~The Search For The Infamous Blue Hole In The Pine Barrens~
Winslow Wildlife Management Area
It was an incredibly gorgeous Sunday afternoon. A heat wave had just broke. The temperature was only going to reach a high of 84 degrees (a perfect day). I’ve been searching maps and doing research on our South Jersey area. I decided to go on the search for blue hole this day. It is located off of Piney Hollow Rd. in Winslow Township. I wrote all the directions down, plus used my navigational unit. However, I did not expect to be in the trouble that I was. I expected it to be a very easy discovering day.
NOT Blue Hole, folks
The directions I received were from a NJ wildlife site. They said to make the first left coming from the Black Horse Pike (322) after the large WMA sign (Wildlife Management Area). I did. It’s a dirt road fairly manageable. We took it straight back. We ran into a man driving a Toyota Prius, named Terry. He was also on the same quest to find blue hole. We both stopped our vehicles to exchange any info on what we knew about the area and continued on the search.
The Great Egg Harbor River
The directions from the NJ wildlife site are quite vague. They say to park in the parking lot. However, it isn’t really a parking lot. It’s a dirt circular roadway with trees in the center. When I went to “park”, I went up an incline. The front tire started sinking in the sand. I tried to “rock the car.” It just made things worse. Uh oh!
AND THEN WE WERE STUCK.
Ran into quite a predicament
It was too deep to even dig out. I immediately called AAA to come out for a tow rescue. However, they kept transferring me from one dispatcher to another. I was waiting on the phone for 45min. I was offering the same information over and over again to each dispatcher they decided to pass me onto. I was screaming by this point. I was trying to preserve valuable battery life and had my 12 month old son with me. Thank goodness! I also brought Yummygal’s momma along with me!
Another gorgeous shot
They kept asking where I was. It’s a straight shoot back from Piney Hollow. It wasn’t like I was stuck in the middle of nowhere. I am in a park. I was just stuck in sand. I got so aggravated with AAA that I hung up the phone and dialed, 911. They would know how to get me out of this situation.
While we waited for the police to locate us, we went over to the place as some refer to as, the blue hole. However, it is not the blue hole. I’ve seen folks post about it on blogs. If we had gotten out of our vehicle and walked the trail north of the “parking lot” it would have led us to the blue hole.
Again, NOT THE blue hole.
In actuality, it is the Great Egg Harbor River, which has its own unique history.
The area was originally used as a camping site for the American Indians. During colonial times, the river was used during the Revolutionary war. The Great Egg Harbor River was predominately used as a main communication route to Philadelphia to transport secret military letters.
John Inskeep, from Marlton, NJ, had purchased the land and set up a saw mill in this general location shortly after the war. He also housed deer he caught from the woods and enclosed them in an area with a high fence. The fence was supposedly so tall that he has been recorded as saying,” hardly any deer ever get out.” The deer were killed for their meat. Inskeep went on to serve 2 terms as mayor of Philadelphia In 1801 and 1805. He was also president of the North American Insurance Company. In present-day, it is known as the healthcare giant, Cigna.
Very near this old footbridge resided the old Innskeep mill. There use to be a bridge passage over the river for the last 200 years. It connected both Camden and Gloucester counties. The Egg Harbor River is the boundary line. In the last decade or so, hunters have destroyed the bridge. They were fighting over which side was theirs.
The Monroe Police had difficulty finding us. They had thought we were at the blue hole off of Jackson Rd. A man on an off-road vehicle came back to our area. We were able to flag him down. He was able to go up to Piney Hollow to flag down the officer and bring him back to our location.
It turns out we were out of their jurisdiction. We were stuck in between two county borders of Camden and Gloucester. They were not able to assist because of liability. However, a man named, Quincy Jones. Not the famous producer, but famous in his own right. Quincy Jones was a former dispatcher of Monroe Township and was called to the scene. He was able to pull us out with his jeep. Long Live, Quincy!
The Egg Harbor River gets it’s murky color from tannins and iron from the cedar leaves that fall into the river. Most refer to it as “tea-colored.”
Quincy is an extremely unique individual. It turns out he works for the NJ Forest Fire Service and assists with putting out forest fires. He also helps people on his “days off” with folks that have gotten their boats in predicaments on the water. At times, offering his own “tow service.” He’s an adventurer, rescuer, daredevil, historian, and an incredible guy to know.
He was also the captain on the infamous, “Spirit of Philadelphia” that I’m sure all of you have heard of in the Philly area.
He asked what we were doing back there. I told him that I do this website and write stories about unique places to see in our area.
More tea, drink up..
Quincy then directed me to the Lemon Hill mansion in Philadelphia. He had the pleasure of growing up in this magnificent mansion in Fairmount Park. His mother, Mrs. Joyce Jones, is the director at Lemon Hill. I will feature this gorgeous historic mansion in the next post.
This entire day was an odd coincidence. It seems that Mr. John Inskeep and Mr. Henry Pratt of Lemon Hill mansion were indeed in the same social circle and perhaps friends.
There are recorded meetings and publications of both men together.
I can’t thank Mr. Quincy Jones enough. For coming to the rescue of someone he didn’t know.
Also, for introducing me to his wonderful mother.
(For the 3rd time, NOT blue hole)
The Monroe Police and Terry were also a godsend. Terry, the man in the Prius, had forgotten his coupons for the grocery store and is why he ventured back to find blue hole. He stayed with us until the police arrived. He is not a serial killer, haha.
I have made a promise to both Quincy and my husband. I am not permitted on any sand roads unless in an all-wheel drive vehicle.
Don’t go back unless you have a 4X4!
FYI, I did eventually find the blue hole, but I found something even better. Quincy!
Side Note: I did find a “blue hole” big lake. There are quite a few in the area. I’m a map nut, but most are private property folks. The REAL BLUE HOLE is an old spring located near where I was stuck in the sand. The “blue hole” off of Jackson road is closed. If you are caught back there, you are asking for MAJOR FINES. I spoke to the officers about the location. The place I found you are permitted, however swimming IS NOT. You are able to fish or kayak. Just a heads up. The Winslow Police do not mess around. I will air it next week. NEVER CROSS PRIVATE PROPERTY as some of these old mining lakes are private. Also, these lakes/ponds are not safe to swim in. They are heavily polluted with either waste, chemicals, or high levels of mercury. Just because you see fish, doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Think about it… they tell you not to eat fish too often due to the mercury content… DUH..