Mount Arlington, New Jersey History and Photos
|Mount Arlington on Lake
Hopatcong is a quiet suburban town just an hour from Manhattan, but from
the 1880's thru the 1930's was a premier upscale resort area for the
wealthy. Many of the buildings
from that time still exist and the modern visitor is able to sense
the grand character of this turn-of-the-century exclusive summer
vacation center for "high society".
Through the 1600's the Nariticong Delaware Indian clan lived on the east shore of Lake Hopatcong. In 1666 a group of Puritans settled Newark and moved inland. Trappers and hunters frequented northwest New Jersey. In the early 1700's, Native Americans began to sell off land and move west, often pressured to do so.
The first group of permanent European settlers in the area that became known as Mount Arlington were the Rogerines, an evangelical Christian group named after their founder, John Rogers of Connecticut (1648-1721). Some sources date their arrival as early as 1702, others as late as 1734. The center of their village of about 20 families was Mountain Pond, it's name changed around 1912 to Lake Rogerene (or Lake Rogerine), long after the group had left. Their small farms extended to the southern end of Lake Hopatcong.
In 1740 Roxbury was incorporated as a township in Morris County. Within its borders at that time were the areas that later would separate and become Chester, Mt. Arlington, Mt. Olive Township, Netcong Borough and Washington Township.
During this time Lake Hopatcong was called Great Pond, and was half the size it is today. Around 1750 an Iron Forge was built near the southern end of the Lake where it flows into the Musconetcong River. A dam built for the forge raised the Lake level by 6 feet, submerging areas of shoreline and cutting off Halsey Island and Raccoon Island from the mainland. The Lake became known as Brookland Pond. In 1827 the newly formed Morris Canal company builds a new, larger dam on the lake to use the large body of water as a canal reservoir. This would raise the Lake water level another 6 feet and the lake became known as Lake Hopatcong.
& the Rogerenes
Morris Canal set in motion a transformation of access to Lake Hopatcong and a
development of its' shoreline. A piece of this that modern readers will find odd
is the building of a small 10 mile railroad in 1866, the Ogden Mine Railroad, to
transport Iron Ore and Zinc from the mines around Ogdensburg,
and take the ore down by rail to Nolan's Point on Lake Hopatcong. The tons of
heavy ore were then loaded onto barges and towed across the Lake by
small steamboat to the Canal opening at Landing. Mules and horses
took over at that point, towing the barges filled with ore to the
factories which used the raw material, a several days trip.
As railroads became a better and faster alternative to the canal, the Central Railroad of New Jersey built a connection from its main tracks to the Ogden Mine Railroad terminus at Nolan's Point. Before long, ordinary passengers started using the new line. It was a direct rail link to a large lake just a 90 minutes trip from the urban area of Newark / Elizabeth NJ, and just over 2 hours from New York City.
In 1882 passenger excursion trains started a regular schedule to Nolan's Point via the Jersey Central RR tracks, and the era of Lake Hopatcong as a resort destination started. The competing Lackawanna RR had a line that went from Newark, thru Morristown, Dover and up to Hackettstown, and had a "stop" at Landing, at the southern end of the lake, quickly added a station to share in the tourist boom and two major rail lines now served the lake.
Arriving passengers from the cities found a quickly growing number of amusements & activities at Nolans Point to busy themselves. New pavilions there offered a variety of restaurants, photo parlors, beach bathing and boat rides, and that's where the story of Mount Arlington really begins!
When the boom started, there were just several small hotels at the Lake. Others were quickly built, and they went up on every part of the lake shoreline. Because early roads at the Lake were few and of poor quality, the main way of transportation was by boat. New steamboat companies met arriving passengers at the train and took them to all parts of the Lake. One dock was located at Mount Arlington, and that's where some wealthy investors got the idea for a new luxury resort hotel that catered to well-heeled vacationers. The resort that was built in 1887 was called the HOTEL BRESLIN.
Once the BRESLIN went up, it spurred more development. Some early visitors camped at the Lake on wooden platforms. Wealthy individuals were building Victorian "cottages" (mansions to you & me) around the Breslin and a substantial millionaire's community sprang up in Mount Arlington.
Mount Arlington's time as a major resort was short, from 1887 through the late 1930's. That time was spectacular and included the building of the beloved Bertrand Island Amusement Park. The economic depression of the 1930's, the development of the automobile which allowed people to quickly reach out of the way destinations, and the beginning of World War II resulted in most of the Lake's hotels closing. Today, the northern part of Mount Arlington is a quiet residential community that still enjoys its' boating tradition. In recent years, new shopping centers and residential developments Nolan's Ridge and Woodmont West at the southern end have greatly added to the community.
Part of "Downtown" Mt. Arlington, circa 1905. This building still stands.
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