backyard alternative, take a look at a community garden. For most, there are waiting lists, but there's always a chance you can find a spot if you start looking now! More...

A Silk Purse

The four-story plant built by Pelgram and Meyer on Monroe and Lincoln Streets in Boonton employed 500 people until it shut in 1927. It is now home to Kanter Auto Products.
For over two centuries a prolific iron industry wielded huge influence over the development of many Morris County communities. In particular, the forges, furnaces, and mines of Dover, Wharton and Boonton, all located along the banks of the Rockaway River, were intimately connected from the early 1700s through the heady times of the Morris Canal and the subsequent railroads. There are sites to see; take a look around!

Along the Western Front

Fort Ellison
This small stone building is believed to be the ruins of Fort Carmer, one of a line of forts from the French and Indian War.
Two decades before the American Revolution, the Royal Province of New Jersey prepared itself for the culmination of seventy years of bickering between the French and the English colonists. During the French and Indian War, the government was forced to take measures to protect New Jersey's northwestern frontier along the Delaware River from the increasing threat of marauding Indians, allies of the French armies. A line of forts and blockhouses were commissioned from Belvidere, in Warren County, through what is now the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, to Port Jervis, New York, with soldiers patrolling between them. Get out your hiking shoes, pump up your bike tires, or warm up the car and trace this line of forts!

Learning Lenape

For Archaic peoples, rock shelters, consisting of natural overangs or hillside depressions, were temporary stopovers that offered protection from the rain and snow. In winter they might have been closed in with windbreaks made from skins or brush.
The native people of northwestern New Jersey had no written history. In fact, they had no writing except for the use of pictographs, some of which were carved on stone. Much of what we do know about New Jersey's prehistory is a result of work done by archaeologists, or from early accounts by explorers and travelers, along with journals kept by missionaries and settlers in the 1600s and early 1700s. For over 12,000 years the Lenape and their ancestors occupied northwestern New Jersey, successfully adapting to climatic changes in their environment. But, after a little more than a century following European colonization, only a few Indians remained. Arrowheads, stone axes, pottery and other objects are still occasionally found in a farmer's field or along a riverbank, but only a rough sketch of a robust culture remains; we know nothing of the human deeds and dramas that occurred. More...

Storied Storeys

Architectural gems of bygone eras flank the streets of Flemington: Victorian and Queen Anne houses. Italianate office buildings. Greek Revival manors. Richly detailed work enhances the old buildings: high pitched roofs, fish scale shingles, brick arches, carved pedestals, decorative bric-a-brac, carved wreaths. More than half of the buildings appear on the National Register of Historic Places. More...

Just to the west of the chaotic rotary where routes 202, 31 and 12 converge, Flemington's Main Street offers a grace note in the midst of cacophony. Carefully tended to evoke other eras, the historic district offers something increasingly rare in New Jersey: a place where it seems right and proper to walk, to appreciate the view, to slow down. To revitalize the downtown, a redeveloper wants to demolish the Union Hotel and three other 19th century buildings in the heart of Flemington’s historic downtown to make way for a four-acre, seven- and eight-story mixed-use complex with 900 parking spaces. Adaptation or degradation?

The Wiley One

“Coyote in Winter” by wildlife artist John Mullane.
An opportunist to its core, a coyote will eat almost anything, from rodents to road kill. In the fall it gobbles up grasshoppers. It consumes garbage and amphibians. It loves blueberries and raspberries, but above all it loves ample food, and people provide regular windfalls. Human development -­ with its accompanying refuse and disruption of habitat ­ makes surprisingly good coyote habitat. If, in a northern forest, a coyote might claim a territory as large as 62 square miles, a suburban coyote can thrive in a territory that measures a scant five square miles. That's adaptability!
Students and recent graduates from Warren County Technical School have designed and built drones suitable for a variety of uses, employing the latest and greatest on-board devices. The drone on the right is hefty enough to carry an Imax camera and will navigate through the ground pilot's gestures in a virtual field of vision.
Wouldn't it be great to fly like a bird through the Delaware Water Gap, high over the Sourlands, above the great expanse of Lake Hopatcong, along the Raritan at Clinton's Red Mill, or amidst a flotilla of hot-air balloons? Want to get creative with some aerial photography, but can't quite justify the expense a plane? An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, would be your choice. These days you can get one with a mouse click, equipped with a camera and all necessary software and ground controls out-of-the-box for a couple hundred bucks.
How about a job creating an above-ground survey for a real estate firm, or doing some crop dusting? Monitoring wildlife populations or photographing sports events? Or drop-shipping for Amazon and UPS? Thousands of new UAV jobs will flood the market over the next few years, especially in our dense New Jersey environs. And there's plenty of opportunity to be your own boss.
But parceling out airspace is tricky, and UAV pilots need to be especially knowledgeable in ever-more-crowded skies. Until the FAA recently began to integrate drone operators into the National Airspace System, commercial applications were encumbered by a maze of forms and permissions. Now you can take an online course to get certification, set yourself apart from all those hobbyists, and make it easy to hire yourself out ... for a few hundred more dollars.
Warren County aviator and adventure seeker of no bounds, Fred Grotenhuis, who passed away in early 2015, is memorialized with a scholarship in his name that covers the cost of studying for and passing the test for the newly required Airman Knowledge Test administered by the FAA for use in any type of commercial application. Any student may apply, but preference is given to the youth of Warren County.

Foggy Mountain Breakdowns

Although there may have been as many as ten plane crashes along the Kittatinny Ridge in Sussex and Warren Counties, few people are aware of them. Due to the very rugged nature of the area's mountainous terrain, some of the wreckages have never been completely salvaged, and pieces still lie there. For example, the scant remains of an old airframe, possibly from an early Army biplane trainer, rest close to the Appalachian Trail near the top of the mountain, overgrown with brush. Without modern instruments, the ridge could be treacherous for aviators. Read more!!


b krauss
24 Mar 2016, 13:44
You are my all time favorite local magazine & newsletter!!!!! Loved each issue. Such a feeling of community, nature, and wonder.
We've moved out of the area & are passing along copies of your magazine to the new owners of our home.
Please remove my name from your email list for the newsletter.
Much success in the future.
Thanks so much for the glorious entertainment !

Rebecca Seamon
09 Jun 2013, 07:49
Blairstown Dog Park in Warren County NJ to hold Grand Opening.\r\n\r\nThe Blairstown Dog Park located on Lambert Road in Blairstown plans to have a Grand Opening Celebration on June 22 from 10am until 12pm. Rain date is June 23. \r\n\r\nThe Grand Opening Celebration will feature a dog costume contest, giveaways, food, fun and instant membership with completed form and proof of vaccines.\r\n\r\nWhat began as a small idea in November 2010 has finally turned into a reality. With a land donation from the township, the Blairstown Dog Park is a large, 1-acre fenced in area where people can bring their dogs to socialize and run off leash. It was completely funded and run by volunteers and generous donations.\r\n\r\nOpen to anyone, members must first complete a membership form and show proof of license and vaccines. A membership fee also applies.\r\n\r\nThe Blairstown Dog Park is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. For more information and forms- www.blairstowndogpark.com. Membership forms are also available at the Blairstown Library and Municipal building. \r\n
Ray Kleban
26 May 2013, 04:35
Hi, how do I reach out to someone at skylands to post a notice of an event - a fundraiser in sussex county? Is there a charge?\r\n\r\nthank you in advance \r\nray kleban
Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my email
Powered by Scriptsmill Comments Script
Stay in the Loop!

Get our newsletter, This Week in the NJ Skylands, with updates, special offers and good ideas!

Read current newsletter

Privacy Statement