One thing that New Jersey has a lot of is old buildings. As a result of being one of the earliest states in the United States, there are many places you can visit (check out our Top 5) with historical significance, like Princeton, Waterloo Village, and Allaire State Park.
Between the various towns, villages, and protected areas, there are plenty of abandoned places to visit around South Jersey. Below are a few of the favorites that we wanted to share. *As always, please respect all posted signs, as you are responsible for your actions.
(Mays Landing, Atlantic County)
Just off Route 559 in Atlantic County is a quiet little park by the side of the road. If you’re not looking, you’ll probably drive right by it, as we did numerous times.
Built around 1754 and in production for almost 60 years, the Weymouth Furnace is a monument to South Jersey’s industrial period. This iron blast furnace produced cannons and balls for the War of 1812. When the production of iron was no longer profitable here, two paper mills also harnessed the power of the Great Egg Harbor River. The land was acquired in 1966 by Atlantic County and later developed into a park.
(Washington, Gloucester County)
This is a tricky one to find. Park along Route 542. There was a small path and a sign for NJDEP State Park Service. We followed that trail toward the Mullica River.
Once at the river on the right-hand side, the brick remains of a structure come into view. The stone foundation goes right to the Mullica River. Founded in 1870, this small town of 70 homes and a hotel was once the center for the Wapler’s Glass Company. For three years, this town was one of many in South Jersey, producing glass shades and Christmas decorations.
(Bass River, Burlington County)
There’s a small park along Route 679 and Bodine Field Road. If you park on the right and take the trail to the right, it’s just a short walk.
Harrisville was founded around 1795 and remained active until the 1880s. This once-thriving paper mill was the center of this once-prosperous town. The towering brick walls that remain are reminiscent of ancient Mayan ruins. The fire of 1914 was probably the end of the town, but thankfully not everything was destroyed or looted. In the 1970s, a fence was erected to preserve what remains today.
(Bass River, Burlington County)
I include this one as a courtesy to others. We went off in search of these ruins while visiting Harrisville. We soon discovered that not only was the area fenced in, but the town had also buried these ruins years ago. There is nothing to see here except an odd mound in the middle of the forest surrounded by fencing. It is near the Batona Trail, so if you’re hiking here, at least you know what this was/was.
The Pine Barrens comprise nearly one-quarter of New Jersey’s geography. If you’ve studied our history, you know that the Pine Barrens are anything but empty. They contain the remains of our Native American and industrial past thinly covered by one to two hundred years or so of recent vegetation. There is so much to be discovered once we open our eyes and minds to what is beyond that next bend. New Jersey can be your treasure chest, too if you’re willing to get out there and go. The ten-year-old in you will say, “thank you.”