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A Guide To Its Present And Past
Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of New Jersey
American Guide Series

Originally published in 1939
Some of this information may no longer be current and in that case is presented for historical interest only.

Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

Tour 27
Laurelton–Lakehurst–Medford–Junction with State 38; State 40.

Laurelton-Lakehurst-Medford-Junction with State 38; State 40.
Laurelton to junction with State 38, 55.4 m.
Hotel accommodations at terminals; few lunchrooms and filling stations in eastern section.
Concrete roadbed of two to four lanes.

State 40 crosses the pine wastes, largely cut-over land with scrub growth, much of which is now State-protected forest. In the western section the highway enters a zone of small farms. The farms become increasingly fertile and the villages more numerous as the road nears the outskirts of industrial Camden.

LAURELTON, 0 m. (10 alt., 350 pop.) (see Tour 22), is at the junction with State 35 (see Tour 22) and State 34 (see Tour 21).

Bending R. on a slight downgrade, the road crosses the marshy, pine-bordered waters of three branches of Metedeconk River, and then climbs gently again.

At 0.9 m. another branch of the Metedeconk widens to form a LAKE (L), in places choked with marsh grass.

The road runs straight over a flat area of new pines growing through a burnt-over forest. Beyond the graveled shoulders is an expanse of white sand, which offers poor nourishment to the skimpy vegetation. A few desolate chicken farms in a low grove of scrub oaks are the only habitations.

At 5.1 m. State 40 underpasses US 9 (see Tour 18).

Swift streams, draining the sandy pine barrens, cut under the road at intervals until a tall and slender water tank at Lakehurst is seen directly ahead.

At 10.4 m. the roadbed is of tar and gravel and turns L. toward the eastern end of Lakehurst.

At 10.5 m. is the junction with State 37 (see Tour 30). Between this point and Lakehurst, State 40 is united with State 37.

LAKEHURST, 10.9 m. (79 alt., 947 pop.), is a quiet little village that has seen the iron furnaces prosper and fail, the charcoal industry rise and fall, the railroad shops come and go, and the lighter-than-air craft hailed and now seriously questioned. There are tall elms along the streets, planted in the Civil War period when real estate men tried to put new life into the old settlement of Manchester after the iron and charcoal industries died. The town was almost wiped out, but in 1860 the "new railroad," the Jersey Central, placed its repair shops here and Manchester again flourished. The shops have been closed since 1932; there is no industrial plant in the village now and little farming around it.

Into a tavern here early in September, 1937, came a local blueberry picker, John Henry Titus, 91 with a kerosene-soaked rag in his shoe to ward off mosquitoes. According to Time magazine, "he sank to one knee, and, with gestures, once more recited his famous poem, The Face on the Barroom Floor." Scholars, however, generally give H. H. D'Arcy credit for the poem.

Right from the center of Lakehurst on a macadam road to the UNITED STATES NAVAL AIR STATION, 1.2 m. (open daily 8-6), a wire-fenced reservation of 1,500 acres on a broad rise above the thick pines. Prior to the World War the tract was used first by private munitions makers and then by the Army chemical warfare branch as a munitions testing ground. After the armistice, Camp Kendrick, as it was called, was allocated to the Navy as a base for lighter-than-air craft. In 1923 the first American-built, rigid, lighter-than-air ship, the Shenandoah, made her initial flight from Lakehurst. The ZR-3 arrived from Germany on Oct. 15, 1924, and became the Los Angeles, now decommissioned. The Akron left this station and fell into the ocean off Barnegat in 1933. The Macon, which crashed in the Pacific, made test flights from here before proceeding to her base in California. Four small air-ships were stationed here in 1938: the K-1, the J-4, the G-1, and the ZMC-2, plus three airplanes for aerological observations. In 1936 and 1937 this station was used as the landing field for the commercial flights of the German airship Hindenburg, destroyed here by fire on May 6, 1937, in the space of 4 minutes with the loss of 36 lives. The tragedy occurred as the ship was 250 feet above the ground, maneuvering toward the mooring mast. The crowd, gathered to watch the landing, stood helplessly as travelers leaped flaming from the gondola or were burned alive. The cause of the spectacular airship disaster has never been completely determined. With the passing of the Hindenburg, Lakehurst lost its importance as a base for commercial lighter-than-air craft.

