Thursday, January 23, 2020

Archive for the ‘New Jersey’ Category

Space Farms Zoo & Museum

Posted by Stu On November - 27 - 2008

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It’s a zoo! It’s a museum! Lemurs. Bears. Leopards. Kangaroos. Coffins. Indian artifacts. Preserved animal embryos. Old cars. Throw together Popcorn Park Zoo with the Shelburne Museum, add a pinch of the Mutter Museum, and you get something like Space Farms.

Most of the property is a zoo, but there are a few buildings off to the side of the zoo with random collections of just about everything imaginable. The building at the entrance, perhaps the most bizarre, is home to Goliath, the largest bear on record. Goliath lived in the zoo until his death and now greets visitors through the wonders of taxidermy. His skull is also on display.

Above him are many, many trophy heads.

The upper level of this building has all sorts of strange things on display.

Some stuffed minks and a phonograph. Why not?

To go anywhere beyond this building requires a small admission fee. Directly outside is the beginning of the zoo. There are quite a few animals, many I’ve never seen in other zoos. Again, like the Popcorn Park Zoo pics, there were often 2 fences between me and the critters. So if the pics are too “fency” for you, I apologize.

There are quite a few more animals than shown here.
One thing I will say is that many of the animals’ cages are pretty sparse. Most of the critters appeared to be very bored and had no toys or anything to do. Some really need bigger areas; that poor serval up there had nothing to do but pace back and forth in its tiny cage, while the deer have acres and acres to themselves.
Seriously, why do all the zoos I visit have so many damn deer? I think deer are the most boring animal to put in a zoo; even goats are more interesting. Even as a kid and going to Popcorn Park, all the deer they had pissed me off. I see plenty of them in the Pine Barrens and Poconos, and I currently have a family of them that walk through my backyard daily; I don’t need to pay to see them. I don’t care if these deer are Asian; they’re still boring ass deer.

…anyway, at one end of the property are several buildings that serve as small museums. Some have a specific theme, while others just have very, very random stuff displayed.

Old horse-drawn sleighs

Old horse-drawn glass hearse

One building is nothing but old vehicles.

One room displaying glow-in-the-dark rocks is lit only by blacklights.



One building is nothing but vintage toys that make me thankful I had He-Man, Ghostbusters, and X-Men figures growing up.

This eagle statue once sat on top of Grand Central Station.

All in all, the Space Farms is one-of-a-kind, and the few things I’m showing here don’t do the place justice. There really is a lot to see, and I attempted to give a somewhat thorough yet brief summary of it.
For directions and all that jazz, check the official site.

Double fail.

Popularity: 15% [?]

Mason-Dixon Line in South Jersey?

Posted by Stu On October - 27 - 2008

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This is more of a writeup than an actual place. Mostly because it doesn’t exist.

For years I’ve been hearing there are, or at least were, markers indicating where the Mason-Dixon Line runs through South Jersey. And like most of my good hunts, people have heard about them but nobody has actually ever seen one. This idea seems to be an older one; most younger people have not heard of it. A bar on Long Beach Island used to advertise being “south of the Mason-Dixon” back in the 60’s, and that’s about the time period where this whole “Mason-Dixon Line in Jersey” seemed to have some life.

My best lead took me to Long Beach Island. I was told there was a marker out in front of the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences. Along the roadway is a marker, but it’s nothing more than a survey disk. There is nothing anywhere on the sign or benchmark indicating it’s marking The Line. I even went inside the building and inquired about it. The woman working there said she had lived on the island her whole life and never heard of such a thing. She then telephoned LBI’s Chamber of Commerce to ask about it. The woman who answered said when she was growing up, she heard a M-D marker was in Beach Haven Terrace but didn’t know exactly where.
The problem with that is that Beach Haven Terrace and Loveladies are over 10 miles apart. So already we have conflicting ideas of just where this line is. I’ve been told that markers were also found in Tuckerton and Barnegat, again more conflict. Barnegat somewhat lines up with Loveladies, and Tuckerton is closer to Terrace.
Another “lead” I got said there was a marker near Exit 4 on the NJ Turnpike. This would put the line up around Toms River, meaning I grew up in the South. A call to the Turnpike Commission squashed this idea when they said there isn’t and never was a Mason-Dixon marker. They said some of the old East/West Jersey boundary stones are in the area, so maybe that’s what the marker in question was.

So we have false leads. Nobody actually ever seeing a marker. Officials saying such things don’t and never did exist. And let’s not forget the biggest story-killer – The Mason-Dixon never touched NJ. It’s the border between Maryland & Pennsylvania. It then turns south, forming the border between MD & Delaware. So right there, it’s impossible to have markers in South Jersey. But what if you extended the line straight across?
I think that’s what happened here. Some people back whenever decided that if the line continued eastward, a good section of New Jersey would be south of it. Well by that logic, most of Europe was in the Union and India was Confederate.

Popularity: 8% [?]

Peters Valley and Thunder Mountain School

Posted by Stu On June - 27 - 2008

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Located just a few miles north Walpack is the area known as Peter’s Valley. Like Walpack, much of the area was forced to vacate when a reservoir was to have been built. While some developments and buildings were revived or put to different uses (such as the Craft Center), many in the area are still abandoned. It’s a shame too; there are some beautiful houses in the area.

Also in the area is a place called Thunder Mountain School, though it looks like it was more of a camp than a school. There is next to no information about it.

Popularity: 11% [?]

Ruins off Mount Misery Road

Posted by Stu On April - 27 - 2008

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I found these on Easter. I was hoping to find out just what they were, but neither I nor any of the knowledgeable Pine Barrens folk I’ve talked to are completely sure. One theory was that they were part of a nearby mill, but they look too new to be from that. Could’ve just been a house.
Regardless, you have to drive down a sugar sand road for about 2 miles to get to them (this is down the north end of Mt. Misery, which prior to this I’ve never taken).

A well, maybe?

Popularity: 8% [?]

Vineland Speedway

Posted by Stu On January - 27 - 2008

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Vineland Speedway lies virtually forgotten just off the road. Now a popular paintball area, this was once home to a half-mile oval track, a quarter-mile dragstrip, and a 1.5 mile road course. Supposedly bleachers can still be found at the far end; I did not look for them. The speedway was open from 1955 until 1965.
Not much is left today – just cracked asphalt. If you have 4×4, the track seems to still be drivable. I didn’t want to risk getting my Yaris over the bumps, but if I had my Blazer, I’d have had a field day. I walked around for a bit, but there really isn’t much to see. I didn’t have the daylight or care to go searching for the bleachers.
On my visit, I came across a group of paintballers who seemed pretty nervous that I was there. I don’t know why they were nervous; I was the outnumbered and unarmed one.

Popularity: 7% [?]

Delsea Drive-In

Posted by Stu On January - 27 - 2008

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This is a place I’ve been meaning to get to for a few years now; this is the only remaining drive-in theater left in New Jersey. It closed in the late 80’s and was reopened in 2004.
I wanted this to be my first drive-in experience. Unfortunately, time or convenience was always against me; Vineland is a good distance from Toms River. Cinema 67 in Indiana would turn out to be the one to pop my drive-in cherry.
After years of not getting to it, I decided to make the trip after a book signing I had in Deptford. Of course, I knew the drive-in wouldn’t be open in the middle of January, but at least I could now say I’ve been to the only open drive-in in the state. I’m used to just seeing the abandoned ones, although this one didn’t look much different mid-winter.
I briefly mention Delsea in my book.

For show times, pricing, etc., check out the official Delsea Drive-In website.

Popularity: 6% [?]

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