Mizpah Sand Quarry

Kevinhooa

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Mar 12, 2008
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I was planning on asking the Mays Landing Historical Society as well, but figured someone here had to know. Has anyone ever heard of a Sand Quarry in Mizpah right off the old PRSL railroad tracks. It's about a mile East from Strand Ave. and has quite a lot of old concrete ruins there. It looks like it was built with a lot of railroad related material like rails and whatnot, and is located about midway between Newfield and Pleasantville. I figured it might have been made when the West Jersey & Seashore RR double tracked the line, (hence all the poured concrete there) but that's just a guess. Anyone ever heard of it?

Kevin
 
I was planning on asking the Mays Landing Historical Society as well, but figured someone here had to know. Has anyone ever heard of a Sand Quarry in Mizpah right off the old PRSL railroad tracks. It's about a mile East from Strand Ave. and has quite a lot of old concrete ruins there. It looks like it was built with a lot of railroad related material like rails and whatnot, and is located about midway between Newfield and Pleasantville. I figured it might have been made when the West Jersey & Seashore RR double tracked the line, (hence all the poured concrete there) but that's just a guess. Anyone ever heard of it?

Kevin

Kevin:

The earliest documentary record I have for this sand-mining operation is 1923, when the West Jersey & Seashore Railroad had a siding at milepost 41.4 (measured from the Camden Electric Terminal), or 3/10ths of a mile past the Mizpah station on the Newfield Branch, for the Samuel Ellis Sand Company. In 1947, the Mizpah Sand Company began operations there, continuing to mine a light-gray sand from the Cape May formation that underlies the area. Additional information about the second sand company can be obtained by visiting the New Jersey Geological Survey office in Trenton and examining the permanent notes on file there. Both companies would have filed annual reports with the New Jersey Secretary of State and you can access those records at the New Jersey Division of Revenue in the Department of State building in Trenton, although I understand they may be moving their location.

Base on an interpolation of information I have at-hand, I suspect sand mining began there about the First World War. It is possible that the company supplied construction sand for building Amatol and/or Belcoville.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
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Kevin:

In discussing your question with Spungman [always a lurker and never a poster!!], he indicated the Ellis sand operation likely began with the concrete paving of Harding Highway through that stretch of the state, starting in 1921 or 1922, although he did concede that the pit may have supplied sand for building Amatol and/or Belcoville as I indicated in my first response. He also reported that the sand pit closed down by the late 1920s, and moonshiners constructed a commercial-size still in the sand silos on the property. The revenue agents were always steered away from the place because the distillery was so profitable. Carloads of sugar would be either left on the siding at Richland Station or would be shifted right into the sand-pit siding for manufacturing the illegal hooch. One day, the revenue folks mistakenly showed up there at the Ellis property, mistaking the road in for the route into a different sand pit and smaller distillery operation. They had no choice but to shut it down and destroy the still, thereby removing a great source of income for many locals! The sand pit remained derelict until after the Second World War, when Mizpah Sand began its extraction operations in 1947. On a nearby parcel of land during the war, a company established an incendiary bomb factory.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
Good stuff!

Jerseyman, perhaps we should peer-pressure Spungman into joining this site?

Gabe:

Spungman is a lovable geographer, but he is more stubborn than a mule. With his stubbornness in mind, I don’t think peer-pressure will work. However, we could, perhaps, attempt pier-pressure, as in “A long walk off a short…!!!” I have it in mind to use Mordecai’s Landing for your convenience!!! :D

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

Spung-Man

Explorer
Jan 5, 2009
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Richland, NJ
loki.stockton.edu
stubborn mule

Gabe:

Spungman is a lovable geographer, but he is more stubborn than a mule. With his stubbornness in mind, I don’t think peer-pressure will work. However, we could, perhaps, attempt pier-pressure, as in “A long walk off a short…!!!” I have it in mind to use Mordecai’s Landing for your convenience!!! :D

Best regards,
Jerseyman

Paddler, Jerseyman,

You thugs are both correct; Spung-Man would never-ever cave-in to peer pressure. Your threats to tar-and-feather or walk-the-plank have not worked in the past, nor will they in the future. However, being rendered impotent by superior intellect and charm by those who outclass me, that's another can of worms.

“Lurking” this wonderful website and its analogs has brought hours of joy, and yielded exciting insight into Pinelands topics. I thank everyone for providing excellent posts across a broad range of subject matter and opinions. There is no finer, more democratic way to celebrate this very special place and its Pinelands way of life. I work a full-time job and chase a PhD in climatology. Given the workload, you are forewarned that correspondence may be spotty at best.

