Peters Valley and Thunder Mountain School

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.

Author: Stu

38 thoughts on “Peters Valley and Thunder Mountain School

  1. I went to school at thunder mountain, It was there in 1986-88, aproximately. I was curious to see if I could find any information on the area, I am planning on going up to sussex county in the spring, there are allot of cool places there, sutch as Jumboland on 206, great ice cream shop, and buttermilk falls I believe in wapack… and more… if anyone knows more on the school please contact me at thank you

  2. I found the school 2 yrs ago. It was so cool. Its in a beautiful secluded setting.I loved reading the names and dates carved into the wooden walls by the students. I had a strange feeling in there, wondering what took place in there in the 70s and 80s. This school is in the middle of nowhere. The name is awesome.I went back last year and it was being demolished. What a friggin shame. Theres no information anywhere about this place. Id like William or anyone else who attended to describe it.

  3. i was in that school an let me tell you it was crazy like a devil house that had f up kids an to hide them away mr. dug housekeeper that ran the place was a big dick head anyone whats to chat with me my name is RICHARD LEE LEVICK if you gone there you would know me well i’m on facebook look me up

  4. I went to school at thunder mountain in the 80’s. I can’t remember how to get there if you could e-mail the directions i would appreciate it. Thank You

  5. My husband andI owned THUNDER MOUNTAIN RANCH CAMP for boys from 1958 to 1970 when the government forced us to sell it to them for the recreational area that it has now become. We built all of the buildings some of which were burned down . We are happy that it is being used for the public good and kept forever wild rather than a housing development. Prior to THUNDER MOUNTAIN RANCH the property was a dude ranch that we ran called HOOFBEATS DUDE RANCH FROM 1953 to 1957

  6. This was a western camp for boys. Each camper got a horse, saddIe + pad, bridle, etc for the summer. The counselor’s were from Texas and could ride…I was a camper in the early 60’s then became a wrangler for 2 years 69 + 70. Ned and Steve were my bunkmates on the senior side of horse shoe road and wranglers with me in 69 + 70 on the junior side. Those 2 pics in front of the lower camp bunbks was nice to see. My bunk in 69 was above the nurse and remember camper Jonny Rocker. Horse head pool was still there in 1984, so was the road to the senior side and so was the horse bridge going up to the corral + stables. I remember my wrangler John “Murph” Murphy from Texas in 1961 or 62. Also remember getting buzz cut haircuts mid-camp before visiting day, barbers names were Phil and Vito. Went up there today on a visit to Sparta, Newton, Layton and Branchville, where we did our laundry as Wranglers…Took pictures of the present General Store in Bevans but the road to camp “Thunder Mountain Rd” does not go all the way to where camp was, sixty years later it has all over grown – wildlife. The lake where we sail boated and went water skiing was still there but the barn is gone. The camp was owned by Artie and Arlene Cohen, whose father was in real estate. What a lovely setting overlooking the Delaware. All day trips on horse back to Dingman’s, and over night camping in tents, sleeping bags with the horses by streams.

  7. Responding to Arlene Cohen… I have so often wondered about yo and your Family. I am Joe Phelps’ Daughter from Troy Hills Stables in Parsippany NJ back tthen….and supplied you with Horses and tack… Lost Dad back in 1997…But cetainly alwas remember the good ole days… So glad to see your post…And they were good ols days ! Smile

