Millbrook Village, Delaware Water Gap, a pioneer town of history

Millbrook Village

Old Mine Road
Delaware Water Gap, NJ

Top Things to see in the Philadelphia Area before you Die.

Part 2 of 4 in the Delaware Water Gap Series.

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This is in the first building that is open nearest to the parking lot. There are also maps of the village and of the National Park located here.

 

Millbrook Village is located centrally in the National Park. It was an old mill town that stood on the premises from the 1830s and up until the 1900s. It’s a great place to explore and to see what it was like in harder, but simpler times. It’s a re-creation of the turn-of-the century town of Millbrook Village.

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Old building

On weekends, in the summer months, folks come together to demonstrate crafts and activities to the tourists. The highest population that Millbrook ever encountered in it’s heyday, was a whopping 75 residents.

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W.L. Bertoff building

The town eventually dissipated due to technology and major railways being too far away. The young adults left the village for better pay. Millbrook was pretty much isolated from the world in where it is located. Essentially, it was like living in their own universe.

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A replica Millbrook home

Most of the homes are replications of the pioneer days and not original.

However, you would never know by looking at them. You feel like you are walking around in the past. I thought the outhouse buildings were quite funny.

It’s crazy how we lived only 100 years ago and we didn’t even use toilet paper.

Mostly it was the JC Penny catalog, lol.

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The throne

The national park permits you to tour inside the buildings. We got to experience a few. A must to see is the resurrected church. The original church was burned down by an arson in the 70s.

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Millbrook Village Church

The doors may be closed, but you are welcome to go inside.

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Inside of church

I have to say they fooled me. It felt like it was built in the early 1900s.

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Picture of the grave markers of deceased citizens of Millbrook.

Millbrook Village was a rather unexpected stop. I did not know this was here. We figured we would hit the falls and head south to another location.

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Stream located on the side of the village

This break allowed us to walk around a bit. We were actually quite moved by the architecture. I enjoyed learning about it’s history.

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Info on the old Farm Orchard.

There are numerous structures on the property left to your adventurous pleasure. There are also bathroom facilities. Don’t worry they aren’t an old outhouse. The bathrooms have actual running water and toilet paper. Hahaha.

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Beautiful Barn

Have fun exploring my friends 🙂

Delaware Water Gap/ Buttermilk Falls Revisited~ Top Places to see in the Philadelphia Area before you die

Buttermilk Falls

The Delaware Water Gap
New Jersey side
Walpack Township, NJ

Top Places to see in the Philadelphia Area before you die.

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Yummygal giving her two thumbs up for the Delaware Water Gap

The Delaware Water Gap receives 3,000,000 visitors a year and I am going to show you why.

I am doing a 4 part series on the National Park. Here is part 1 of 4.

Nestled on the upper northwest corner of New Jersey, sits this magnificent treasure.
The Delaware Water Gap is about 2 hours from New York or Philadelphia encompassing nearly 70,000 acres. It is the 14th most visited site in the United States. They believe the National Park was created millions of years ago from major uplift and erosion through glacial activity. This natural event over time has created gorgeous streams, lakes, and rhododendron ravines that we enjoy today. The park sits at a higher elevation which makes it a cooler environment almost by 10 degrees in the summer than the rest of the state. Making this a nice getaway from the heat in the city.

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Buttermilk Falls in the Delaware Water Gap

The Old Mine Rd. that runs north and south through the park can be traced back to 8,000 years ago.
It is one of the oldest roads remaining on the east coast. It travels from New England to Philadelphia in almost the same laid out roadway as thousands of years prior.

The Old Mine Road was used as a major thoroughfare in colonial times for the mining of the copper mines that reside on either side of the road.

The Delaware Water Gap has also played a major role in our history. Especially, during the revolutionary and civil wars. There are cemeteries residing here of rested soldiers from both conflicts. The cemeteries have become overgrown with weeds.

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Forest Canopy in the summer

This National Park has also been one of the first movements in the US. for environmental conservancy. In the 1960s, the army corp of engineers were going to build a dam to generate electricity upriver. This project would have made the gap area a big 20+ mile long lake. People were actually removed out of their homes through eminent domain to build this dam.

However, there was a huge public outcry in this matter. It occurred over a few years of fighting congress and the senate. The battle was won by conservancy organizations and was issued a National Park by President Johnson in 1965.

