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.
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 abandonedones, although this one didn’t look much different mid-winter.
I briefly mention Delsea in my book.
Probably one of the least visited and least known ghost towns in southern New Jersey, Fries Mill can be found in the Manumuskin River Preserve. The “official” way to get to it involves a 1.25 mile hike, though it seems there’s a way for ATV’s and dirt bikes to get there as well (both of which are illegal in the preserve; be responsible and just hike to it).
I had a book signing in Vineland one weekend, and I knew it would be the only time for a long time I’d be in the area. So I woke up about 4 hours earlier than planned and hoped I’d have time to both hike the 2.5 mile round trip and find the ghost town. I had some trouble finding the beginning of the trail but I managed. I pretty much jogged the first half mile or so, trying to buy myself as much time as I could. About 20 minutes into my trek I came across this:
A fireplace right along the water. I would find out this was a bit of a distance away from anything else. Before hunting down the rest of the town, I made a small side trip to see a place known as the Blue Lagoon, which was only a few hundred feet through the woods.
Unlike the Blue Hole, this was actually blue. Well, after the first few feet anyway. I heard some ATV’s across the water so I hurried back through the woods so they wouldn’t come over my way.
Back on the path, I finally came across even more ruins of Fries Mill. I found the remains of 2 buildings this time, right next to each other.
Here’s a tip. See that spiky plant in the corner there? If you ever come across one of these while hiking, chances are good you’re near a ghost town or ruins of some sort.
Farther up the trail is a sign that gives some information on the town and has a map of its layout. Across from the sign are your run-of-the-mill cellar holes.
I had heard that bunkers of some sort could be found hidden in the woods near the Millville Airport. At first this made no sense to me, since Millville is a good distance away from both the bay & ocean. I kept hearing about them though and even had seen a photo, so I knew that something was there and I had to find whatever it was.
It took 2 tries, but I finally found an entrance. The woods across from the airport are a wildlife management area, so for much of the year all the gated entrances are closed. I managed to find a small trail that wasn’t gated.
About a third of a mile down the trail, I found a tiny, one room bunker to my left. It was probably smaller than my bedroom.
To the right was another identical bunker. Following the trail down, I found more. In all there are 6 small bunkers along the path.
Even farther down we came across an abandoned building. It was bigger than the bunkers but still relatively small. Nothing of note was inside.
So what was this place? Turns out these woods, along with the airport property across the street, were once part of the Millville Army Airfield, which was only around for a few years during World War II. After the war, the field was considered excessive to the army’s needs and given back to the town. Part was used for the current airport, and some became the wildlife management area.
Recently, bombs have been showing up in the woods as development pursues in the area.
After finding the Futuro House near Rancocas, I learned there was a second in Greenwich – the same town where the Tea Party Monument is. This one was much more like the one I remembered seeing in Seaside so many years ago; for starters, it’s much bigger than the other one I found. It also doesn’t have any add-on doors – just the hatch, which is now closed due to a cable being wrapped around the house.
This particular Futuro as I’ve been told was originally part of a Planet of the Apes ride in Wildwood sometime in the 70’s. It now sits in front of a marina and restaurant, both owned by the man who bought it, and was supposed to have been turned into a gift shop or office of some sort. It still sits unused and in need of some repair. You can still see some of the paint on its windows from when it was a ride. It seems the only ones getting any use out of it are the birds living in it.
This site has some photos of the building when it was on Morey’s Pier however long ago.
Most Americans know what the Boston Tea Party was, but not many are aware the act was not unique to Boston. Nope, there were a couple of “tea parties”, one happening in southern NJ.
In 1774, a year after the defiance in Boston, a tea party happened along the Cohansey River in Greenwich. A British ship that was denied entry into Philadelphia tried to sell its cargo of tea in Greenwich. Worried about patriots, the British sought the help of a Tory in town. He agreed to let them store the tea in his cellar. Well, the patriots found out about this secret deal and decided to reenact the events that occurred in Boston. Dressed at Indians, they broke into the basement, stole all the tea, piled it in a nearby field, and burned it.
The tea burners were sued twice, once by the East India Tea Company, and once by the man who was storing the tea. Little did the Brits realize 2 of the tea burners were brothers of the town sheriff, who just so happened to select the jury, and who just so happened to make his nephew the jury foreman.
Nobody was found guilty.
The second trial was state appointed. Luckily for our band of burners, most of the jury was patriots, so they got off yet again.