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Six Miles of Separation

In 2014, our state will celebrate 350 years of history and much of this has a connection to the Highlands. In fact, you could say that within only six miles of one location, you could explore the past 20,000 years.


Harmony Township, NJ: Perhaps youíve heard that any two people on the planet have a connection through only six others. The immensity of the world becomes much more intimate when we consider this possibility. In a way, we have similar connections to our past through our own surroundings, if we are willing to explore them.

The New Jersey Highlands has many tales to share with those who will listen. In 2014, our state will celebrate 350 years of history and much of this has a connection to the Highlands. In fact, you could say that within only six miles of one location, you could explore the past 20,000 years.

To make this point, letís use a remote part of Warren County as an example.

Montana Mountain is home to the annual Last Fling Pumpkin Sling, a fundraiser for the Highlands Tourism Partnership. It is located on one of the highest and most scenic lands in the state. To those who attend this event, the surrounding area may appear far removed from civilization and significant places. But listen to what stories lie within a mere six miles of this event.

If travelling from the east to get there, you might ride along historic Route 46 to avoid the high-speed traffic of the interstates. Along the way, you could enjoy Hot Dog Johnnyís, a popular stop for 75 years for those making their way to the Poconos. But during your ride, take notice of the beautiful Pequest River that the route parallels. Its course continuously flows through evidence of the past 20,000 years.

Only six miles to the north of Montana Mountain, the Pequest makes its way through the Highlands and empties into the Delaware River in Belvidere, a quaint Victorian town and County Seat. Along its course, it follows a geologic feature known as the terminal moraine. Though many have concerns about global climate change, this area has experienced it. This feature marks where the Wisconsin Ice Age came to an abrupt halt.

Found six miles south of Montana Mountain is one of the most renowned archaeological sites in the east. The Plenge Site records the Paleo-Indian Period through the discovery of almost 1,000 artifacts. Though the site itself cannot be visited, you can see time-period artifacts on display at the nearby Merrill Creek Reservoir Visitor Center.

Just down the road from the Pumpkin Sling site is a beautifully restored stone Quaker Meeting House. Refurbished to its original 1753 appearance, it is a remnant of French and Indian War era of American history. Because of its remote location, the area here known as Montana was also a haven for Tory sympathizers during the Revolutionary War.

Found only a few miles north along County Route 519 in Harmony is the Hoff-Vannatta Farmstead. The farmstead hosts two open-house events each year and is also available for visits during the Pumpkin Sling and other local events. It features a restored home, summer kitchen, a barn, and several outbuildings from the 18th and 19th centuries and time-period life is re-enacted for visitors when it is open.

Nearby, the town of Oxford shares stories from The Revolutionary War and the Industrial Revolution. Historic Shippen Manor claims connections to the Continental Army and the intrigue of the Benedict Arnold family. The Oxford Furnace processed much of the iron ore of the region and is known for innovating hot-air blast furnace techniques of the 1800ís.

The Morris Canal is perhaps one of the most historically significant assets within our 6 miles, to the south. Within those miles, we find the origin of the Morris Canal on the Delaware River, between Easton, PA and Phillipsburg, NJ. The Canal had a series of locks that went from the lowest point in Phillipsburg to the highest point of Lake Hopatcong and then back down and across New Jersey, ending near what is today Liberty State Park.

One of the most innovative thinkers in New Jersey history also spent time locally. Over 100 years ago, Thomas Edison experimented with the many uses of concrete. The Portland Cement Plant falls within 6 miles of the Pumpkin Sling, as does the Concrete Mile, due south. Thomas Edison dreamed that many homes and roads would one day be constructed of concrete. The Concrete Mile was poured by Edison over 100 years ago and until 2007, when the last section of the original concrete was replaced, stood the test of time.

This is but a small sampling of assets we have in a relatively small area, but by no means all of them. We could talk about the timber rafting industry, the first Gyro-Copter airport in the nation, the Harmony Speedway and a few Century Farms. More recently, the Warren County Farmersí Fair, an agriculturally-centered fair with a few new attractions Ė like a Hot Air Balloon Festival. What better way to get a snapshot of 6 miles packed with so much history than from a birds-eye view?

The Highlands is truly a landscape of time and treasure. Isnít it amazing that only six miles can connect you with so much of our Nationís past and people? Experience your own backyard: explore and enjoy the Highlands of New Jersey.

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