ATSION LAKE
Atsion, Burlington County, NJ


Directions:

Located about 10 miles south of Red Lion Circle which is the intersection of Route 70 and Route 206 in Burlington County or about 7 1/2 miles north of Route 30, just above Hammonton in Atlantic County.


History:

Atsion is from Atsionk or Atsayonk, "Indians nearby."

In 1765 Charles Read built Atsion Forge. He had two partners, one of them Lawrence Saltar. In its early days the forge here mostly converted pig iron (from Batsto eight miles away) into bar iron. In 1773 Read sold his interest in the Atsion forge to Henry Drinker and Abel James, of Philadelphia. The now three partners formed the Atsion Company (active for the next nearly 30 years.) (Pierce 1957:31-33)

Atsion became independent of Batsto Furnace in 1774 when a furnace was built. During the American Revolution, Atsion forge produced iron materials for the Americans. In 1805 the Atsion property was sold at public auction in Philadelphia. Jacob Downing, son-in-law of Henry Drinker, bought Atsion. In 1822 Samuel Richards bought the property. Samuel Richards' father was William who founded at Batsto the Richards "iron dynasty." Under Samuel Richards, Atsion reached its peak of prosperity.

In 1826 Samuel built the square mansion which still stands at Atsion. It was built across from the lake and facing the old Tuckerton stagecoach and post road. Samuel died in 1842, the peak of the workforce (at 120 men, a Methodist Church and two dozen dwellings). Samuel Richards' daughter married William Walton Fleming of Charleston, South Carolina and they lived at Atsion in the old mansion. The onslaught of anthracite coal led to the decline of the bog iron industry. Fleming erected a paper mill at Atsion (1852 or 1853). It closed after about two years. In 1854 Fleming virtually went bankrupt.

In 1861 Jarvis Mason of Philadelphia bought the property.

In 1856 William and John Torrey (who had large tracts of land in Ocean County) launched their Raritan And Delaware Bay Railroad. In 1860 or 1861 their tracks reached Atsion. Atsion became their temporary southern terminal. A connecting line was run to Atco, connecting to the Camden and Atlantic Railroad (later taken over by the Pennsylvania Railroad.) (Pierce 1957:46) The Torreys operated trains from New York to Camden, via Atsion, starting in 1862. The line flourished during the Civil War as it helped to transport troops and supplies. But after the war, by 1867 the Torreys had gone bankrupt.

In 1871 Maurice Raleigh, a wealthy Philadelphian, bought Atsion. He built a cotton factory.  He was responsible for having the name of the town changed back from "Fruitland" to "Atsion."

In 1892 Joseph Wharton acquired the property.

(from the website "New Jersey Pinelands Visitor Facilities at a Glance"):

The Greek Revival mansion that Samuel Richards built in 1826 stands like a roadside sentinel at the site of the once thriving village of Atsion, formerly the location of a bog iron furnace and forge, a grist mill, three sawmills, and a massive paper mill. During the village's heyday, 100 workers at the forge produced stoves that were shipped to New York and other coastal cities, steps for the Statehouse in Trenton, and fire hydrant tops for an extension of the Philadelphia water system. Later, under the management of Joseph Wharton, this estate became a productive farm with peanuts as the specialty crop.

The state purchased Atsion and surrounding land, now part of the Wharton State Forest, in 1954.


Trails:

You can walk the site of old Atsion Village. Two booklets that contain historic information, pictures, and a map of the village--"Atsion: A Town of Four Faces" and "A Journey Through Atsion"--can be purchased at the Batsto Visitor Center (609/561-3262).

On the opposite side of Route 206 is the Atsion Recreation Center with a public beach, bath house, nature trail, and picnic area. This facility is open to the public from April 1 until October 31. .


June 11, 1994

Within the confines of the old "village" of Atsion were fine clusters of

Opuntia humifusa

Prunus maritima thickets of fruiting plants

Minuartia caroliniana extensive cushions of flowering plants

Along the abandoned railroad tracks nearby, we briefly explored a pitch pine lowland forest (including moist depressions) with a history of frequent wildfires. Here we noted in anthesis

Melampyrum lineare
Iris prismatica
Panicum mattamuskeetense (= Dichanthelium dichotomum v dichotomum)
Fimbristylis puberula
Not yet in flower were
Muhlenbergia torreyana
Crotonopsis elliptica (Rushfoil), a tiny, wiry branched plant with a silvery aspect, growing in exposed sand.


