New Jersey has a long, rich history. From being first settled by Native Americans over 10,000 years ago, to the first Dutch colonies in the 1630s, to its transformation into a British colony in 1738, to its admission to the United States as the third state of the union, New Jersey’s story is as old as any part of the nation (via nj.gov). Women have played a critical role in the history of the state, and in 2000, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection established a series of historical markers throughout the state to celebrate individuals who have not always received the recognition they deserved. The Women’s Heritage Trail honors the women of New Jersey for their work, their role in domestic life, volunteer efforts and work in reform organizations, participation in political life and government, involvement in education, engagement with the arts, culture, and sports, and their work in historic preservation. No fewer than ninety-three sites can be found spread across every county in the state (via nj.gov).
Despite having lived in New Jersey for most of my life, I had never heard of the Women’s Heritage Trail until my wife and I watched an episode of the PBS series Drive By History in which the host visited several spots along the trail. We found an excellent online guide published by the state of New Jersey, which lists all of the sites, including their locations (please note: unless otherwise indicated, all of the information in the captions below are from the guide). On a beautiful Saturday that also marked the first day of Spring, we loaded up the Accord and set off, trying to see how many sites we could uncover in a weekend.
The Women’s Heritage Trail
The Clara Barton School
Patience Lovell Wright’s House
Mt. Pisgah A.M.E. Church
Dr. John Wiley House
Cold Spring Village
Wildwood Civic Club
While scrolling through the Women’s Heritage guidebook, I discovered that several sites I had previously visited in New Jersey are also on the trail. I wanted to share a few of those sites with you as well.
Double Trouble State Park
Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association
Ann Cooper Whitall House
During this time of a pandemic, it might seem challenging to find places to visit that are socially distant, safe, and educational. However, dig a little deeper, and new opportunities for adventure abound. The Women’s Heritage Trail was a fascinating way to learn more about my home state, along with the stories of important women who worked to create a better world. My only criticism is that the state government should do a much better job promoting this awesome route through history!
Thanks for coming along on this special journey down the open road ahead.