Pinelands Connections IX

What is a Collier?

Here my exploration of Wharton State Forest, Pitch Pine Forest III, branches to the genealogical exploration of this landscape as my sister, Theresa and I, proceed along the humped, pitted sand road Goodwater through the wilderness to emerge in Batsto Village, a recreation of lives that touched my great great grandparents, James and Ann McCambridge among them. Ann saved money earned as a cook for Atsion furnace, the historical site at the start of the road to Quaker Bridge. Her husband James worked as a collier, supplying fuel for the iron furnaces at Atsion and Batsto, among other enterprises. During our Batsto Village visit we found these reproductions of charcoal clamps.

Since earliest times charcoal was used for cooking and heating. It was the best heat source for metal furnaces. Entire deforested regions are attributed to the demand for charcoal. Thomas Jefferson experimented with charcoal clamp designs, modifying air flow from the base.

James and Ann lived on the land that provided a livelihood, enough to support themselves and nine (9) children. From September 7, 1850 is the US Census for this family of my second great grandparents. Great Grandmother Margaret was 11 years. James is listed as a Collier, the value of Real Estate owned was 6,000 (a fortune for the time).

Like is wife Ann, James had a savings account…..

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Pitch Pine Forest III

Road to Batsto

Leaving the jeep on the west side of Quaker Bridge, I walked over to inspect the structure and poke around the other side, carrying a Canon 5d Mark IV (camera body) / EF 70 – 300 mm f/4-5.6 L IMS (lens), shooting as I walked. My sister Theresa and Maxie, a little white dog, lagged behind taking in the surroundings. Here they are, in shadow, on the west side.

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My work on the east side was shared in previous posts, “Pinelands Connections VIII,” I and II “Around Quaker Bridge,” and I and II “Pitch Pine Forest,” work interrupted by the sound of an approaching engine, a Humvee came into view. I waved my arm up and down, a sign to slow down, pulling alongside the driver looked up with dead eyes, no element of recognition of a fellow human, as I explained my sister was on the bridge. A stink of unfamiliar hydrocarbons, diesel fuel?, rose through the heat as they pulled forward with no acknowledgement of my request. Thankfully they slowed down as Theresa, Max in her arms, said, “hi.”

Multiple roads converge from all directions on Quaker Bridge, using GoogleMaps (surprising these unimproved, “jeep” sand roads were listed) I chose Goodwater Road as a route to Batsto Village, on the southern side of Wharton State Forest. The 6.1 mile road follows the east bank of Mullica River at a distance, a very rough passage through ancient Pitch Pine forest. Here are photographs of the enormous capacity of the pines to regrow after fire. Note a thick seeding growth among the mature pine trunks, lower portions fire blackened.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Pitch Pine Forest II

Multiple Lives

These photographs were taken deep in the wilderness of Wharton State forest, near where Quaker Bridge spans the Mullica River.

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The pitch pine is irregular in shape, in these forests a mature tree typically lives through multiple cycles of fire and regrowth.

Burnt pitch pines often form stunted, twisted trees with multiple trunks as a result of resprouting. Bonsai artists exploit this characteristic for their creations.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Pitch Pine Forest I

The Pinus Genera

The 115,000 acres of Wharton State Forest are predomenantly Pitch Pine, scientific name Pinus Rigida, and AKA Black Pine and Hard Pine. Climb the fire tower of Apple Pie Hill, in all directions will be a sea of these trees interspersed here and there with occasional oaks. Cedars mark water courses. These photographs, unless otherwise identified, were taken deep in the forest, near where Quaker Bridge spans the Mullica River.

A mature Pitch Pine has bark of large, thick, irregular plates, adapted to survive forest first, similar to another member of the Pinus genera, the Ponderosa Pine.

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Open-growth trees begin bearing cones in as little as three years, with shade-inhabiting pines taking a few years longer. The cones are 4–7 cm (1+1⁄2–2+3⁄4 in) long and oval, with prickles on the scales. Cones take two years to mature. Seed dispersal occurs over the fall and winter.

Unlike the another member of genus Pinus, the Pinyon Pine, the seeds released by Pitch Pine cones are not sought out for human consumption.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Around Quaker Bridge III

Poking Around

Multiple trails lead from where Quaker Bridge crosses the Mullica River. These are from a handheld Canon 5d Mark IV with the Canon EF 70 – 300 mm f/4.0-5.6 ISM lens.

