Beck's Travels

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In August of 1934 Beck had spent over a year trying to get to the peaks of the Forked River Mountains after many failed attempts were thwarted by spungs, broken bridges etc. He originally tried to access them off of Lacey road by crossing the old Tuckerton Railroad but the broken bridge mentioned above ended that within a mile. It appears to me many of the natives he came upon or talked with up to this point, had been emphatic that the best way there was across the Lacey crossing and then a 5 mile walk.

During his explorations he came upon the Good Will Camp, which was photographed. The door was open and Beck was certain it had been broken into. It was a small wooden weathered building with one window in the front as well as the door. At the top of the doorway there appears to be a sign but it is unreadable. His writings say the building was a on rise with a stream just past it; however, the current Good Will Camp is along the Cave Cabin Branch with a stream just past it but I am not certain I would say the building is on a rise.

In any event, in his book Beck mentions he received a letter from a man named Lloyd Camburn of Waretown who gave him directions to get there. Mr. Camburn lived on Route 9 and was the Ocean County tax assessor for 28 years, from 1932 to 1960, during the time Beck was looking to get to the elusive mountain. Jessica and I paid Mr. Camburn a visit today but he wasn't talking.

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On the way to the mountain Beck runs into E. B Stackhouse and takes a photo of him drawing directions in the sand. Stackhouse remembers him from a previous visit, but Beck fails to mention in his book that Mr. Stackhouse was the one driving the mule team the last time they were there. That is how he remembered Beck, as Beck had never talked with him before that.

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In February 1928 a wealth Rochester NY sportsman chartered a Sikorski amphibious plane in Miami with the intention of racing a train to NY that was carrying friends of his. The plane never arrived. Searches then occurred from Norfolk to NY in a race to find any survivors.

By 1929 it was believed the plane had crash somewhere in Ocean or Burlington County, even though a resident of Hog Island Virginia a year earlier had related to the police her eyewitness account of the engine shutting off mid-flight near her home.

In May 1929 the state police commenced a 5 hour search in the "Bad Lands" of Ocean County in the Double Trouble swamp in an attempt to find the plane and it's occupants. Aerial searches had come up empty so a foot search was needed. Accompanied by newspapermen and a native guide named Harper Applegate of Dover Forge, they "plunged, stumbled and waded through the murky, watery, and dense woodland" to find the plane.

Their goal was the heart of the swampland where it was believed the plane had fallen. The morning of the planes disappearance a year earlier, workman reconstructing Lacey Road between Forked River and Bamber, said they saw a plane which appeared to be disabled flying towards the naval station at Lakehurst. The engine was sputtering as it passed over Lacey Road, and the plane then dropped from the sky into the bogs.

After walking "5 miles" and the searchers had reached the swamp, they split up into two parties and began searching. It was believed there was a possibility the plane was hidden in cedar trees that stand 60 feet high, and it was also believed the plane may have entered the swamp at such a high speed it was laying 30 feet under the swamp never to be found.

The brambles of various vines made their gloves almost useless, and several members had a close call with death. In the bottom of the creek years ago, a crude bridge of logs had been laid. However, after years of being there some of the logs had separated leaving spaces between them. Sergent Kiernan of the state police stepped off one of the logs while leaning on one of the newspapermen, and slipped to one side plunging both men into the water. The cameraman, seeking to photograph the accident, hurried across the rotting planks and also plunged into the water. The quick thinking of another officer and the guide Harper Applegate saved them from becoming imprisoned between the logs under water.

After traveling 2 more miles they reached a plank bridge and what they believed to be their goal location. Looking around Sergent Kiernan noticed an object in the water 30 feet away which appeared to be a part of a plane. It was too deep and treacherous to swim there, so another officer climbed a tree to get a better view. With the tree swaying under his weight, and supported by another person, the officer emptied his revolver into the object to determine what it was. With the tree swaying seriously the officer only hit the object once. His last shot told them it was just a rotted plank. With sunlight fading the newspapermen were notified another excursion would occur again the next Friday.

In March of the same year the Navy dirigible with 50 crewmen aboard traveled from Norfolk to NJ helping in the search, and even the dirigible Los Angeles was searching off the Jersey coast.

Getting back to Harper Applegate, the guide above who saved the searchers from certain death. We also visited him today to get "more" of the incredible swamp story, but he also was silent.

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Fast forward to February 1937, a fishing trawler 60 miles off the coast of Cape May pulled up in their net a twisted wreckage of a plane. It was believed the plane may be the wreckage of the Sikorski plane mentioned above. This plane was painted red like the above mentioned plane, and was entangled in electric wires. A probe was underway on how long the craft was in the water and if it was the missing plane.

I put this article in the Beck's Travels thread because Henry Beck while writing about his Forked River Mountain excursion even mentioned the Sikorsky plane. He left that out of his book.
 

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Reading over Beck's writings it is interesting to note that as far back as 1933 there was a gas station at the location that currently is the recycling place on Route 72 at Stephenson Road. Leroy and Clara Applegate owned the station back in the 30s but it is in question if they owned it when Beck was there in 1932.

In any event, in March of 1933 Beck was searching for Old Half Way and Red Oak Grove by entering at Woodmansie when he obviously went right by both places and ended up coming in behind Applegate filling station at Route 72, which was Barnegat Road back then.

Here is what Beck says.

