An Archeological Find of Sorts
A Journey into River Edge
It may not be archeology as one thinks of the Acropolis, the deserts of the Middle East or in the Cliff Dwellings of Mesa Verde near the Four Corners in the Southwest U.S., but there are some interesting artifacts in our own midst too.
For example, at the corner of Kinderkamack and Continental, the has many stories to tell. After all, a church has been on that corner since 1897.
One story that especially intrigued us involved a wall, an archeological story of sorts.
The location was once the site of the Old Brown Stone Tavern – used as an early stage coach stop. That building dated back to 1719 and stood until it and the land were donated (as well as $1000) by Mr. and Mrs. Williams.
Stones from the Brown Stone Tavern were built into the walls and buttress the church. In 1954, a new sanctuary was dedicated. It was built on the same site where the original church stood.
A picture in the church’s lobby describes how on the west side of the current sanctuary is to be found one wall of the original church – itself a structure that housed remnants of brick and iron brought from Holland and then used in the original tavern at that site.
Another unlikely storyteller of the past locally can be found on our streets on a telephone utility pole. The location is the north side of Bogert Road between Jefferson and Adams. To most it is just another telephone pole. There is a utility box about 2/3rd the way up (telephone company or cable). When we visited there was a yellow ribbon flapping in the breeze.
But on the north side of this pole something else can barely be seen. It is hard to discern these days, but the pole ion this north side is a faded white, and if one were to look very closely one could start to make out a pattern.
In fact, that pattern is an old bus stop sign – circa the mid-20th century.
Back then, bus stop signs and fire box signs were routinely painted into telephone poles.
It happens that for a period of time Bogert Road was part of a commercial bus route. One block of the 165 (then of Public Service, now of NJ Transit) used to run the “Blue Coach” of the Westwood Lines.
Those of a certain age may still recall how the Westwood Lines #55 bus from New York used to end at Main Street and Route 4 – just across the highway from the old Huffman & Boyle store.
Before a concrete barrier was placed down the middle of Route 4, that road was a limited access road of 4 lanes with traffic lights – including one at Main Street (Liberty Travel).
The old Blue Coach for years actually ran to Westwood. Part of its route then from the city to the hub of the Pascack Valley took it through River Edge and up Bogert Road.
That telephone pole between Jefferson and Adam was one of the bus stops for the Blue Coach line.
A picture of a bus top sign of that era may be found here.
Posters to that site from around the state can also recall those signs on the telephone poles. One from South Jersey relates, “I remember along the main highways in Cherry Hill and Evesham they just painted Bus Stop in a white band on utility poles. I guess since Public Service owned the poles they could do this”.
Another can recall several in their hometown. “These signs stayed up until they just rotted away”.
Rotting or fading, they could have been easily referring to our hidden bus stop sign on Bogert Road.
It should be noted that this particular sign was for a non-Public Service stop. So, conceivably, there probably was not the famous Public Service triangle on the sign as would have been found a block to the east along Kinderkamack.
A casual look at the remnants of the sign does not shed any light.
By the way, eventually, the Westwood Lines stopped running as far as Westwood and instead ended there at the Coles Brook where Hackensack and River Edge (Then North Hackensack) meet.
After NJ Transit merged together a number of local bus lines, the # 55 became history (merged into the 168 which now runs through Hackensack to Paramus).
Few recall the #55 anymore. Even fewer can tell you that there was ever a bus running down Bogert Road. And how many of you ever knew or cared that there was a vintage bus stop sign there on Bogert Road ?
For those who take the time and trouble to look, there are sites to be seen and stories to be told about town.
This piece was prepared for River Dell Patch - it ran in August, 2011