Kevihooa, I hope you find the attached photo useful:

c. 1925 Atlantic Sand & Gravel, Mizpah, NJ.

Explanation:
Atlantic Sand Company's Plant at Weymouth Siding from a real estate promotional brochure titled "Save money by spending $1.00 a week for a Richland Garden Farm." Charles H. Geise, Gilbert & O'Callaghan, 703 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA.

Kind regards,
Mark
 

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Spung-Man

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Kevinhooa,

I think I can provide some additional context for the Atlantic Sand Company location. Although Route 40 was formally laid-out from Downstown to Mays Landing in 1817 (Gloucester County Book B, page 207), wetlands fettered easy passage until this byway was gravelled in 1908. Prior to its improvement, travelers wisely took the Cohansey-Egg Harbour Trail that passed just north of the sand plant. This ancient Indian trail followed high ground, linking various ponds (spungs), springs, and meadows along the way in a pattern of transhumance that lasted over 12,000 years. Cohansey Trail began at Cohansey, the original name for Greenwich, and met with the Long-A-Coming Trail (from Algonquin “Lonaconing,” or “where many waters meet” – Berlin) at the Steelman Plantation (c.1706) above Mays Landing. The two trails intersected in wild terrain called the Lochs-of-the-Swamps (near the Custard Castle on the Black Horse Pike). The largest loch (Gaelic for an elongated lake), Lookout Pond (a long, narrow spung – interdunal blowout), was over a mile long. Adjacent ponds like Crane and Brake were not too much smaller in size.

Lots of fill was needed for Route 40 to become a passable road. Strung along this highway like a string of pearls are a series of shallow borrow pits exploited during successive road improvements (e.g., 1908, Atlantic County Map 563 [same year Richland General Store began]; 1922, County Road File; and 1929, NJ State Highway Department General Property Key Map, Route 48, Section 22). The Garden State Parkway is similarly patterned with pits. What’s important to note is that these excavations become manmade spungs, providing valuable habitat that is the equal of natural intermittent ponds as pointed out in Zampella and Laidig (2003, "Functional equivalency of natural and excavated coastal plain ponds"). Harding Highway, begun as Route 18S (later Route 48, even later Route 40), started in Penns Grove and ended in Atlantic City. Our oldest residents recount seeing President Warren G. Harding driving through in a convertible touring car when the highway was dedicated.

I queried Virginia Gale (granddaughter-in-law of Fountain Gale, famed woodsman), who is quite knowledgeable about things Mizpah. According to her, Frank Passarelli last owned the operation. This is not the same Frank P. who owned Mizpah’s toy factory. She believes that the plant made blocks, in particular for the nearby Southern Italian settlement of Gigantic City. Virginia and I have a hunch that the plant was an aggregate supplier for Harding Highway construction, but we remain uncertain that this point is indeed fact.

Best!
Spung-Man
 

Kevinhooa

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Mar 12, 2008
332
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Hammonton, NJ.
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Wow.

Spung-Man, thanks a bunch for all of that data and that very valuable picture. I just looked at it and I can already match the features from what's there now, to what's in the photo and it's even bigger than I could have imagined. I figured it was railroad oriented since much of the structure there was poured concrete with actual railroad rails in it. But that makes sense that it was cheaper to just buy up almost worthless land in the woods and just dig out the sand for the concrete. I'm sure the building of Rt. 40 took up a lot of yardage. Having first found that site myself in 2001 I think it's kind of funny how it took so long to find out the info on it, but it pleases me to see just how informative this site really is. It just goes to show how so many minds put together can create such a strong information database. Thanks again Jerseyman, Pinelands Paddler, and MarkBNJ for your input on this as well. I put up the photos of this site on my Flickr page if anyone wants to see what it looks like -

- http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinhooa/sets/72157603562683015/

the dead deer has an interesting story. Thanks again.

Kevin
 

Spung-Man

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Jan 5, 2009
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Richland, NJ
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My sentiments as well!

Kevinhooa,

You are so right; there are many stories yet to be told within the Pinelands National Reserve – even south of the Mullica. Blogs like this are evidence enough that a Jerseyman can still enjoy a spirited adventure in South Jersey. Jack McCormick, in his ecological assessment report to the National Park Service, made a convincing case for the region’s value to environmental studies. But every bit as important as natural treasures are Pinelands cultural elements. Let’s not forget that the mission of the 1979 Pinelands Act, in part, “is to preserve, protect, and enhance the natural and cultural resources of the Pinelands National Reserve.”

