Visiting Historical Jockey Hollow

Entry of Jockey Hollow Area with building in background

Jockey Hollow in New Jersey offers a glimpse into American history and the Revolutionary War period. The site features reconstructed buildings, picnic areas, and trails for visitors to explore. Immerse yourself in history and appreciate the beauty of nature. Participate in educational programs and events for a fun and interactive learning experience. Take a step back in time and reflect on the sacrifices made by the Continental Army.

General George Washington’s Winter Encampment

As the winter of 1779 approached, General George Washington was looking for a spot to set up camp for his nearly 12,000 troops. The 1,400-acre farm owned by Henry Wick in Morristown, New Jersey with its abundance of hardwood trees seemed the ideal location. Wick built his Cape Cod-style house in 1750 and his forest provided ample logs for building cabins and stocking fires. The Continental Army would winter over at Jockey Hollow from December 1779 until June 1780 in what would become the coldest, most brutal winter on record to date.

Jockey Hollow is now the 1,200-acre section of the larger Morristown National Historical Park. There are several points of interest within Jockey Hollow and there’s plenty for all ages to do here. At the park entrance, you will see Guerin House on your right. Josh Guerin was a sergeant in the Morris County Militia and he lived in this home with his family. There is a historical marker outside, but the home is currently not open to the public and is being used by park management.

What town is Jockey Hollow located in?

Jockey Hollow is located in Mendham and Harding Townships, in Morris County, New Jersey.

The Visitor Center at Jockey Hollow

Proceeding through the park, you’ll pass makers indicating where the different brigades had their camps. There’s also a nice back view of Wick Farm from the road across the orchard. After a short drive, you will arrive at the Visitor Center for Jockey Hollow. At the Visitor Center, you can watch a 30-minute movie that details the soldier’s experience at camp. There is a Ranger present to answer any questions. A museum displays general household, personal and military items of the time. You can see a replica hut inside the building. Also, if you’re like me, they have a lovely little gift shop.

Take the Tour Around Jockey Hollow

Follow Tour Road to the right of the Visitor Center to begin your three-mile self-guided tour of the grounds. Your first stop is the Wick House. On this site, you can tour the house, garden, smokehouse, well, and barn. The Wick Farm Garden contains a recreation of the plants that a family would have grown during the Revolutionary War.

How long is the Tour Road at Jockey Hollow?

The Tour Road at Jockey Hollow is only 3 miles. But there are a few attractions you’re going to want to keep an eye out for on the self-guided tour. We share more details for the best spots.

Soldier Huts at Jockey Hollow – Built by George Washington

Continue along Tour Road; as you slowly ascend the hill, you’ll see three replica soldier huts and one officer hut off to the right. This is a great place to park and climb the hill to get a closer look at the replica huts. The soldiers’ huts were log cabins 14 x 16. They contained six planks, three on each side segmented in half to form twelve individual beds per hut. The center of each hut has a stone fireplace. Each hut had one door and one window in the front. When standing in the cabin today, it’s hard to imagine twelve people living comfortably in such a small space.

Washington ordered the officers’ huts be built last. By Christmas of 1779, all the soldiers were in their huts, but some of the officer huts weren’t completed until much later. These huts had room to sleep two to four officers and were much larger. They also contained two fireplaces and had two windows and two doorways.

The Grand Parade

Continue along Tour Road, and you will come to the Grand Parade Grounds. This open field is where the troops form the “log cabin city” assembled daily for inspections, receipt of orders, and military review. This is also where those convicted of serious crimes were executed and buried. There is a monument for the cemetery, but no actual remains have been uncovered here. Remain on Tour Road, and it will loop you back to the park entrance.

Historical Re-Enactments at Jockey Hollow

Every year early in April, reenactors from all over the northeast converge on Jockey Hollow for the Annual Spring Encampment. Details are posted on the park site. This is a weekend-long event designed for the entire family. Highlights for the weekend include demonstrations in the camp of cooking, sewing, and other camp chores, military maneuvers, musket firing, and a special “children’s muster,” where children can learn to drill and march like Revolutionary soldiers.

Hiking In Jockey Hollow Historical Park

The best way to experience Jockey Hollow is really to get out of the car. They have twenty-five miles of hiking trails and offer bird-watching, and biking opportunities as well. Bikes are only allowed on the three-mile paved loop of Tour Road. Hikes can vary from the seven-mile NJ Brigade Trail to the one-mile Orange trail. The three-mile Blue Trail is a favorite for the view of Mt. Kemble from the top. The trails are all fairly easy and you hike through the rolling hills of the park. Several of the shorter trails can be combined for longer hikes. There is no hunting in this park. If you follow one of the trails connecting to Lewis Morris Park, be mindful that they do allow hunting.

Uncovering the History of Jockey Hollow

In March 1933 Morristown National Historic Park became the first property titled “National Historic Parks, and Jockey Hollow” was included in this acquisition along with Ford’s Mansion, Washington’s former HQ ten miles away, and Fort Nonsense. This site was the Park Service’s first foray into the investigative historical arena. Extensive archeological work followed to ascertain specific troop locations and locate huts and outbuildings. This was a significant undertaking for the Park Service’s Division.

The winter encampment site of the Continental Army from 1779-80 was sprawled across 1,400 acres of New Jersey forest in Morristown. That winter was the worst on record, with over twenty snow storms and ice so cold the inlets as far south as North Carolina were reported frozen. Philadelphia only recorded temperatures above freezing once that January. It seems remarkable that only about one hundred soldiers died in the camp that winter and only about 1,000 deserted under such extreme conditions.

Those log huts could not have been very warm and a fire would not have kept the chill winds from seeping through the cracks. “No battles were fought here; no great victories were won“ yet the Jockey Hollow encampment stands as a unique reminder of New Jersey’s past and of America’s founding.

Jockey Hollow is open all year long from 8 – 5 daily. However, the Park Buildings and tours are closed from Jan. 1- February 18, 2023. Jockey Hollow captures an important moment in history. It may not be in all the textbooks, but perhaps it’s worthy of more than an occasional footnote in American Revolutionary War history. It’s important because of the research that went into the founding of the park, and because it captures a time capsule of the camp and what the soldiers endured. Not nearly as famous as Valley Forge on the timeline of history, but equally significant on a human front.

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