Watchung’s deserted village is the town in the trees


Photo Credit: Photo via Flickr under Creative Commons License

Pictured is one of the houses from the original town of Feltville. It remains abandoned today.

By: Dylan DaCunha, Editor-in-Chief

Once a thriving town turned summer resort, Feltville still stands abandoned today. The deserted village is located deep within the Watchung Reservation in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey with a few remaining inhabitants.


The story of the village begins in 1736. Businessman Peter Willcocks built a lumber mill in this area to produce lumber. The sawmill cleared hundreds of acres of forest.

In 1845, another businessman purchased the land. David Felt bought 760 acres of this land and built a printing factory near the original lumber mill. Felt then continued to develop an entire town in this area in order to support the mill operation. 175 people were living in the town, called Feltville, by 1850. Felt retired from running this small town in 1860, and the village became deserted for a short time after this.

The story of the deserted village doesn’t end there. In 1882, Warren Ackerman bought the property and converted it into a summer resort. He called it Glenside Park. However, the popularity of the Jersey Shore began to increase so mountain resorts lost business. Glenside Park closed in 1916 and has been deserted since.

Deserted village today

Many of the structures from the original village still stand today. They remain pretty intact, and some are even still inhabited by families in need that rent rooms in three of the houses. The rest of the structures are abandoned though.

The grounds of the village are open from dawn until dusk. Walking tours are available that explain the history of the ten surviving buildings. Those who go on the walking tour are provided with pamphlets that outline the tour.

Spooky stories

Obviously, a place like this would have some lore that creeps out its visitors. One of the oldest stories originating in 1912 tells of the sighting of three ghosts wandering the premises. Three young girls went camping far into the woods and never returned. The townspeople were only able to find their bonnets. This caused more than half of the village’s residents to move away. Those that stayed never let their children go far into the woods again when alone.

Another spine-chilling rumor about the deserted village is that Satanists and witch covens practice rituals in the surrounding area. This section of the forest is called the “Enchanted Forest.”

Melanie Quintanilla is a local resident of Scotch Plains, which is near the Watchung Reservation. Quintanilla recalls driving through the reservation late one night with her sister and a friend. They saw flames in the distance while driving, which alarmed them. She goes on to say that the police and fire department eventually showed up, but the fire was just normal flames; “It was a perfectly designed circle with a Pagan star in the middle,” recalled Quintanilla.

Based on the area’s rich and spooky history, would you dare go into Watchung’s deserted village?