As the country’s iron capital between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the Highlands region of New Jersey was an early entry into the Industrial Age. Although the Highlands region—host to the largest, intact forest (320 square miles) in the northern half of the State and the source of clean water to 70% of New Jersey’s population—is better known today as an eco-region.
Yet hidden in the underbrush of what is now a canopied, mature forest, wrapped in encircling vines and half buried in the forest soils are ruins that reveal evidence of mines, furnaces and foundries, mills, factories, railroads, and a canal that connected the Delaware River with the Hudson River. It takes a trained eye to recognize and interpret these skeletons of our industrial past.
Our nearly 75-mile tour of the Highlands features the enterprises of our forgotten past and to show you some of these surprising remnants, some of which have been developed into landmarks and some of which remain as ruins in the forest.