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NJ Paradise

Presently it is the home to many resorts, lakes, fishing, river, streams, waterfalls, boating, kayaking, canoeing, bathing, hiking, biking, train rides, black bears, camping, and the list goes on for your own discovering pleasure.

Recently, I went up with one of my girlfriends for a beautiful adventurous day. We wanted to check out the park in the smallest amount of time and decided to start north trickling down south for our journey. We started at Buttermilk Falls, the tallest waterfall in NJ. I entered Mountain Road in Walpack, NJ into my navigation unit. The GPS coordinates that the National Park Service gives on their site does not match up to this location. It actually shows a town in Pennsylvania, when the falls are located on the New Jersey side. This is your best bet to get here accurately.

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Ferns near Buttermilk Falls, NJ

Your journey along is breathtaking as the forest and rolling hills wander on for miles of untouched beauty.

On Mountain Rd., there are many creeks and streams for the fishing enthusiast.

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Stream on Mountain Rd. on your way to Buttermilk Falls

The water is clearer than any river source I’ve ever seen in New Jersey. I live within walking distance of the southern end of the Delaware River and it does not look like this.

In actuality, The Delaware River is the cleanest river in the eastern corridor.

It’s a great drive in.

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Beautiful Delaware Water Gap!

Your getting close my friends. Take in the fresh air and scenery.

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Another picturesque shot of the Delaware Water Gap National Park

Eventually, you will come to rolling farm hills of days of old. Look to your right.

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Farmhouse

Keep going until you reach the one lane bridge, and go onto the bridge.

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Bridge to Buttermilk Falls

Make sure no cars are coming so you can get another picture and you can get across.
Remember, one car only at a time!

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Shot of the stream below the bridge

You’ll eventually see this to your left, by now the road is dirt/gravel and no longer paved.

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Extremely gorgeous.

You will come up to these ruins and then you will shortly know you are getting to Buttermilk falls.

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Old Ruins

This will be on your right and then Buttermilk falls will be just ahead.

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More ruins

These homes were left in the 1960s when the government used their eminent domain power. No one has lived in them since then.

Keep going and shortly ahead you can park to the left.

You have reached Buttermilk Falls.

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Obvious sign of Buttermilk Falls

I was here a decade ago. A lot has changed.

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Buttermilk Falls, Delaware Water Gap

They have built in stairs that travel up the falls.

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The stairs

The stairs are pretty steep. USE CAUTION while traveling up.

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Another view at halfway up to the top of Buttermilk

They also offer great lookout decks along the stairs to the top of the falls.

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The very top of the falls with one of the lookout decks

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Top of the Falls

Make your way back down and check out the falls again.

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She’s a keeper

Make sure you make a pose at the falls…….

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The biggest dork ever at Buttermilk Falls, Yummygal

The second biggest dork ever….

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“thebeautyspots” she writes a blog about Harpers Ferry and her adventures in Tennessee and the south

Here’s the clear water of the falls. There are also small fish in here.

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The water at the bottom of Buttermilk Falls

Check it out and explore the area. You will not be disappointed!

I Will be featuring 3 more articles with 2 beaches and 1 is VERY private here in the park.

Stay tuned as I continue, The Delaware Water Gap series.

Sometimes Paradise… Is Just Not Paradise …When You’re In The Dark.

Sometimes Paradise… Is Just Not Paradise …When You’re In The Dark.

The Yummygal tends to get caught in a little snafu from time to time. Usually, it’s quite hilarious. I’m one of those nutbags who always over packs and does tremendous research prior to any engagement.

I recently ran into trouble here in the states on an adventure. I had to call 911 (in which I never called before). I will air the story in the future and explain the details.

However, I have been out almost every single day exploring our area. There are great posts to come on fantastic museums and unique places which are extremely economical, if not free. I know some of you folks are hurting from this tough economy and I’m trying to show you an exciting array of activities you can do without busting your wallet.

Read below for the funny story about a lesson learned in St. John.

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Cinnamon Bay, St. John USVI= Paradise

 

It was our 2nd night in St. John. “Jane” (not her real name) and I had just gotten back from dinner and it was still light out. We decided it would be an excellent (stupid) opportunity to walk to Coral Bay (including the Skinny Legs area) to take pictures of the firehouse and police station.

We brought a flashlight from the villa with us.

You know just in case, right?

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It’s getting dark in paradise

By the time we got to the school near the restaurant, it was dark. No worries, there were street lights on so we walked to Skinny Legs than turned around to head back to the villa.