Leader: Ted Gordon.Atsion, Hampton Furnace, Wading River 9/10/55

Lygodium palmatum

Phoradendron florescens

Castanea dentata

Lycopodium carolinianum

Dionoea muscipula (introduced in 1948 from North Carolina)


PLANT LIST:

Ted Gordon (some additions by Dr. Patrick L. Cooney)


Trees:
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer rubrum v. trilobum ( trident maple)
Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut) (planted)
Ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven)
Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus marilandica (blackjack oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) (probably planted)

Shrubs:
Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepper bush) 8/02/97
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Hudsonia ericoides (golden heather) 6/02/96
Ilex glabra (inkberry)
Kalmia angustifolia (lambkill) 6/02/96
Lyonia mariana (staggerbush) 6/02/96
Opuntia humifusa (prickly pear cactus)
Prunus maritima (beach plum)
Rhus copallina (winged sumac) 8/02/97
Rubus trivialis (coastal plain dewberry)
Vaccinium corymbosum (high bush blueberry)
Vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberry)
Viburnum nudum (naked witherod viburnum) 6/02/96


Vines:
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet creeper )
Parthenocissus virginiana (Virginia creeper)
Smilax glauca (sawbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis aestivalis (summer grape)

Herbs:
Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 8/2/97
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Arenaria caroliniana (pine barrens sandwort) 6/02/96
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Centaurea maculosa (spotted knapweed) 8/02/97
Chenopodium album (pigweed)
Conyza canadensis (horseweed)
Crotonopsis elliptica (rushfoil)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) 8/02/97
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink) 8/02/97
Euphorbia nutans (eyebane spurge) 8/02/97
Froelichia gracilis (cottonweed) 8/02/97
Gentiana autumnalis
Hypochoeris radicata (cat's ear) 8/02/97
Iris prismatica ( slender blue flag) 6/02/96
Iris sp. (blue or yellow flag)
Lachnanthes tinctoria (red root)
Leiophyllum buxifolium (sand myrtle) 6/02/96
Lepidium sp. (peppergrass) 8/02/97
Melampyrum lineare (cow wheat)
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover)
Mentha spicata (spearmint) 8/02/97
Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel) 8/02/97
Plantago aristata (bracted plantain) 8/02/97
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) 8/02/97
Plantago major (common plantain)
Planthera blephariglottis 8/02/97
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (black eyed Susan) 8/02/97
Rumex acetosella (sheep sorrel)
Saponaria officinalis (bouncing bet) 8/02/97
Scutellaria integrifolia
Solanum carolinense (horse nettle) 8/02/97
Solanum nigrum (black nightshade) 8/02/97
Spiranthes vernalis 8/02/97 along Route 206
Triadenum virginicum (marsh St. Johnswort)
Trifolium arvense (rabbit foot clover) 8/02/97
Trifolium pratense (red clover) 8/02/97
Trifolium repens (white clover) 8/02/97
Verbascum blattaria (moth mullein) 8/02/97
Xanthium sp. (clotbur)

Rushes:
Juncus canadensis (Canada rush)
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Sedges:
Carex barrattii (Barratt's sedge)
Carex folliculata (sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex striata (formerly walteriana) (Walter's sedge)
Carex stricta (sedge)
Cyperus filiculmis (fern-like nutsedge)
Dulichium arundinaceum (three way sedge)
Eleocharis tenuis (spikerush)
Fimbristylis puberula (puberulent fimbristylis)
Rhynchospora torreyana (Torrey's beakrush)
Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)
Scirpus longii (Long's bulrush)

Grasses:
Amphicarpum purshii (Pursh's millet grass)
Andropogon sp. (brome grass)
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Bromus tectorum (downy chess brome grass)
Digitaria sp. (crab grass)
Eleusine indica (zipper grass)
Elytrigia repens (quack grass)
Erianthus giganteus (plume grass)
Leersia oryzoides (rice cut grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Muhlenbergia torreyana (Torrey's dropseed)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Panicum dichotomum v dichotomum (panic grass)
Panicum virgatum (switch grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern)
Woodwardia virginica (Virginia chain fern)

Others:
Cladonia rapphii
Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers)
Lecidea uliginosa (tar lichen)


Field trip report: Bartonia: Journal of the Philadelphia Botanical Club. June 2002. Pp. 159-160.