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Waterloo Village, New Jersey facts for kids

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Not to be confused with Waterloo, Monmouth County, New Jersey.
Waterloo Village
Smiths-General-Store-Waterloo.JPG
Smith's General Store at Waterloo Village, with the Morris Canal in the immediate background
Nearest city Byram, New Jersey
Area 70 acres (28 ha)
Built 1820
Architectural style Late Victorian
NRHP reference No. 77000909 (original)
15000176 (increase)
Quick facts for kids
Significant dates
Added to NRHP September 13, 1977
Boundary increase April 28, 2015

Waterloo Village is a restored 19th-century canal town in Byram Township, Sussex County (west of Stanhope) in northwestern New Jersey, United States. The community was approximately the half-way point in the roughly 102-mile (165 km) trip along the Morris Canal, which ran from Jersey City (across the Hudson River from Manhattan, New York) to Phillipsburg, New Jersey, (across the Delaware River from Easton, Pennsylvania). Waterloo possessed all the accommodations necessary to service the needs of a canal operation, including an inn, a general store, a church, a blacksmith shop (to service the mules on the canal), and a watermill. For canal workers, Waterloo's geographic location would have been conducive to being an overnight stopover point on the two-day trip between Phillipsburg and Jersey City.

It is currently an open-air museum in Allamuchy Mountain State Park. As part of the State Park, it is open to the public from sunrise to sunset. The village is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Canal and railroad eras

Although opened in 1831, the Morris Canal's traffic volume, which was primarily anthracite coal from Pennsylvania, peaked during the late 1860s, shortly after end of the American Civil War. Up until that time, the local railroads — the Lackawanna Railroad's Sussex Branch and Morris and Essex Railroad — had only supplemented the canal's operation, rather than actually competing with it. Both the Sussex Branch and the Morris & Essex Railroad ran within a short distance of the village. After the War, however, the canal's traffic began to quickly shift over to the much faster and more reliable railroad. It was expected that during most winters the canal would be frozen solid, and thus impassable during the time when its chief commodity was in greatest demand.

As a result, the canal underwent a steady decline, and so did Waterloo Village. Although the canal was not officially abandoned until 1924, rarely did more than one boat a year (to fulfill the conditions of the canal's charter) run through the canal after 1900. By the time of the Great Depression, Waterloo Village had been abandoned by its original owners.

Unheralded saviors

This might have been the end of the story for Waterloo, particularly if the hamlet had really been abandoned, as local vandals might have burned the town to the ground if it had become completely unoccupied. But the village's location, within a short distance of the Lackawanna Railroad (which had to overcome a steep eastbound grade towards New York near Waterloo, slowing freight trains to a crawl as they labored up the hill to Netcong), made it easy for hobos to jump on and off boxcars.

The hobos, as it turned out, had "discovered" Waterloo and had adopted it as a stopping off point in their cross-country journey towards New York. This new purpose for the village wasn't all that different from its original purpose a century earlier. The hobos protected Waterloo Village by occupying it throughout the 1930s and '40s. The original Waterloo railroad station was moved from the station site during the 1940s and became a private residence on U.S. Route 206 in Mount Olive Township, New Jersey.

Rebirth

If one person deserves credit for saving Waterloo Village in the modern era, it's Percival H.E. Leach. Percy Leach, as he is known, with his partner Lou Gualandi, spearheaded an effort to preserve the village, starting during the 1960s. Over time, and with volunteer help, the village was slowly restored. (The village would eventually become part of New Jersey's Allamuchy Mountain State Park.)

The Waterloo Foundation for the Arts, a not-for-profit corporation, was established and enabled Leach and Gualandi to raise the funds necessary to not only restore the village, but also to expand its operation to include classical and pop concerts that brought in additional revenue.

By the mid-1980s, Waterloo had become a regular stop for performing artists and was envisioned as the New Jersey equivalent of Tanglewood, with a proposal that an amphitheater would open and would become the summer home of New York's Metropolitan Opera.

2014 season

Through a concession agreement with the NJDEP Division of Parks and Forestry, group tours and programs are available at Waterloo Village, Allamuchy Mountain State Park, by reservation with Winakung at Waterloo Inc. Programs at the recreated Lenape Indian Village and/or historic Village of Waterloo are offered April through November. Winakung at Waterloo Inc. educational programs meet core curriculum standards and are ideal for school trips, scout groups, and summer camp field trips. Winakung at Waterloo Inc. also offers year round outreach programs for schools, libraries, historical societies, Clean Communities and more. http://winakungatwaterloo.com/

In the spring of 2014, a 10-year lease (with the option of 10 more) was awarded to Jeffrey Miller Catering (JAM Catering) out of Philadelphia, making them the exclusive caterer for Waterloo Village. JAM has renovated the Meeting House and Pavilion, and is currently creating a "Bride's Cottage" on the property, making it a beautifully rustic site for Weddings and Events. http://jamcater.com/

May 2014 saw the launch of the SMS Italian Festival. This annual Non-Profit event supports the children of St Michael School. 100% of the proceeds will be used to provide a safe and healthy environment for learning. Placing a focus on developing and encouraging the full potential of children, creates a family oriented event that becomes a favorite for the surrounding communities as the "key event" to kick-off summer fun. The Festival includes Children & Adult Rides, Games, International Food, Vendors, Beer & Wine Garden, Daily Entertainment/Events and a Signature Fireworks Display. 2015 SMS Italian Festival Dates - May 28–31. Click Here to learn more

Movie set

Much of the principal photography for writer/director Michael Pleckaitis' silent film Silent was done in November and December 2006 at various locations in the village.

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