Sunday, October 26, 2008

Growlers - Must Haves From Butler's High Point Brewery

This is a growler. It's a must have for which you need go no further than down Kiel Avenue into Butler, NJ to the High Point Brewery.

Growlers are 2-liter traditional German glass beer jugs, with a well-balanced pewter handle and -very important- rubber-gasketed ceramic stopper with wire clasp. They hold draft beer for up to a week+. They also generate amazing conversation...

About what the vessel is - isn't it striking visually?

About where you got it and what's inside.

What's inside, when you fill it with beer from the High Point Brewery, is some of the best German style wheat beer that we've come across in the U.S.. What's inside is also beer that's only available on draft [or, if it's available in bottle, better tasting in our opinion].

These are some of the draft beers you might experience... the Ramstein double Platinum Blonde, the Ice Bock, Oktoberfest, the Blonde, Classic Wheat, Amber, Winter Wheat and others. The choices vary with the seasons and with production schedules.

The High Point Brewery, makers of Ramstein beer, represents - in our mind - a vital local resource. If you haven't yet been, consider attending one of the monthly open houses and tours on the 2nd Saturday of each month from 2pm to 4pm. You'll learn about the wheat beer making process, and discover a simple but charming tap room with a small bar and as many as 4 beers to sample on tap. For a detailed description of the experience, read my post at Flooring The Consumer titled What's In Your Neighborhood? The High Point Brewery.

Another consideration in favor of growlers: they are environmentally responsible. Making them that much more of a Must Have.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Split Rock Reservoir Trail Hike

Thanks to Ken Bitz, we are discovering a world of trails around Smoke Rise and Kinnelon, NJ. First, the Lake Kinnelon Walk and now the Split Lake Reservoir Hike. It's really exciting!

Although we missed the hike organized for mid-September [soccer practice], Ken provided us with enough guidance that we were able to do it on our own.

Here's what astounded me the most.  The first part of the trail to Split Rock goes along a trail called "Mountain Road."  This truly is a road.  Or, rather, it was a road.  It is large enough to walk 4 abreast [although it's more comfortable with two as the trail has plenty of loose rocks'.  With each step you can imagine yourself walking through time.  

You understand how a 7 mile distance might have taken half a day or more depending on conditions...  and why Francis Kinney would have built St. Hubert's chapel for his wife.

I also pictured myself walking through the Shire on a quest... 

Ken referred us to a 1988 trail map and description issued by the Smoke Rise Trails Committee which no longer exists. 

The document includes 6 trails:
+ West Shore Lake Trail [described in Lake Kinnelon Walk]
+ Cherry Tree Lane Trail [which I haven't been able to locate]
+ Hemlock Trail
+ Mountain Road Trail
+ Split Rock Trail - described here
+ Old Country Road Trail 

The Smoke Rise Office hands out an updated trail document which does not list the Cherry Tree Lane Trail [although it still appears on the map], but includes instead:

+ Mountain Road/New Pond Trail - partially described here
+ New Pond Trail
+ NY/NJ Trail Conference Split Rock Trail

Here's the route we took for this glorious hike.

We parked at the end of Beechwood Lane [west of Red Oak Lane.  From there, we proceeded on foot.  The trail head - located between lots #20 and #21 - leads to Mountain Road trail which runs from North to South [and is most probably the extension of Mountain Road in Smoke Rise]. As the description reads "this is basically an old woods road which is quite wet in spots during the wet season." Mountain Road trail is marked with blue blazes.

Approximately one mile down Mountain Road trail, we found the Split Rock trail which is marked white. Note the picture above with the trail markers:  a white arrow on one tree and 2 white marks on the other.  You can't miss it.  It's a large turnoff on the right, heading West, as you proceed South on Mountain Road.

The white trail [also marked with red circle blazes, black blazes and dark blue blazes] takes you directly to Charlottesburg Road [another old woods road] along Split Rock Reservoir.  There, you take a right, heading North for a bit [3 to 5 minutes] until you see a wide turnoff on the left [also marked white] that takes you to the edge of the reservoir.  It's a popular spot as there's a fire pit and rustic seating.

The view [here before the leaves started turning] is spectacular.  Hard to believe it's so close to civilization. 

Roundtrip, including a stop to admire Split Rock, takes about 2 hours.