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Coral Bay Fire Truck

We were not prepared on what we would encounter. We got to the villa road and we literally couldn’t see inches in front of us. Most roads in St. John don’t have street lights since electricity is about 4 times the cost of the mainland. The lighting they have is horrible to begin with. Street lights are predominantly on the major roads. Most villas are not on the major roads.

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Police Station

We got out the flashlight, it didn’t help at all. The two of us were walking literally hand to hand at this point.

If anyone has ever encountered the back roads of St. John, they are deadly. They are not paved, rocky, go up and down very steep inclines, and there are massive crater potholes in some areas. I’m talking meteorites just landed sort of potholes.

We thought we were destined to:

A) break a bone,
B) fall, sprain an ankle,
C) get attacked by the wildlife,

or all of the above.

We actually discussed all of these possibilities in full detail.

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The literal walking nightmare

I have never been in such darkness in my life to where you can’t see ANYTHING in front of you.

We relied on a flash of a camera about every couple of feet. Slowly walking one step at a time.

I believe the road is about a half mile to a mile long. We heard lots of rustling in the woods. Perhaps, goats or donkeys? Bats were flying all around us (the only mammal that is native to St. John, btw).

The tree frogs were croaking away. It was scary and funny at the same time.

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The road using flash from my camera to see

I thought about calling our villa owners because I know they would have come and gathered us, but we were determined to do it alone. Jared our villa owner is awesome. He owns Starlit Escape Villa, but if starlit isn’t your cup of tea, he also manages other properties on the island and they are just as reasonable.

It’s best to work with folks on the island in case you ever run into situations such as this. Which is why I strongly suggest working with the Starlit folks.

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What the heck is in front of us?

We were literally shocked when we got to the villa unharmed. No sprained knee or fall.

Folks, if walking around St. John at night, make sure you have a strong bright flashlight. It’s exceptionally dark especially if not a full moon. You are surrounded by a jungle-like canopy because the island is mostly a National Park. This also applies to some areas of Cruz Bay.

It was a lot of fun in some ways. We learned our lesson and drove at night everywhere from there on out.

You can laugh at me, it’s okay.

The Cape May Zoo Is What I Want To Do ~ Cape May, NJ

The Cape May Zoo

Cape May, NJ

~Top things to see in the Philadelphia Area before you die.~

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Natural wooded setting around The Cape May Zoo.

 

I have a love/ hate relationship with zoos. I love them because you get to see animals you probably would never see in your lifetime. I also admire the efforts to preserve endangered species.

I hate them because they are usually enclosed in small habitants and some animals don’t get the socialization that their breed requires. Other times the animals are neglected.

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Black bear at the zoo

However, I have to say the Cape May Zoo takes great care of their animals. The animal spaces are clean, the animals are well cared for, and they are given natural socialization.

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Albino wallaby

Which is why I believe this zoo is one of the better zoos in the country.

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Free ranging pheasant

The Cape May Zoo was created in 1978 as petting zoo of barnyard animals. Throughout the last few decades they have expanded their acreage and obtained more exotic animals. They have created expansive aviaries, obtained snow leopards (which are very rare), and developed a natural savannah area for zebras and giraffes.

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The giraffe

If there are any Michael Jackson fans out there. They received 13 pink flamingos from his Neverland ranch in 2008.

The zoo is free to the public. They survive on donations and fundraising.

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The ostrich

There is a carousel for the kids and also a nice little steam engine that tours around the park.

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The kiddie train

I came here on July 3rd this year with hardly a parking spot left. However, the overall design of the zoo is excellent. It did not seem crowded at all.

This was my second visit in my lifetime and a first for my son. We will definitely be coming back.

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More natural area near the snow leopard exhibit

It is open every day of the year except for Christmas!

Make sure you leave a donation for the zoo. I know it is free, but the donations go directly to the magnificent animals for their care.

As Tony the tiger says, “They’rrrrrrrrrrrre greeeeat!”.

He was actually talking about The Cape May Zoo.

Sea Isle City, NJ~ Top things to see in the Philadelphia Area before you die.

Sea Isle City

Ludlum Island, NJ

Top things to see in the Philadelphia Area before you die.

If you haven’t been to Sea Isle City aka. SIC as we say around here. You’re missing out.

Founded by a gentleman named Charles Landis.

