【New Jersey Attractions】Morristown National Historic Park | The Military Capital of Revolutionary Independence

Morristown National Historic Park, New Jersey | Introduction

The city of Morristown, located in central New Jersey, is known as the military capital of the Revolutionary Independence, and held a strategically important place in the history of the American Revolution. Morristown National Park (Morristown national historic parkThe park was established in 1779 to commemorate Washington's military defense of the area. The National Park is divided into three parts, including Ford mansion, Fort nonsense, and Jockey hollow. The three areas are scattered in different locations around the town of Morristown, and you need to drive through the downtown area of Morristown to get there. In terms of distance, it is suitable for a half-day to one-day trip.

Although it is called a national park, not many foreigners have visited it. This is partly due to the fact that such an American history-themed attraction is not of interest to foreigners, and partly because central New Jersey is far away from New York City and other touristy places, so most of the visitors are local tourists. Due to its historical significance and its hiking trail, Morristown is the second most important attraction in New Jersey, followed by the resort town of Cape May.

Attractions | Ford Mansion

The first stop is the Ford mansion, where the visitor center has a video and a simple exhibition about this history, which is very helpful for the rest of the trip.

The War of American Independence began in 1775 and lasted for eight years until 1783, when a truce was signed with Great Britain. 1779, Washington, with an army of 10,000 men, chose Morristown for the winter, borrowing Mr. Ford's house as his military headquarters. In the winter of 1779, Morristown was hit by one of New Jersey's worst snowstorms in a hundred years, and Washington and his army spent the winter in Morristown. Because of the cold weather, cut supply lines, and lack of supplies, soldiers were sick and fleeing, Washington wrote letters to the capital city of DC to ask for help, but never received any. This was because the legislators in DC were unable to understand the unusual cold weather due to the distance and suspected that Washington was exaggerating, so they refused to lend a helping hand. During the War of Independence, the United States was not yet a nation, and mutual trust between governments was still weak. It was only after the winter was over that the DC sent out an inspection and realized that the environment was really difficult and then sent out support. So during these difficult times, Washington's military relied on the neighboring state of New Jersey to help them survive.

Morristown national historic park

Across the street from the Visitor Center is the Ford Mansion, which was leased by Washington to serve as the military headquarters, and requires a guided tour to enter. The cost of a tour ticket is seven dollars per person, but there is no additional charge for those who have a National Parks Annual Pass.

Morristown national historic park 1

Because of strict New Jersey law that prohibits the military from appropriating people's property, Washington had to pay rent to set up his military headquarters. It was not a large building, with half of the two floors being used as offices and the other half for Washington, his officers and their families, which consisted of twelve servants they brought with them, as well as their own families and children. In addition, as if to raise money, Washington rented out two rooms upstairs. This means that the kitchen, with only one stove, would have been quite crowded for at least three families at the time.

Attractions | Fort Nonsense

Fort nonsense is the remains of a fort on a small hill, all that remains is the trail and a few stone monuments, which can only be imagined to depict the fort as it was in the past, hidden on the hill behind the trees.

According to the records, the significance of building this fort was not clear at that time, and some people said that it was because they were afraid that the soldiers would have nothing to do and that was the reason for the construction of this fort. In any case, since the purpose was not clear, this place was called Fort nonsense by the people at that time, and this name has been used ever since. However, looking at the dense forest in front of the fort, perhaps there is a military significance (just not a use for it) for building a fort in such a secret location.

Scenic Spot | Jockey Hollow

Jockey hollow is the most visited area. This entire area is where the military was stationed in the past. It is a large area with several hiking trails, and many people come here to enjoy the outdoors. Inside the park is a figure-eight shaped road, which can be completed in a circle by car. If you want to go hiking, you can drive directly to the trail head, we parked at the parking lot in front of the wick farm, there is another visitor center here, through the trail behind the visitor center is the wick farm.

Wick farm is a farm full of apple trees. When Washington's army came here, they cut down all the trees to build barracks, burn wood for heating and so on. Now we can also pick up small apples from the remaining apple trees. The family in front of us picked up a lot of apples and enjoyed eating them on the spot!

After coming out from the trail behind the farm, we wanted to drive around, but we accidentally drove out of the Jockey hollow, and ran into the new jersey brigate area below. This area used to be the barracks of another area, and there are remains of the military stationed there at that time, but you need to hike for a longer distance to get there.

A little further up the road you can visit the Cross estate gardens, which are part of the mansion next to it, and actually have no historical significance or connection to the rest of the National Park, but were nationalized to protect the barracks land, so the National Park had to buy the land. The tower shows that the former owner of the mansion was not a good person. The gardens are beautifully organized and I recommend you to take a walk here.

I got lost for a while and drove back to Jockey hollow to see the most representative remains of the barracks. The wooden huts could not withstand the wind and rain for 200 years, so of course these small houses were rebuilt instead of the original ones. There were actually four of them, but the one in the center collapsed in the winter due to snow. These photos were taken in late summer, and the space doesn't look too bad, but if you've ever experienced a stormy winter, you'll know how harsh it was for the army to spend a hundred-year winter crammed into a building that didn't provide much protection from the wind and rain.

Further reading

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