Obscure New Jersey.

There were definitely no blog posts planned until the end of the month, until after my wife and I returned from a long-planned family vacation. Nope, this was going to be a quiet, road-trip-free several weeks until late June. However, thanks to Atlas Obscura, a website dedicated to hidden and offbeat travel destinations, we were enticed to get back on the road once again. From a historic 19th century village, to the site of the end of World War I in a mall parking lot, to a telephone pole farm, we had plenty to draw us into a new adventure. 

After exploring some obscure New Jersey locations, I’ll also share some news on some automotive upgrades, and give some coming attractions for the next few weeks.

Let’s begin: 

Obscure New Jersey

Map of New Jersey, with red pins in locations of Waterloo Village, Highlands Ridge Park, and 711 New Jersey 28
Our Saturday morning road trip: three lesser-known stops in northern New Jersey. We began our trip in Waterloo Village, before moving to Highlands Ridge Park, and then ended our trip in a strip mall parking lot.

Waterloo Village

View of I-80 on sunny day, with mountains in distance.
Our trip began mid-morning on a beautiful, if hot, late spring day.


White Jeep Grand Cherokee, parked on grass beneath a tree.
With the Accord currently undergoing some cosmetic upgrades, it was our Jeep Grand Cherokee’s turn to get some road trip action. We arrived at our first destination, Waterloo Village, and discovered that the parking lot was a muddy field. No problem for a Jeep!


Entrance sign for HISTORIC WATERLOO VILLAGE, with two small buildings on either side of entry gate.
Established in 1820, Waterloo Village was founded at the halfway point of the Morris Canal. The canal was built to ferry coal from Pennsylvania to New York harbor (via Wikipedia). 
Panorama of Morris Canal.
Although the canal ceased operation in 1924 as railroads proved a quicker means of moving heavy loads, portions of the canal still exist, including this section in Waterloo Village. If you look closely, you can see a model on the far shore of canal barges, which would have been pulled by mules that walked along the “tow path” on the shore.
Exterior of Waterloo United Methodist Church.
Although a historic village, some of the buildings are still in active use, such as the Waterloo United Methodist Church, built in 1859, which holds Sunday worship services every week.
Exterior of General Store.
The general store, built in 1831, would sell supplies to the town’s residents. The rear of the store sits in the canal to allow easy delivery of cargo.
Exterior of Hotel.
One of the earliest buildings at the site is this hotel (from 1761), which served the needs of people passing through the area on their journeys.
Homestead Building.
Originally a barn, the Homestead building (built in the 1760s), was later converted into the home of Peter Smith, an entrepreneur who established many of the buildings and businesses in the town (via NJ Herald). 
Two rocking chairs on porch, with picnic lunch on small table.
Having packed a picnic lunch, we ate on the porch of the Seymour R. Smith House, a Victorian mansion built in 1876. As lunch spots go, this wasn’t bad!
Small stone building beside canal lock.
This small stone building is the Blacksmith’s Shop, built in the 1780s. It sat beside the canal lock, which was designed to lower boats from a section of the river at a higher elevation to another section at a lower level.
Exterior of gristmill building.
The Gristmill, designed to grind grain into flour, was originally used in the 19th century by the National Biscuit Company, which we know today as Nabsico, the Chicago-based creator of such classics as Chips Ahoy!, Lorna Doone, Ritz Crackers, Wheat Thins, and your humble author’s beloved Oreos (via Waymarking). 
View of water wheel beneath gristmill.
The mill’s water wheel still works, and can be found in a pitch-back room beneath the building. Have I raved lately about my my new camera? This photo was taken in a dark room with little available light.
Black and white photo of water wheel beside building.
This old, rusting water wheel, leaning against the gristmill, caught my eye.
Exterior of Peter D. Smith House.
Our final stop in the village was the Peter D. Smith House, a Victorian mansion built in 1871. With several stops to go, we decided to depart the village and head to a one-of-a-kind “farm.”

