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The New Jersey Pine Barrens

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15th May 2006

lord_whimsy11:51pm: THE PINES AWAKEN
Popped into the pines today to visit my favored spots for plants, specifically orchids.

Growth at my usual stand of pink lady's slipper orchids was a bit sluggish, so I thought I might visit my bog to see how the arethusas and pitcher plants were faring. Turns out that things were blooming sooner than usual: Pictures of marvelous plants behind the cutCollapse )

29th June 2005

Central and Southern New Jersey is rich in unusual history. Not 15 minutes from my tulip-laden bungalow was once the setting of a series of delightful enterprises and the home of some unusual personalities: Smithville.

(Photo from Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey, by Henry Charlton Beck, 1936.)
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lord_whimsy3:35am: THE CARRANZA MEMORIAL

Wharton State Forest, New Jersey Pine Barrens. This memorial is located on the Batona Trail, a dirt path deep in the interior.

This is a monument to the memory of Captain Emilio Carranza, a Mexican aviator who crashed at this site on July 12, 1928 while returning from New York to Mexico. He was trying to complete a good will flight to the United States.

A 12 feet high pylon monument stands near the headwaters of Tulpehocken Creek. On one side is an Aztec falling eagle in relief. In Spanish is the dedication to "Captain Aviator Emilio Carranza, tragically killed July 13, 1928." (He actually was listed deceased on July 12th and recovered on July 13th. Post 11 holds the Memorial on the Saturday closest to July 12th at the same time Mexico holds a similar ceremony.)

Carranza, a great-nephew of President Venustiano Carranza of Mexico, was only 23 years old. He crashed his plane when he was 18 while helping to put down the de la Huerta rebellion in Sonora, and his face had to be put back in place with platinum screws. He was chosen to make a goodwill flight to Washington in response to a goodwill flight by Charles Lindbergh the previous December. He was honored by Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover and New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker. Returning to Mexico from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, Carranza ran into a thunderstorm over the Pine Barrens and crashed. (McPhee 1968:99-103)

Every year, on the Saturday nearest July 13, a ceremony is conducted at the site by members of the Mt. Holly Post, American Legion. Every year Mount Holly Post 11 of the American Legion holds a Memorial Service at the Monument to honor the fallen aviator. The Memorial Service is held on the Second Saturday of July at 1:00 p.m.

After the tragedy in 1928, the members of Post 11 made a promise to keep the memory of Emilio Carranza and his mission of Good Will and Peace alive. Every year since 1928, the members of American Legion Post 11 have kept that promise that their preceding comrades had made without fail.

Where to find it: http://www.post11.org/carranza/carranza8e.html

Whitesbog Village served as the main settlement and service center for the cranberry farming operation of Joseph J. White, a nationally recognized leader in the cranberry industry. The largest cranberry farm in New Jersey in the early 1900's, it gained national recognition in 1916, when the first cultivated blueberry was successfully developed on the farm by Elizabeth C. White and Dr. Frederick Coville. It is now part of the Pinelands National Reserve.

The general store, with a 50-year old soda machine and a Franklinia tree out front. What a thrill to see this plant, extinct in the wild since 1803 but rescued from complete oblivion by Philadelphia naturalists John and William Bartram in the late 18th century.

A small cluster of houses still exist, where people still live. A couple houses have been converted to field offices for organizations like the Nature Conservancy.

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Today, we visited Greenwood Forest Management Area in Double Trouble State Park, where the headwaters of Cedar Creek begins its long journey to Barnegat Bay. Most of the area is upland pine-oak forest, but a small corner is comprised of Atlantic White Cedar Bogs, which were accidentally created over seventy years ago when an unsuccessful attempt to find pig iron beneath the topsoil was abandoned.

The plant life here is nothing short of miraculous: rare orchids, extremely rare ferns and carnivorous plants cling to the small hummocks, which look like small islands. The extremely rare Pine Barrens Tree Frog is said to be a permanent resident as well. The entire area is ringed with flowering blueberry bushes and carpeted with a deep layer of green Sphagnum Moss, home to many species of salamanders and newts.

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lord_whimsy3:30am: WHITESBOG: KING SNAKES
During our amblings in the Pines yesterday, we found a nest of Eastern King Snakes on the side of a cranberry bog trail, all over four feet in length. We noticed a large burrow opening on the bank of the bog facing the trail, and peeked in to see a snake's head looking back. We then stood very quietly for a half hour until one emerged, which we carefully followed for an hour along the banks through the blueberry underbrush as he made his rounds. We were inches away from him for his entire sortie, watching him breathe and taste the air, but he suspected nothing. Upon his return to the burrow, we saw another equally large King Snake proceeding along the same route we'd just traveled. The snake we'd originally observed then made his way back into the nest, only to see that a third snake was awaiting in the burrow's opening! Three King Snakes in an hour, all out in the open without disturbances: quite a treat.

Also seen: a five-foot Black Rat Snake racing through the underbrush, a recently hatched clutch of Painted or Red Bellied Turtle eggs, blooming magnolias, a Rose Pogonia orchid, and a profusion of Greater Bladderworts.

lord_whimsy3:29am: DOWN THE BATSTO RIVER
(NOTE: My camera is out of sorts this week, so I've borrowed existing photos of the Batsto River and its inhabitants. Apologies for taking such liberties, and naturally I will gladly and immediately remove any photos upon request.)

Today finds us on our first summertime journey down the beautiful Batsto River in Wharton State Forest, located in the southern reaches of the New Jersey Pine Barrens.

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Many botanists and photographers we run into during our wanderings in the Pines swear they've never witnessed such a profusion of orchids and other bog plants as are being seen this year. Below are both common plants (sundews, pitcher plants, bladderworts) as well as some very rare ones (orchids, bog asphodel, curly grass fern):

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lord_whimsy3:23am: Welcome All
I am the founder and moderator of this community, so I suppose it should be up to me to make the initial posts. Most of my posts are cross-posted from my personal journal:


Back from the evening's expedition! Tonight was a perfect night to venture deep into the Pines and seek one of the rarest species in New Jersey, possibly North America: Hyla andersonii, otherwise known as the Pine Barrens Tree Frog. These photos I've posted were shot tonight at great risk to my camera's electronic innards (not to mention my coif), as it was a very wet night out in the bogs.

Amphibians, ho!Collapse )
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