Sussex County History Today: What to do this summer

| 23 Jun 2024 | 07:58

Hey, it’s summer. It’s time to push the keyboard away and get outside.

But what to do?

You live in northern New Jersey, the playground of the state. There are plenty of things to do this summer.

I will suggest some activities that I have experienced and that I highly recommend.

Go take a hike! Certainly, our area has wonderful trails and views so you can enjoy the journey. Among the best, and longest, is the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York sections of the world-renowned Appalachian Trail that goes from Georgia to Maine.

I’ve been told by through-hikers (you can tell them at a distance) that this is one of the best states to view from the trail. Long vistas of 20 miles or so and both to the east and to the west.

This trail was conceived in 1921 and has been a destination for thousands ever since. Start with a nice easy day hike through High Point State Park.

The park, which houses the New Jersey Veterans’ Memorial, which is the highest point in New Jersey, is a great place to take a swim in a mountain lake, picnic and barbeque, and enjoy the outdoors.

You can even park your car at the high point and look out to see the best scenes of far hills and valleys, farm fields of corn and wheat, livestock on the farms, and the birds above you. And you don’t even need to get out of the car! And remember our veterans!

Museums, museums ... learn more about our history and growth. The Hill Museum in Newton holds many treasures of the county. Civil War wardrobes, milk cans that show the great dairy industry prevalent here for more than 100 years, and sickles and the Deckertown Plow that show the farming and rural character that we all love here. Several mastodons have been found in our county and you can learn about them.

Speaking of nature, do you know a local mineral? Franklinite is now the state mineral. Beautiful fluorescing minerals from Franklin and Ogdensburg can be found at the Franklin Mineral Museum. You can walk into a mine and learn about mining methods at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum.

Wildlife? Take a tour of the Space Farms Museum. I like looking at important paintings there, old cars, the old Deckertown jail, and exotic live animals from here and around the world.

We have had a lot of rail lines come through the county. As time has progressed, many miles became abandoned. There are several Rails to Trails hiking paths through the county that are fairly level and well-taken care of and are easy hikes. Maybe participate in efforts to change additional rails to trails.

Don’t forget the many lakes throughout the county at state parks, such as Stokes, Hopatcong and Wawayanda. (By the way, note the plethora of Indian names that still adorn the localities of our place).

During the summer, many of the historical societies have open houses or Christmas in July events.

A highlight of any year is the Sussex County Fair (aka New Jersey State Fair or Farm and Horse Show). I have gone there for decades, and it is a fun time each year.

The historic award presentations are on the first Saturday (see ya there).

What an opportunity to view the locally grown roosters, Holsteins, bees, apples and corn.

My mom has received prizes for her crocheting, and I have gotten awards for my local photographs.

This means that you also can put into this the products of your artistic abilities - many of which were essential back in the days of self-reliant frontiersmen who pioneered this land.

See ya out in Sussex County!

Bill Truran, Sussex County’s historian, may be contacted at