The Telephone Pole Farm

White Jeep Grand Cherokee parked beside Telephone Pole Farm.
Twenty minute south of Waterloo Village, tucked in the Highlands Ridge Municipal Park, we stopped by another roadside oddity – the telephone pole farm!


Rows of telephone poles.
In the early 20th century, AT&T placed hundreds of telephone poles in this grassy field. The company was interested to see how different types of wood withstood storms, various types of bugs, animals, and birds (via Atlas Obscura).
Small metal plate with number 1611 on a telephone pole.
Each pole is numbered, to allow the researchers to easily classify and categorize the data for each pole.
I’m guessing the “outside plant engineer” who would have been notified (as indicated on the sign) has long since retired. With over 160 million telephone and cable poles now cross-crossing the United States of America, AT&T’s research turns out to have been critically important (via historichcesternj). Our curiosity satisfied, we departed for the last stop of our trip.

The End of World War I

Small stone marker with plaque amid shrubbery. A large sign is hanging in the background, that states WE CELEBRATE THE KNOX-PORTER RESOLUTION SIGNED JULY 2, 1921 - THESE PILLARES WELCOMES PRESIDENT HARDING TO TEH HOME OF US SENATOR FRELINGHUYSEN.
On the side of a traffic circle along Route 28, at the edge of a shopping center parking lot, are two stone pillars and a small plaque – this is all that remains of the home of Senator Joseph Frelinghuysen. It was where the United States officially ended its involvement in the First World War (via Atlas Obscura).
Although World War I ended in 1918, disagreement in Congress meant that the United States did not technically end its involvement until President Harding signed the Knox-Porter Resolution in 1921… talk about government gridlock!
Car odometer reading 68026
After a fun morning, we arrived back home. The Jeep once again proved to be a comfortable, spacious cruiser for our road trip adventures, and along the way passed the 68,000 mile marker. Less than 2,000 miles until the big 70k. Onward!

An Automotive Update

After more than six years of ownership, my 2012 Honda Accord, with over 174,000 miles, has certainly accumulated some wear and tear. The front bumper, in particular, has taken a beating from countless rocks and stones, shards of rubber from the blown tires of trucks on the highway, and random roadway debris. I decided to splurge and have my car refreshed this summer, beginning with the front  bumper being sanded and repainted by a local body shop. I wanted to share the results here:

Front end of 2012 Honda Accord coupe, parked in parking lot.
After 9 years and over 174,000 miles, the front end had seen its fair share of rocks, debris, and careless drivers. Although the factory color, polished metal metallic, hides it well, the bumper is pretty beat up, and feels like the surface of the moon. In addition, countless chips and dings are spotted all over the paint. So the car went to Al Meschi Auto Body in Highland Park, NJ.
2012 Honda Accord parked in garage.
A few days later, I picked up the car, and was absolutely thrilled with the results.
2012 Honda Accord coupe, in parking lot on rainy day.
It looks like a brand new car!

I even shot a quick walk-around video to share how happy I am with the way the car came out!

Wrapping Up

Thanks to Atlas Obscura, a quiet Saturday morning transformed into a fun-filled mini road trip through northern New Jersey. Waterloo Village, part of Allamuchy Mountain State Park in Stanhope, is open from dawn until dusk every day. Highlands Ridge Park, created on land once owned by Bell Labs, is operated by Chester Township. To visit the telephone pole farm, turn into the entrance on North Road (Route 513) and park in the overflow parking lot near the roadway. From there, it is only a short walk to the “farm.” The WWI treaty site is located in a parking lot for a shopping plaza that includes a P.C. Richards & Sons electronics store and a Burger King. There is no walkway from the parking lot to the treaty site, so do be careful of oncoming traffic!

Thanks for coming along on this visit to obscure New Jersey sites along the open road ahead!

‘Til next time.


6 thoughts on “Obscure New Jersey.

  1. Peter Smith had one of the fanciest barns I’ve ever seen.

    I think the canal lock has Hemlock Falls beat.

    WW1 ended in a mall parking lot? Fights usually start there.

    Your car looks phenomenal!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s