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Derewal: Poison & Treasure

A few steps south of Frenchtown in Kingwood Township is a new nature preserve located on the site of the former DeRewal Chemical Company. The site transformation came about in 1996 when the site was designated a Superfund Cleanup Site.

The story of this site is one of irony that seems too strange to be true. As excavation began to remove the toxic substances on the site, the treasure was found under the poison of corporate irresponsibility and maleficence. This treasure provided concrete evidence of the ancient Lenape history of Frenchtown and Kingwood Township NJ.

Frenchtown NJ Superfund Site Archaeology

Above, is pictured a path in Frenchtown NJ near the Delaware River near the site of our story.

It was quite by accident that Frenchtown and Kingwood Township NJ learned just how old they are. In 1988, the Environmental Protection Agency came to an old chemical company site in Kingwood Township, just one-fifth of a mile beyond the city limits of Frenchtown. They were here to instigate a Superfund Site toxic waste removal project. As part of standard EPA procedures, a cultural resources survey was done to insure that the excavation of the site would not harm any historical or archaeological artifacts.

It was discovered that indeed there was a site in this location near the creeks of substantial importance in New Jersey Archaeology. In 1996, a group of archaeologists and geologists came to Hunterdon County to begin their expedition to unearth this hidden history.

The expedition stretched out over a period of several years and by 1999, over 3,000 artifacts had been found, some dating back to 841 BC or earlier. They included ceramics, stone tools, and food remains. This site is now referred to as the DeRewal Prehistoric Site, named after the DeRewal Chemical Company. The land that is now Frenchtown NJ, Kingwood Township, and Alexandria Township has a history that stretches back over 2,800 years to when the Lenape and their ancestor tribes were making tools, hunting, using pottery, cooking, and living on this land next to the Delaware River.

The artifacts were originally turned over to the State of New Jersey and then passed along to Kingwood Township. This treasure of Lenape archaeology resides now in the offices of the Kingwood Township Building that are located a few miles west of Frenchtown NJ and just north of Baptistown NJ near the intersections of Route 12 and 519 in Hunterdon County.

A report of their findings on the site is available from the Archaeological Society of New Jersey, published in 1999, Bulletin #54, written by Ian Burrow, Donald Thieme, William Liebeknecht, and Joseph Schuldenrein.

Be sure and see our Main Frenchtown NJ Lenni-Lenape Page for information about this proud Native American tribe that loved this land. On that page, you will find links to Lenape/Delaware informational sites to learn more about their religion, creation myth, culture, dress, pow-wows, and history.

Frenchtown New Jersey

B.I.G. Comes Home

B.I.G. Comes Home: The Odd Fellows Field of Weeds and Dreams

B. I. G. Burgeoning Inevitable Gentrification

This story was written in 2010. The photo below shows a recently acquired property in Frenchtown NJ. This “spot of green” between the Odd Fellows Building and the Frenchtown Inn on Bridge Street, once housed a charming old Victorian Home that burned down sometime in the late 1950′s or 60′s. The lot has been sitting vacant and unused for decades. In a beautiful little community like ours, this field of weeds was a field of dreams to me. Somehow, I always wanted to see LIFE there in some form, whether that be cultural, business, or some attempt at cultivated nature. In the short article below I detail some of my ideas.

First idea: The Mallet-Prevost Memorial Park. If we the citizens of Frenchtown were going to have a big empty lot in the middle of the business district, why couldn’t it be purchased by the town and made into a proper park, unlike the poor excuse for a park that we have hidden off of Kingwood Avenue? At least it could become a wildflower preserve if nothing else with some great old tree plantings and walkways. Of course, it would be named after Mallet because his history is such a fascinating one, and one that is not memorialized anywhere but in our “misnamed” name.

Frenchtown New Jersey empty field that became the Field of Dreams (commercial and residential space in the years since this story was written.

Second idea: Borough of Frenchtown Parking Lot. In the late 1990′s I owned a store in town, and it was clearly evident every weekend that this little town had a huge parking problem. This problem has only gotten worse with the recent growth in the retail trade and with our popular new restaurants. It would truly be a sin however if this entire property became a huge expanse of ugly black tar. If some smart developer can work a paid parking lot into his or her plans, the town would benefit greatly.

Third idea: With the help of a major corporate sponsor, the site is large enough to become The Delaware River Museum of Art and History. I have thought for decades now that the area needs a good local repository for our history and our culture. Frenchtown in many ways needs an institution. This grand idea is one of my pie-in-the-sky dreams for my little town that I know will never come true.

According to town rumors, the property is sold, and plans are already in the works for a mixed commercial residential development that will greatly change the nature of the site and of French Town itself.

Another site and the plans of redevelopment for it dwarf this project to make it seem insignificant.

The Riegel Field of Metal, Asphalt, and Transformers

The former Riegel Paper Company property, located in Alexandria Township and Milford borough, just north of Frenchtown has been purchased by Oneill Properties of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Oneill properties have a history of transforming abandoned industrial money-pit properties into thriving residential and commercial pieces of real estate. I think that Frenchtown, Milford, and Alexandria Township are exceptionally lucky to have such a company willing to invest millions of dollars to remove an environmental and aesthetic monster from the landscape.

In their announced preliminary plans, they laid out a proposal for some 800 new homes on the property and an almost complete destruction of all the existing buildings. According to the Del-Val News, local officials were shocked and dismayed at what the corporation proposed.
My concern here is that if local officials give this well-respected company too much grief, they will just sell off the property to someone with less credibility and funding. I am not saying that this property could actually hold those 800 homes, and I know that the local roads and schools would be sorely taxed to handle this new influx of families, but some smaller but still ambitious plans should be possible for this site that sorely needs help. It is not like some of the developments popping up throughout Hunterdon County that are eating up precious green space and the open land that gives our county its charm and unique flavor. This plan would take a ghost factory and infuse it with life and if done correctly restore some of the natural beauty of this property that lies right along the Delaware River.

Hunterdon County Lambertville New Jersey

New Jersey Comes to Go2.Guide.

Today is a big day for us. We started our journey on the web in 2004 with a small site about our hometown and another one for an antique mall that we were involved in. Along the way, we created a lifestyle site for the state of New Jersey that we sold to investors in 2014. We parted ways in 2016 and that website now has a whole new focus and reason for being. Because of that, we now have a ton of stories that are not being used and we want to give them a new home. Their new home is here on Go2.Guide in the brand new New Jersey section.

There will be a lot more here in the coming days.

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