AREA HISTORY TIMELINE
1765 -- Peter Hasenclever discovers and opens an iron ore mine known variously as the Blue, London, Iron Hill or Whynockie Mine. Hasenclever worked for the American or London Company. At its widest part, the ore vein reaches 16 feet in thickness and is on the average 9 to 10 feet thick.
1838 -- The Wyanokies are the scene of extensive iron prospecting and mining. A smelting forge known as Freedom Furnace is established in Midvale, NJ (The furnace site is now under the waters of the Wanaque Reservoir). The woods around the area were logged for charcoal by the Ringwood Mining Company. At this time, the Blue Mine is worked by Peter M. Ryerson and ore is shipped to the Freedom Furnace.
1840-1857 -- The Laurel Hill Mine is opened. This mine was known at various times as the Laurel, Red, or Laurel Hill Mine (and on Hiking Maps as the "Roomy" Mine). The ore vein was four feet thick.
1855 -- The Blue Mine goes "out of blast," i.e. shut down.
1871-1872 -- The Blue Mine reopened for two years.
1886 -- The Blue Mine reopened for a short period by the Whynockie Iron Company. This effort worked the mine over 100 feet down the slope and through a drift at the bottom some 50 feet in length. This effort produced about 300 tons per month.
1890 -- The Blue Mine reopened by the Midvale Mining Company.
1905 -- The last mine in the area was shut down.
1913 -- The first hiking trails are constructed. Dr. Will S. Monroe designed and completed most of the trails in the Wyanokies. He was a professor at the State Normal School in Montclair.
1921 -- Camp Midvale is established by the Nature Friends organization to provide permanent facilities for outdoor recreation.
1922 -- The Wanaque Reservoir is constructed at a cost of $25 million. Water delivery began in 1930 after eight years of construction. The reservoir holds up to 29.5 billion gallons of water.
1935 -- Camp Midvale builds an Olympic-sized swimming pool to replace their swimming pond.
1939 -- An additional 86 acres are purchased by Camp Midvale to protect the mountain water supply to the pool.
1968 -- After a suspicious fire destroys the building housing the kitchen, clubhouse, dining hall and canteen, Camp Midvale searches for a non-profit organization to take title to the property, to keep the land both open to the public and preserved from development.
1974 -- Walter and May Weis provide an endowment to turn the 160 acres - the former Camp Midvale - into an environmental education center, in order to realize their dream of preserving land for the purpose of environmental education to the public. Thus, the Weis Ecology Center (WEC) is created as a private, non-profit organization,
1994 -- The WEC becomes one of the New Jersey Audubon Society’s (NJAS) Centers. The pool is closed.
1996 -- NJAS/WEC allows the pool to be re-opened and operated by the newly-formed, independent non-profit Community Association of the Highlands (CAH).
1998 -- NJAS/WEC formally subdivides the pool and surrounding land (approximately 5 acres) from the WEC property, and donates it to CAH, which continues to operate it as the Highlands Natural Pool.
For some more area history, visit the Highlands Pool History Pages.
(Sources: Lenik, Edward J. 1996. Iron Mine Trails. New York: New York-New Jersey Trail Conference p:59-65; Nature Friends
Newsletters 1930-1939; Wanaque borough website.)