Today I took the opportunity to go down and visit some places I've wanted to visit ever since I've been interested in New Jersey ghost towns. I haven't been to Cumberland County in nearly 10 years, and even then it was just a drive with a friend though Buckshutem and Mauricetown. Today I was going solo, and planning on a more thorough trip. I started the day by driving down to Thompson's Beach. It's been discussed here before, but the long and short of the place is that the state (or county) decided that maintaining that road that goes through the marsh was too not worth the time or money, so they condemned all of the houses along the beach in 1998 and tore them down. All that remains there are remnants of pilings, cinder blocks, and a large fireplace. But let's not jump ahead too far. Driving down to Thompson's Beach is a breeze. You can take the road all the way to a parking lot that has a nice observation deck for the birders. The remainder of the road is beyond that gate. Most of it ends up looking like this: Al mentioned that while you're going to be slogging through the mud to get to Thompson's Beach it's not so bad because the basic roadwork (asphalt and gravel) is still mostly there. So you're not stepping into the abyss there. I had knee high boots on and the muck only got up midway to my knee. It was the worst right before you get to the beach as well. Al's (former) Crabbing Spot. In some places the road was pretty wide and still had a fair amount of asphalt on it. It's been bleached by the sun and the salt water. Someone (or the wind) ripped down the keep out sign. You can see it still standing by the bulkhead in Ryan's book "Wandering Around South Jersey." Birds galore. The seawall. The fireplace. This really is the only major feature out here. Beyond that, it's all photographs of rubble, birds, and pilings. So here's another view. What a great day! Here's the house in 1972. I'm guessing that this is also part of Thompson's Beach Road. I had originally thought that it had ended at the beach in some sort of parking lot and that residents would need to have walked to their houses, but it looks like the road goes along the beach according to HistoricAerials.com. Jim's turret looking thing. From there it was a hike back to the truck and then a 25 minute drive to the other side of the Maurice River to visit Shellpile and Bivalve. I made it to Bivalve first, only to find a shell pile: Now, I can't even begin to describe the smell of this area. Anywhere you go around here there's an unpleasant tinge of fish smell in the air, but by the piles of shells it absolutely smells like fish death. The Bayshore Discovery Project is serious about getting people to learn about the Delaware Bayshore. Almost anywhere you go there are signs up about it. Here they've recycled the top part of a tugboat into a pretty eye-catching office/billboard. Then on into Shellpile, which was just down the road from Bivalve: This huge anchor is right outside of a dilapidated marina. More piles of shells. My chariot. The Coral Sea - now probably seeing the last of it's days baking in the sun at the end of the road in Shellpile. Shellpile has always been a major area for the harvesting and processing of oyster shells. There's a bunch of photos from the 1930's that the WPA took in the area: At one point in time there was a saloon and housing for workers: If you lived in Shellpile, maybe going to Bivalve was like going to "the city." They had a barber shop there: A lot more houses. Oysters, of course. Even piles of them. You can see all of the images from today's trip here, or take a walk back in time with the historic photos of Bivalve and Shellpile here.