Charles Landis

Here he is! Charles Landis founder of Sea Isle City. Courtesy of Days Gone By of Sea Isle City, NJ. Pamphlet Publication

In which if you have ever been to SIC, Landis is the main road in town.
He was also the founder of the city of Vineland which meant he was a very rich man.

Sea Isle had cattle on the island up until the late 1890s. The cattle swam across the bay to get here originally.

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The family and I in Sea Isle

It beats the crowd of Atlantic City, Wildwood, and Ocean City any day. Still maintaining that shore charm. Instead of the usual Jersey boardwalk, they have an asphalt promenade. Which makes them stand out a bit amongst the New Jersey shore towns.

It compares to Atlantic City in it’s unique history.

There was once a Bath House that was housed on the boardwalk. The Schwartz Bath House, as it was called, offered folks hot sea water baths. They used a pipeline to pump sea water through a line under one of the piers to the bath houses. The line was known to get caught with seaweed from time to time and the proprietor would have to climb down the pier with a life preserver and unclog the line. This was a very popular attraction in Sea Isle at the time.

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The Schwartz Bath House Picture. Courtesy of Memories of Days Gone By in Sea Isle City, NJ

 

Old Picture of Braca's Cafe

Old Picture of Braca’s Cafe

Sea Isle has always been esteemed for it’s clean beaches. Horse-driven carriages were known to crowd up the beach. After, they no longer needed carriages because of the good old invention of the automobile. Horseback riding became a popular pastime.

The first boardwalk was created in 1907. However, through the last century the boardwalk has had to be rebuilt over and over again due to severe storms.

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Entering one of the beaches

In the 60s, a nor’easter came into town called the Great Atlantic Storm. It was one of the largest storms to have ever hit the east coast. It flooded the main road and people couldn’t evacuate. It rained so bad most homes and beaches were destroyed. The people were literally rescued by helicopter to get out of the city. This storm also wiped out the boardwalk.

The Storm of 1962 that wiped out Sea Isle. Courtesy of Booklet Days Gone By of Sea Isle City, NJ.

The Storm of 1962 that wiped out Sea Isle. Courtesy of Booklet Days Gone By of Sea Isle City, NJ.

After the Great Atlantic Storm, the townsfolk came back to rebuild. They moved the beach back further from the ocean and put in dunes for protection. Thus, the building of the 1 and 1/2 mile asphalt promenade that they have today.

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View of one of the beaches from the Promenade

There’s been a lot of redevelopment over the last decade in Sea Isle. A new state-of-the-art library was just constructed. A Gillian’s Fun Pier has been created for the kids (and us adventurous seeking adults) to enjoy amusement rides. The downtown area of JFK boulevard has been totally transformed.

However, there still is architectural integrity of days of old.

The Colonnade Inn is one of the last surviving Inns of 1880s. Built around 1883 for city folks to beat the heat. The house is a gorgeous Victorian that has stood the test of time and many storms. It serves as a beautiful bed and breakfast today. Still preserving that “old-feel” charm.

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Shot of the Atlantic Ocean and the clean beach of Sea Isle City, NJ

The city is also becoming green. JFK boulevard is lined with LED street lights powered by wind and solar energy.

A must-to-do here: Get homemade fudge at James’ Candies. Eat brunch at Braca’s Cafe and shop at the boutiques around JFK Boulevard.

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A shot outside one of the many boutiques around JFK Boulevard

The beaches are always clean and the people are always friendly.

If you like to go to a town with a lot of history without the hustle and bustle, than this is the place.

Old Sea Isle City Post Card. Courtesy of Days Gone By in Sea Isle Publication

Old Sea Isle City Post Card. Courtesy of Days Gone By in Sea Isle Publication

Smile! You’re in Sea Isle City. (As per their water tower).

The Brooklawn 9/11 Memorial ~ Top Things to see in the Philadelphia Area before you die.

The Delaware Valley 9/11 Memorial

South Hannevig and Maude Avenue
Brooklawn, NJ

Top Places to see in the Philadelphia Area before you die.

There once was this girl. She was fairly poor, but didn’t know it. Her mom was a young divorced single mother going to college at the time. She loved softball, school, and playing with her friends. Brooklawn did not judge her because she was poor. The neighborhood took her under their wing and accepted her for all her talents. They allowed her to blossom, thrive and helped to instill values in this girl to become a great woman.

This girl was me.

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Picture of the Delaware River

I moved away from this little town when I was 14 years old. It had remained a positive fixture in all my life. I have resided in various towns over the years in the Delaware Valley, but it just wasn’t the same.

