To The Person Who Did This

I’m sure you felt, as I did, that today was a surprisingly fine day to be out in the Pine Barrens. The weather was sunny and warm, a rarity for February even in this mild state. The roads were very wet. That’s probably because there is still a layer of frozen soil a foot or so down that is preventing drainage, and creating the deep mud holes you and your buddies look for on days like this. Most people, myself included, don’t mind that you enjoy “mudding” in the Barrens. Despite the fact that you chew up the roads and make passage harder for everyone, we recognize that these woods belong to you too, and that you deserve to enjoy them. There’s a certain amount of cameraderie, however miniscule. We didn’t buy 4WD vehicles to drive on pavement either. So we wave and smile when we see you and your posse coming, mud dripping from every exterior surface, eyes bloodshoot and heavy-lidded, beer cans rattling around in the bed. Just some boys having some fun, is what I imagine most of us think.

And then you go and do something like this. I wonder if you know, or would care if told, that the road in front of the hole you were playing in was once the route of the Tuckerton Stage, which for many decades in the late 18th through middle 19th centuries was the fastest way from Camden to the shore; that the bricks your wheels were churning up (I doubt you noticed them) were hand made from Jersey clay, and once formed the foundation of Cranmer’s Tavern, a major stop on the stage road; that the depression you were spinning your wheels in is an unexcavated archaeological site dating to the colonial era, when the Pine Barrens hummed with industry, and towns like Mount, Washington, Harrisville, Martha, Hampton, and many others formed a web of life throughout the now-empty woods. If you haven’t heard of these places, you can be forgiven; not that many people have. But Mount, at least, you should know, because it’s the place you were trying to plow with your Gumbo Mudders.

You probably don’t know this, but many of the state forests in New Jersey do not allow much vehicle traffic at all. If, in the future, it happens that all of us are locked out of the Pine Barrens, we’ll have you to thank for it. Unlike you, the State knows that Mount was once there, and that Cranmer’s Tavern was once there, and the good people whose charge it is to see that neanderthals like you do not rob future generations of their heritage for an afternoon’s thrills don’t like to see people driving their trucks through archaeological sites. That’s why there’s a fence at Martha, and ten feet of earth over everything of interest. That’s why there’s a fence at Harrisville, or at least that’s why there was one, before people I imagine to be very much like you started ripping it down. In the end, it will be a lot cheaper to just ban vehicles than to fence off everything you try to destroy.

Do us all a favor: stick to the roads from now on. There is plenty of deep stuff for you on marked ways. If you can’t manage to stop acting like the entire forest was placed there for the sole purpose of your thrill-seeking enjoyment, then none of us are going to have access to it at all. And that would be a shame.

6 thoughts on “To The Person Who Did This

  1. SHOUT it, Mark. Saw your post on the PB forum. I love those old spots too, and their history. –glowordz

  2. Dear Mark,

    It was me. I made the totally awesome bad ass looking mud ruts in the woods there. They even look cooler in the picture! I didn’t realize it was a cellar hole, I thought it was jump. At one point I got stuck (my mudders are only 32’s). Thank god the bricks were there to put under my tires. I would have been stuck for a while!

    Do you know of any other cool cellar holes I can use for a jump? I found another one but it has a wall in the middle of it.


    Gumbo Mudding Red Neck

  3. 32’s? You call those mudders? I do know of another good jump, but it’s a bit north of there. Head up 539 to Bryant Rd. and make a right. Kind of wind your way back in there and work your way NE when the main road ends. When you see a road leading off to the right and sort of up a hill, turn there and gun it. Get going real fast, because that’s the best way to enjoy it.

  4. Mark, I hate to say this but you are just feeding his ego. My four wheeling days in the pines started in the sixties. I used to do some really hard core four wheeling back in Wharton forest. We had one area that we played in and what trash went in came out with us. This was in the mid eighties. We did not tear up other areas and when we came to horses or hikers we all pulled over and shut off until the people had passed. Then it seemed that every young kid was getting a Jeep and they were coming out and tearing up everything. I tried to tell them that they were ruining it for everone and the usuall answer was ” you think a couple of rangers are going to be able to stop us all?”. My simple answer was “YES” and they did. From what I understand now that the state has laid off a bunch of rangers the kids are tearing things up again back in Wharton. I have not been back there in five or six years now. It is a shame because, Like me, there are others out there that can no longer walk long distances in the woods. If we are going to get out there we have to drive. If it all gets shut down then I can not get out there anymore. I was just through Whites bogs today and I am trying to get some info on all of the foundations and concrete spillways and sluices I have come across. No one seems to know anything about these.



  5. I don’t doubt that, Rick. At the very least we can safely conclude that posting this was a lot more about venting my own feelings, than it was about changing anyone’s attitudes.

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