This secluded island was the site of the first murder in NJ
For generations now, no one has really heard of this place, even the people that live nearby.
Early in the 20th century, it was a very popular resort called Island Beach Amusement Park. It's nowhere near the Island Beach State Park that we know and love today. As a matter of fact, it's nowhere near the Jersey Shore.
It's an island in the middle of the Delaware River between Burlington, New Jersey, and Bristol, Pennsylvania. The indigenous Lenape tribes called it Matennecunk. Today it's known as Burlington Island and was the first settlement in the state in 1624.
Dutch and Swedish settlers set up a trading post there. It was actually intended to be the site of the Dutch West India Trading Co. before they decided to set up that famed operation on Manhattan Island.
In 1671, two Dutchmen were killed on the island by members of the Lenni Lenape tribe, which was the first recorded murder in the state.
Over the years ownership of the island changed hands as it was more recently used for the mining of sand and gravel, thus the large hole in the island. But its glory days were in the 1920s and '30s when it was a very popular regional amusement attraction.
Throughout the rest of the 20th century up until the 1970s, families would spend the summers there in tents and makeshift bungalows but evolved into almost permanent types of housing. Those folks were evicted from the island in 1975. It's been a very sought-after piece of property for its location and natural beauty. The only way to get there today is by small watercraft.
It's a pretty desolate and eerie place but there are people who dedicate their time and effort to the island. The Friends of Burlington Island is an organization of volunteers looking to work to preserve the Island in its natural state for the enjoyment of surrounding communities, naturalists, environmentalists, and recreational enthusiasts. If you're interested in the history and preserving nature in New Jersey, here's a great opportunity to get involved.
Burlington Island has a fascinating history through the centuries. I've lived in Burlington County most of my life and never knew anything about this precious little dot of land on the Delaware River. It's a great story that you can find out more about here:
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy only.
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