Campgaw in Mahwah, NJ by David Radney

7 Oct


Campgaw Mountain extends for three miles approximately north to south along the border of Franklin Lakes, Oakland, and Mahwah. The peak of the mountain rises to 752 feet (229 meters)[1] in Mahwah, becoming the fourth highest peak of Watchungs, though the height of the mountain as measured from its base is generally less than 400 feet (122 meters). A shallow gap exists between Campgaw Mountain and the Preakness and Goffle Hill ranges of the Watchungs to the south, somewhat isolating the ridge from the rest of the Watchung Mountains despite contiguous geology below the surface. In the north, the mountain terminates at the Ramapo Fault, the western border of the Newark Basin. Campgaw Mountain also marks the eastern edge of the Ramapo River Valley, forming a sizable basin between itself and the Ramapo Mountains.[6]

An unusual trait of Campgaw Mountain is that it is composed of the ridges of both First and Second Watchung Mountain. Fyke Brook, a tributary of the Ramapo River, divides the two ridges, running northwest through a narrow valley along the northeastern corner of the mountain. Second Watchung Mountain comprises the majority of Campgaw Mountain at the surface.

Before the arrival of Europeans, Campgaw Mountain was inhabited by Munsee (Minsi) Lenape. Evidence of the Lenape presence around Campgaw can be found in a former village that existed on the north side of the mountain, along the south bank of the Ramapo River.[7] Reflecting on this Native American heritage, the mountain is named for a Lenape chief, Kum-Kow, with the name Campgaw being a modern variation of the original spelling.[8][9] Taken literally, the syllables in the name Kum-Kow probably translate to goose-hedgehog.[10][11]

An historical account from 1834 indicates that Campgaw Mountain’s summits were once under extensive cultivation.[12] This would seem to explain the numerous stone walls, apparently former property boundaries, running through the woods along the mountain. Another historical work from 1894 detailing New Jersey’s forests shows that Campgaw Mountain was covered by a nearly unbroken expanse of chestnut, oak, and redcedar[13], indicating that cultivation along the ridgeline may have declined by that time. Campgaw Mountain was essentially wilderness in 1960 when property on the ridge was taken by the Bergen County Park Commission to create Campgaw Mountain Reservation. The park, which opened in June 1961, forced many of the Ramapough Mountain Indians inhabiting Campgaw Mountain and the surrounding area off their land.[14]

In addition to the development of the park, Campgaw Mountain saw the construction of a Nike missile base during the height of the Cold War. Installed on the mountain between 1955 and 1971, the base’s missiles served to guard New York City’s air space, standing by to intercept nuclear armed Soviet bombers. The facility was ultimately abandoned with the advent of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

information courtesy of Wikipedia

One Response to “Campgaw in Mahwah, NJ by David Radney”

  1. davidradney October 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    Today I took the girls to Campgaw in Mahwah, NJ. We went on a lovely hike and we saw turkeys, deer, bike riders, 4 wheelers and much much more. This 1,300-acre Campgaw Mountain County Reservation draws by far the most visitors during downhill skiing season. It has a lift and snow-making equipment. The Reservation also offers hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, archery and camping (by permit only).

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