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WARREN COUNTY HISTORICAL SITES

All the information on this page was taken from the book "Historical Sites of Warren County" - copyrighted in 1965 by the Warren County Baord of Chosen Freeholders.


WARREN COUNTY COURT HOUSE
by Mrs. Helen P. Leedom

On 2nd Street between Hardwick and Mansfield Streets in Belvidere is the Warren County Court House. This magnificent American Colonial edifice is the pride of the county. The clock in the cupola is said to have come from the Stadleman Institute, a former lecture hall on the north side of the town, and is wound by hand once a week. In earlier days a bell and wheel were housed in the cupola. the bell ringing out so clearly it was used for any and all purposes.

The erection of the Court House and public buildings was contracted for in 1825. The first meeting of the Board of Chosen Freeholders held in the Court House was on April 3, 1827. Many interesting trials were held here, some of them making headlines in newspapers far and wide. One of the most famous grew out of the murder of John Castner, Maria Castner his wife, Mary Matilda his daughter, and John B. Parks, brother of Peter Parks. The murders were committed at Changewater in 1843 by Joseph Carter. Jr., Abner Parks and Peter W. Parks. They were of such an inhuman and revolting character as to send a shudder of horror through the whole county. It wasn’t until 1844, however, that the murderers were convicted and in 1845 were hanged within an enclosure in front of the Court House.

Another important trial was that of Jacob S. Hardin, a minister who in 1850 murdered his wife by poison. His life, too, was brought to a miserable end upon the gallows. These were public hangings and invitations were sent out. There are many of these invitations held as souvenirs by the families of those who received them. The last hanging occurred in the jail yard in 1892 with only legal witnesses present.

The Warren County Ring trials also created great excitement. Plunder, fraud and political chicanery were perpetrated on the people by some of the officials of the county. Ten were convicted on January 25, 1879, and sentenced to hard labor at the prison, from one to four years.

The Court House was repaired in 1867 and by the turn of the century was somewhat changed in appearance, with additions and alterations. In 1959 - 1960 it was rebuilt and now with its weathered old red brick, white columns and graceful American Colonial architecture, it is a most imposing structure, beautifully landscaped, with fine parking facilities.

Click Here for Pictures of the Court House


 

INGERSOLL DAM
by Dora E. Steckel

This facility supplies the Phillipsburg Plant of IngersollRand Company. The dam creates a 33-million gallon reservoir on Merrills Brook. It supplies water through a 16-inch pipeline. The reservoir was created by erecting a concrete dam 282 feet long and 30 feet high with a 130-foot spillway. It is 250 feet higher than the plant, providing a gravity flow. Under the public utility law, the company is obliged to serve water, so far as it is able, to customers along the pipeline right of way who apply. As a result the water company now has about 50 customers. The use of the water has grown consistently.

For instance in 1910, the daily consumption ranged from 375,00 to 483,00 during the six-monthperiod from April through September. In 1955 it was 1,142,000 gallons. In 1965 the consumption was 1,300,000 gallons a day.


PAHAQUARRY TOWNSHIP
by Mrs. Marilyn Moxley

CAMP WEYGADT

This is one of three camps of the Boy Scouts of America located in Pahaquarry Township. Weygadt was operated for the scouts of the Delaware Valley Council. The camp encompasses 1,260 acres, has excellent waterfront facilities on the Delaware River, and contains Mt. Tammany, the New Jersey half of the Water Gap, which attains an altitude of 1625 feet.

DELAWARE WATER GAP

Mt. Tammany in New Jersey, and Mt. Minsi in Pennsylvania are part of the Kittatinny and Blue Mountain Ranges, and are the principals, engaged with the Delaware River in a losing battle of time and erosion. This gap has been world renowned as a spot of rare and natural beauty. In the early part of this century, the Delaware Water Gap was a close rival to Niagara Falls as a honeymoon resort.

THE WORTHINGTON STATE FOREST

Across the road from the headquarters entrance is a foot path, clearly marked, which can lead the more hardy tourist for a distance of 2 ½ miles to the summit of Blockade Mountain. Here on a level plateau lie two very attractive lakes, Sunfish Pond, a mile wide and a half mile long, and Catfish Pond, a much smaller lake located five miles east of Sunfish pond. The elevation here is 1378 feet.

History: Most of the Worthington Tract was purchased in 1890 by Mr C. C. Worthington, a prominent New Jersey industrialist and financier, from the estate of Robert DePui. Mr. DePui was the last of the line of descendants of Nicolas DePui, who bought a portion of these lands originally from the Indians in 1727. Mr. Worthington maintained 6,200 acres of Buckwood Park as it was then known, as a game preserve, and was an early practitioner of modern methods of reforestation.

The old home, one of several originally owned by the Van Campens, is now the headquarters of the Worthington Tract, and is the living quarters of the Park Ranger and his family. The house is sturdy and sound, although in sad need of interior restoration. It is known to be 180 years old at least, and its beamed ceilings, wide plank floors, and graceful staircase attest to the affluence of its builder.