The station's many scattered buildings are dominated by gigantic hangars, the largest 96, feet long, 350 feet wide, and 200 feet high, which can house simultaneously all five airships assigned to the base and still have empty space. The steel frame of the hangar is encased in a silver-colored asbestos-composition material. The double doors are not attached to the building but are mounted on rollers. Each door weighs 2,700 tons and is operated by four 20horsepower motors. Inside the large hangar on the south wall is a bronze memorial tablet dedicated to the 14 men lost With the Shenandoah.

A separate hangar for airplanes, a telescoping storage tank for helium gas, powerhouses, workshops, armory, administration building, and quarters make the station a small modern city.

In the SW. corner of the reservation is the CATHEDRAL OF THE AIR, a small Gothic-type chapel in gray stone, dedicated to those living and dead who have contributed to man's conquest of the air. Lakehurst is the only air station where the Navy raises and trains carrier pigeons.

The many small modern houses along the highway west of Lakehurst are rented to officers of the air station when quarters at the reservation are filled. Reduction of personnel has made this a deserted district.

The road passes a few patches of dense cedar woods, survivals of the time when large forests of pine and cedar covered much of this region. Huge white letters and arrows painted on the road are direction markers for airplane pilots. Long stretches of roadway with wide dirt shoulders edged with scattered pines present a desolate picture for miles ahead.

At Pole Bridge Brook (R), 22.1 m., is WHITESBOG, one of the largest cranberry plantations of the State. The cultivated swamp blueberry, also produced here, was first developed commercially on this plantation. Burnt areas of the pines (L) and old sand pits filled with water break the monotony of the wooded waste.

UPTON, 24.3 m. (90 alt.), is a center for rattlesnake hunting. Some of the reptiles are sold to museums or zoos in the large cities, others go to tanners who prepare snakeskin for women's shoes and other leather goods. One well-known hunter here has caught thousands of reptiles, pine snakes as well as rattlers. Guides are available during the brief deer-hunting sea- son.

At 25 m. is the junction with a dirt road.

Left on this road is the hamlet of MOUNT MISERY, 0.8 m. (120 alt.), with a long-deserted inn and a few decaying houses. The best explanation of the name is that it was shortened from Misericorde, or Mercy, which may have been bestowed by its first settler, Peter Bard, a Frenchman, who came here from Burlington in 1723. Residents now complain that the numerous protected deer leap over 6-foot fences to eat their garden produce, wild rabbits rob them, and rattlesnakes raid the hencoops.

UPPER MILL, 27.5 m., has only two houses, the remains of a tiny mill settlement. On one, the date 1720 is carved on a log.

Westward the highway passes through LEBANON STATE FOREST, 27.8 m. (see Tour 35).

At 28.9 m., at a traffic circle, is the junction with State S40 (see Tour 35).

At the traffic circle is the junction with a macadam road.

Right on this road is ONG'S HAT, 1.6 m. (l00 alt.), a tiny village that hangs on the end of the pine country. The Ong family was among the first in this neighborhood. The tradition is that one young Ong slighted a woman who was so angered that she snatched the chimney-pot hat from his head and flung it into the branches of a pine tree. There the hat remained to give its name to the settlement.

West of Lebanon Forest the highway runs into the pine barrens. Straight walls of the wilderness flank the road, and signs of human habitation are lacking for miles. Narrow wagon trails lead to haunts of hunters and sportsmen in the forest. Laurel grows in abundance; its springtime bloom presents a brilliant spectacle. Small groves of silver birches occasionally break the dark green wall. The highway crosses many tiny creeks and streams of clear, cedar-tinged water.

At 29.8 m. (R) is a break in the forest wall, a new log cabin roadstand surrounded by tables and rustic chairs. Cranberry bogs, low sunken hollows resembling deserted excavations for immense buildings, overgrown with thick underbrush, edge up to the highway.

