PREAKNESS VALLEY PARK
Wayne Township, Passaic County, NJ


Directions:

US 80 to exit 55B, for Union Boulevard north, Totowa. Within a short drive turn left on Crews Road. At the stop sign, go straight which connect the driver to Totowa Road. The entrance for the Dey Mansion is on the right.


There really is not that much here in the way of "park." In fact, with almost all the area being taken up by a golf course, I said to myself, "What nerve these people have to call this place a ‘park.'" (Dr. Patrick L. Cooney)


History:

Dey Mansion: This stately Georgian manor house was built in the 1740s by Dirck Dey, whose son, Theunis, went on to become a Colonel of the Bergen County Militia during the Revolutionary War. With New York City in British hands, General George Washington chose the strategic Preakness Valley as the encampment for his army from July 1 to July 29, 1780 (and October 9 to November 27, 1780) and established his headquarters at Dey Mansion. The main army encampment was along Totowa Heights.


Acer rubrum (red maple) 4/1/00
Forsythia sp. (golden bells) 4/1/00
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Platanus sp. (Not the American because it has yellow bark)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)


PREAKNESS MOUNTAIN
May 19, 1929
the prickly pear cactus was found on thin soil covering the basalt of Preakness mountain, a mile northeast of Pine Lake. Various evidences pointed to the certainty that the ridge was once in open pasture. The red cedars were dying from the increasing shade of oaks and other hardwoods which were reestablishing themselves. Phlox subulata, which usually prefers the sun, persisted, in thin unthrifty stands in this shade. Prickly pear is not rare in northeastern NJ and the Lower Hudson Valley; I know a dozen stand of it, but it always seems strange to see a plant which one associates with the arid Southwest in our northeastern hardwood and mixed forest areas.
It is not doing well. Evidently the shade, increasing yearly since the last cutting, or since the ridge was in pasture, is gradually killing it out. Its tenure in this locality seems likely to be short. P. 77

Raymond Torrey


FRANKLIN NOTCH
September 21, 1930

The excursion to Franklin Notch, in the Preakness Mountain region northwest of Paterson, NJ, Sunday, Sept 21, which was scheduled for the study of agaric fungi, under the leadership of Dr. William S. Thomas, was altered, owing to the enforce absence of Dr. Thomas in Europe, to a general one on fall flowers, although one or two mushroom addicts found plenty to interest them . . . Ten were present.

The most unusual plant seen was Pedicularia lanceolata, the Swamp Lousewort, in the meadows along Barbour's Brook. It is quite different from P canadensis, the common woodland species blooming in the spring; with stiff upright stems, one to three feet high, and much larger flowers than the spring species. A large colony of Spiranthes cernua was seen in this swamp, with Lobelia siphilitica, Bidens cernua, Sanquisorba canadensis (still in bloom), and Gerardia purpurea. Spiranthes gracilis was found in a dryer situation.

In the Notch, the interesting flora maintains its numbers with large mass of blue cohosh, Caulophyllum, in plentiful fruit; Clematis verticillaris; one of the few places where it is still found within 30 miles of New York; large stand s of the Upland Lady fern -- some of the fronds over three and a half feet long, exceeding the Cinnamon Fern near by -- Allium tricocccum, the Wild Leek, whose black, shot-like seeds were striking at the season; Wild Ginger, Herb Robert, and plentiful Maidenhair and Ebony Spleenwort. Cardinal Flower was still in bloom in the wet spot at the sound end of the Notch.

On the old road west of High Mountain, The Golden Saxifrage, Chrysosplenium americanum, was a plant rather rare in the near environs of the metropolitan district. Cancer Root, Conopholis americana, was another interesting find.

Raymond H. Torrey