PHILLIPSBURG
by Raldo L. Mattioli

UNION SQUARE HOTEL AND AREA

Dated 1811, this hotel, now expanded and renovated, is the historic nursery of Phillipsburg. It was built by John P. Roseberry, prominent landowner of that area. The first town election was held here and the hotel became the temporary city hall until this was located on Market and South Main Streets. The square was the landing port for the ferry across the Delaware from Northampton Street as well as the entrance to the old double-driveway wooden covered bridge across the river from 1806 to 1895. Known as the “kissing bridge,” it was later replaced by a steel one. The wooden bridge was financed by lottery and loans and tolls were collected for the first six years. The changeover in 1895 was accomplished overnight, with the steel bridge constructed under, around and over the wooden landmark. Tolls over the steel bridge were collected to 1922. The center of the present bridge was gutted by the raging high waters during the 1955 Diane hurricane. The Army provided a temporary Bailey bridge. During that flood, a high water mark of 43.7 feet was reached. There was eight feet of water in Union Square. Where the present gas station is across from the hotel were the Phillipsburg National Bank & Trust Co., the Belvidere-Delaware Railroad depot and the Lenni-Lenape Hotel. At the square was the turntable for the Phillipsburg Horse Car. The stables for the company were located just below the square. This was the town s first transportation system, with tracks extending from the Andover Iron Co. along Main Street. For a return trip from the square, the horse pulled the 12-passenger car onto the turntable and both were turned around to the opposite direction. The square was made famous in 1860 when Stephen A. Douglas passed through on his way to Easton to speak as a candidate for President of the United States. He was defeated, however, by Lincoln. In 1908 William Jennings Bryan visited as a presidential hopeful, and was defeated by William H. Taft. Could the square be a jinx to presidential hopefuls?

FREE PRESS

The Free Press publishing plant is on the corner of Chamber and Hudson streets in the building of the last of the town’s movie houses called The Philmont. The theatre first was known as the Chamber Street Theatre, built in 1915 by the Phillipsburg Amusement Co. The last owner was David O. Atkinson, a pioneer exhibitor of motion pictures in the Lehigh Valley. He also operated the Main Theatre from 1935 to 1957 when it was sold for use as an appliance storage center. The Philmont was sold by Atkinson to the Dalrymple Printing Co. of Easton in 1960. The Free Press now continues the town’s history of newspapers.

The Phillipsburg Standard was the first in 1860, of pamphlet style. In 1886 came The Warren Democrat followed by The Daily Mail in 1887 which lasted only two years. The Democrat was sold in 1872 and again in 1880. It folded in 1891 when the Phillipsburg Post began as a Sunday paper, lasting only 14 months. It became a daily until 1913. From 1911 to 1913 another venture, The Daily Press, lived and died. Edgar H. Weller began the Phillipsburg Star in 1930, changing the name to The Phillipsburger in 1935.

STATION OF THE FIRST RAILROAD

Just before the iron bridge on South Main Street is the site of what was the passenger waiting and ticket station of the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The tracks were completed to Phillipsburg July 1, 1852. On the following day, the first train arrived - the woodburning locomotive “Pennsylvania,” coming from Elizabeth in five hours with eight passenger cars filled with 500 guests and a band. There was wild celebration with its arrival; a parade on Main Street, church bells sounded and cannons boomed. A Phillipsburg resident, John Alpaugh, was the fireman. The lines opened the area to the rich mines across in Pennsylvania. Effective April 10, 1854, a passenger could depart from Phillipsburg and travel to New York City in four hours; the period included one hour for the ferry trip from Elizabeth to New York City. The first automatic railroad semaphore signal was installed on the main line of the Jersey Central here in 1893. Near that spot today stands a modern electric signal.

GARDEN NURSING HOME

The building is on the right side of Wilbur Avenue. It was the first hospital, known as the Maternity Hospital and Infantorium of Warren County. In 1922 a planning committee purchased the building from the Phillipsburg Board of Education for $1,500 at a public sale. The building had been the William E. Harwig School, but had been condemned because of structural weaknesses. It was remodeled and the hospital opened in 1924 with the help of a $7,500 donation by Mrs. Mary Lesher Reese added to public contributions. The hospital offered prenatal and postnatal instruction, hygienic child care, treatment for children suffering from malnutrition, and schooling for nurses. Regular medical and surgical services also were provided for all persons. The name was changed to Warren Hospital. A school for nurses was held from 1925 to 1933. A new wing was added in 1941. The need for a new hospital was realized in 1954 and in 1958, the new hospital was opened at the new location on Roseberry St.

The old building was sold for $42,500 to Stuart Hochman of Easton who opened the Golden Years Rest Home in 1960, after necessary renovations were made. In 1961 it was sold for $120,000 to the Phillip Easton Nursing Home, Inc., which then changed the name to Garden Nursing Home.


YARDS CREEK PROJECT
by Miss Eloise Lehnert

Yards Creek Project of the New Jersey and Jersey Central Power and Light Companies. Construction on the Yards Creek Power Generating Station was started in 1962. The station will produce 333,000 kilowatts. One of the first pumped storage stations in the world, Yards Creek contains two huge manmade reservoirs at different levels of the mountain. Power is generated by water turbines powered during the day by water rushing from the top reservoir through huge tunnels to the lower reservoir. At night, when power demands are less, extra electricity is used to pump the water back to the upper reservoir. The upper reservoir is a 4,900-acre lake and the lower reservoir a 5,420-acre lake. The project area also includes a 510-acre auxiliary reservoir.


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Harvey Minchin / Warren County, NJ
This page was last edited on 10/15/96