Deserted Village Berkeley Heights, NJ

deserted village

Located in the Berkeley Heights, NJ section of the Wachtung Reservation sits the Deserted Village of Feltville. Many Berkeley Heights NJ residents don’t know about this fascinating little piece of history. Eight homes, a general store/church building, and carriage house are spread out along Cataract Hollow Road, a dead-end park off of Glenside Ave. Over the past 300 years, this area has served as a farming community, a mill town, a deserted village, and a summer resort. Three families still live in this “deserted village” which is visited by thousands of people every year.

This land was first inhabited by Peter Willcocks in 1736. He used the land to build a sawmill to produce lumber that the farmers would need as they settled into the area.

About a century later in 1845, David Felt purchased 760 acres and built a printing factory. In addition, David built a town to support the mill, and 175 people were living in Feltville by 1850. After he retired in 1860, others tried to open more businesses, but none of them survived and for a short period of time the town became deserted.

Warren Ackerman purchased the property in 1882 and turned the town into Glenside Park, a summer resort. Glenside Park closed in 1916 when the beginnings of what is now known as the Jersey Shore replaced the mountain resort in popularity.

Shortly thereafter, the Union County Park System formed and turned this area into the Wachtung Reservation. This is one of our country’s first county parks. The Deserted Village has remained, and is now open for visitors to explore every day from dawn to dusk. There are ten surviving buildings to see. For more information, click here.

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