Burlington Island and Jessup's Grove

4x4Jim

Scout
Jan 20, 2006
55
0
Hey all it's been quite a while since I posted last. I just picked up the book The Pine Barrens, John Mcphee and read it cover to cover. Havn't been able to get into the sticks as much as I wanted to this year and reading that book sure got the inspiriation flowing. But on a side note Im asking the history gods for their infinite knowledge. I am seeking information on Burlington Island in reguards to placements of where some of the amusements/picnic areas were and where the dutch had their Outpost IE. Old maps. I know the history of the island and have google earthed it many times. I have quite a few water "craft" able to cross the river and into the Island. Seems like a real neat place to explore. And to pick your brains even more, Jessup's Grove. Or Jessup Grove. I have very little info on this place but it was in the south jersey area in the late 1800's to early 1900's and some sort of gathering area. Thats all I know maybe (hopefully) you know more :dance: Thank you for any and all info on this matter.
 
Hey all it's been quite a while since I posted last. I just picked up the book The Pine Barrens, John Mcphee and read it cover to cover. Havn't been able to get into the sticks as much as I wanted to this year and reading that book sure got the inspiriation flowing. But on a side note Im asking the history gods for their infinite knowledge. I am seeking information on Burlington Island in reguards to placements of where some of the amusements/picnic areas were and where the dutch had their Outpost IE. Old maps. I know the history of the island and have google earthed it many times. I have quite a few water "craft" able to cross the river and into the Island. Seems like a real neat place to explore. And to pick your brains even more, Jessup's Grove. Or Jessup Grove. I have very little info on this place but it was in the south jersey area in the late 1800's to early 1900's and some sort of gathering area. Thats all I know maybe (hopefully) you know more :dance: Thank you for any and all info on this matter.


Jim:

Here is a short and sweet history of Burlington Island:

Burlington Island or Matinicunk Island, as the natives called it in the 1600s, became the first site permanent European settlement on the Delaware River. In 1624, the West India Company of Holland sent a group of French-speaking Walloons to settle in the New World. They chose Matinicunk Island. The Walloons came from what, today, is Belgium. The Indian name “Matinicunk” means “Island of Pines.” In 1626, the Dutch returned to transport the Walloons back to Manhattan in an effort to consolidate the Dutch Colony. During the mid-1600s, the Dutch governor Alexander D’Hinoyossa maintained his resident on “High” Island, as he called it.

Possession of the island changed hands several times during the ensuing few years until the English gained temporary control of all of New Netherlands in 1664 and final control in 1675. In 1682, with the help of Burlington resident Robert Stacy, the West Jersey Assembly passed an act granting the island to Burlington to be rented for farming. The legislation directed the rent collected would aid in paying for educating the children of Burlington. Since that act in 1682, the title to the island, even though challenged by Pennsylvania down through the years, has remained with the City of Burlington. In 1852 the state legislature chartered a board titled, “Managers and Treasurers of the Fund for the Education of the Youth in the City of Burlington.” This board remains active to this day.

Shortly after the state chartered the board, Burlington citizens permitted the managers put the lower half of the island—about 100 acres—up for sale. The Burlington Island Land Association purchased the island property for $20,100.00. For many years, this association agitated for the construction of a bridge across the back channel to the island so they could sell building lots. Of course, this never happened and in the late 1880s, the association gave up and sold the land to others. In 1900, the owner of the lower section of the island, Mark Bassler, developed it as a family picnic resort. He erected a pier, tables and a large open pavilion. He also had sand deposited upriver from the pier to form a beach. At the north end of his property, the city erected a wire fence. At this location, the resort managers built a large bath house and an ice cream stand. Reportedly 4,000 people visited the island in a single day during the 1902 season. By 1907, the park owners convinced George Potts, owner of Rancocas Park in Mount Laurel (where Rancocas Woods now stands) to move his better amusement rides to the island to enhance his revenue stream. Meanwhile, park management erected some swings to entertain the daily guests. As the park developed and management introduced better rides, Potts removed his amusements back to his park in Mount Laurel.

