E-Biking Along the Rancocas

Rancocas Creek. Source: TCM

Rancocas State Park is in Burlington County, New Jersey, where the North and South branches of Rancocas Creek meet to form the Forks of the Rancocas. A Lenape village was formerly located here and in the 18th century, agriculturalist Charles Read owned the land. More houses were built in the 19th century, but in the first decade of the 20th century, much of the land was mined for sand, permanently altering the landscape and likely destroying any archaeological remains. Some ruins survived to the present, and trees and other vegetation now cover the scars from mining.

My Radmini e-bike had no trouble with the trails, which includes loose sand, packed sand, lots of roots, a little bit of mud, and the occasional log.

Radpower RadMini. Source: TCM
Rancocas State Park. Source: TCM
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E-Biking Whitesbog

Whitesbog is where, in 1916, Elizabeth White and Frederick Coville produced the first commercial crop of blueberries. Before that, Whitesbog was a cranberry farm, and before that, it was part of the Pine Barren’s bog iron industry. It’s now part of New Jersey’s Brendan Byrne State Forest and sand roads surround its cranberry bogs.

Source: TCM
Source: TCM
Source: TCM
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Roebling’s Shaky Bridge

View of the Shaky Bridge from the Delaware River. Undated. Source: Photograph, collection of David Denenberg. bridgemaster.com
Shaky Bridge in 2019, Trenton, NJ. Source: TCM
Source: TCM

This little suspension bridge, which spans the attractively named Waste Weir, was built by the Roebling Company. While some internet sources say it is a miniature replica of one of Roebling’s more famous projects, either the Brooklyn Bridge or the Niagara Bridge. Although it uses the same suspension technology, the design is not identical. Other sources say it was built to demonstrate suspension technology, and then given to the city of Trenton. I haven’t seen a firm date for when it was built.

The Shaky Bridge sits between the Delaware River and Route 29 in Stacy Park. Route 29 runs over the alignment of the Trenton Water Power, a seven mile long canal completed in 1834  – the same year as the 65 mile long D&R Canal.

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Cadwalader Park Natural Area

Cadwalader Park Natural Area, Trenton, NJ. Source: TCM

Cadwalader Park was created by the city of Trenton in 1888 from land previously owned by Dr.Thomas Cadwalader. In 1890, Frederick Law Olmstead (best known for designing New York City’s Central Park) was hired to create a design for Trenton’s new park.

Prior to Olmstead’s involvement, the city had already started displaying animals in a “zoological garden.” After Trenton dropped Olmstead’s firm for financial reasons, the city added a deer paddock–which Olmstead opposed–on the west side of the park. Olmstead had other plans for that area, called the Western Ravine:

In the broader wooded valley at the west end of the park, Olmsted planned a series of pools that was reminiscent of the Pool and Loch of upper Central Park…The Preliminary Plan of 1891 shows most of the Ravine taken up by five naturalistic pools…with a connecting stream. The three lower pools are shown surrounded with dense vegetation, while the borders of the two upper pools are somewhat more open and more visible from the adjoining meadow areas. These upper pools have four beach areas where the nearby path expands to form a shallow wading area.

Cadwalader Park Master Plan, 1998

Much of Olmstead’s plan was not constructed, and many modifications to the design were made the city. A deer paddock was built in 1895, and a sheep house and elk house were also added. By 1906, the park zoo included not only nine fallow deer, but over a dozen other types of animals, including coyotes, alligators, bears, monkeys, and a kangaroo. Two animal barns were added in the western ravine, which are still standing.

Animal barn at Cadwalader Park. Source: TCM
Homes in the Hiltonia neighborhood overlooking the Cadwalader Park Natural Area. Source: TCM

The park declined in the 1970s (although the city’s museum, Ellarslie, was created in 1978 in the former monkey house). Deer were kept in the paddock until about ten years ago. As part of a master plan to restore Cadwalader Park, The D&R Greenway Land Trust, the City of Trenton, and several other partners united to restore the paddock area to a more natural meadow and wetland environment. Where once captive deer lived behind a fence, white-tailed deer now run wild.

White-tailed deer at Cadwalader Park. Source: TCM

Mercer Cemetery

The Mercer Cemetery in Trenton, NJ, was created in the 1840s. There were few new internments after the 1930s. Unlike the Riverview Cemetery, which is still active, no one has been buried in Mercer since 1973. In the 1990s, the city spruced up the cemetery, but it became neglected, landscaping and maintenance was deferred, and conditions within the cemetery deteriorated. Fortunately, Trenton is now looking to rehabilitate the Mercer cemetery, beginning with a recent volunteer cleanup effort.

Source: TCM
Source: TCM
Source: TCM
Source: TCM
Source: TCM