Batsto Village and rural New Jersey

February 11, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

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   Living at the Jersey Shore encourages one to forget that there is more to this state than just beaches, water, and the crowded, industrial northern part of New Jersey.

     I was reminded of this the other day when I took a ride to Batsto Village, in Warton State Forest, in Burlington County.  There is no direct route to the place--its a good trek down the Parkway, off at New Gretna, and then over winding roads through Bass River State Park and then a bit further on Route 542. It is a trip of many trees and streams and bogs, with few houses and a storefront here and there--so very different from much of the Shore and the eastern part of the state.

    Once at the village, the Warton mansion is the focal point, but there is much more to see.  There are sheds, outbuildings with old tools and displays, furnished workers cabins, a neat, well-stocked general store with a potbellied stove, an old mill, and a very nice lake.  There are also miles of hiking trails with an abundance of wildlife, especially birds--and its all free. 

    I was lucky.  It was a beautiful winter's day, with the temperature in the high 40 or low 50, little breeze and a dazzling blue sky dotted with puffy clouds.  The rangers at the visitor's center and on the tour of the mansion were very knowledgeable and as helpful as possible.  I though the place would be empty, but the parking lot was almost full, and people with their children and dogs were enjoying the day.  The place is so spread out that it did not feel crowded.

    For a photographer, it was a wonderful visual feast.  My mind's eye went to the muted colors and the stark contrasts of angles  that suggested strong black and white images.  I shot both digital and film, but perhaps because of the strong light and the fact it was winter, I saw most things in black and white. After I got home and posted a few of my better images, I was surprised by the number of friends who said they had been to Batsto and loved it. 

   I'm sure it is every bit as interesting during the other seasons.  This all goes to show me that the rural parts of New Jersey are just as interesting and visually captivating as the Shore.  If you have not been to see them, you should.  Pick a nice day, turn off social media, and go!


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