A building that goes back to the 19th century took on a new life in 1965, one fitting for such a historical structure on Lake Hopatcong. Then: The Morris Canal, which connected the Delaware and Hudson Rivers dating back to the 1830s, was a major source of commerce, the closest thing to a highway across northern New Jersey. Iron ore was brought by wagon and, eventually, railroad, from mines in Jefferson Township and loaded onto canal boats at Lake Hopatcong. Steamboats then towed the canal boats to canal lock 62, which was located in what is now Hopatcong State Park. The family that operated the canal lock lived in a home alongside the canal, and for much of the canal's existence, it was operated by the Messinger family.
Now: The Morris Canal was abandoned in 1924, and the land surrounding the lock became Hopatcong State Park. The Messinger family continued to live in the house and operate the newly constructed dam for the state until the late 1940s. After that, the home was used for park administration, and in 1965 it became the home of the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum. Many of the structure's original walls remain, and the building is now packed with historical photos, documents, and other items that celebrate and detail the rich history of the Lake Hopatcong area.
This and dozens of other "Then and Now" images and stories are available in an updated version of Lake Hopatcong: Then and Now by Marty Kane, president of the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum. Purchase that and other lake-related history books here on the museum's website. And see hundreds of photos and other historical paraphernalia at the museum, which is located in Hopatcong State Park and resumes weekend hours in the fall.