Deserted Village

Union County Parks follow NJ COVID-19 guidelines: Social distancing required/Masks strongly recommended

Union County parks and recreational facilities are operating in accordance with current COVID-19 guidelines. For everyone’s safety, please wear a mask in public restrooms and in other indoor facilities as requested.

Updates:

  • Trailside Nature & Science Center is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Please wear a mask when visiting.
  • Watchung Stable is open to visitors from Tuesday through Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Please wear a mask in the main barn, administration building and restrooms.
  • Please note: Trail biking is prohibited in all Union County parks. Trail biking was prohibited before the COVID-19 outbreak, and the prohibitions continue. Bicycles are permitted on paved paths and roadways only.
  • Hikers and dog walkers: Stay on marked trails to preserve fragile native habitat. The taking of plants and other wildlife is prohibited. Share paved paths by keeping to the right unless passing. Dogs must be kept on leash unless in dog parks. All trash must be carried out when receptacles are full or unavailable. 

For more information and updates on Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak visit ucnj.org/covid19.

The COVID-19 virus is still circulating and it can still cause serious illness or death among unvaccinated people.Protect yourself and those around you by getting vaccinated as soon as possible.To make an appointment visit ucnj.org/vax.

About 1736, Peter Willcocks built a sawmill along the Blue Brook to produce lumber, which would be needed by farmers as they settled this frontier area. The sawmill operation cleared hundreds of acres of forest.

In 1845, David Felt bought 760 acres of land and built a printing factory along the brook. He built an entire town on the bluff above the brook to support the mill operation, and by 1850, 175 people were living in Feltville. After Felt retired in 1860, other business ventures were tried but failed, and the town became deserted for a short time.

But in 1882, Warren Ackerman bought the property and converted the former mill town into a summer resort, called Glenside Park. When the popularity of mountain resorts was displaced by the advent of the Jersey Shore, Glenside Park closed in 1916.

Soon after the Union County Park System was formed in 1921, this area was incorporated into the Watchung Reservation, one of America’s first county parks. The grounds of the Deserted Village are open every day, dawn to dusk.   The Visitor Center is open Saturdays and Sundays (and most holidays) from noon to 5pm.

There is a pamphlet available for a walking tour that explains the ten surviving historic buildings, some of which are still inhabited. The pamphlets outlining the walking tour through the Deserted Village, with some additional history, are usually available at the brown kiosks, one in the parking lot just off Glenside Avenue, and the other just past the General Store/Church. The pamphlet is also available online.

 

In recognition of the Interpretive panels located throughout the Deserted Village, which describe its history, Union County received a 2018 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo), for contribution to the Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation.