Checking Out a Bit of History
While reading about a “photo tag” game that is being played on a couple of motorcycle websites, I read about the Van Campen Inn, located on Old Mine Road at the Delaware Water Gap. It looked intriguing and I wanted to see it for myself. I scoped out the weather, picked what I hoped would be a nice day and took off.
October 21, 2009
Sussex County, NJ
As most trips from home, I started out on westbound I-80. But then at Netcong I went to the original “highway”, Rt 46. I followed 46 through numerous little towns, knowing that this was the main route across the state before Eisenhower had his say in building the Interstate system. Eventually I ran out of Rt 46, it joined up with I-80 and now it was just a matter of finding the right exit for Old Mine Rd.
A very tempting path to explore
Alas – it is beyond my (legal) reach
It was a lucky break that I took the “last exit before toll”, as that was the (unmarked) Old Mine Road I had been looking for. The road started out nice: a light-controlled, one lane stretch that carefully followed the Delaware River to my left. After a few miles the road opened up to two lanes, eventually even including a center line. There were many pull outs for hiking trails and some campgrounds. Obviously the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is quite popular (the 14th most visited destination in the U.S.) It was a relaxing ride.
Old Mine Road
Canada Geese on the Delaware
Looking across the river
After passing through the town of Millbrook Village, the road branched off a couple of times, usually with no markings or signage as to which way was what. I took guesses, figuring that if I always stayed to the left, the worse that could happen is that I’d end up at the river and have to turn back. As it was, I had chosen correctly and was still on Old Mine Rd, although when looking at GoogleMaps, “Old Mine Rd” branches off into three different directions. Regardless, I was on my way to see the Van Campen Inn.
Spring house along the road
Like the bridge is any different than the road
Heading towards the Van Campen Inn!
While passing over the “one lane bridge” – the sign for which seemed redundant, as the road was just as wide as the bridge – I noticed a second “bridge” off to the side. I stopped to investigate. The photo below shows the second “bridge”, although I couldn’t find the other side of the structure. To be sure, there was a lot of underbrush, but I did walk a few dozen feet beyond the wall and never found where the source of the water was. From another photo, you can see the 20 or so feet between the currently used bridge and the mysterious structure. A mystery, to be sure!
And while walking around, I found some very old barbed wire still strung between a couple of trees, including a massive sycamore (?) tree. I don’t think I’d ever seen a hardwood of this girth before. Pretty impressive.
The mysterious “second bridge”
Looking back towards the “new” bridge
Massive old tree
Barbed wire embedded in the big tree
I continued on the road, dodging potholes and enjoying the scenery. The occasional abandoned house caught my eye, but there wasn’t much else along this stretch of road. Rumored to be all around me were the remains of razed houses, as this area had been condemned for the construction of a dam. But I didn’t see much, and what with all of the undergrowth, I would have been hard-pressed to notice them. And then, in a large grassy opening, was the Van Campen Inn. I was disappointed at its complete lack of “ambiance”. I was hoping for some outbuildings, some half-rotten shed and maybe a tangle of vines up the side. Oh well – it was still a neat piece of history and the ride was nice. And besides, the ride wasn’t over yet.
Following the Delaware closely
Van Campen Inn
Continuing passed the Van Campen Inn
Fields across from the Inn
Another marker near the Inn
Now that the original intent of this ride had been completed, it was time to meander my way home. I kept going north on Old Mine Rd until I reached Dingmans Ferry, a high point from my ride last week. I kept going north, following the Delaware and riding off the edge of my map. My GPS had long ago run out of battery life so I just kept hunting around for odd roads, hoping that they’d go through to another road.
Another (older) abandoned house
Back porch – no more BBQs here
Fall berries and colors
The bike – perfect for exploring
Another abandoned house
Looking at the fields from a nearby barn
View behind the house
Bike and barn
North of Dingmans Ferry
I tried to take unnumbered roads home and did a pretty good job of finding a few fun ones. The map posted above is not accurate, as I took so many random twists and turns I eventually lost track of them. The sun finally came out in force and I had a pleasant return to home.
Farm in Sussex County
Monoculture yards are taking over lush fields
Roy Road, on the way home