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Meandering The History of Bernardsville’s Mine Brook

Retrospective: As with all Mr. Local History retrospectives, we often update the post when we learn stories and are sent photos from our internet community. We will continue to grow this piece as information becomes available. If you have a comment or photo, feel free to post at the bottom of this page or drop us a note.

Mr. Local History Project

Most people in Bernardsville go about their business every day never really wondering what it may have been like when Bernardsville was still part of Bernards Township. Then one day, a group of people were looking at an old map of B’ville and noticed there was a giant pond right in the middle of the1873 map. Everyone just thought it was Nervine Pond next to the the Bunn Mill town hall and moved on. But that’s not the case. At one time there was a massive pond right in the middle of downtown Bernardsville. We had to know more.

The brook that starts up off Bernardsville’s Claremont Road runs down the Bernardsville mountain meandering slightly under 5 miles west along Mine Brook Road, thru the Mooreland Farm in Far Hills eventually emptying into the North Branch of the Raritan River just before the AT&T facility. The brook is named after the mountain ore mines of the Bernardsville mountain, hence the name “Mine Brook.” What many know as US Route 202 is actually the Mine Brook Road, the road that runs along the Mine Brook.

The Mysterious Mine Brook Mill Pond in Bernardsville

To better understand our Mine Brook mill pond, you have to look back at Bernardsville’s history. Before Bernardsville became the “Mountain Colony”, Bernardsville mountain was actually referred to as the “Mine Mountain”. Thought to be rich with iron ore, a man named Bishop Janes decided to stake his claim at the top of the mountain on present day Mendham Road by purchasing a number of mines on the mountain. Janes had know that the mines had been busy servicing the independence cause back during the Revolutionary War. Janes, who is now recognized as the “Father of the Bernardsville Mountain,” Janes built what later became George Seney’s Somerset Inn, the Inn that became the summer playground for the rich and famous and changed the landscape forever.

Our first stop was to the Spinning History Room at the Bernardsville Public Library.

What Happened to The Big Pond

As we looked back at the history, there was a convergence of issues which led to losing the Bernardsville Mill pond. The most prominent thought is that the electric turbine that was placed at the dam became ineffective and obsolete. Once that was outdated, there was no need for the turbine, hence no need for the water for the mill. It was also noted that the pond had become shallow due to silt build up.

The easiest solution to draining to pond was to remove the dam that ran along Mill Street. And that’s exactly what happened. Most likely in 1905 when the town decided to build Claremont Road alongside the pond, they then decided to break the dam below Mill Street and drain the pond. The result, additional homes, a field, park, and ball field. The mill however did last until the 70s before being demolished. Now, more town homes and condos.

Standing today you can see part of the Bernardsville Mill Pond area. It extended down to Mill Street where the dam once stood.
As it has run for hundreds of years, the mines may be gone, but the Mine Brook rolls on.

Mine Brook Flooding

As with any water tributary, flooding is reality along the banks of the Mine Brook. As the brook winds down the Bernardsville mountain, occasional flooding is just par for the course. As you look at the topography of the area, flood plain areas exist around the current ball field area (the former Bernardsville Mill Pond), then the elevation levels in two spots, Mill Street first, then Mine Mount Road alongside Quimby Lane As the brook passes under the railroad tracks, the Mine Brook slowly meanders for miles through the Meadowbrook Farm and a large flat plain along the valley between the Bernardsville Mountain and Pill Hill traveling west towards Far Hills.

Aug 13, 1942 flooding of the Mine Brook in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

What’s interesting to note is the Mine Brook has no flood drainage or piping along its path. The Mine Brook is just a way of life for residents.

Mine Brook flooding along Quimby Lane and Mine Brook Road – August 22, 20133.

What history will tell is how will Quimby Lane fare against the quiet Mine Brook and it’s momentary rage with the development of the Quimby Lane project? Only history will tell.

Bernardsville’s proposed Quimby Lane redevelopment plan – 2021.As you can see, the Mine Brook still flows quietly nearby.

We Leave you with some drone footage we took in 2021 meandering down the Mine Brook on the Meadowbrook farm area. Relax and enjoy.

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