For example, let’s consider the social geographic context of the sand plant. Weymouth Siding was the site of Edwina, one of a number of failed Am Olam colonies hatched along the railroad corridors of Atlantic, Cumberland, and Cape May Counties. Its inspiration was the Jewish “back to the land” movement that began with the Pogroms in Russia. These land and agricultural schemes, along with other ethnically based land-improvement companies, were part of the speculative boom that precipitated the Panic of 1893. The Panic was an economic depression that truncated ambitious plans to tame (urbanize) the Pines. Within a dozen miles of Edwina were the settlements of Royalton, Hebron, Rotham, Ruskville, Mizpah, Burbridge, Thelma, and Reega.

Today, another speculative boom threatens Pinelands environmental integrity – exurban sprawl. Instead of railroad tracks, it is proposed sewer lines that now drive a rush to develop. Along the Route 40 corridor between Buena and Mizpah, there are currently four redevelopment plans that will overlay existing zoning rules (see the earlier post “Development plans threaten Buena Vista Pinelands"). Each plan anticipates sewering, not just in Pinelands Towns and Villages, but extending coverage to land currently zoned for Rural Development. We are misusing public funds to encourage exurban sprawl in the middle of an internationally renowned biosphere.

What’s next, invoking urban renewal to resuscitate Paisley – a famed railroad-era boondoggle planned midway between Chatsworth and Tabernacle? It too was spurred by a township’s speculative race for a “false tax base,” nicely chronicled in “Land Utilization in New Jersey: A Land Development Scheme in the New Jersey Pine-Area" (Lee, 1939). Should you wish to learn more about the dynamics of railroad-era colonization and its socio-economic impact, consider signing up for my Pinelands Short Course presentation, "Come Earnest Homeseekers: Ethnic Settlements in the Pines."

Kind regards,
Spung-Man
 

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Kevinhooa,

You are so right; there are many stories yet to be told within the Pinelands National Reserve – even south of the Mullica. Blogs like this are evidence enough that a Jerseyman can still enjoy a spirited adventure in South Jersey. Jack McCormick, in his ecological assessment report to the National Park Service, made a convincing case for the region’s value to environmental studies. But every bit as important as natural treasures are Pinelands cultural elements. Let’s not forget that the mission of the 1979 Pinelands Act, in part, “is to preserve, protect, and enhance the natural and cultural resources of the Pinelands National Reserve.”

For example, let’s consider the social geographic context of the sand plant. Weymouth Siding was the site of Edwina, one of a number of failed Am Olam colonies hatched along the railroad corridors of Atlantic, Cumberland, and Cape May Counties. Its inspiration was the Jewish “back to the land” movement that began with the Pogroms in Russia. These land and agricultural schemes, along with other ethnically based land-improvement companies, were part of the speculative boom that precipitated the Panic of 1893. The Panic was an economic depression that truncated ambitious plans to tame (urbanize) the Pines. Within a dozen miles of Edwina were the settlements of Royalton, Hebron, Rotham, Ruskville, Mizpah, Burbridge, Thelma, and Reega.

Today, another speculative boom threatens Pinelands environmental integrity – exurban sprawl. Instead of railroad tracks, it is proposed sewer lines that now drive a rush to develop. Along the Route 40 corridor between Buena and Mizpah, there are currently four redevelopment plans that will overlay existing zoning rules (see the earlier post “Development plans threaten Buena Vista Pinelands"). Each plan anticipates sewering, not just in Pinelands Towns and Villages, but extending coverage to land currently zoned for Rural Development. We are misusing public funds to encourage exurban sprawl in the middle of an internationally renowned biosphere.

What’s next, invoking urban renewal to resuscitate Paisley – a famed railroad-era boondoggle planned midway between Chatsworth and Tabernacle? It too was spurred by a township’s speculative race for a “false tax base,” nicely chronicled in “Land Utilization in New Jersey: A Land Development Scheme in the New Jersey Pine-Area" (Lee, 1939). Should you wish to learn more about the dynamics of railroad-era colonization and its socio-economic impact, consider signing up for my Pinelands Short Course presentation, "Come Earnest Homeseekers: Ethnic Settlements in the Pines."

Kind regards,
Spung-Man


Spungman:

Great post!! Keep beating the drum of historic cultural relevance—it is really an important message.

Oh, and a little shameless self-promotion never hurt anyone!!