FRIENDSHIP CREEK, 34.9 m., is joined farther south by Bread and Cheese Run.

Gradually the wooded region gives way to small farms with fruit orchards and planted fields. Hip-roofed barns and roomy old farmhouses stand under old trees a few hundred feet from the road.

At 36.8 m., at a traffic circle, is the junction with US 206 (see Tour 6).

At 36.9 m. is the junction with a hard-surfaced road.

Right on this road is the odd little crossroads hamlet of RED LION, 0.2 m. (65 alt., 62 pop.). The village, eight weather-beaten frame dwellings, a dilapidated old barn, and a combination country store and filling station, clusters around a rambling hotel, RED LION INN. It is a three-story red brick structure of Colonial design, said to have been built in 1710. Only the outside lines of the old building remain unaltered; modern plumbing, electricity, and wallpaper have changed the interim Frank Peck, known as the "Water Wizard," is one of Red Lion's most popular residents, according to Henry C. Beck in Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey. With a divining rod, Peck stalks along a plot of ground, stops, moves on until the rod turns in his hand and points to the ground. "Here is the place to dig the well," Peck says. "Five dollars, please." The red lion that gave its name to the hotel and to the town is supposed to have been a mountain lion slain by an old resident, who, though badly clawed in the conflict, clubbed the animal until it was crimson with blood.

MEDFORD, 41.2 m. (60 alt., 550 pop.), founded by Quakers before 1759, is a quiet village on the edge of the pines, at the crossing of two old stage roads. On Union St. one block from Main St. is the brick ORTHODOX FRIENDS MEETING HOUSE, built 1814, in a widespread grove of maples, elms, and sycamores.

The MEDFORD HOTEL, Main St. corner of Coates St., was built in 1842. The house interests antiquarians because of a row of plain iron pillars on its lower veranda, bearing the letter "B" near the base. This is the mark of Batsto Furnace, which made munitions in the Revolution. An earlier hotel building, burned in 1842, was rebuilt to make the present structure. Jesse Richards, ironmaster of Batsto, gave the posts to the innkeeper, Daniel Coates.

The South Branch of the Rancocas brought Quaker settlers here before 1759. The village was known by various names until Mark Reeve visited Medford, Mass., and was so much impressed with the place that he induced his neighbors in 1828 to name their town for it.

At 41.4 m. is the junction with a macadam road. Left on this road to PINE LAKE, 3.2 m., northernmost of a chain of five lakes known as TAUNTON LAKES, popular summer resorts. Pine Lake is now a favorite Sunday-school picnic site despite its earlier names of Whisky Hollow and Spirit Vale.

At 4.2 m. the route turns L. on a dirt road crossing a dam at the foot of Taunton Lake. Here (L), just below the dam, is the SITE OF TAUNTON FURNACE AND FORGE with a setting of stately old trees and old houses. The lake and dam gave power to the furnace, built in 1766 by Charles Read of Philadelphia.

West of Medford the route passes through rich, cultivated farm land. Venerable old brick farmhouses stand well back from the road. Lean-to kitchens or frame rooms seem to be temporary structures laid against the brick walls for support.

MARLTON, 46.7 m. (100 alt., 500 pop.), owes its name to an industry that has dwindled in late years-the mining of marl from pits in this area. This fertilizer added greatly to the produce of Burlington County farms in the last century. Marl is now used to soften water in industry and to mix with sand for molding steel. The town has changed little since its early days, and is well-kept despite its years. The BAPTIST CHURCH (R) was built in 1805. The GENERAL STORE at the Four Corners, a frame building, was erected in 1823.

At 47 m. is the junction with State S41 (see Tour 37).

A few turkey farms dot the countryside here, with huge flocks strutting within wire-enclosed fields or perching upon naked trees.

At 49.5 m. (R) stands the REEVE FURNACE, a brick stack bound with heavy iron hoops, built in 1875 in a futile attempt to revive bog-iron making here. The supply of bog ore was insufficient, so the furnace was converted to a lime kiln, burning oyster shells from the Delaware. In 1927 it closed because of the advancing price of fuel.