We were not sure of the road, despite the chart loaned us by E. B. Johnson, of 436 Chambers avenue, Camden, which outlines the ancient trails through the pines fairly well. We kept on and on, finally coming abruptly to a house, a filling station and a poultry pen. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that we were in somebody's "back yard" -- just off the plains road to Barengat, about half way to Cedar Bridge! There was nothing to do but try again. We went back to the sandy trail along the Jersey Central and again set out from Woodmansie.
 
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bobpbx

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I recall searching for a plane in the swamp along Bisphams Mill Creek just downstream from Presidential Lakes. I thought I read that in one of Becks books. I was in my early 20's I think.
 

Boyd

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"the chart loaned us by E. B. Johnson, of 436 Chambers avenue, Camden, which outlines the ancient trails through the pines fairly well"

Do you know anything about this "chart" Guy? Sounds very interesting! :)
 

Teegate

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"the chart loaned us by E. B. Johnson, of 436 Chambers avenue, Camden, which outlines the ancient trails through the pines fairly well"

Do you know anything about this "chart" Guy? Sounds very interesting! :)
Unfortunately no.
 

Teegate

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To me this information would have made the book so much better. They really are purified.

Beck writes: (1933)

There was nothing to do but try again. We went back to the sandy trail along the Jersey Central and again set out for Woodmansie, this time taking the precautions to ask a man about directions when he appeared in a doorway there. As we talked, a small truck with a New York license plate went by loaded down with pussy willows, "Do they allow them to carry pussy willows out like that?" we asked. "They must have bought them," we were quickly informed.

We took the new path pointed out to us and found the going considerably plainer than before, but jumpy none the less. In fact the machines left the ruts and plunged down into a ditch.

Only good management and a bit of luck kept the car from toppling over. Only a lot of nerve forced it out of the ravine on hastily procured limbs of trees. Eves so, it was necessary for us to plunge ahead at the expense of two saplings that had to be chopped down before the automobiles could get back to the road.

Not far beyond this point we came to an abandoned bus, of the type that is used for school children nowadays. Its rusted license plate bore the numerals 1927 and it may be that the vehicle has been there since that year. The tires had rotted through, the engine had been removed and only the cabin, a draughty place, seemed serviceable. Outside was a cookstove and inside a mattress and a rude bed stretched across the seats. Tramps may have been living there recently, for there were some fresh chopped firewood outside.

Abut a mile from there we found the indian grass which always springs up in an old clearing. Among the beeches, maples and the gnarled applewood of an abandoned orchard were several holes in the ground, lined with crumbling brick and stones. Near these were brick wells, dried up shafts, that seemed to go down to China. There was a bungalow and also an unfinished log cabin but these had been abandoned more recently. But generally, in what we saw of what we believe were old Half Way, Union Clay Works and Red Oak Grove, the rediscovery was like digging in the tombs. There was next to nothing to show that activity had once been there.


I suspect they made it to Union Clay Works but failed to explore enough and did not find what they were looking for, at least during this adventure. They may have passed Red Oak Grove if they continued on but they did not get to Old Half Way. Just my opinion.
 
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Teegate

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Ever hear of the "Jolly Tar Trail?" I have been reading quite a bit of old articles from the Waretown area and just learned it is the Lakewood to Barnegat RR.

 

bobpbx

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I knew a railway extended north through Lacey, but never heard that name. You are pointing to the Tuckerton railroad. No? The tracks on the east side head north through Lacey and other points.
 

Teegate

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They are one and the same where I put the pointer. Try this one and zoom in to where it says "Barnegat Branch trail"

 

bobpbx

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Oh, I'm sorry. I was only trying to point out that you put the pointer here below Pancoast Road. I think at that point on the map, they were separate. At some point they of course were separate.

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The Wick

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I am have heard of it. There are a lot books on Ocean County town histories in the Lacey Library. I read the one about Waretown, it is small but showed pictures of the old buildings and rail stations. They also had Lakewood, Bayville, LBI , Chatsworth, Point Pleasant and more. These were not the newly made Images of America, but actual books put together by the individual towns historical societies so they are not always the best quality. There are also many books on Ocean County history put together by the county historical society. When I asked how they had all of these book they told me they were donated to the library by the Lacey historical society. There may be more information at Toms River branch since its the main building. The Ocean County Historical Society also has a whole room with genealogy records you can access if you pay a fee. The museum is pretty neat, they have china from the Hindenburg crash with with the swastikas on them along with other artifacts.
 

The Wick

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Oh, I'm sorry. I was only trying to point out that you put the pointer here below Pancoast Road. I think at that point on the map, they were separate. At some point they of course were separate.

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If you walked to Waretown junction on the Rail Trail, the only thing there now is a sign. There is not any physical items to see along the whole trail except the coal dump in Barengat and the old trestles. However the signs along the trail have some good info and pictures of each area.
 

Teegate

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In 1933 Beck received a letter from a man named J. Melvin Chambers of Elm telling him about the Chew Cemetery on Chew Road. Beck obviously had never been there so he set out to find it. Beck had visited Pestletown previously and this time continued down Chew Road and found the Chew Cemetery. A photo of the cemetery was included in his article and it shows the fairly nice looking stones with what appears to be the same fence that is around it today. The cedar trees are smaller but the place pretty much looks the same.

Anyway, we traveled this morning to check in on Mr. Chambers and found him resting comfortably.

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