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
[T]he Cohansey-Egg Harbour ... ancient Indian trail followed high ground, linking various ponds (spungs), springs, and meadows along the way in a pattern of transhumance that lasted over 12,000 years. Cohansey Trail began at Cohansey, the original name for Greenwich, and met with the Long-A-Coming Trail (from Algonquin “Lonaconing,” or “where many waters meet” – Berlin) at the Steelman Plantation (c.1706) above Mays Landing.

Spung-Man,

Thanks for opening my eyes to the wonderful word "transhumance" (Wikipedia says "trans" = "across" + "humus" = ground), which remains an accurate description of the activity that takes place along that trail, particularly between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Does "transhumance" describe the humans following their deep instinctual seafood drive? or the insects following the great annual human feast?

Thanks also for providing the derivation of Long-A-Coming, which, for my money, still beats the tar out of "Berlin" as a name for the place where so many West Jersey rivers find their source.

Dave
 
Should you wish to learn more about the dynamics of railroad-era colonization and its socio-economic impact, consider signing up for my Pinelands Short Course presentation, "Come Earnest Homeseekers: Ethnic Settlements in the Pines."

Spung-Man,

Where would one sign up? Pinelands Alliance? What's up there now mentions only a November 2008 course.

Dave

P.S. Never mind ... Guy has since pointed out in another thread http://forums.njpinebarrens.com/showthread.php?t=5981 that the Pinelands Commissions begins its Pinelands Short Course on March 7, details available via its webpage http://www.nj.gov/pinelands/about/events/; from there, you can download a .pdf with the registration/brochure, complete with a description of Spung-Man's course.
 

Kevinhooa

Explorer
Mar 12, 2008
332
25
39
Hammonton, NJ.
www.flickr.com
Kevin:

In discussing your question with Spungman [always a lurker and never a poster!!], he indicated the Ellis sand operation likely began with the concrete paving of Harding Highway through that stretch of the state, starting in 1921 or 1922, although he did concede that the pit may have supplied sand for building Amatol and/or Belcoville as I indicated in my first response. He also reported that the sand pit closed down by the late 1920s, and moonshiners constructed a commercial-size still in the sand silos on the property. The revenue agents were always steered away from the place because the distillery was so profitable. Carloads of sugar would be either left on the siding at Richland Station or would be shifted right into the sand-pit siding for manufacturing the illegal hooch. One day, the revenue folks mistakenly showed up there at the Ellis property, mistaking the road in for the route into a different sand pit and smaller distillery operation. They had no choice but to shut it down and destroy the still, thereby removing a great source of income for many locals! The sand pit remained derelict until after the Second World War, when Mizpah Sand began its extraction operations in 1947. On a nearby parcel of land during the war, a company established an incendiary bomb factory.

Best regards,
Jerseyman

Thanks again Spung-Man and Jerseyman for all the info provided. That picture of the Paisley ad was great. It's funny how much we feel like we can get scammed on the internet and the phone today, when it's been going on for centuries. The Apple Pie Hill development scheme was a classic as well. As for the end of Jerseyman's paragraph here, I had always thought that that "bomb factory" was part of Bethlehem and decided to put in another shell plant along with the 3 already established near Estell Manor. And just a week or two ago, I heard about it being related to WWII. How odd, that all the way out here in Mays Landing, such a small factory was built for the making of, I'm guessing because it's not big, one type of shell. It almost seems like a waste to have a train run all the way out to South Jersey for those shipments when the plant is small enough that it could have easily have been built closer to Philadelphia or Camden. When I checked that place out it seems like it only had one pouring building and several out buildings with maybe 4 or 5 rail spurs throughout the plant. And there's not even so much as a sign along the road (unless someone stole it) to mark it's existence. It kind of looks like the development (Brandywine?) may have destroyed some of it, but it's hard to tell how much exactly as there is one storage foundation just north of the apartments with a rail road bed in front of it. And to think that just 8 years after WWII the portion of trackage between Mays Landing and Newfield would be abandoned by the PRSL. I know this is kind of hijacking my own thread but I couldn't help but add to this location as well.

Kevin
 

Wreckless

New Member
Jan 9, 2009
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Ocnaled
Ah, but this was WW2 and especially with munition plants along the coast and potentially vulnerable to aerial bombing the government dispersed defense contractors and duplicated plants so that the supply could not be cut off by a lucky hit. Also, incendiary bombs are very hazardous to produce, store, and ship. It would make sense to place them in a remote location so an accident would not take out other valuable war production plants.
 
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