When my husband and I were looking to buy a home, I had mentioned Brooklawn.

It is now where I reside and hopefully, I will raise my son here. It’s a town where the kids still play outside and a loving warm community.

I am back home.

My husband has also fallen in love with this town.

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Our tree lined streets

Brooklawn is like stepping back in time. You know your neighbors by name all up and down the street. We help each other. We are there for one another. The grade school is one of the best in the country and it is like going to a private school. The teacher to student ratio is 13:1. Most schools are at least 25:1 in the area, if not more. We’ve also been written about in various newspapers such as the NY Times and Washington Post, as the most innovative school in the country. Yes, we are THAT good. The children walk to school, unlike others in our country who take the bus. The music program is excellent. Teaching children how to read and play music by 4th grade with various instruments.

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Our well-kept small homes built in the early 1920s

The town of Brooklawn consists of a mix of white and blue collar folks, young couples and old folks.

Small town America at it’s finest.

As far as the Brooklawn 9/11 memorial is concerned, this is probably the place you can take your kids when they wish to hear where you were on 9/11 in our Philadelphia area. Also, when they start learning about it in school. It’s a great way to break the ice and tell them about this sad scary time that affected all of our lives and changed this nation forever.

Brooklawn’s 9/11 memorial site contains 3 artifacts from all three crash sites. Consisting of a beam which weighs over 8,000 pounds from the World Trade Center site. It stands at 9′ 11″ in height. Dirt and stone are encapsulated in a display from the Flight 93 site from Shanskville, PA., and a limestone block from the Pentagon site that was damaged during the attack are all featured here.

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The beam from the World Trade Towers

Our police captain of Brooklawn, Steve Saymon, put this whole memorial site together. He was a first responder at the World Trade Center during September 11th, 2001.

It is the only monument in the entire country that has artifacts from all three sites.

Which is why you need to see the Brooklawn 9/11 Memorial.

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The Delaware Valley Memorial Site

It is a small, but well maintained site. It will pull on your heart strings when you see it.

It is a must to see in the area.

Ridley Creek State Park, Delaware County, Pennsylvania

Ridley Creek State

Delaware County, PA.
Located between routes 252 and 352
Edgmont, PA.

Pennsylvania, I have not forgotten about you.

Top Places to See in the Philadelphia Area Before You Die.

Ridley Creek State Park is absolutely beautiful. It’s thick undisturbed forests, just outside of the city are to die for.

It consists of over 2,606 acres which makes it a very large park!

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Ridley Creek State Park Mansion

 

This property was acquired in the 1960s by the state of Pennsylvania from Mr. And Mrs. William Jeffords, Sr. They were horse breeders in the area.

Among the fantastic activities; there are hiking and horseback riding trails, a garden, fishing, streams and tons of places to explore.

There is a horse stable here that offers horses for your riding and exploring pleasure through the vast array of wooded pathways.

The hiking is awesome and is it’s main attraction. For those looking for something a bit easier, there’s a 5 mile multi-use trail worth ferreting out.

They even have a gorgeous mansion you can rent out for weddings and special events on the park grounds.

I wanted to have my wedding here, but the date was unavailable. 😦

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irises blooming in the garden

My favorite thing to do here:

I like to bring a picnic lunch and drive to where the mansion is located. It’s a great little drive. It caters to nice winding roads among the surrounding lush forest canopy. The mansion’s whereabouts are in the center of Ridley Creek State Park.

You are also welcome to bring your dog.:)

To the right of the mansion is a huge grassy hill, and a clearing from the woods.

Climb to the top of this hill for an amazing view where you can see the sights below.

It will give you a full view of the mansion, gardens, and meadow. The woods are on each side of you.

This section is where I have mostly enjoyed over the last decade.

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another shot of the mansion

Also, near the mansion there is a sort of a French courtyard garden. It was built of native stone (keystone) and is very rustic. Explore! It’s a really neat feature on the side of the grounds. With eye-catching perennials and natural stone as you walk through.

When I lived in Pennsylvania, this was my favorite park to explore and go to. It’s extremely peaceful and an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and the surrounding congested suburbs.

It’s only 18 miles from Philadelphia.

It’s truly a local gem of Delaware County.

The Hadrosaurus Foulkii Leidy Site Haddonfield, South Jersey

The Hadrosaurus Foulkii Leidy Site

The Ground Zero for Paleontology
Haddonfield, NJ

Top things to see in the Philadelphia Area before you die.

