We took Cello and Hooch to historic Batsto Village for a hike!
Although this is both Cello and Hooch’s first visit to Batsto Village, this historic site holds a very special place in our hearts. If you’ve been following this blog, you know the story of how we discovered the German Shorthaired Pointer, and why we knew we would eventually forever have GSPs as family members. If you don’t know the story, click HERE . Six months after we bought our dream home, Brian and I went to the Country Living Fair, an event held annually on the third Sunday in October at Batsto Village, in hopes to find some historic items related to our area to decorate our home. While walking through the Village, we saw (for the very first time) a couple with a German Shorthaired Pointer. We approached the couple to pet the dog, and to ask some questions about the breed, since at the time we knew nothing about GSPs, other than what we had researched online. When Brian asked what the man thought of the breed, the man’s exact words were, “These dogs are the biggest pain in the A_ _.”
I often think of this, with three things that come to mind:
1) I can only feel sorry for that man who didn’t understand just how wonderful GSPs are
2) I pray that the man was joking, and that the beautiful dog we saw that day is leading a family-life full of love and care
3) I thank God we didn’t let the man’s opinionated statement divert us from our desire to have GSPs in our family.
At this exact spot, approximately 5 years ago, we saw and petted a German Shorthaired Pointer for the very first time! Today, Brian and Cello stood in that same spot:
Batsto Village dates back to 1776, and is located in Southern New Jersey in the Wharton State Forrest, New Jersey’s largest state forest, located in the heart of the Pinelands (home of New Jersey’s cultural icon, The Jersey Devil!) Archeologists have found evidence of Prehistoric life in the Batsto area as well…the history dates back several thousand years!
Batsto Iron Works was built along the Batsto River in 1766. Batsto had all the natural resources necessary for making iron: bog ore from the banks of the streams and rivers, wood for fuel, and water for power. The Batsto Iron Works produced household items such as cooking pots and kettles. During the Revolutionary War, Batsto also manufactured supplies for the Continental Army. By the mid 1800’s, iron production was down, and Batsto re-invented itself as a glass-making community, specializing in window glass.
Today Batsto Village is a New Jersey Historic site, and is also listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places.
The Batsto area also has numerous hiking trails, some of which connect with the 50-mile long Batona Trail (whose name derives from the words BAck TO NAture).
We decided on the orange-blazed Tom’s Pond Trail.
To get to this trail, park in the Visitor Center parking lot. Walk past the Visitor Center, toward the Village and turn right to go past the Mansion, a 32-room home that served as the former residence of generations of ironmasters. Fourteen rooms, (including the parlors, dining room, library and bedrooms), are open to view for people visiting Batsto.
Just beyond the Mansion are many original structures still standing in the Village, including a General Store, Post Office, Gristmill, Sawmill, Blacksmith, Glassworks, Ice House, and the Batsto Church. Other cool things not to pass by are the remains of an ore boat, extracted from the bottom of Batsto Lake, an ore pile, iron furnace, and Farm.
The Gristmill below was powered by Batsto Lake and processed the wheat, corn, other grains sold in the Village’s General Store:
The picture below is the Piggery. This structure was used to slaughter hogs to provide food for the Village. The tall stone and brick tower on the left provided water from a large tank, which flowed into a large processing tub where the animal parts were further processed. The cast iron tub is thought to have been manufactured by the iron workers in the village.
Other Farm structures to check out before continuing on the hike are:
Wood House: where wood for the Mansion’s cook stoves was stored here
Carriage House: used to house various horse drawn vehicles
Horse Stable: ten stalls, where riding horses and carriage horses were kept
Threshing Barn: contained a threshing machine which separated the grain from the straw and chaff
Range Barn: where the cattle were kept
Mule Barn: constructed of Jersey ironstone, it served as a team stable, hay storeroom, and an 8-stall mule barn
Continue across Batsto Lake on a plank bridge, where you will also see (and hear!) the dam. Just across the dam is the Sawmill, which was powered by Batsto Lake. The mill cut lumber and shingles that were transported by train all over the east coast, providing additional profit for Batsto.
Just over the bridge is a great place to sit and take in the views of Batsto Lake. Batsto Lake and River were the major reasons for the location of the Village and its Iron Furnace. The river provided bog ore, and the lake was produced by the dam which allowed boats to move the bog ore from the river to the Iron Furnace.
The lake also provided water power for both the Sawmill and the Gristmill.
The sandy trail then leads through a row of homes once inhabited by the employees of Batsto.
The state of New Jersey purchased the Batsto area in the mid 1950’s. At this time, there were still a few people living in the Village houses, and they were told that they were allowed to remain living there for as long as they wanted. It wasn’t until 1989 that the last house was vacated!
People emplyed at Batsto lived in cottages consisting of 2- 3 rooms downstairs, and 2-3 rooms upstairs. Each house had an attic, fireplace, and an outhouse.
Several homes are open for visitors to walk through.
Once past the cottage-style homes, a path leading to the orange-blazed Tom’s Pond Trail and the yellow-blazed Mullica River Trail is set diagonally off to the right.
You can pick up the yellow-blazed Mullica River Trail along the way, but we decided to stick with just the orange-blazed Tom’s Pond Trail.
Although there were many Pine and Oak trees, we also went through a White Cedar bog, located along the Mullica River. Here is a picture of Hooch and Jenny just before we went through the bog:
There were several foot bridges we crossed along the way.
Hooch did a great job keeping up!
The orange-blazed trail is very well marked. The path follows along the Sleeper Branch of the Mullica River, then loops around for your return trip to the starting point.
Not bad for Hooch’s first hike!
In addition to the historic buildings and hiking paths, Batsto hosts many events and tours. Camping and Canoeing are also popular at this historic site. Other amenities include a park office, restrooms, telephone, water, and picnic area.