Historic New Bridge Landing. So much history. So much to say. (Here’s the more detailed history: http://www.bergencountyhistory.org/index.html) This is also home of the Bergen County Historical Society.
This area along the Hackensack River (Aschatking, the Lenni Lenape term meaning “where the river narrows”) was initially called “New Bridge.” According to New Jersey Ghost Towns by Patricia Martinelli, in 1682, Swedish explorer Cornelius Mattyse acquired 420 acres of the Lenni Lenape land. 13 years later, he sold it to David Ackerman, who gave a portion to his son and his son’s wife (Ah! A founding family’s name!). This portion of land to David’s son is now modern-day Kinderkamack Road, but back then, you’d have to set your GPS to Steenrapie Road.
Back along the Hackensack River, a grist mill was built and was powered by a manmade pond (Note: a grist mill grinds grain into flour). Nearby, a draw bridge was built in order to cross the Hackensack, now bringing us to 1744.
In 1745, The Zabriskies purchased this land from the Ackermans, (Totally loving reading and typing all the founding family names!) where they made their money trading during the French and Indian War. They also built the Steuben House, which still stands, facing part of the bridge and also the river.
Then, the Revolutionary War happened. The significance of the bridge comes to play because it was General George Washington’s Retreat Route on November 20, 1776 (You can see many signs on New Bridge starting in Bergenfield, through New Milford, and into River Edge) from the British and Hessians. Fort Washington was captured in Fort Lee, so Washington’s men made their urgent retreat for New Bridge. Once to safety, they began to dismantle the bridge. There is a large blue sign on the site that clearly states, “The bridge that saved a nation.” That is truly remarkable!
The Steuben House, which General Washington made to be his headquarters for a short time in 1780, got its name from Major General Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Augustin von Steuben. Jan Zabriskie (the owner at the time) was a British Loyalist. We all know how this war ended, so his land was confiscated and presented to Steuben on December 23, 1783. After some years, Steuben did sell it back to the Zabriskies.
On this land also stands two homes which originally stood in New Milford, but brought to this site for preservation. They are the Campbell-Christie House and the Demarest House. Be sure to stop by the Visitor’s Kiosk first for a brochure, or you can bring your smart phone and use the QR Reader for the walking tour. This historical site also boasts the Westervelt-Thomas Barn, an out-kitchen, and an outhouse (not in use). There are 11 points of interest on the map.
There is much more history I have not mentioned because this post would be extremely long. Between the area, the homes, the former owners, I’d be here for days. Please see the links below for more information. Also, I urge you to physically check out this site. I had gone on a cloudy November day, and wished I had bundled up because the river sure makes things colder! I would love to attend one of the many events they host throughout the year. HSNBL requests a simple donation, as they rely on donations to keep the site in its beautiful condition. So donate if you can! Attend an event/lecture! They are a non-profit volunteer organization. Here’s a link to “like” BCHS’s Facebook page where you will be kept up-to-date on their events: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bergen-County-Historical-Society/97133583299?sk=info&tab=overview
I hope you have enjoyed this post! I realize I didn’t discuss the houses and the barn in detail. I’d to revisit, especially during an event so I can potentially photograph inside, and have individual posts. Got big plans for this blog, so just sit tight and bear with me. Thank you for reading!
New Jersey Ghost Towns by Patricia Martinelli http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/new-jersey-ghost-towns-patricia-a-martinelli/1111981551?ean=9780811709101