Matts Landing Road
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.
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.
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.
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.