Perfect Spring day for walking the trails at Woolsey Park in Hopewell Township, New Jersey. Green up is well underway here. The total length of trails is only about two miles, but there are multiple crossings of Woolsey Brook, wetlands, uplands, and rows of tangled Bois d’Arc (better known as Osage Orange now).
The Osage Orange tree was only found in Texas and some surrounding states. Early French explorers called it Bois d’Arc because the Osage and other Native American tribes used its wood to make bows. By the 1800s, the tree (Maclura pomifera) was planted throughout the United States because it would quickly grow into thick, twisted, thorn-encrusted natural fences good for keeping livestock in (or out).
Woolsey Park also includes remnants of the short-lived shortline Mercer and Somerset Railroad (1874-1879) in the form of the earthen embankment that briefly carried the train tracks over Woolsey Brook. Just southwest of the park, Woolsey Brook joins Jacob’s Creek. The original M & R alignment is now Jacob’s Creek Road.
Featured image: Osage Orange along the trail.