Note:  The Split Rock Reservoir is one of 13 major water supply reservoirs for New Jersey. Others include:  Lake Tappan, Woodcliff Lake, Oradell Reservoir, DeForest Lake, Splitrock Reservoir, Boonton Reservoir, Canistear Reservoir, Oak Ridge Reservoir, Clinton Reservoir, Charlottesburg Reservoir, Echo Lake, Wanaque Reservoir and Spruce Run Reservoir.  Most are in our neck of the woods.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Didja Know? The Cottage - Francis S. Kinney's Home

From Cornie Hubner's Didja Know? Series comes the following article titled The Cottage about Francis S. Kinney's original house in Kinnelon, NJ.

"Cottage," defined by Webster, is "a small single story Country House - a Summer house used for vacations." Mr. Francis S. Kinney, manufacturer of the automatic cigarette machine [note:  from this reference, it seems that Duke had the rights to the automatic cigarette machine and not Kinney] and President of the Sweet Caporal Tobacco Company [note:  Sweet Caporal was a cigarette brand of Kinney Brothers Tobacco Company that Francis and his brother Abbott - founder of Venice, CA - formed and that eventually became part of American Tobacco Company], built his 80 [?] room "Cottage" on the 5,000 acre estate he called Kinnelon. That name was changed to Smoke Rise when it was taken for the Borough that was Incorporated in 1922. The plain four story shingle building, belying its luxurious interior was built by local craftsmen in the late 1880s directed by a master carpenter who doubled as the local mortician.

Another fabulous four story granite "Cottage" had been built a few years earlier in the hills near what is now Clinton reservoir. It was located on the 300 acre estate of L. Cross, a New York financier at the astronomical cost of $1,500,000. Used only as a summer residence it lost its attraction 20 years later in 1900 when it was sold to the Water Company for $150,000. Natives never ceased to marvel at the wealth that could afford a $50,000 yearly rental, exclusive of taxes and upkeep.

The allure of the very rich for natural unique settings was recognized by Richmond Talbot [John's great uncle] and Pierre Lorillard the Tobacco tycoon and the group that created the Tuxedo park enclave in the nearby hills of New York. Large acreage estates were sold to friendly tobacco magnate competitors, members of the "400" and even some whose rapacious forebears or robber baron ancestors provided the financial status to qualify for membership in the Club. The "Cottages" mainly occupied in the summer were kept fully staffed all year as settings for magnificent balls and entertaining that maintained positions at the top of the social structure. It was here that men's formal dress became the "Tuxedo" when tails were cut off the white tied uniform and accepted for all except the most solemn occasions.

Informality marked the life of the Kinneys and their guests in the "Cottage" on Stickle Pond [Lake Kinnelon]. No blueprints or drawings are available so that it can be reconstructed only from photographs, stories from living locals, descendants of employees - and hearsay. It had eight chimneys that served 40 fireplaces of varying sizes and anywhere from 52 to 80 rooms. Running water was supplied from the lake by a hydraulic operated pump called a Ram. Still in place under the dam it used a series of pipes and valves activated by the force of rushing water pressure, compressing air in a chamber with enough power to lift the water to tanks above the lake level.

The oblong residence was built on a foundation, exposed at slightly above lake level on the West and South sides. This was the first floor containing the Kitchen, Pantry, cold Storage, Laundry, Utility and Staff lounge and Dining Rooms. Two full time workers washed and ironed the laundry that must have been hung somewhere in the sun out of sight on the South side. It was the domain of the imported Chef and his assistant who directed scullery maids in the preparation of the meals delivered by dumbwaiter to the second floor.

The formal entrance on the north side, at ground level, was the second floor living area. A porch that looked to be at least 20 feet wide extended over the exposed foundation on the West and South sides with an unrestricted view of the water. The entrance opened into a wide reception area form which an open stairway led to the upper chambers. The formal dining room and the smaller family room was served from the butler's pantry where the food was checked, salads and desserts prepared for its gracious presentation to the diners. A large room for entertaining, the library, the den and the family lounge exiting on the porch and possibly the butler's business office, completed this floor.

Several family suites occupied the third floor together with many bedrooms. There is no information about the number of bathrooms although it is known they were furnished withpull chain "water closets" and footed cast iron enameled bathtubs and lavatories. Bedrooms and the household supplies storage room occupied the fourth floor. Rooms were also assigned to nurses, nannies and personal staff members who were on full time call. Other servants had quarters over the carriage house and the barn now the Inn. A large glassed cupola structure on the roof indicated an atrium vaguely recalled by those who as youngsters "saw all the way to the roof." Fireplaces were stoked by a full time attendant with a supply of cut an split "to order" logs.

