"Washington of Old" Washington by KiKitC

Washington Travel Guide: 0 reviews and 3 photos

Ghost Town of the Pine Barrens

The Washington, New Jersey I wish to share with you is not the town of Washington that still exists in Warren County. This ghost town, is located in the heart of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, and was once an important stop on the Old Tuckerton Stage Line.

In 1773, at the intersection of the Old Tuckerton Stage Line and Speedell-Green Bank Roads, Nicholas Sooy built Sooy's Tavern along the Stage Road, making the little town of Washington a busy stagecoach stop and community center. The tavern was frequented by the workers at the nearby forges at Atsion, Batsto, Speedwell, Hampton and Martha. It was a favorite spot for weddings and meeting with friends. Town meetings were held at this tavern until 1819. For this reason, the Tavern also became a spot for sargeants from the Continental Army to find recruits.

History reads that Joe Mulliner, infmous highway obber of the Pine Barrens happened upon the tavern the day of a wedding. He found the bride outside the tavern crying because she did not love the groom and did not want the marriage. According to the stroy, Mulliner ran the groom off at gunpoint, and the marriage did not take place.

A community grew around this commercial spot, with schools to educate the children of local workers. Nicholas and Sarah Sooy raised thirteen children here. Soon after the death of George Washington, Sooy renamed the tavern Washington Tavern in his honor. Reportedly, a sign with a crude caricature of Washington hung outside the tavern with the words "Our Country Must Be Free."

Nicholas died in 1822, and his son Paul Sears Sooy took over the tavern. Sometime in the 1860s, due to the decline of the iron industry in the area, the Wshington Tavern, like others on this once bustling stage line closed.

Shortly afterwards, Joseph Wharton purhased Washington and established a cattle ranch. He built a large barn and pit silo. The remains of these are still visible.

Also at this crossroads today, one can see the cellar holes of two dwellings across from the pit silo. One is the old Public School 3001. About 700 feet down the stage line is another cellar hole, believed to be the Sooy family home. The tavern stood about 3 tenths of a mile from the silo ruins.

The area is now a part of Wharton State Forest. You can explore these roads, but make sure you have capable four wheel drive (the roads can get muddy and flooded) and bring a good map and GPS. There are a lot of roads, and you can easily get lost.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Was once a bustling community center
  • Cons:Decline of iron industry made it a ghost town
  • Last visit to Washington: Jun 2009
  • Intro Updated Jun 8, 2009
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KiKitC

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