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Downtown Haddonfield

The name Hadrosaurus is Greek for sturdy lizard. This is one sturdy lizard they found. The Hadrosaurus was the first almost intact dinosaur bone remains ever discovered in the world found in 1858.

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The national historic site plaque.

There was a brief discovery in 1838 by a man and farmer named John Hopkins. He was digging with some workers in what they call marl (a clay that is common in the soil here in NJ with abundant nutrients that was popular for farming) and discovered large bones. The location is actually a tributary of The Cooper River. However, nothing really came of it and the bones were thrown away.

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The Hadrosaurus sign

In 1858, a gentleman named William Parker Foulke, age 52 at the time, was vacationing in Haddonfield, NJ. Foulke was a lawyer and avid reformer of the prison system in Philadelphia and had a strong interest in geology. Foulke had learned while vacationing the previous finds in 1838 by the workers and his neighbor,(the farmer) John Hopkins. It intrigued him. He asked Hopkins to assist him and to show him the location of the site. Hopkins had difficulty finding it at first since the area became very overgrown, but they eventually found it. They only had to dig 10 feet to find bones.

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The ravine of the discovery now called, Hadrosaurus Run. A stream that runs into the Cooper River

Foulke and Hopkins dug up all they could find with care and ease. Measured everything and wrapped the bones in cloth to transport them carefully. The remains were stored at William Foulke’s summer residence.

Dr. Joseph Leidy, one of the most famous paleontologists of the time and professor at University of Pennsylvania in anatomy was called to the scene. They continued digging throughout that summer until October, but nothing else was found.

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Another shot of the location

It was a huge discovery and game changer in the world for Paleontology.

The Hadrosaurus Foulkii was the first dinosaur to be put together and displayed at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and still resides there today.

Through the decades of this discovery, numerous dinosaur bones were unearthed all over the world. The Hadrosaurus discovery became a mere forethought. The excavation site was used as a trash dump for household waste over the years.

In 1984 a local boy scout, Christopher Brees, was looking for an eagle scout community project. He had read about Haddonfield’s history and saw an article in The National Geographic, yet no one knew of its location. He set out to find the site. Found old maps and went to work.

He rediscovered it. Brees then got permission from the Haddonfield council to clean up the area. He received small grants from the Academy of Natural Sciences and other clubs for various projects and he marked it with a 700 pound stone he found at the site.

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Bronze plaque

It has become a National Historic Landmark since then. This site is small, but they say you can still find interesting artifacts in the ravine today. Many arrowheads from native americans and shark teeth of thousands of centuries ago have been discovered.

It is now maintained as a volunteer effort by Christopher Brees’ father, Butch Brees. He considers the site, “part of the family.” The site is very natural and beautiful.

There’s a bench for a picnic lunch for the kids. You are welcome to climb down the trail into the ravine to check it out. Possibly finding some artifacts of your own.

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Funny story about these dinosaurs, they are preserved by the “Love Craft Society” some go missing and then replaced by other dinosaurs and no one knows who does it. It remains a mystery, but has cracked up Butch Brees over the years and other folks that have paid a visit. Just another quirky thing us Jersey folks do.

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More funny plastic dinosaurs

There is also a bronze statue in downtown Haddonfield which is quite interesting and the kids would enjoy seeing. After your adventure at the discovery location, you could just head down the road and enjoy the shops and restaurants of Haddonfield.

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Hadrosaurus sculpture in downtown Haddonfield, NJ

Definitely a great spot to check out here in our area and the kids would enjoy.

What kid doesn’t enjoy dinosaurs?

Matts Landing Rd, Heislerville, NJ

Matts Landing Road

Heislerville, NJ 

 This was originally in a series I did of…

Top things to see in the Philadelphia Area before you die. 

When I first visited  this place, it was a bit scary for me.

After my tour of Thompson Beach and the East Point Lighthouse, we decided to check it out.

It sits on a wildlife refuge and the road overlooks the towns of Shellpile and Bivalve.

Matt’s Landing Road is a different kind of road and one should check it out. It’s very different than a lot of roads you see in NJ.  

It was originally settled by the American Indians as their winter quarters escaping from the East Point Lighthouse and Menantico Areas which were their spring/summer/fall stomping grounds. 

The European colonists settled here around the 1700s. It was predominately a fishing and agriculture industry up until the 1960s. Heislerville was known to ship out tons of strawberries which seemed to be their #1 farmed fruit on hundreds of stock cars in a growing season.

