Deserted Village

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

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

In accordance with State executive orders, Union County parks have reopened and are operating in accordance with current COVID-19 guidelines.

“Masks and social distance are the only effective tools we have for stopping the spread of COVID-19, so we strongly urge visitors to continue to observe precautions against infection while enjoying outdoor activities in County parks,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella.

Social distancing, wearing face masks, washing hands frequently, and keeping hands away from one’s face are among the basic and most effective precautions for preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and other infections. Persons who feel sick should stay away from others.

The following rules apply to Parks activities:

  • Trail biking: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.
  • Closed: The Warinanco Sports Center and the Trailside Nature and Science Center remain closed.
  • Recreation Facilities reopened with restrictionsGalloping Hill and Ashbrook Golf Courses, Oak Ridge Archery Range, tennis courts, Echo Lake and Warinanco dog parks, Watchung Stable (Details on Parks website)
  • Picnic areas: The maximum number of people allowed in a picnic area varies. Check with Parks Reservation Desk for capacity before reserving a picnic area, 908-527-4900.
  • Athletic fields: As per executive order, prior restrictions are lifted
  • Playgrounds: Parks playgrounds are open at Cedar Brook, Conant, Echo Lake, Esposito, Green Brook, John Russell, Wheeler, Lighting Brook, Loop Playground, Madison Avenue, Mattano, Mohawk, Mohawk, Nomahegan, Phil Rizzuto, Ponderosa, Rahway, Rutgers Ave, Snyder, Unami, Warinanco, Wheeler
  • Walking/Cycling/Fishing: Individual activities such as walking, jogging, biking and fishing are allowed. Bicycles are allowed on paved pathways only. No bicycles are allowed on unpaved paths and trails in Union County parks.
  • Use of walking path: Give way to others to maintain six-foot distance when passing.
  • Masks: Strongly recommended.
  • Parking and hours of use: Parking hours vary in Union County Parks and are posted in all lots.
  • Reporting abuse of social distance guidelines: Call Union County Police908-654-9800.

For maps, directions, and more information about activities in Union County parks, visit online at ucnj.org/parks, email parksinfo@ucnj.org, or call 908-527-4900.

Park visitors please note: 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. All trash must be carried out where receptacles are full or unavailable. 

For more information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including guidance for the Test Center, visit ucnj.org/coronavirus-update.

For general information about COVID-19 and phone contacts for 24/7 assistance with questions, visit the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

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.