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Around Quaker Bridge II

Poking Around

Multiple trails lead from where Quaker Bridge crosses the Mullica River. These are from a handheld Canon 5d Mark IV with the Canon EF 70 – 300 mm f/4.0-5.6 ISM lens.

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Around Quaker Bridge I

Poking Around

Multiple trails lead from where Quaker Bridge crosses the Mullica River. These are from a handheld Canon 5d Mark IV with the Canon EF 70 – 300 mm f/4.0-5.6 ISM lens.

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Mullica River from Quaker Bridge

A rare Pinelands maple tree over the cedar water of Mullica River looking upstream from Quaker Bridge on a warm August morning 2021.

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Click me for another take (post) on this view.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Pinelands Connections VIII

Ancestral Byways

……continued from “Pinelands Connections VII.

These photographs were taken the last days of August 2021, the 26th and 27th, while exploring Burlington County, New Jersey, with my sister. I will be writing about our Thursday and Friday for awhile, starting with today’s installment.

Quaker Bridge Road traverses the wilderness of Wharton State Forest with a beginning off Route 206, Atsion Mansion. Our planning included Jeep Wrangler rental, only high-clearance 4-wheel vehicles are appropriate, the road surface is humpy sand, water filled holes abound. Still, sitting there at the start, with Atsion Mansion house in view, I waited awhile until a high clearance tour bus packed with adventurers, kayaks passed into the pines and out of sight. We proceeded an uneventful ~4 miles to Quaker Bridge at a stately 5 miles per hour, invoking four-wheel drive low gear a mile or so in.

Here is Quaker Bridge over Mullica River today, facing East.

Quaker Bridge road was a well traveled main route through the Pines for almost a hundred years with an inconvenient crossing of The Mullica at this point. During the year 1774, some sa 1772, West Jersey Quakers travelling to the Little Egg Harbor Yearly Meeting, started “a day early”, built a bridge. From a c.1940 photograph it is clear in that “day” they felled large trees for pilings, smaller trees, pines and cedars, for the other bridge elements. Since then, the crossing has been called “Quaker Bridge.”

Over time, the east side became a resting place, with at least one Inn/Tavern. Here is the east side today.

Even without hospitality and bustling humanity, after 4 miles of dreary road from Atsion this spot carries a sense of lightness, the well spaced straight pines over several acres conveying peace and rest. Over 35 miles from the ocean, the white sand presents as beach. There is a reason for this feeling, a 15 million year reason.

Between 15 and 10 million years ago the earth climate turned colder, so much water evaporated from the oceans to fall as snow and ice in the polar regions ocean levels fell 150 to 250 feet. As the ocean fell away, over eaons, mountains to the west were ground down, pulverized by the elements to flow, gather on the exposed plain. The white “beach” sand we see today, at Quaker Bridge and other Pinelands places, are surfaces of this “Cohansey” sands and clay ranging in thickness from 25 feet in the west to more than 300 feet at the Atlantic Ocean.

Over millions of years the land raised to become the drainage patterns we see today. The renewable resources of “bog iron” and water spring from this history.

Standing there I imagined Great Great Grandmother Ann (Milley) McCambridge resting on the journey from the McCambridge home near Speedwell. I placed the pebble, collected from Long Island Sound, on Grandmother Ann’s headstone the evening of August 26th. Click this link for more about Ann McCambridge.

Reference
I found Quaker Bridge background in “Heart of the Pines, ghostly voices of the Pine Barrens” by John E. Pearce, pp 748 – 750, Batsto Citizens Committee, 4110 Nesco Road, Hammonton, N.J. 08037-3814.

“The Geologic History of New Jersey’s Landscape”, Scott Stanford, Unearthing New Jersey Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 2, Summer 2005, New Jersey Geological Survey, Department of Environmental Protection e, Scott Stanford

“Hydrostratigraphy of the Kirkwood and Cohansey Formations of Miocene Age in Atlantic County and Vicinity, New Jersey,” Peter J. Sugarman, 2001, New Jersey Geological Survey Report GSR 40, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

“Background information on the Cohansey Formation aquifer.”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved