Location: Batsto, New Jersey
Webpage: New Jersey State Forest
General Description: Located in the southern extent of the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve and within the New Jersey Wharton State Forest, Batsto has a long history of development. The Batsto River Iron Works was built in 1766 by Charles Reed using bog iron harvested from the streams and bogs in the area. Using wood from the pitch pine forests to make charcoal this iron was used to make household products such as cookpots and kettles and ammunition for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. In 1784, William Richards became majority owner of the Iron Works beginning the Richards years that would last for 92 years. By the mid-1800s iron production had declined and it became a glass business making window glass. This business was soon bankrupt and the town was purchased by Joseph Wharton, a Philadelphia businessman in 1876. Batsto became his home when he expanded the mansion and many of the village buildings. He became involved in a lot of agricultural and forest operations, even trying to sell water to Philadelphia. New Jersey purchased the Wharton property in the mid-1950s creating the Wharton State Forest. The last inhabitants in the town was vacated in 1989.
1) The Visitor Center at Batsto Village has a very nice museum about the natural features of the area as well as the extensive history of the village. There is also a nice short movie about the history of Batsto.
2) Especially since the village was still being lived in until the 1980s, it is very good condition. There grist mill had been converted from a water wheel to a turbine and supposedly it is still operational.
3) They have a pile of the bog iron and one of the boats that found sunk in the water.
4) The mansion is an interesting structure with the many changes over the years. They have furnished it as it would have looked in the mid-1800s.
5) The sawmill was very interesting, since they still have the log deck (with logs) and sawblade in position to cut a log. All of it driven by water.
6) They have constructed a fish race that bypasses the dam to allow spawning fish upstream access. The race is a serious of shallow steps that is covered in wood to protect the fish as they make their way around the dam.
7) A few of the houses are still open to the public, which are left as they were when they were vacated in the mid-1900s. A quite interesting mix of mid-1800 and early 1900 appliances and furnishings.
8) We took a hike on a easy loop that goes through the pitch pine forest and along the river and bogs. The understory of the forest was a carpet of what we believe are blueberries just beginning to bloom. When in full bloom the understory will be breathtaking.