Before the spotted lanternfly, murder hornets, or any other insect invader, New Jersey has always had a pest hiding in plain sight. And no, it’s not bugs. It’s… Delaware?

Believe it or not, New Jersey actually shares not one, but two land borders with Delaware.

Canva/Google Earth

Yep, there are two chunks of Delaware on the Jersey side of the river in Salem County — one chunk located near Fort Mott, and another artificial peninsula just north of the Salem Nuclear Power Plant — all thanks to the original deed of land from 1682 from the Duke of York to William Penn.

The deed granted William Penn all the land west of the Delaware River within a 12-mile radius beginning at the courthouse in New Castle, Delaware. Because of this, the entirety of the width of the Delaware River up to the low tide mark on the eastern shore in New Jersey is owned by Delaware.

That’s also why Delaware is curved at its northernmost point.

What does this have to do with those two chunks of land in New Jersey?

Google Earth
Google Earth

That deed granted Delaware a marshy, swampy area of land in Salem County called the Killcohook National Wildlife Refuge. Since it was a marshy, swampy area, it wasn’t really considered “land” — it was essentially just a shallow part of the river that thousands of birds and other animals lived in.

In the early 20th century, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started dredging the Delaware River to make it deeper for shipping lanes. As was the tradition in the early 1930s and '40s, nature conservation was an afterthought, so the Corps began dumping the dredged-up silt, mud, and whatever else was at the bottom of the river at Killcohook and turned the marshy area into solid land.

Since the deed said anything west of the low tide mark of the river was Delaware’s, this newly formed land mass was property of Delaware.

Google Earth
Google Earth

Today, the land formerly known as Killcohook National Wildlife Refuge is part of Delaware, but owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is managed by both New Jersey and Delaware wildlife agencies for hunting.

I’ve seen stories from people online about this area back in the '80s where kids would go to this land and drink and party and do whatever else they felt like because it was out of New Jersey’s jurisdiction and too far away for Delaware police to ever do anything about. Those must’ve been some wild parties.

OK, but what about that other, smaller piece of Delaware in New Jersey?

attachment-Fake island

Three separate court cases between New Jersey and Delaware were heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The first case, in 1905, centered around fishing rights in the river between the two states, but never exactly defined the border between them. It just stated that each state could police their side of the river.

The second case in 1934, an argument over oysters, decided Delaware owned “the river and subaqueous soil” up to the low tide mark.

The third case is the reason New Jersey and Delaware share two land borders.

BP Prepares To Ration Petrol Station Deliveries Due To Shortage Of HGV Drivers
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In the early 2000s, British Petroleum (BP) wanted to build a natural gas transfer facility on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River. BP requested a permit to build the plant in New Jersey.

They also had to request a permit in Delaware because construction would require dredging part of the river and extending a 2,000-foot pier about 1,500 feet into Delaware land.

Both New Jersey and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the permits. Delaware did not, citing “that the liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant was a heavy industry facility within Delaware’s coastal zone, and thus was prohibited under Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act.”

In 2005, New Jersey took Delaware to the Supreme Court citing their previous forays with the court saying that Delaware had to approve the permit because of the original 1905 court decision. The Supreme Court made their decision in 2008 decided 6-2 in favor of Delaware, stating that though both states have jurisdiction on their sides of the river, this LNG plant “goes well beyond the ordinary or usual.”

Supreme Court Justices Pose For Annual Portrait
Getty Images

Because of this decision, BP was not allowed to build the plant and thus left a second artificial stretch of land jutting into the Delaware River owned by Delaware and attached to New Jersey.

If you were hoping to see some buggy invaders look no further…

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Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

Are you tired of living in New Jersey and want to get away from Delaware's invasion?

LOOK: These are the most overrated and underrated states in the U.S.

A survey conducted by Home Bay asked which states you considered the most overrated states in the country. In a separate survey conducted by Home Bay, participants were asked which states they believe are the most underrated.

Interestingly, some states managed to make both lists. Here are the top 10 for each.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5's Bob Giaquinto. Any opinions expressed are Bob's own. You can follow Bob on Instagram.

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