In 1917, the owner sold the island property and amusement park. The new owners moved quickly to erect “Island Beach Park,” an elaborate amusement park complete with a large wooden roller coaster called the Greyhound. The park even featured a miniature railroad complete with replica Reading R.R. camelback locomotives. This new park became the toast of the river excursion crowd, attracting thousands. At times, the river pier would have six and seven steamers waiting to unload its human cargo. Still others came by train and would take the little ferryboat, the “William E. Doron,” to the island. In 1928 a disastrous fire all but destroyed the amusement park. A second fire in 1934 finished the job. Although one ride still survives: the restored carousel at Seaside Heights. After the 1928 fire, a physician purchased the carousel and its shelter and had it moved from the island and shipped to become a new amusement for visitors to Seaside Heights. But this ride, still enjoyed by many today, began amusing folks on Burlington Island.

After the 1928 fire, the destroyed amusement park owners sold the lower half of the island to the Hainesport Mining and Transportation Company, part of the Van Sciver Corporation, for sand mining. It April 1929, when the Warner Sand Company bought out the Van Sciver firm for $10 million, they received title to this land. In 1955 Warner began dredging operations, which they completed in 1969. After removing the sand from the island, it left a large lagoon. Warner returned title to this lagoon and the land surrounding back to the City of Burlington instead of the Board of Island Managers. In 1971, the city had the mouth of this basin closed off from the river. Unfortunately, with the Board of Island Managers owning the north half and the City of Burlington owning the south half, much friction has developed over what kind of development should occur on the island. It remains a problem today, although there are signs that the city and board are finding some common ground.

The next time I fire up my scanner, I will post some views of the amusement park.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

4x4Jim

Scout
Jan 20, 2006
55
0
Thank you Jerseyman. Very interesting. I hear there is good fishing in that "Lagoon" in the middle. Im wondering if any of the amusments were where the "lagoon" is now. I was under the assumption that the Lake in the middle was always there and the amusments were built around it.
 
Thank you Jerseyman. Very interesting. I hear there is good fishing in that "Lagoon" in the middle. Im wondering if any of the amusments were where the "lagoon" is now. I was under the assumption that the Lake in the middle was always there and the amusments were built around it.

Jim:

I can’t vouch for the fishing, but the lagoon dates from the sand-mining operation and was NOT there when the amusement park stood on the island. In fact, the sand-mining destroyed most of the remaining artifacts and sites from the Dutch and early English occupation of the island. The author, naturalist, and early archaeologist Charles Conrad Abbott made several sojourns on the island and gathered many artifacts from the Dutch period. He presented them to the Peabody Museum at Yale. He writes about his archaeological exploits in some of his works, if you would like to seek them in a local library and read them.

You asked about where things stood on the island. Well, the Dutch established their habitation on the lower end of the island so they could observe any threats coming up the Delaware River. The amusement park was more towards the Pennsylvania side of the lower half of the island. You will gain a better perspective on that when you view the images I post. If I can upload it, I also have a very clear 1938 aerial image of the island that pretty clearly shows where most of the amusement rides once stood.

Regarding Jessup Grove, I am not yet certain, but I suspect it was at or near Jessup’s Millpond in Mantua Township, Gloucester County.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

imkms

Explorer
Feb 18, 2008
528
159
SJ and SW FL
Burlington Island Access

Does anyone know if it is permissible to explore this Island. I would love to Kayak out there and check it out.
 
Does anyone know if it is permissible to explore this Island. I would love to Kayak out there and check it out.

imkms:

Technically, the island is private property owned by two public entities. However, I do see people out there and several years ago, a friend of my brother who owned a boat dropped me and an archaeologist friend off at the island. We spent about two hours exploring the lower end, searching for surface evidence of the Dutch occupation. No one bothered us, although we did see some paw prints that suggested a pack of wild dogs may roam the island. Word to the wise, I suppose.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

imkms

Explorer
Feb 18, 2008
528
159
SJ and SW FL
Thanks

Thanks for the info, I guess I'll steer clear for a while. I'm curious, do you think there is enough food sources on the Island to support a pack of wild dogs? Also, this must be a valuable piece of real estate I wonder if the owners have plans for their investment.
 

lgench

Explorer
Jan 19, 2005
125
0
Bristol, PA
As a current resident of Bristol who can see the island from his front window, perhaps I can add a small bit of information. I know the widow of the gentleman who was in charge of the water pumps on the island for many years. When living in Bristol during the 70's, I remember them going back and forth to the island in their Amphicar. For many years, people could rent a small lot and build a little house on the island. As I recall, I think it was around $20 a year. All that came to a halt in the mid seventies, when all the "shacks" were destroyed. Not much has happened since and yes, it is "off limits". The two entities mentioned by Jerseyman, are seeking a developer to lease the 400 acre property. Many years ago, an archeological dig was performed with the artifacts placed in the Peabody Museum at Harvard. From early days to today, any profits gained were to go to the school system of Burlington. If I am successful with contacting the caretaker's widow, I will post any additional information.
 