  8. Hi,
    My Dad Charlie Hart, Don DeAmato and Charlie Gerth ran the Thunder Mt Environmental Center from 1969ish to 1982 . It was a great program that was handicap accessable and adapted. They had tons of nature programs open to kids from all over NJ . In the summer they had a camp program for all kids mostly handicapped and low socioeconomic. They programs included wild life, vegitation, bird watching and farming. They also had a training program for the special education students from Newton School District. The students would be bused there and learn housekeeping and kitchen skills. They had arranged a contracts with local restaurants and hotels to hire the students after their training. It was a beautiful and wonderful place to be. I worked there as a camp counselor and lifeguard during my high school years. Oh they also had a Youth Conservation Corp program. In the early 80s funding for mentality handicapped special program was running dry so Newton District admins had the bright idea of turning it into an alternative school. Run by an inept crazy person Doug Housekeeper. He ran it ok right into the ground. I worked there as an intern while I was in college as a psych major. The kids had issues but the director had more. My Dad was retiring but he and Charlie Gerth were demoralized by the district doing this. So much so that my Dad wouldnt go to the district retirement dinner for him! It was all about money with the new superintendent. So my Dad who was once teacher of the year for the state of NJ representing Newton Scool District was basically kicked in ass for all his hard work. Still our family has great memories of Thunder Mt. I used to
    Hike the road to walpack where i lived with my park ranger husband everyday. We cross country skiied took the students and campers hiking, canoeing, swimming, indian artifact hunting – it was a great place where great things happened!

  9. Hi Jeanine Hart o’Brien my name is Alicia , I knew your dad and what a wonderful man he was.I would like to talk to you and share the amazing positive impact that your dad had in my life.

  10. Thunder Mountain was an amazing place, so Serene thanks to Charlie hart. He kept the place so beautiful . He made it feel so safe and always cared about the children and there well being. .He was an outstanding teacher man friend and mentor. Thank you charlie hart for everything you stood for and all the positives you instilled in me. You my friend and mentor will always be remembered for your hard work and outstanding kindness and teachings.

  11. Wow this was like a trip down memory lane. I was part of the YCC group in 1980. It saddens me to see the old bldg with my name carved on some of those walls. I cleaned the down stairs rooms and lived upstairs. No, no stairs…down path? Thunder Mountain was where I had my first kiss. Where I witnessed the birth of a cow.
    Where my socially awkward self could make new friends that lasted the better part of my twenties. The campfires, canoing, working in the kitchen with Chet, feeding the cows, petunia, the pig, goats, chickens, Ferdinan , the bull, eating ring dings onto of the hay barn ( the roof) loading the hay barn, walking down the amazingly long path/ driveway/ road. Down to the water. To the gap, down to van camps old remains.
    It was the stuff that you read about, or see in the movies, it was a model place. YCC was a great experience. Ill never forget it.

  12. I am sorry to know of the drama that was involved. I knew both Charlies also. They were wonderful to all of us 16/ 17 year olds. They were fun mentors that kept us all in line. And knew how to keep 20ish kids entertained and busy. If ya got nothing to do…. Pick up a broom, or a rake. There’s always something to do on a farm.

  13. So true Noreen and Alicia. Soooo many great experiences there and within Delaware Water Gap. Im sure that my Dad in heaven reading this. He has a great legacy within education and our family. Miss those innocent days at Thunder Mt. Every young person should go to a camp like that , we had many summers there.. thanks for keeping those memories alive.

  14. Also Alicia your kind words about my Dad brought tears to my eyes. He was so gentle and kind . He really cared about the kids actually any kid. A rare person I too am forever grateful to him for the legacy he left my family and his grandchildren. My gmail address is jao53hart if you want to talk.

  15. Wow. Happy to have found this site. I was also a ranger with the National Park Service. Worked with your husband Jeanine Hart O’Brien. I remember Jim, your dad and Charlie Gerth. One of those Charlies lived in the Gunn House further South on Mountain Road. My wife and I may have been at your engagement/wedding party at Bill Sanders home (Westbrook Bell). Can’t quite remember. It was a long time ago. Maybe it was Bill’s party that Jim and you were at. Also remember Chet from Thunder Mtn, although I had forgotten about him until I was reading the comments above.

  16. Always wondered about the names of Thunder Mountain prior. Great to see the comment from Arlene Cohen and the name Hoofbeats Dude Ranch.

  17. I’m pretty all of the original buildings at Thunder Mountain are no longer there.

  18. I’m pretty sure all the original buildings at Thunder Mountain are gone. The buildings at Heron’s Nest still exist last I knew.