The Kinneys never competed in the ostentatious display on Newport's opulence that ended with World War I. The resort had become a stage for a public display of wealth in the mansions of the two Vanderbilts costing over ten million challenged by the Astors, Morgans and other "very rich." A Narragansett Pier mansion that must have been attractive, was built by the Kinneys used for a number of Summers before being converted to a hotel known at the Marble Palace [note: the Marble Palace was built by and for the Vanderbilts, with no mention of the Kinneys. Perhaps the Kinney Bungalow in Naragansett, Rhode Island built in 1899 is the building Cornie was thinking of?].

On Mr. Kinney's death in 1923, the "Cottage" was occupied by Morris and his brother Warren with his wife and two children. Locals were shocked to learn but delighted to discuss the will that bequeathed an income of $20,000 monthly to the three offspring at a time when $2,000 yearly amply supported a home and family. After the Warren Kinney family moved in '25, the "Upstairs-Downstairs" staff was disbanded and Morris took off for an extended tour of the world with his friend Alden Talbot.

Returning in '33, the "Cottage," impossible to heat and without an extensive staff, was found to be impossible as bachelor quarters and was torn down. Its lumber was salvaged to build local Fire House No. 1 and part of its cellar for the base of the 34 room "Cotswold" that was completed in '34. The unused portion became an outstanding English garden now replaced by a modern pool [note:  Wikipedia reference to Cotswolds].

PS: More later about the estate that once employed up to 80 in the household staff and framing operations.

[Note: photos taken at l'Ecole Museum.]

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Kinnelon's L'Ecole Museum

Kinnelon's L'Ecole Museum is a goldmine! It's open every Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm and definitely worth a visit, if not multiple visits, to put the area's history into perspective!

As you can see from the sign, "L'Ecole built in 1893 as the "Meadtown Schoolhouse" became the residence of Dr. Helen Miller in 1935 when she named it L'Ecole, or schoolhouse. Now the home of the Kinnelon Historical Commission and the Kinnelon Museum."

It is chock full of fascinating photographs, maps, history and memorabilia from days gone by in this area. That's what I find particularly valuable as I try to piece together the various historic accounts I've come across.

Take the farms that Cornie Hubner refers to in Didja Know? Kinnelon History. The end of that post mentions many farms operating in the area. Makes sense, although I find it hard sometimes to visualize.

For example, consider where Pathmark is. Pathmark - or the Kinnelon Mall [and Meadtown] - stands where the Wilton Mead Farm existed. The Wilton Mead Farm was established in 1826. Pathmark was built in the 1970s.

Here is what's written in L'Ecole about that farm. The sign is situated next to a window giving onto Pathmark:

"Among the families purchasing land grants from the East Jersey Board of Proprietors in the 17th and 18th centuries was the Mead Family - hence the Meadtown area.

The Wilton Mead property was once a productive, working farm with pigs, chickens, horses and cows. From the apple orchards cider was pressed and sold; calves raised and sold. Fragrant hayfields were mown, and surplus marketed. Firewood was stacked for sale, and buyers came for apples, potatoes, eggs and other produce.

There was a large sorting shed, a lumber shed, corn crib, a chicken coop, smoke house, a pumphouse and a spring cooled milk shed. There were roofed but open sheds for storing hay.

During WWII fresh butter was made on the farm and eagerly purchased with the help of saved ration coupons.

In 1935, Mr. Wilton Mead became Mayor of Kinnelon. During his term the Council granted the Jersey Central Power and Light Company permission to extend its lines along Kiel Ave. from Boonton Township."

Very cool! I wish we still had access to these farms for fresh butter and fresh pressed apple cider...

Back to Cornie Hubner's history. Toward the end of that post, he refers to "the largest working farm of Henry D. Ricker. The Rickers raised cows and sheep for marketing. Their neighbors the Millers and Van Ordens along Brookvale and Cherry Tree Lane and the Welzels and Fredericks along Gravel and Green Hill Roads, operated smaller self-sustaining farms."

These two photos are of these farms in what is now Smoke Rise. They date back to 1925 and capture fields along what is currently Long Meadow Road.

NOTE: This resource details a timeline for the Kinnelon, NJ area.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Didja Know? Kinnelon History

From Cornie Hubner's series titled "Didja Know?" comes the following article titled History about Kinnelon and Smoke Rise, NJ.

