Lighthipe’s trap rock quarry

Lighthipe's quarry-- what's left of it, anyway.

This mess of trees may not look like much, but if you really concentrate, you can see the blue-gray rock face in the upper right quadrant of the photo. That’s what’s left of Charles A. Lighthipe’s trap rock quarry!

Millburn was once an industrial town, largely comprised of mills (hence “Millburn”; “-burn” is NOT in fact from all the mills that burned down [which admittedly happened pretty frequently] but from the Scottish word for “river”.) The KIND of mill that dominated Millburn varied according to what was in vogue; paper mills and hat factories were pretty popular for most of the 1800s. (For a more in-depth history on this stuff, read Meisner’s 2002 History of Millburn Township— lots of good info there.)

The Lighthipes, a historically powerful and well-known family throughout Millburn and the Oranges, had loads of mill property. If you look at a 1906 map of Millburn, practically half the town belonged to the Lighthipes.

In the late 1800s, Charles A. Lighthipe expanded his horizons beyond mills and opened a basalt traprock quarry. A rail line (a small spur of what was supposed to be the New Jersey West Line) connected the quarry to the Lackawanna Railroad. (According to Dave Hogenauer, the physical rails stayed there until just a few years ago.)

From all accounts, it was a successful venture. A 1908 issue of Stone magazine noted that the Lighthipes had incorporated the Millburn Trap Rock Quarry, and “the Lighthipes [were] well known quarrymen” (Lent 1908-09, 31).

This business carved out a huge part of the Orange Mountain, leaving a several-hundred-foot sheer cliff of bare rock where there was once a sloping mountain.

The quarry in action! Date unknown, probably late 1800s.

In 1913, the Essex County Park Commission purchased the Lighthipe quarry and added the land to the ever-growing South Mountain Reservation (Urquhart 1913, 863). Once quarry operations had ceased, the commission began its effort to make the area more suitable for parkgoers: the quarry buildings were demolished, trees were planted to disguise the bare rock, and the top of the cliff was fenced off to protect people from falling off the side of the cliff (Lampe 1999, 65).

The bottom of the cliff, however, was not fenced off until “recent years.” This afforded local daredevils the opportunity to scale a massive cliff, right in their own backyards! Unfortunately, these grand plans usually didn’t quite work out; the Millburn fire department was often called to rescue young climbers (Lampe 1999, 65; Millburn Item 1941, 1).

Thassall I know. If you have additional information, I’d love to hear it!



Lampe, O.W. (1999, 2000). Images of America: Millburn. Arcadia Publishing: Charleston, SC. ISBN 0738504130.

Lent, F.A. (Pub.). (1908-1909). “Stone company notes: New companies.” Stone, 29, 31-32. Google eBook.

Meisner, M. (2002). A History of Millburn Township. Millburn/Short Hills Historical Society and the Millburn Free Public Library: Millburn, NJ. eBook.

The Millburn and Short Hills Item. (1941, July 4). “Rescue two from cliff.” 53(27), p. 1.,%201941.pdf (PDF).

Urquhart, F.J. (1913). A History of the City of Newark, New Jersey: Embracing Practically Two and a Half Centuries, 1666-1913, Volume 2. The Lewis Historical Publishing Co.: New York & Chicago. Google eBook.


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