Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Smoke Rise Ghost Story: The Purple Bishop

As read from the campfire at the recent Smoke Rise Beach campout that took place Saturday, July 19th, 2008 - the third Saturday in July - with St. Hubert's Chapel lit up in the distance...

"In the past, there have been many tales of the Purple Bishop, but in fact none of those stories was true. Fortunately, after extensive research and the assistance of old newspapers, the truth has finally been revealed. The following is the true story of vandalism, ghosts, and strange disappearances.

The tale begins with a young priest by the name of Father O'Malley who, in the year 1899, was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Paterson. One night, while Bishop O'Malley was sleeping, a group of teenage boys entered his church in Paterson and began to destroy the pews, the windows and other religious symbols. When Bishop O'Malley heard his church being destroyed, he ran to the altar. In an attempt to escape, the boys knocked over two candles setting the church on fire. After ten minutes a crowd appeared outside the church and noticed Bishop O'Malley dressed in purple robes exit the front of the church with burned arms and legs, a mutilated face and the cross that had once hung above the altar.

Devastated by the loss of his church and the tragedy that he had experienced, Bishop O'Malley resigned from his position and accepted the offer of a Mr. Kinney, who was looking for a priest and caretaker for the small chapel on his estate that is today known as Smoke Rise. No one knows why, but Bishop O'Malley was never the same and he began to promote an entirely new view of God and preaching. Rather than focus on hope and love, Bishop O'Malley revealed the cruelty and brutality of religion. In so doing, he scared many of the parishioners and especially Mrs. Kinney. Because Mr. Kinney was not satisfied with Bishop O'Malley he did not fully grant the Bishop's dying wish - to be buried under the second step of the chapel, with the mysterious cross he had saved from the fire so many years ago. When Bishop O'Malley died, he was buried in the chosen location, however his cross remained above the altar rather than at his side.

About twenty years ago on the third Saturday in July, three boys decided to camp out at Smoke Rise Beach. That very night they also decided to break into St. Hubert's Chapel. With a sledge hammer and rocks they proceeded to destroy the stained glass windows, knock the heads off of statues, ring the bell and steal the cross that was hanging above the altar. As they were running out of the chapel, one of the boys dropped the sledge hammer on the second step, cracking it open and revealing a hollow space large enough to fit a body. Ignoring the hole, the boys took their boat and the mysterious cross back to the beach, where they slept the night.

In the morning, two of the boys awoke to find that their friend was missing. They found the cross in the woods where their friend has left it. The boys and all of Smoke Rise searched days and days for the missing friend, but his body was never recovered.

The next year, on the exact same date, the two boys went back to their original campsite, to mourn the loss of their friend and to try and make sense of what had happened that night. At around midnight, the boys heard something in the water. They walked to the shore of the lake to see what was there. However, the night was so cloudy that they couldn't see anything. Suddenly, the moon broke through the clouds and in the water they saw the ghost of their friend. Both the boys gasped in horror as the ghost approached them and said:
"Help me find the cross... Help me or I will never rest in peace. The Purple Bishop wants his cross. He will never stop until it is returned to him. Help!"
Frightened, the two boys began to run away. But it was no use and the last anyone heard of the boys was their screams. They were never seen again!

No one ever found what killed the three friends, but every year on the third Saturday in July, it is said that the Purple Bishop returns from the dead, to search for his cross. He will never stop searching until the cross is returned to him and he is allowed to rest in peace at the chapel with the cross by his side."

This being my first campout, I had never heard about The Purple Bishop. However, it seems that many versions of Purple Bishop stories exist...

I love how particularly relevant to Smoke Rise this version is bringing in Mr. Kinney, St. Hubert's Chapel, the beach and vandals. [Note: our telling of The Purple Bishop included impressive sound effects, some coming from the lake waters...]

St. Hubert's Chapel has seen at least two waves of vandalism. From the booklet on St. Hubert's, we know the following: "In 1957, four teenage boys and a girl from the community broke into the Chapel and destroyed and looted its precious interior. Despite efforts to repair the damaged Chapel and protect it from further harm, thoughtless vandalism persisted. Birds gained access through broken windows and nested in the Chapel's interior. Several efforts were made during the early and middle sixties to reverse the destructive trend. However, these attempts were short lived."

Although a great deal of effort has gone into restoring the Chapel, it is but a shadow of its original magnificence. In upcoming posts, I'll show you photos and share more about the Chapel.

In the meantime, may the Smoke Rise version of the Purple Bishop forever discourage children from vandalism of any sort!

Technorati Tags: Tags:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lake Kinnelon Walk

I mentioned, in Welcome To The Smoke Rise Blog, a recent hike. More specifically, this was a July 4th walk along a 1.3 mile trail fronting Lake Kinnelon in Smoke Rise, NJ.

From the image to the left, you see my approximation of the trail [note the white, straight line to the left of the lake].

This walk was magical. My niece, Kelly, accompanied us. The day was understated - muggy, misty grey and quiet - but perfect for on foot exploration. Perhaps twenty of us, including three dogs, had assembled for this trek.

Our guide, Ken Bitz, whom you see below pointing, shared the following information with us:

Lake Kinnelon was formerly known as Stickle Pond. It became Lake Kinnelon in 1925 when the town of Kinnelon was incorporated. Prior to becoming incorporated, Kinnelon was part of Pequannock.

