How South Mountain Reservation Began and Grew

Updated: Aug 24

The familiar park with the awesome views to the east on the mountain above Maplewood and nearby towns has far more interesting origins than most hikers and dog-walkers realize. The Reservation, now 2,110 acres, dates to 1895, the year the county commissioners established its parent body, the Essex County Park System, the first in the nation. Dave Hogenauer, a well known South Mountain Conservancy member who led popular hikes through the Reservation until his death in 2020, enlightened visitors about the owners of the land before it was preserved, who first dreamed of the park, where the paper mills, the railroad and the quarry were, who Painter’s Point was named for, the deer paddock, important contributions the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) made in the 1930s, and the rerouting of Cherry Lane.

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