  19. I remember working there in the early 80’s,YCC was a great experience..Wish there was a way to reunite with all my camp people…Chuck,Mary Walsh,Linda Sparacino.Mark aka Wango Tango,And all the others….Great Times…

  20. Wango bahaha. Greg from blairstown. Linda loner. Quinton. Liz sheesh. Maura. The Kim’s. Great memories.
    Cheat said on our first day. ” See these people? These strangers? They will be forever in your memories. Make loving memories. They will last forever. ” and 38 years later…. They are a part of me. Like when I hear Wango tango. Or rock lobster. Bahaha.
    Jim count me in on that reunion. Themrspatricke@gmail

  21. Wonderful to remember back in the summer of ’79 at the YCC camp at Thunder Mountain. The experience was one that affected my life. Both Charlie Hart and Charlie Gerth as well as Chet were great mentors. What educators! Working at Millbrook Village, haying, Peters Valley Craft Fair, hauling cinder blocks for the masons, etc. Great times! Brought my family back to Millbrook Village Days (and soon grandsons) for visits in October. Sad the facility is gone but the memories wont disappear anytime soon.

  22. I worked at the summer camp at Thunder Mountain for three summers (1972,73,74) while I was in college. Newton was running the program then, and in the Spring of 1972 I interviewed with Don D’Amato for a summer job as a lifeguard. He hired me, but by the time summer rolled around Don was gone (to Florida) and Charlie Gerth was running the program. Peter Daubner and Sandy were two of the other lifeguards that summer. Joe Cohen was one of the camp counselors. All of the original buildings were still standing then, including the two barns, and I slept in one of the wooden cabins up in the meadow at the end of the lake. We ate in the main house (and thats where Chester did the cooking). Unfortunately that house burned down later that year. The next summer (’73) we ate in a tent up by the pool. And by 1974 they had a big new metal building up at the top of the hill. Mary Vaughn was one of the lifeguards in ’73 and ’74. I loved being up on that ridge for those 3 summers. I liked the early mornings with the fog rising from the river. The sun soon burned off the fog and the days were hot, but it cooled off during those long summer evenings and the nights were full of stars. Working with the special ed. kids was great. Peter Mooney and Howard Nemeth were two that I remember well.

  23. I remember Jeanine Hart at Thunder Mountain working with Gitta (sp?) Acton when I was a student there. I attended Jeanine’s wedding in 1983 at a Catholic church in Sparta. I remember Mr. Housekeeper, Supervisor of Teachers; Mrs. Peck, the school nurse; Mrs. Huff, the secretary; Mr. P., the math teacher; Mr. G., the shop teacher; Mr. Van Horn (sp?), the on-site psychologist (whom the students referred to as the “head shrink”; and Mrs. Weldon, who worked in the cabins with the younger students.

    What an interesting experience that was! I think I still have the yearbook somewhere. Thunder Mountain was a school for the emotionally disturbed mainly. I still feel some inner sadness.

  24. It was great reading all these stories…..although I never went to camp there,my story is alittle different. My memory of thounder mountain was primarily going fishing there around oct..nov… with my family…..back around 1976–79…..i remember a not so large of a lake where we would catch trout and i believe sunnies….also a big red building on the right…..sheeps… goats…also there was a shed with art supplies , like paint ..the old computer paper with the holes on the side..(.green and white )…and tons of regular paper…that’s about all I can remember…..I was about 8/9…then….great memories….

  25. Responding to the question above, my parents, Arthur and Arlene Cohen, who created, owned and operated the Hoofbeats Dude Ranch and the subsequent Thunder Mountain Ranch, came up with the Thunder Mountain name. In conjunction with a Walpack Historical Society event about the ranch, we held a 50(ish) year reunion for campers and counselors on the site a few summers ago. It was amazing to hear everyone’s stories. People flew in from as far as South America, Texas and Virginia. Little known fact: My father, Arthur, created Thunder Mountain lake by damming a stream in a low-lying field!

