GREAT FALLS PARK

Paterson, Passaic County, NJ

119 acres, just three blocks from downtown Paterson


Directions:

Route 80 east and west; take exit 57B from either direction and follow street map to falls.  


Geology:

The Great Falls/S.U.M. District of Paterson is dominated by the Great Falls of the Passaic River with its 77 foot high, 280 foot wide cascading waterfall.  


History:

Dutch missionaries to the jersey in 1678 marveled over the 70-foot cascade. The Falls became a fashionable water place.

Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, was convinced that industry would add wealth, independence and security to the blossoming nation.  He sponsored an investigation of promising locations for the first planned industrial center.  Recalling the torrential waters of the Great Falls, he returned to the awesome site he first visited with General George Washington on July 10, 1778 during the Revolutionary War.  

Hamilton encouraged a group of prominent business leaders and public figures to sponsor and operate a planned industrial complex.  Incorporated in 1791 as the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.), the corporation was given many financial and governmental priviledges by the State of New Jersey.  

In 1807 Washington Irving, a frequent visitor of Cockloft Hall on the Passaic near Newark, was inspired to write a poem, "The Falls of the Passaic."

In 1827, before a gathered crowd, Sam Patch, a spinner in a Paterson cotton mill, jumped off the new Clinton Bridge at Passaic Falls. He surfaced to applause and subsequently made a career of jumping, even surviving Niagara (?). (Pepper 1965:14)

Much of the ravine that once existed here was cut away for use of the brownstone in building construction. The stone was used to built Trinity Church in Manhattan.


PLANT LIST:

Trees:
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer saccharinum (silver maple)
Carya sp. (hickory)
Celtis occidentalis (hackberry)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Ulmus sp. (elm)

Herbs:
Lemna sp. (duckweed)


Source: Glenn Scherer., 1998.  Nature Walks in New Jersey: A Guide to the Best Trails from the Highlands to Cape May. Boston, MA: Appalachian Mountain Club Books.