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"Looking at Historic Pequannock Township"

A "wondrous beautiful valley," Arent Schuyler, 1695

The Township of Pequannock with its northern portion, Pompton Plains, is one of the oldest European settlements in northwestern New Jersey.  It was incorporated in 1740, making it at the time the largest township in Morris County.

Evident reports tool making and hunting activity by Paleo-Indian hunters as early as 3000 B.C.E.  Later it was occupied by Lenni Lenape Indians who camped, hunted, fished, settled and tilled the fertile lands along the river plains formed by the confluence of the Ramapo, Pompton and Pequannock Rivers.  The latter name is derived from the Lenape name, "Paquettahhnuake," meaning, "cleared land ready or being readied for cultivation."  Pompton, possibly means, from one source, a "place where they catch soft fish."  After being purchased by Arent Schuyler and associates from the Lenape and the East Jersey Propietors between 1695-1696, Dutch and English farmers began to farm its flat plain by 1710.

Once encompassing a sprawling 176 square miles, it is now a compact 6.8 square miles suburban community 35 miles west of New York City.  It has within its confines one of the remaining historic turnpikes (called Newark-Pompton Turnpike) built out of the City of Newark between 1806 and 1811; remains of a long extinct glacial lake, "Lake Passaic;" wooded walking paths overlooking a feeder dam of the 1827 Morris Canal - an engineering marvel of its day; rivers for fishing and canoeing; a mountain that enable hikers to see New York City skyline on a clear day; the 1771 First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains with its striking Christopher Wren-style steeple, along with a historic church cemetery containing the graves of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 veterans, and 75 Civil War veterans, including a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor and a Brigadier General; and early 19th century general store; and many privately owned historic homes dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. 


Written by Ed Engelbart, for the Pequannock Historic District Commission


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