No one has ever dared to question the historicity of the seventeenth Century Queen Anne grant that gave over 5,000 acres of what is now Kinnelon and a part of Butler to the Mead family. Equally unquestioned is Mr. F.S. Kinney's purchase of 2,400 acres of what is now part of Smoke Rise from Hubbard Stickle, that had been advertised in the March 1883 New York Tribune, until the discovery of a large scale unpublished map. Prepared in 1920 by Newell Harrison, a local surveyor, from County records and maps from the office of Rome and Lamscha, it shows the date of the purchase of 45 parcels, from 10 to 600 acres, from 1885 & 1920. As there is no record of a Stickle transaction, I must retract its mention in our May 1, 1987 column, trusting this will avoid the historical [hysterical] catastrophe it might initiate.

Hubbard Stickle was a descendant of an early settler who emigrated from Germany, a few years before the Revolution. By 1815 the family was among the great land owners with holdings that covered Rockaway Valley up to the border of Charlotteburg and included Split Rock. Most of the land was sold, so that in 1853 only 800 acres remained including Stickle Pond [Lake Kinnelon] that Hubbard had built to provide water for his ill fated iron forge, when purchased by Kinney, none of the property was owned by Stickle. Instead, the records show that the area that included the Pond had two owners, Benjamin F. Howell with 485, 208 and 63 acre plots [Book 11, Page 135] and Isaac Katz with 126, 51 and 25 acre plots [Book 11, Page 108] which were deeded to Kinney on March 12, 1885.

The map from which these data were taken, proves that contrary to previous accounts and belief, there never was a single tract of 2,400 acres. A random selection from the map would require the combination of the largest owners, such as Howell 755 acres, Katz 202, Ryerson 1,175 and one of the Dixon family tracts. Only the first two bear the March '85 recording dates and that doesn't add up to 2,400. Most of the balance of the 4,833 acres that made up the fiefdom was acquired by 1890 as owners disposed of their remote, craggy, non-productive property, for cash.

After over 100 years, the story of the original transaction, inconsequential as it is, cannot be dismissed, without searching for a plausible explanation. One such has Hubbard borrowing heavily for his iron forge using his land as collateral and going bankrupt when the unexpected move of the industry to the West, sounded the death knell for the small New Jersey operator. In desperate need of cash, put up the balance of his property, joined with the others and as an experienced salesman, turned dormant assets, into cash "as Realtor sans Commission." Equally as plausible is that the County records were wrong. "Whatever," as Archie would conclude - the sale triggered the movement of many isolate holdings by the grateful owners.

Among these was Martin J. Ryerson, a descendant of 1695 settlers and a progenitor of what today is the industrial tycoon. He was a member of the group that built the Hamburg Turnpike that ran from Acquanock [Passaic/Clifton] via Paterson and Bloomingdale for the daily coach trip to Sussex. [This is now Rte. 23 from where it joins it at Smith's Mill.] A major owner of the Ringwood mines he built the forge in Bloomingdale, Saw Mill, several stores, homes for his workers and operated a large farm with the last known slaves in the area. A member of the 1842 assembly, 1848 senate and a freeholder from '50 to '53 he is credited with having brought the railroad to Bloomingdale where he resided "in style." A story is told of his entertaining Horace Greeley with a ride in his coach drawn by four white donkeys raised on his farm.

Benjamin Howell was another prominent descendant of a 1776 Justice of Peace among the 45, who sold all or part of their land. From the smallest plot of 10 acres, isolated in a large tract, to sections of over 500 acres, they had been owned by ancestors of many still residing in the area. Among the family names were Decker, Noble, Kincaid, Richter, Miller, Federicks, Cutler, Jenkins, Blethina [must be listed as an intruder], five Dixons and Cobb.

In 1788 Cobb's grandfather Lemuel purchased 4,365 acres west of Smoke Rise [possibly including part of Green Pond] for 5 LBS per 100 acres or $0.25 per acre, on the Sheriff sale of a judgement against Lord Stirling. The 506 acre tower area was part of the Ryerson holdings bought November '85 [Book Q, Page 354] for $2.00 per acre. In 1952 on one of his infrequent visits, Warren the older son of Francis, Kinnelon's first Mayor, [it was said that he and his brother Morris were named after the Jersey Counties], was amazed to learn that lots in that area were being sold for $20,000. This tract with one of Cobb's pieces forms part of our Western border along which an extension of Echo Lake Road ran into Timberbrook Road and branched off on the bordering Split Rock road that ended at the Rockaway Valley Road near the Aircraft Radio plant. Farms were located in what is now the reservoir and along the one horse [engine] Wharton and Northern R.R. that wandered thru the Valley.