4x4Jim

Scout
Jan 20, 2006
55
0
Hey Gench,

So two public entities own the island are there signs posted of no trespassing? It would be a waste of land if no one could get out there and enjoy. I already has an itinerary for where to launch and what to do when I got there. As for the wild dogs, probably not true, could be from people walking their dogs exploring. But who knows :confused: Hopefully you can shed some more light on this subject.
 
As a current resident of Bristol who can see the island from his front window, perhaps I can add a small bit of information. I know the widow of the gentleman who was in charge of the water pumps on the island for many years. When living in Bristol during the 70's, I remember them going back and forth to the island in their Amphicar. For many years, people could rent a small lot and build a little house on the island. As I recall, I think it was around $20 a year. All that came to a halt in the mid seventies, when all the "shacks" were destroyed. Not much has happened since and yes, it is "off limits". The two entities mentioned by Jerseyman, are seeking a developer to lease the 400 acre property. Many years ago, an archeological dig was performed with the artifacts placed in the Peabody Museum at Harvard. From early days to today, any profits gained were to go to the school system of Burlington. If I am successful with contacting the caretaker's widow, I will post any additional information.

Lynn:

Thanks for correcting my misidentification of which Peabody Museum holds the material from Burlington Island. Mr. Peabody funded several museums and depositories and I could not remember if it was Yale or Harvard, so I appreciate your better knowledge on the subject. All of the “shacks” you mention were located on the north end of the island—the half that the Board of Island Managers owned—and faced the Pennsylvania shore. I remember them when I lived in Burlington back in the 1960s. A couple of them were still occupied in the summer by Bristol residents. The water pumps you mention belonged to the City of Burlington Waterworks and the wells on the island provided all of the potable water for Burlingtonians. The old steam-powered pumping station still stands near the Onieda Boat Club. I remember being in that building when steam still powered the large pumping engine with its gigantic flywheel.

The other structure that stood on the north end of the island was the broadcast tower and blockhouse for radio station WJJZ in Mount Holly. The studio was in the back of the Washington House building at Rancocas Road and High Street in Mount Holly and it is where Diane Betzendahl-Allen first started her broadcast career as a newscaster before she entered the realm of state politics.

As the United States entered World War I, a number of new shipyards opened along the Delaware River, the northernmost of these new yards being located at Bristol. The Merchant Shipbuilding Corporation constructed its yard in the northern part of Bristol across from the north half of Burlington Island. The shipyard had sixteen construction ways and of at the necessary shop buildings. With the aid of the United States Shipping Board, yard management constructed a residential community called Harriman—named for the founder of Merchant Shipbuilding, Averill Harriman. When the company had the Delaware River dredged in front of the construction ways to accommodate launchings, the dredges deposited the dredge spoils on the northern end of the island, leaving only the very tips of the trees showing through the river silt. Merchant also operated the former John Roach yard in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

lgench

Explorer
Jan 19, 2005
125
0
Bristol, PA
Jerseyman,
As you no doubt know, the boatyard in Harriman closed shortly after the end of WWI. At that time, Harriman was a separate town from Bristol. It had it's own fire and police departments, etc. Harriman went bankrupt, so to speak, and was annexed by Bristol. Today, it is a very nice section of Bristol, despite the fact that most of the houses were built as "worker's houses".
Re: The Island "shacks", it was fun to watch the little "ferry" boat, on Friday evenings, loaded down with refrigerators, etc. being taken over to the island. Their little lots did have electricity. But, as I said, all that came to an end in the mid 70's. They were a nice bunch of folks that loved their little summer "vacation houses". Couldn't do that today, as Bristol no longer has a public boat ramp. Then, of course, the greatest entertainment for us Bristolians, was watching the drunken boaters returning late at night, trying to get their boats up the ramp. One time, saw a boat, attached to it's trailer, floating out into the river! But I digress...
Lynn
 
