Edison's NJ & PA Concentrating Works

Edison's NJ & PA Concentrating Works, Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area (8/15/2009)

While perusing the new hike book Hiking New Jersey: A Guide to 50 of the Garden State's Greatest Hiking Adventures (1st edition), I was intrigued by an entry in the section of the book "Honorable Mentions", where the authors listed (with no description) two dozen places that they couldn't include for lack of space. The entry that caughty my attention was the wordy "Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area and the Edison Ore Concentrating Works site". Edison? Concentrating Works? I did a web search. In no time I learned that Thomas Edison did some serious mining up on Sparta Mountain during the last decade of the 19th century, developing an enormous complex of buildings (some huge) centered around a half dozen or so iron ore mines.

I learned that Rodney P. Johnson recently wrote a 300+ page book on the topic, Thomas Edison's "Ogden Baby": The New Jersey & Pennsylvania Concentrating Works, which tells the history of the complex and describes the area for those wishing to explore it. I ordered the book on Wednesday and received it on Friday, which allowed me time to design a nice hike around the area for the following day. Most of the mines are still open to the air, albeit surrounded by fences. Curiously, though, the fences are all open in parts, allowing access. But caution must obviously be practiced when exploring the area. Also, many of the ruins at this time of year are under thick vegetation, making some of them very difficult to find, so we plan on returning in the winter.

About half the hike was on trails blazed with the NJ Audubon blazes and the other half on unblazed woods roads. My GPS, and Johnson's trail map, were essential companions for the day. Total distance covered today was 6 miles, with lunch at the lovely Edison Pond.

(Click on the thumbnail to bring up a bigger image in a pop-up window)

Laura with Johnson's book

At the Edison Monument

The rear of the monument

Sink hole at Corliss Engine House

It measured 86' deep in 2001

Corliss Engine House foundation

Crusher House mounting pads


Corliss Engine House foundation

Crushing mill brace footing

Corner of Stockhouse #1

Road on powerline cut

More Crusher foundation

Roberts Mine entrance

On top of Roberts Mine

Roberts Mine

Pardee Mine shaft with de-watering pipe

Pardee Mine shaft

Roberts Mine quarry pit

Another view


Crawling around the Roberts quarry

Rock bridge over Roberts, with drilled blast holes

Rock bridge over Roberts

Another view

View of a Roberts shaft straight down

Audubon trail

Audubon blaze


Victor Mine with shoring timbers in place

Minding the mine

Victor Mine

Another Victor shaft?

Trail mushroom

Another trail mushroom

Edge of Edison Bog

Edison Bog colors

Trail loops around bog

The bog

Rocky in parts

Rock face

View to the bog

View north

Rock balancing [photo by Laura]

Edison Bog



Blow downs dwarf Laura

More mushrooms!



Now on unblazed woods road

Abandoned truck


Garter snake at Copper Mine


Road to Edison Pond

Western tip of pond

Cat tails at pond

Walking on dam

Searching for a lunch spot

Lovely Edison Pond

Lily pads

Our lunch spot!

Beaver lodge across pond

Lotus flower

Edison's White House stood near here

Gate back at parking area

Foundation of Stockhouse #3

Conveyer channel in #3

Another view

Old NJ Central Railroad rail bed

View south through RR cut

View north


Remaining RR ties ...

... mostly hidden by vegetation

Rusty pail

Wild flower and Edison monument

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