Batsto Village, New Jersey

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Batsto Village, New Jersey

BatstoVillageNewJerseyThis village derives its name from the Swedish name “bastu,” which means bathing place. It is also the Swedish word used to refer to the Finnish Sauna. Part of this old town lies in Wharton State Forest while the other is in Pinelands National Reserve. The location of this village had an abundance of bog ore and this is what spurred the establishment of Batsto Village.

The first Iron Works in this area were built in 1766 by a renowned ironmaster by the name Charles Read. The rivers and streams in the area served as the source of bog ore while charcoal for smelting the ore was sourced from trees harvested from the nearby forest. In addition to this, the rivers were also harnessed to aid in the iron making process.

Later on, John Cox bought the Iron Works in 1773 at a time when it manufactured supplies during the American Revolutionary War for the Continental Army and also produced kettles, cooking pots, among other items that were used in various households. Joseph Ball who was the Works manager in 1779 bought the facility and his uncle followed suit when he purchased a controlling interest in 1784. His name was William Richards whose family linage helped build most of the buildings at Batsto Village.

Until his retirement in 1809, Richards was still the ironmaster and his son Jesse Richards took over from him. He reigned until 1854 when he gave up the ghost. He was succeeded by Thomas H. Richards his son. The discovery of coal in Pennsylvania is what triggered a decline in demand of iron products from Batsto Village and focus was shifted to glassmaking but this venture was not a success in the long run.

The ailing economy brought Batsto down to the ground and that is when Joseph Wharton, a Philadelphia businessman came in and bought Batsto with several properties that were here. Different from his predecessors, he went into cranberry farming, forestry and other agricultural projects. A sawmill was also put in place and he also gave buildings that were in this village a facelift. All this he did before taking a bow in 1909.

Towards the end of the 1950s the state of New Jersey bought the Wharton properties and plans to develop the area started. In 1989, the remaining inhabitants deserted Batsto Village. The village has since been listed on the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places and has over 40 sites and structures, which have continued to attract many visitors to the deserted village.

These include a general store, the Batsto mansion, a gristmill, a 19th-century ore boat, a blacksmith and wheelwright shop, ice and milk houses, carriage house and stable, sawmill and a charcoal kiln. The Methodist Episcopal Church as well as the Post Office in the area are still active today and you will find them operating as usual. Going by this list, there is a lot to see and explore at the once bustling village and a visit to the village is sure to give you more than what most of its kind have to offer.

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