Musconetcong Island Park
Making safer public access to enjoy the river
We are thrilled to announce the completion of the Musconetcong Island Park project, which has opened up safer public access for people to enjoy the Musconetcong River.
The quarter-acre island in the Musconetcong River contained an abandoned former mill building donated by Asbury Carbons to the Musconetcong Watershed Association in 1999. The building was deemed unsafe, and while there was a stairway to the island, public access had been barred by a guardrail.
Thanks to the NJ Green Acres Program and the National Park Foundation, the MWA was able to secure funds to remove the abandoned building, allowing the public to access the island for recreation safely. The area is a favorite spot for fishing, swimming, and kayaking and is connected to the Asbury Historic District and Bethlehem Township by a sidewalk.
Island and Project History
The two-story concrete block building was the former Laboratory for the Asbury Graphite Mill and was constructed between 1925 and 1940 (Asbury Historic District Nomination Form, 1993). It was built on top of the foundation of a woolen factory that was destroyed by a fire in 1881. Graphite is an inert, non-toxic mineral used for lubrication and other purposes. Graphite refining began in Asbury in 1895 when Harry M. Riddle purchased the existing mills and converted them to process this niche mineral (Asbury Graphite History). Today, Asbury Carbons is a fourth generation family business and one of the few original milling businesses still operating along the Musconetcong River. The Laboratory was abandoned in the late 1970's and lacked modern plumbing and flooded frequently.
Thanks to a public referendum, the New Jersey Green Acres Program became able to fund stewardship projects that would increase public access for recreation on land owned by the public and private entities, like MWA. MWA was awarded a grant from this new Green Acres funding in 2017 and secured matching funds in 2018 from the National Park Foundation as part of a special Wild & Scenic Rivers 50th Anniversary funding round, supported by the Coca Cola Foundation. In early 2018, MWA received permission from the NJ State Historic Preservation Council for the building's demolition, with a provision to photo document the building interior and exterior, conduct an oral history project recording experiences of those who worked in the Laboratory and Graphite Mill, and install an interpretative sign sharing the history of the area.
Pictured (From Left to Right): Mary Paist-Goldman, MWA Board of Directors; Bill Gierke, MWA Board of Directors; Mayor Jeff DeAngelis, Franklin Township (Warren County); Brandee Chapman, NJ Green Acres Program; Alan Hunt, MWA Executive Director; Freeholder Susan Soloway, Hunterdon County; Mayor Paul Muir, Bethlehem Township (Hunterdon County)
This project is also part of "Love Your Park", a pilot initiative of the National Park Foundation to develop volunteers to "adopt" and care for areas within the National Park System. While the Musconetcong Island Park is privately-owned, the Musconetcong River is a National Wild & Scenic River overseen by the National Park Service.
We want to thank all those who supported this project, whether through volunteering, donating, or simply sharing our updates on social media. The Musconetcong Island Park is now open for everyone to enjoy safely. For more information about the park or to get involved in caring for it, please contact the MWA: (908) 537-7060 or email@example.com.