Morristown

Overview

Introduction

Morristown has been making history ever since Gen. Washington chose it for his winter encampment during the Revolutionary War. Two brutal winters there came close to causing mass desertion among the troops, but following the patriots' victory, the campsite became the nation's first historic park. Today, Morristown National Historic Park has a range of displays commemorating Revolutionary War events. The museum at the park headquarters has a film about the terrible winter of 1779-80, plus artifacts and art. Fort Nonsense, in the park, is an earthwork fort built in 1779. The Ford Mansion (the home Washington used as his command post) is also part of the historic park but is located across town, off Interstate 287. The site of the Jockey Hollow encampment has some re-created soldiers' huts.

Also in the Morristown area is Speedwell, the preserved remains of an ironworks (and the owner's mansion) from the 1800s. It was in Speedwell that the first telegraph was demonstrated by Samuel F.B. Morse, working in collaboration with the owner's son, Alfred Vail. The MacCulloch Hall Historical Museum in Morristown is filled with decorative art from the 1700s and 1800s (look for the collection of drawings by 19th-century political cartoonist Thomas Nast). We also recommend a stop at the Morris Museum to see its excellent temporary exhibits. The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, an 8,000-acre/3,240-hectare wetland, is nearby. It's a habitat for foxes, muskrats and hundreds of species of birds (http://www.fws.gov/northeast/greatswamp). Try to leave time for a tour of Acorn Hall, an 1853 Italianate mansion surrounded by lush Victorian gardens. The house is open Sunday, Monday and Thursday, and group tours can be arranged any day.

West of Morristown is the Fosterfields Living Historical Farm, which re-creates life on a farm in the late 1800s. Also to the west is Far Hills, a sylvan residential area with many large estates. This is horse-and-hunt country, as well as the home of the U.S. Golf Association Museum and Library. Inside the Golf House, exhibits trace the history of the game, with equipment and accoutrements from such golf greats as Bobby Jones, Patty Berg, Babe Zaharias, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

In nearby Parsippany, visit the Gustav Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, the home of the legendary Arts and Crafts-style furniture maker. (The farm is open year-round, but tours of the main house, where Stickley lived, are only offered April-November.) Morristown is 20 mi/32 km west of Newark.

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