ELLISBURG, 51.7 m. (50 alt., 50 pop.), is a small group of houses and stores near a traffic circle. At the circle is the intersection with old King's Highway.

Left from the center of Ellisburg is HADDONFIELD, 1.9 m. (80 alt., 8,857 pop.), founded by a Quaker girl of 20, Elizabeth Haddon. Today mainly the home of commuters to Camden and Philadelphia, it retains a good deal of the country-like charm and simplicity of its early days. In 1710 Elizabeth was sent over from England by her father, who had no sons, to develop 40o acres of land. Within a year the young woman had started her colony, erected a home, and married John Estaugh, Quaker missionary, because she had the courage to propose to him. Long-fellow tells the story of the romance with the "Theologian's Tale" in Tales of a Wayside Inn.

Later the "great road or King's Highway" was laid through the Haddon estate on its route from Burlington to Salem. At the time of the Revolution it was the most important thoroughfare in this region. Today the highway, shaded by old trees, is still the main street of Haddonfield, broad and leisurely even in its short business section. The center of town is the old section, the modern homes spreading out around it.

The SITE OF THE ELIZABETH HADDON HOUSE (private), NE. cor. Wood Lane and Marion Ave., is on a small hill rising unexpectedly from the midst of modem homes in the northeastern part of town. The grounds and buildings have retained their Colonial appearance, but the log home Elizabeth Haddon built burned in 1742. The sedate three-story brick house, built on the site in 1845, has a flat roof with great chimneys, solid white shutters, and a Classic Revival porch. Before the house are two English yew trees brought over in 1712 by Elizabeth, and on the door is her silver knocker. In the garden stands the original STILLHOUSE built by Elizabeth; it is probably the oldest structure in the community. The young woman won the lasting gratitude of neighboring Indians through the manufacture of medicinal whisky. From the very first the enterprise was so successful that the sick and ailing beat an almost constant tattoo on Elizabeth's silver knocker. Although the suffering tribesmen underwent treatment for prolonged periods, complete cures were rarely effected.

INDIAN KING INN (open daily except Sun. 9-5; free), 233 King's Highway E., was built in 1750 by Mathias Aspden and has been a historic memorial since 1916. Several of the rooms are furnished with Colonial pieces; others have on display ' collections of Colonial relics. New Jersey's first legislature met here in 1777, when driven from Trenton by the British. It declared New Jersey a State, and in May of the same year adopted the first Great Seal of the State. The inn is a large three-story structure with pitch roof and white stucco walls. Pent eaves run across the street front, projecting far enough to give shelter to the low brick platform that forms a porch. A small hip roof with a dormer above the central second floor win-dows makes the design unusual.

The OLD GUARDHOUSE (private), 258 King's Highway E., was connected with the Indian King Inn by an underground passage. Prisoners unfriendly to the Amer- ican cause during the Revolution were tried by the Council of Safety at the inn and brought to the guardhouse through the tunnel. The house is an unpretentious, two- and-one-half-story structure of gray-painted brick.

ERLTON, 52.5 m. (45 alt., 856 pop.), its name not a New York version of "Oiltown," is a recently developed residential community. Red brick houses are scattered along the paved streets, with large fields be- tween the dwellings.

At 52.9 m., at a traffic circle, are the lawns and trees of CAMDEN COUNTY PARK (L), with Cooper Creek flowing through it, parallel to the highway.

The distant houses of Camden are L.– long rows of two-story brick buildings. The city chimneys are seen on the skyline.

A large grassy plot enclosed by a high wire fence is WARREN BUCK'S Zoo (R), 53.7 m. (adm. 10 cents), recently moved here from Camden. Wild animals, including monkeys, small felines, and birds, are exhibited.

The highway passes the COOPER RIVER GOLF CLUB (L) at 54.7 m. (9 holes; greens fee 60 cents, Sat., Sun. and holidays $1).

At 55.4 m., at a traffic circle, is the junction with State 38 (see Tour 26) and US 130 (see Tour 19) 2.7 miles east of Camden.

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