The main road from Butler to Boonton entered by the East Gate road to follow Robins Lane and exit near the Estates of Kinnelon development at the old South Gate. Ricker Road, running parallel to Condit Park Road, entered Club area at the end of what is now Cherry Tree Terrace, then Smoke Rise Road for access to the largest working farm of Henry D. Ricker. The Rickers raised cows and sheep for marketing. Their neighbors the Millers and Van Ordens along Brookvale and Cherry Tree Lane and the Welzels and Fredericks along Gravel and Green Hill Roads, operated smaller self-sustaining farms.

Title to property was acquired thru "proprietors" who "issued individual purchase warrants to locate land subject to the Indian right of possession" which, at least in New Jersey, was always obtained by purchasing from them. In 1695, thousands of acres, not covered by "royal grants" were bought from Onagepouck and Sajapogh, Sachems of the Minisinks for a variety of small hardware items, utensils and some dress goods.

The seventeenth Century Queen Anne Grant may never have been questioned because of the Eighteenth Century King George III grant, to the same Mead Family, many of whose descendants are still prominent area residents.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Kinnelon Critter File: Mountain Lion or Large Bobcat?

One recent dark rainy Smoke Rise evening, we had a visitor to our porch.  Although silent, our visitor left tracks that looked both familiar and eerily different...

So different that I ran for my camera and called to my husband to get a tape measure.

Our three domestic cats were inside, fast asleep.  
The tracks impressed us.  No claws meant that these weren't dog tracks.  We checked, although we knew from having seen our own cats' footprints that these were feline.

Furthermore, the only prints were at the top of the porch which meant that the animal had jumped up rather than taken the steps as a dog would have.   

Their size was truly impressive.  From the bottom of the pad to the opposite toe, these tracks measured 3 inches each.  Not your average house kitty cat paw print size, which is closer to .5 to 3/4 of an inch.  What could this visitor be?

Mountain Lion paw print courtesy of iStockphoto
I consulted the animal track reference books from the Pyramid Mountain Park visitors' center. The characteristic scallop at the rear of the main pad and the radial toe placement indicated that the most relevant and closest animal - per the guide - was either Bobcat or Mountain Lion... three inches being at the very top of the range for a bobcat, and just a little small for a mature mountain lion.

Per our daughter's classmate's dad, we learned that mountain lions have been spotted in the area, one possibly even on the soccer field.

Interestingly, last weekend's 9/28/08 New York Times article titled The Preservationists' Trails by Christopher Brooks refers to bears and an elusive bobcat, but no mountain lion in the Pyramid Mountain Park vicinity.  It's still definitely worth a read.

For example, did you know that Pyramid Mountain Park encompasses more than 20 miles of trails "encompassing two significant hilltops [i.e., Pyramid Mountain and Turkey Mountain] and some of the most impressive boulder fields and glacial debris in the region, this park is hard to beat."

At the same time, I was stunned to learn that the park almost never came to be. A touch over 20 years ago, both mountains were ear-marked to be quarried - similar to what you see at exit 52 of 287 South.

Imagine losing such gems as Bear Rock and Tripod Rock, two huge boulders — "granite erratics left behind by the retreating Wisconsin glacier some 20,000 years ago" — that lie alongside the trial on the Pyramid Mountain side. And, on the Turkey Mountain side, trails pass by the remains of mid-19th century quarries, "the great birding by Botts Pond, which is frequented by indigo buntings, scarlet tanagers and various warblers, there is a crackling waterfall that drops about a dozen feet and a couple of atmospheric cabin ruins (festooned in spring with colorful columbine) atop the namesake peak.

Just think, all of this only 35 miles from midtown Manhattan, New York City! That's what makes this part of Northern New Jersey so very magical, including the Kinnelon critters.

Added 10/6/08 - I've just come across these other references:
+ From The New York Times, Deer Draw Cougars Ever Eastward, dated 11/12/2002 by Blaine Harden
+ Commenting on that article, Cronaca with copious commentary from New Jersey-ites...
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