A TRIP TO ROCKAWAY

AND

FRANKLIN, NJ


image of house


letter tO THE RIGHT is the house in which my mother grew up. When the McWilliams brothers acquired a steel forging factory on the southeast bank of the Rockaway River, and moved their operations to Rockaway, my father, Marijan, Sr. took up residence as a roomer in a house owned by a widow next to the Verkey home. So, dad was the "boy" next door, in that fine old romantic tradition...The house became a duplex after grand-dad Verkey died, and in 1950, we moved into our own house halfway up the ridge on the north side of town. That house was sold in 1989.

Rockaway, New Jersey
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of hill behind town
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indent spacerDetails not too clear in the thumbnail above are clear in the larger image. As a child, a teenager going to middle school to the immediate left in this view, and an infrequent visitor since then, I realized when I gazed upon this photo why home towns draw those who leave back. I now see this sight as a stranger to these parts might. Mt. Pleasant Avenue climbs over the ridge in the background. Originally, the road went five miles out to an iron mine. Now the Interstate 80 highway has changed the sparse population and the whole area is within the Metropolitan New York designation for federal funding purposes...I suppose many other people born in the forties have much the same memories I have. Images of finding creeks and springs as we were out bending birches in our heads, but houses, streets, plastic backyard swimming pools are there now...

image of
Jackson house
Early 19th century Style

indent spacer Stephen Jackson, a captain in the NJ militia during the Revolution was involved in the early days of the iron forging industry that sprung up around this area after iron was discovered in 1710. It was, as I've mentioned my journals, his son Joseph Jackson who built this dwelling. The house is only yards from the Rockaway River's course through the center of town. Early in the history of the iron mining in this area, the company that opened the mine in Hibernia - where my mother's father would work - built a rail line to the old Morris Canal, as it cut through Rockaway. Eventually, the rail line was extended to meet up with the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western (now part of the recently bought up Conrail system). The tracks run right by the corner from which this photo was taken. Main Street crosses the tracks just about where they come to a "V" in this photo.

Here's an online history of iron mining in NJ.

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indent spacerThis is the trestle depicted in the pictures on the journals page. It was the location of many Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer adventures I had with my brother, John. Main Street crosses the river right past the Railroad. From the looks of the iron, the bridge must have been built in the 19th century. Here is the sight that greeted me as I looked downriver.

image of rockaway (nj) river through trees
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indent spacerMain Street climbs a slight rise from the river, and turns as it goes through what passes for downtown Rockaway - or, is it really "uptown"? If you sneeze or blink, you could miss it...all the buildings remain from my childhood days in the fifties. It was quite an adventure to ride bikes into "town" to buy ice cream, bubble gum, and comic books. Such were the innocent pleasures of the fifties in small town America, back then...One thing that caught my raconteur's eye, when I looked at the photo print, was the view of the trees toward the other side of town, as one looks east. Obvious in the photo, but not necessarily anything five to ten year olds might remember if they were leaving their home town for good at that age...

Rockaway Boro Center

image of Rockaway, NJ

Visit a Zinc Mining Museum



indent spacerMouse click the red ore car to take a tour of a zinc mine, guided by my brother, John, who set tonnage records, and discovered Kolicite (pronounced ko-li-kite). You can also visit the online website of the Museum at Sterling Hill Zincmine Museum. The artistic rendering on the Museum icon looks strikingly like John...


There are now more Rockaway photos on my Journals page.

rainbow 
colored rays emanate from the word home