I found this reference to the lake from page 3 of HYDROLOGIC ENGINEERING USING THE HEC-HMS MODULE: "Stickle Pond (Lake Kinnelon) is located in Morris County, New Jersey at a latitude 41°00’ and longitude
74°25’. Its surface area is 124 acres, which accounts for 7.4% of the total 1683 acres of its watershed."
[Note: this document includes some fascinating topographic charts.]

Lake Kinnelon was dammed in 1888 via a dam built in Talbot Cove [in the photo above, Talbot Cove is the right-most cove] which raised the lake level by three feet. Before the dam was built, a dirt road went from the Causeway [the site of the current boat launch] to West Short Drive [from the photo above, imagine a road extending across from the topmost road parallel to the top of the photo across the lake]. That is now under water.

The dam is topped with a series of 8" boards that can be adjusted to regulate water flow. Water flows along the exit road by the East Gate and into Forge Pond.

Many streams [like Noisy Brook] and underground springs feed the lake.

Tree stumps line the bottom of the lake. Before the dam was built, all the trees growing in what was to become the enlarged lake were cut down, but the stumps were never removed.

The lake includes four islands [circled faintly in red in the image above]: at the top: Duck Island; bottom middle: Chapel Island, the most famous and distinguished island because of its chapel, built in 1896 shortly after the dam and expansion of the lake; at the bottom, Blueberry Island and tiny Pea Island.

The lake includes several coves:
+ North Cove [at the top]
+ Talbot Cove [to the bottom right]
+ Bass or Ice House Cove [to the bottom, middle] + Pickerel Cove [bottom, left]

The lake averages a depth of 6 feet, deepening to 14 feet in Talbot Cove.

John Carpenter - pictured here looking at the camera - has been intensely involved in managing the ecosystem of the lake, including its fish stock. Lake Kinnelon has been cited "as being of great clarity and natural balance between wildlife and people." The algae carpet provides excellent nutrition for the fish.

Each year, the lake is stocked with fish, paid for with Smoke Rise fishing license fees, which this year included 10,000 minnows, 100 shiners, 200 wall eye fish, 500 adult fish [sunfish, bluegill, yellow perch, pickerel, bass, catfish, cray fish] and snails, mussels and newts in the swimming area to keep the water clear. The lake has a healthy population of turtles.

We've seen recent growth in the beaver population which had led to banding trees to prevent them from being downed.

Parts of the lake are treated with algaecide [i.e., the swim area] and other parts, hydro-raked for weeds [e.g., the North Cove area].

The walk - as I mentioned - was magical, with each step bringing another aspect of the lakefront in view. I didn't know where to look first as the path itself was rather amazing with moss clumps, winding waterways and puddingstone boulders.

I hope to do it again soon.

NOTE added 10/6/08: 
The West Shore Trail is marked yellow, per the Smoke Rise & Locale Trail Directions.

The northern trailhead is just before lot #783 on West Shore Drive.  The trail can also be accessed at the mid-point by way of a 100 ft. access at lot #801.  The trail runs along the lakeshore, provides numerous viewpoints and access to Pickerel Point.  It has also been developed as a nature trail with 24 species of trees marked with silver dials numbered for identification.  [I will look for these next time I walk the trail.] The southern trailhead can also be accessed between lots #825 and #829.

Technorati Tags: Tags:

PS: My personal thanks to George Cox for helping me figure out names.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Welcome to the Smoke Rise Blog!

Welcome to the Smoke Rise Blog!

I invite you to experience with me the sights, sounds and history of this magical place!

It's a place filled with nature, nestled in the foothills of the Ramapo Mountains in Northwestern New Jersey.

It's also a place filled with history, starting out as Kinnelon, Francis Kinney's estate in the late 1800s [i.e., Kinney's Lawn]. Kinnelon is now the name of the borough of which Smoke Rise is a part.

I'm in awe of history. Particularly the history that lets you envision how others went about their lives: traveling, working, playing, obtaining food, communicating, interacting... It's not that often that you find that kind of history in your backyard, ready to be pieced together with other aspects of local history.

At the same time, the information hasn't all been gathered in one place. Some of it sits in brochures and articles that were published long ago. Other aspects reside in a few people's memories, only available via word-of-mouth. If you're lucky, you get to hear about it firsthand.

Some elements intersect with the stories that other museums, parks and historic properties around the area tell. How, then, to integrate it all and make it come alive?

That's something I've been trying to figure out.

This past July 4th weekend, I took part in a hike along a trail I had heard about, but hadn't been sure how to find. My friend Lisa mentioned it as we had both speculated about this trail which follows the edge of a portion of Lake Kinnelon. The hike was to include historic commentary.

Three days later, Lisa and I took a boat to Chapel Island to take part in another tour, this one of St. Hubert's Chapel.

At one point, Lisa turned to me and said: "This might make a good blog!"

Hence the Smoke Rise Blog!

Added 11/8/09: Note - The Smoke Rise & Kinnelon Blog has no affiliation with The Smoke Rise Club, Inc. All of the opinions shared in this blog are completely our personal views and are in no way those of The Smoke Rise Club corporation. The Smoke Rise & Kinnelon Blog is completely owned and created by Christine & Ted Whittemore.

Technorati Tags: Tags:
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...