Now, it’s mainly a wildlife refuge area with some small unkempt marinas.

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Entering Matts Landing

 Upon entering the road, the refuge is on your left. There are restroom “facilities” (a port-a-potty) for your bathroom pleasure. Hey, when nature calls! I was taken back on the amount of  people that were here crabbing with small children on the side of the road. It was something I never saw before. The amount of people on this partial day was over a hundred folks.

 When we approached Matt’s Landing and looked over to our right and it was a scene out of “The Birds” movie. All these birds, singing away on an island. Hundreds of them hanging out on these dead trees. It was a strange site.

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The island of the crazy birds

Across the river, sits the town of Shellpile. Hundreds of enormous seagulls gather for any tasty morsel that gets thrown away. Clams are mostly processed here from a seafood factory. There are piles and piles of shells just laying outside these factories and it does create a very smelly fishy odor. 

The township has actually shredded these shells up and they have actually used them in making their roadways!

Allegedly, the streets go for miles and miles with grounded up shells.
(some estimate 30-40 miles worth of roadway)

If you continue down the road, there are a few old marinas. 

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Old marina

It was definitely an odd first experience.  If you drive to the end of the road, there is a dike. There is no sign and one can easily drive over it and end up in the water (for folks not familiar with the area.) 

Update 2015: I have been back at least a dozen times to Heislerville and three times to Matts Landing Rd. There is an East Point Lighthouse post on the website and were other mentions of Heislerville and its history on the Facebook page.  There are some nice lookouts and scenery here.  Bring some bug spray during the hot & humid months. Don’t go around crabbing season (as I did).  It gets pretty busy and hard to drive through. 

There is a road heading to the lighthouse, a dirt road on your right that one must check out. It’s a neat view. I saw a sea turtle here. 

Francis Bay is where I want to spend the day :)

Francis Bay

St. John USVI

I enjoy Francis Bay, in St. John because it is a little farther out of the way and off the main “beach road” of the National Park. Which means.. Ding! Ding! Ding! Less of a crowd.

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See no people….hear no people my friends

The best parking is at the beginning of the Francis Bay Trail entrance. It’s a short hike down to the beach and a definite to see. The trail is pretty shaded so it’s not too hot.

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Ruins at Francis Bay

Continue walking the trail, you’ll soon end up seeing these ruins to your right. Only look, don’t touch. They aren’t that stable to hold your skinny butt. It is awesome to see a bit of history amongst your short hike to Francis Bay.

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More ruins along the Francis Bay Trail with use of the native stone bluebitch. Yes, it is the true name of the stone my friends.

As you stroll down further to your left, you will notice an old salt pond that they used back in the day as a ways to dry the precious mineral. Salt was a huge commodity since it was used to preserve meat before refrigeration… Kind of crazy how far we’ve come along in such a short time, eh?

You are getting close my friends…

Eventually, you will come out along this clearing with a few picnic tables to sit at for your pleasure.

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My manly Mangroves.

These picnic tables are about the only facilities here. Make sure you pack accordingly. Snorkeling to the right is probably the best spot here. Near the rocks.

Francis Bay is a bit rockier than the others. However, it’s EXTREMELY calm and sheltered well on each side. Making this an AWESOME snorkel location. It’s a pretty long beach which makes it ideal because you can almost always find a great spot to sit at.

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Francis Bay

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A friend I met at Francis Bay

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My sailboat out there in the distance

This is a great kid friendly beach. A lot of fun and pure St. John tranquility at it’s best.

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My Francis Bay Artwork. It is worth a Million Dollars, fyi.

This is “Jane” and I putting our trademark on Francis Bay. I used rocks from the bay for this masterpiece.

It seems like a common artistic occurrence here. Leave your “mark” when you are here!

Definitely put it on your list for something off the beaten path for your exploration of the beloved island.

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A man swimming or twiddling his thumbs, not sure.

This is probably one of the lesser crowded beaches of all of St. John’s north shore, but just as beautiful.

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True Splendor

If you really take a look at my photos and other blogs I have posted. You can really see how unique each beach is in St. John. Every single beach you see, the more and more you will fall in love with the island. It’s pretty much how it goes.

There will also be many other beaches featured on my site in the next few weeks.

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See you again soon my little buddy!

St. John has my heart forever.

She will capture yours with love at first sight. I can bet you on that!