SPEEDWELL HISTORIC VILLAGE
Morristown, Morris County, NJ
From the northwest corn of Morristown, drive to 333 Speedwell Avenue (Route 202).
Jacob Arnold established ironworks here during the American Revolution. In the early 1800s, Stephen Vail took them over and created the Speedwell Iron Works. The remains of the iron furnace are not far from Speedwell Village in a park just off of Route 202 (Speedwell Avenue).
There are a number of buildings available for touring. One of these is the Vail House. Here are portraits of Stephen Vail and his wife, Bethiah, commissioned from Robert Morse, in order to assist the financially strapped inventor. Don't miss the painted Hitchcock chairs made in Riverton, Connecticut. The daughters of the house were sent to school at the Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
In the factory, originally designed for cotton weaving, is the room in which the telegraph was first successfully demonstrated. Its walls still contain the nails used to string two miles of wire. Exhibits trace the development of the telegraph over time. The blue historical signs says:
Alfred Vail and Samuel F. B. Morse demonstrated the telegraph in this building, 1837-1838. It was designated a National Historic Lanark in 1975. In 1830 a second story was added to the building for cotton looms. In 1850 a grist mill was set up using the first floor and basement. The second floor became vacant and Stephen Vail let his son Alfred and Morse work on the telegraph on the second floor here.
Also on the grounds is the Ford Cottage. Built in the early 1800s by Gabriel Ford, Jr., grandson of Colonel Jacob Ford, Sr. It once stood near the Ford mansion.
The Speedwell foundry was best known for its early steam engines. The company made the main drive shaft for the SS Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic.
Across the street is Speedwell Park and the Patriot's Park.