“So Josy,” you ask, “what’s with the, uh, pile of sticks? It’s not a very good-looking pile of sticks.”
Here’s the deal:
Summit, NJ, is so named because it sits on— get this— a SUMMIT of the second Watchung mountain.
Which means— if you’re Summit, and you happen to be 8.5 miles from a Revolutionary War stronghold like, say, Morristown, NJ… you can send smoke signals like “HEY MORRISTOWN! THE BRITISH ARE COMING!”
Or, instead of explicit smoke signals, you could just light a beacon and fire a cannon, and just assume that Morristown knows what that means.
Consequently, Summit was host to “Signal Beacon No. 10,” one of George Washington’s 23 beacons upon “the most conspicuous hills across New Jersey.”
While I’m not sure that Summit’s beacon single-handedly won the Revolutionary War, Summit is very proud that it was one of the beacon sites.
Consider the following:
Item 1. The emblem/ logo/ official seal of the City of Summit is in fact a nod to Summit’s beacon heritage. (I initially mistook the design to be a stylized bowl of soup.)
I suspect that the emblem actually references the tar-barrel beacon used at the same site during the War of 1812. My reference (see article at the bottom of this post) hints that everyone thinks the two beacons are one and the same, and apparently THEY’RE NOT.
Item 2. The northwest corner of Beacon Road and Hobart Avenue (the former Twombly residence) is marked by a commemorative plaque.
According to my source (again, see bottom of post):
The original plaque… was “dedicated to the memory of the patriots of New Jersey” by the S.A.R. in 1896, and was mounted on a boulder on the exact site of the beacon. This was stolen in 1900, but was soon replaced with the present (slightly different) one. Then in 1908, when Henry B. Twombly built his home on the site, the boulder and plaque were moved forward to their present location in the stone wall along Hobart Avenue.
So that’s that.
Item 3. Last year (2011), Patricia J. McWhorter painted a mural of the beacon prominently in the middle of downtown Summit.
By the way— the reference I keep referring to is none other than this photocopy of an article on display in the Carter House museum. Presumably it’s from the Summit Herald:
I also had a conversation with Patricia Meola, a member of the Summit Historical Society, who clued me into the beacon’s significance at all.
I’m not sure how to cite either one of these sources, but I didn’t make this stuff up, I swear.