Sometimes, the Jazz Age becomes Archaeology

This artifact, likely a brooch, depicts a 1920s-era flapper, cloche hat and all. It was found at an archaeological site in Jersey City, New Jersey. This and the many other artifacts found during excavation of a series of former houses, most demolished by the 1930s, provide a glimpse of the middle class families who lived in Jersey City in the early twentieth century.

Reference:

Howson, Jean, and Leonard G. Bianchi

2014    Covert-Larch: Archaeology of a Jersey City Neighborhood: Data Recovery for the Route 1&9T (25) St. Paul’s Viaduct Replacement Project Jersey City, Hudson County, NJ, Volume 1. Cultural Resource Unit, The RBA Group, Inc.

Friendship Ghost Town New Jersey

Speaking of ghost towns, Friendship is one of many abandoned towns in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. It was founded around the 1860s as a cranberry farming town. Cranberry packing finally ended around 1960 or so, and at least some people were still living here into the 1970s. The cranberry bogs are still here.

Coincidentally I visited here about a week after controlled burning by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, so it was much easier to see many of the old building foundations.

House cellar exposed by the burning.
Jeep at a ghost town
Jeep Cherokee was there.
ebike at ghost town
Radmini was there, too.
cranberry bog
Old cranberry bog on Shane Branch at Friendship.
Foundation of the former cranberry packing house?
Foundation ruins
More foundations.

New Bridge, Old Bridge

On the first warmish day in a while, I took the Radmini to check out a new river crossing. Beginning on the Delaware and Raritan Canal at Scudder Falls in New Jersey, I rode up the brand new ramp to the 10 feet wide multi-use path on the new Scudder Falls Bridge, which carries I-295 over the Delaware River to Pennsyvlania. The first span of this bridge opened in July 2019. The old bridge (which had opened in 1961) was then demolished and construction began on the second span, which was completed a year later. The shared pedestrian/bicyclist path then opened this past November.

6.72 miles

The overpass was busy with with other bikers, walkers, and a few dogs. Coming off the bridge into Pennsylvania, I turned north up the Delaware Canal towpath to Washington’s Crossing. I crossed back into New Jersey on the old and narrow Washington’s Crossing bridge. The piers that support this bridge date back to 1831, while the superstructure was built in 1904. Each car lane is only 7.5 feet wide (so, 2.5 feet narrower than the bike/walk path on the new bridge). After that, it was a quick ride up the D&R canal to my starting point.

Wide enough to ride your bike

Radmini on the bridge
The Delaware Canal in Pennsylvania
Walk your bike
A narrow bridge
Looking downstream. Is that a new bridge in the distance?

Washington Crosses Jacob’s Creek

Following the crossing of the Delaware River by boat late on Christmas night, 1776, the Continental Army still had to march several miles through snow, sleet, hail and rain to attack Hessian troops at Trenton. Around 6:00 AM on December 26, they reached Jacob’s Creek. This stream they had to ford on foot, winching their cannons down one side of the steep ravine and back up the other side. Once they had crossed the stream, they still had two more hours of marching before reaching Trenton, where they would achieve a stunning victory over the Hessians.

Jacob's Creek in autumn
Jacob’s Creek in autumn. The water would have been higher, faster, and colder when Washington and his troops forded it on December 26, 1776.

In a footnote, historian David Hackett Fischer writes “The line of the road across Jacob’s Creek and its tributary stream must be walked to be understood. Even today after many improvements it presents exceptionally steep grades and sloping surfaces. The topography of the march has been missed in every major historical account of this event” (Fischer, Washington’s Crossing, 2004, p. 516)

Looking downstream at Jacob’s Creek.
Jacob's Creek bridge
The modern bridge at Jacob’s Creek. The earliest bridge here wasn’t built until 1796.

Featured image: Detail of interpretive sign near the modern bridge.