New Jersey is home to many mining and milling towns that died along with the prevalence of their industries in the Garden State. Most faded away, leaving behind hidden ruins or no trace at all. Some lived on, however, preserved by historic, non-profit and government organizations. Perhaps one of the most famous is Batsto Village; this is its story.
The site along the Batsto River was ideal for iron works for several reasons: there was water for mills, abundant wood for charcoal, and naturally occurring bog iron.
The well-preserved and lovingly restored village dates back to 1766.
As the operation grew, so did the village. There were mills, cottages for workers and plenty more.
Over three dozen structures and buildings still remain, many from the early 1800s.
In addition to the cottages for workers, sawmill, and gristmill, you’ll find a general store, iron furnace, glass works, ice house, post office and mansion.
Established in 1852, the post office is one of the oldest operating post offices in the United States. Closed for a time, it reopened in 1966. It was never assigned a zip code and all stamps are hand canceled.
The Batsto-Pleasant Mills Methodist Episcopal Church (built in 1808) is still active as a place of worship.
Visitors can enjoy self-guided tours of the village…
…And guided tours of the mansion. Currently, tours are being given Wednesday through Sunday at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, and 3:00pm. It is recommended that you call 609-561-0024 to confirm.
The 32-room mansion dates back to the late 1700s but was renovated and restored by businessman Joseph Wharton a century later.
In fact, Wharton restored many of the buildings on the property. Prior to his purchasing the land in 1876, the community had gone bankrupt.
By the mid 1800s, iron production declined and Batsto became a glassmaking community known for its window glass. Soon the glass business was also finished.
When Joseph Wharton purchased the property, he primarily focused on forestry and agricultural endeavors.
After Joseph Wharton passed in 1909, the property was managed by a trust. The state of New Jersey began buying the land in the 1950s.
The last residents of Batsto vacated the village in 1989. It is now open for the public to enjoy as part of Wharton State Forest.
A very affordable day trip destination, surrounded by natural beauty, you can find Batsto Village at 31 Batsto Road, Hammonton. It offers a small museum and gift shop along with a library and nature center.