Jerseyman,
As you no doubt know, the boatyard in Harriman closed shortly after the end of WWI. At that time, Harriman was a separate town from Bristol. It had it's own fire and police departments, etc. Harriman went bankrupt, so to speak, and was annexed by Bristol. Today, it is a very nice section of Bristol, despite the fact that most of the houses were built as "worker's houses".
Re: The Island "shacks", it was fun to watch the little "ferry" boat, on Friday evenings, loaded down with refrigerators, etc. being taken over to the island. Their little lots did have electricity. But, as I said, all that came to an end in the mid 70's. They were a nice bunch of folks that loved their little summer "vacation houses". Couldn't do that today, as Bristol no longer has a public boat ramp. Then, of course, the greatest entertainment for us Bristolians, was watching the drunken boaters returning late at night, trying to get their boats up the ramp. One time, saw a boat, attached to it's trailer, floating out into the river! But I digress...
Lynn

Lynn:

Yes, Merchant shipyard closed in 1921 or 1922. All of the vessels they constructed had major problems with their reduction gears and the ships required retrofitting at Hog Island. IIRC, the little community of Harriman was built in Bristol Township and then annexed to the Borough of Bristol. I have a post card of Harriman Hospital in my collection, as well as a fold-out photo brochure of the shipyard itself. Great stuff!!

There was also the Traylor Shipyard down at Echo Beach in Cornwell Heights. This yard had eight construction ways and turned out Ferris type or wooden cargo vessels. I have some images of this shipyard as well.

I’m glad you have good memories of the cabins on the island. We should talk sometime soon!!

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
Folks:

Here are some selected images from my collection of Burlington Island:

Burlington_Island_1_copy.jpg

All visitors to Island Beach Amusement Park had to arrive by boat, either a river steamer or the little ferryboat called the William E. Doron

Bristol_PA_copy.jpg

Here is a view of the excursion steamer Columbia and the William E. Doron in her ferry slip in Bristol

Burlington_Island_4_copy.jpg

One of the early amusements on the island came from George Potts’ Rancocas Park in Mount Laurel, opened in 1904

Amusements_Rancocas_Park_copy.jpg

And here is that same ride at Rancocas Park

Burlington_Island_6_copy.jpg

Here is a throng of people on the pier


Burlington_Island_5_copy.jpg

And here is a beach scene on the island

Burlington_Island_2_copy.jpg

One of two tree-lined thoroughfares in the park

Burlington_Island_7_copy1.jpg

The Scenic Railway or Roller Coaster called the Greyhound

Burlington_Island_3_copy.jpg

How about a ride on the miniature railway?

Burlington_Island_8_copy.jpg

And one last view of the island from Bristol

I hope you’ve enjoyed these views of Burlington Island and Island Beach Park.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
Oct 25, 2006
1,757
1
71
Thanks Jerseyman for posting and sharing those pics of Burlington Island.

The roller coaster pic reminds me of the one at Dorney Park called Hercules.

Jim
 
And to pick your brains even more, Jessup's Grove. Or Jessup Grove. I have very little info on this place but it was in the south jersey area in the late 1800's to early 1900's and some sort of gathering area.

Jim:

I forgot to ask you—what is your source or references for Jessup’s Grove? That information may aid me in finding out more about this place.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

lgench

Explorer
Jan 19, 2005
125
0
Bristol, PA
Jerseyman,
Great photos, thanx! In the retirement community where I live, many of the inmates, er, residents vividly remember the amusement park. Going over there was quite the adventure, especially considering that at that time, most of Bristol's residents were factory workers. Some young lads would swim over, as the current was not as ferocious then because it preceded the major dredging that occurred around 1950 for the US Steel plant. Hopefully, I will soon be able to post more info on the island caretaker of many years. I have to wait for permission.
Also, the little boat I mentioned from the seventies, was called the "putt-putt" boat.
Lynn
 

MarkBNJ

Piney
Jun 17, 2007
1,875
70
Long Valley, NJ
www.markbetz.net
Incredible pics of the island and environs, Jerseyman! Just fascinating. In that shot of the throngs on the pier, the smaller pier next to it has an interesting shape. Looks like it got away from them a little bit.
 
Incredible pics of the island and environs, Jerseyman! Just fascinating. In that shot of the throngs on the pier, the smaller pier next to it has an interesting shape. Looks like it got away from them a little bit.

Mark:

The smaller “pier” next to the main pier is actually the sectional floating dock for launching the rental canoes available from the park.

Glad you enjoyed the images!!

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

Offabit

New Member
Dec 9, 2008
15
0
Moorestown
Thanks for the information and the pics.

EDITED as I answered my own question. :)

I really appreciated the pics as I have never seen or heard of that island.

Thank you.
 
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