  26. Charlie Gerth is my dad. He is currently on hospice care and recently shared some of his memories with his nurse. She told me that she google it and found this thread. I am so happy read about all of the great memories that Thunder Mountain holds in your hearts! I was too young to remember the camp but I do remember living in the stone Gunn house. It has since been knocked down. He and Charlie Hart remained friends long after. We would vacation together and visited him and his family yearly down in Florida. They were like two kids together. Always goofing around and having fun. I will never forget Charlie Hart’s laugh and warm loving demeanor.
    As great of a teacher my dad was, he’s an even better father! The best! Thank you so much for sharing!

  27. Wow Im tearfully reading all these kind words about my Dad Charlie Hart and his best friend Charlie Gerth. God we had fun any time of the year . They were so funny and smart. They knew everything about nature it seemed. My Dad was so cool my family are so blessed to have had him as our Father. We had so much fun cross country skiing, canoeing, hiking , swimming, artifact hunting, concerts at Walpack Inn , Millbrook Village, Tillmans Ravene, camping, bird watching and fairs at PetersValley. Camp fires in the summer singing camp songs. Every summer we Harts and Gerths lived up there. We’d raid the kitchen to get smores. Watch the stars at night with my Dads telescope. Does anybody remember bug juice and the Thunder Mt special ( everything we ate that week, raviolis, chilli , vegies, spagetti, meatballs! It was surprisingly good. Chet was a doll and George the shellshocked Russian custodian. My Dad was the best person I ever met he was as kind and dedicated to his family as well as the people he worked with and for. We miss him terribly but these memories or soooo precious to me. I’m going to print this off and put it in a scrapbook I have to share with my children and grandchildren. Thank you all. Maybe when COVID is over we all could meet again blessings to you and be safe.
    Love ya, Jeanine

  28. Quentin- I still have fond memories of Thunder Mountain from the summer of 1980. YCC summer job.

  29. I believe this is the Thunder Mountain our entire 6th grade class from Lopatcong Township
    School spent 3days at in the late 70s. It was an incredible place, and a more incredible trip. From what I am reading, nothing remains of the camp?

  30. Just stumbled on this website because on my facebook group I asked the question”where was our 7th grade class trip located?” Well it was Thunder Mt and our class was from Chatham middle School back in 1975. I was searching on the map and struggled to find the location and i could not remember much about it other than my fun memories in the cabins and lake. A google search brought me to this page. So many of my class mates were chiming in about the fun time we had.. It was interesting to read the comments above and very thankful there were many caring people who made the trip so memorable for all of us. Where exactly was Thunder Mt.?

  31. Artie Cohen ran this as Thunder Mountain Ranch, a Jewish boy’s camp. He hired “Western College Cowboys” as counselors, and I was one in 1963 — from Ole Miss, in Mississippi. I rode my first horse there and spent the summer dealing with the most entertaining crowd you could imagine, dealing with horses, campers and the kitchen staff, who turned out to be from a reform school just outside of Philadelphia.

  32. It was great reading all the stories about thunder Mountain and many of the people mentioned above I knew. I started out there in 1971 working for the national park service and at thunder Mountain as a volunteer. That was the beginning of my career with the department of interior. For the next 50 years CharlieGerth and I hunted and fished together. He was my best friend and I miss him greatly today. I visited thunder Mountain a couple years ago and told Charlie what it was like then. There was nothing left but the metal building on top where the cafeteria was which is now part of peters valley. Those were some of the best days of my life. It’s a shame that thunder Mountain is not there today, it helped so many children.

  33. Think about Joe Cohen (aka Uncle Joey) and “Micky” often! 2 gr8 camp councilors!

  34. Wow. The memories come flooding back!
    I spent the summer of ’79 at Thunder Mountain with the YCC. In fact, that’s where my wife and I met. We’ll celebrate our 40th anniversary in 2024. It’s a shame there’s so little about it online. All I could really find were some pictures of the “ruins”.
    Glenn, if you come across this again, I was known as “Tex” that summer.
    Like others have asked, if anyone has any knowledge of how to get up to the site, I’d love to find out so that my wife and I can visit, even if, as seems to be the case, there seems to be nothing left.

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