David Banks Sickels (1837-1918) was a Civil War Correspondent, Fiscal Agent for the State of Arkansas, a Diplomatic Representative of Siam and Acting Consul of The Netherlands. With Lyman W. Griggs he founded the American Surety Company and upon his retirement, focused on literary work. He authored a prolific amount of poems, many of which were published in “Leaves of the Lotos” and “Flowers from the Wayside”.
He authored this poem entitled ‘Idylease’ in 1909 while a guest of the hotel.
We love to hear the wild birds greet At morn their comrades in the trees And feel the heart of nature beat With Joyous throbs at Idylease
To gaze upon the pine-crowned hill, And watch the streamlets downward flow, From foaming falls and roaming rills. Along the steeps of Ramapo.
To linger mid the shady scenes Where rest Invites the weary mind, And evil never Intervenes, For thoughts are pure and unconfined.
To lie upon the dewless grass And view above the radiant sky. Then count the fleecy clouds that pass Like scenes before the dreamer’s eye.
To mark the parent bird’s delight, As nestlings plume their eager wings, Intent upon their infant flight In quest of more etherial things,
To muse o’er rocks and running rills, And trace Pequannock’s whirls and bounds, Whose liquid laughter In the hills Fills all the air with soothing sounds.
To walk the woods alone with God As Enoch did. unseen awhile. And know the paths our feet have trod Were lighted by his loving smile.
Of all the attractions and that have existed in West Milford, few were more beloved than Fairly Tale Forest in Oak Ridge, NJ. Whether a class trip or family outing to the park, it was a long awaited and much anticipated event for generations of children. For many years you could spot Fairy Tale Forest Bumper Stickers on Highways all around the Tri-State Area.
The story of Fairy Tale Forest began in 1955 when Paul Woehle, Sr., a German immigrant, built Fairy Tale Forest. The cottages were all designed and made by Woehle and his two sons. There were kiddie rides, magic shows, story-telling, and roaming costumed characters. In addition, there was a gift/candy shop and snack bar in the main building.
A winding path led guests through the woods, and along the way they were able to glimpse key moments from the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. More than 20 cottages sat nestled in the trees, their interiors depicting tableaus from the most famous children’s stories. Woehle completed his project in two years, and it opened to the public in 1957.
In winter, the forest was decorated to bursting with lights, transforming it into a winter wonderland the likes of which can nowadays rarely be found outside of story books. Those visiting the forest in winter could expect to be greeted by Frosty the Snowman and a cup of hot chocolate. Santa Claus awaited eager youngsters in his Christmas House, and gently interrogated each for his or her Christmas wishes
In many ways the 1950s and 1960s were golden years at the park, and it was filled with locals, summer residents and folks visiting for the day. Fairy Tale Forest was a favorite spot for school, business and church outings. The park seemed to fill a perfect niche at Oak Ridge .
But America was changing and by the 1970s, Fairy Tale Forest was feeling the competition from larger parks as well as the slowing of the baby boom. Other parks had already succumbed –Jungle Habitat closed in 1976 and Acton Park appeared with it’s Alpine Slide and Water Park. Visitors began to feel that the attraction was becoming dated and in 2003 the dwindling visitors eventually forced the park to close.
In 1993, pop star Mariah Carey utilized the park as a location for the music video, ”All I Want for Christmas Is You”. Outdoor scenes were shot at the Fairy Tale Forest, where Carey’s then-husband Tommy Mottola made a cameo appearance as Santa Claus
Today, there is talk that in a dark patch of woods scattered with bits of decomposing nostalgia. Against what seems like all odds, Fairytale Forest may be reborn in 2016, with the grounds once again helmed by a member of the founding family. Those who remember Fairytale Forest as it was may bring have the opportunity to bring their own children to experience the wonder found in that patch of woods in Oak Ridge, New Jersey.
The New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway, also known as the Susie-Q, or simply the Susquehanna, was formed in 1881 from the merger of several smaller railroads. Passenger service, including commuter service from Northern New Jersey to New York City, was offered until 1966.
In 1871, the New Jersey Midland Railway, predecessor of the New York, Susquehanna & Western , began constructing a rail line between Newfoundland, NJ and Hackensack NJ. The line was part of a plan to connect with the New York & Oswego Midland (later New York, Ontario & Western) in Middletown, NY and provide rail service from the Great Lakes to New York Harbor.
The Susie-Q has had a very interesting past in its 125+ year history. The New York, Susquehanna & Western officially began as a culmination of six small railroads that had been hit hard by the Financial Panic of 1873; the Midland Connecting Railway, New Jersey Midland Railway, Northern Jersey Railway, Paterson Extension Railway, Pennsylvania Midland Railway, and the Water Gap Railroad. These companies dated as far back as the Hoboken, Ridgefield & Paterson Railroad of 1866 and were quite small, serving primarily the region around and just west of New York City in New Jersey and extreme eastern Pennsylvania. The new railroad was to be called the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad Company, founded in the summer of 1881 as a means of handling coal from eastern Pennsylvania to New York City.
At the peak of the once thriving tourism industry in Newfoundland, passengers could board a ferry at Debrosses Street in New York City and catch a train from Hackensack to Newfoundland to escape the confines of the urban overpopulation of the city. Guests utilized the Susquehanna to frequent to travel to the many resorts that adorned the Newfoundland area. Destinations such as Brown’s Hotel, Idylease and the Green Pond Hotel catered to the burgeoning tourists that flocked to the area for its scenic beauty and heathly climate. The 1920’s also marked the height of passenger service provided by the NYS&W at the Newfoundland Station. Thirteen passenger trains in each direction stopped at Newfoundland Station on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the Great depression struck in October 1929 and lasted well into the late 1930’s and the growth slowed dramatically. In 1937, the NYS&W declared bankruptcy and shortly thereafter was spun off from its parent, the Erie Railroad, which had controlled it since 1898. Also, the mass production of the automobile in the 1930s rendered the railroad someone obsolete with more distant locales such as the Poconos and the Adirondack more desirable to travel by car. Passenger service ceased completely by 1966.
In 1973, a ten mile section of unused New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad trackage running between Newfoundland and Beaver Lake, New Jersey was leased for an excursion train ride that advertised itself as the great train robbery. (Actors portraying Jesse and Frank James boarded the train from horseback and demanded fake money to give the two masked robbers). The excursion remained successful for a number of years. However, on December 14, 1980 the last two runs from Newfoundland left the station and returned for the final time. The closure was caused by a decline in visitors in the late 1970s, mostly due to national economic declines and the gas shortage, in addition to increasing costs and major repairs necessary to keep the steam locomotives operating.
In 2003, The Station Agent an American comedy-drama film written and directed by Tom McCarthy. Was filmed along the former tracks of the Susquehanna in Newfoundland. It stared Peter Dinklage as a man who seeks solitude in an abandoned train station in the Newfoundland.
Today, the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway serves as a freight line with 85 customers and has a diverse traffic base ranging from lumber/building materials, plastics, paper and chemicals to aggregates and food grade products. The railroad also offers the option of bulk transfer facilities. It is now larger, hauls more tonnage, and is more profitable than it ever was at any point in its more than 130 year history.