Hugh Force Park
West Central Avenue, 1/2 mile west of Main Street, Wharton, Morris County, NJ


US 80 west to exit 34A; merge into traffic; drive 0.2 of a mile and turn right onto Dewey Road; turn left onto North Main Street; cross over the Rockaway River and turn right onto Pine Street.  Drive 0.4 of a mile and at the Wharton Department of Public Works turn left and drive behind the building.  Park alongside the park or keep driving turning left and left again around the park and up to the upper parking lot.  


Once on Pine Street turn left onto West Central Avenue and then  make an immediate right into the upper parking lot of the park. 


1848 -- the New Jersey Iron Company of Boonton hires the Oram brothers to manage their local mining properties.

1858 -- Robert Oram and John Hance open a store near the canal. The place came to be known as Port Oram.

1881 -- Joseph Wharton of Philadelphia buys the port Oram furnace property. Builds a modern iron furnace complex.

1895 -- the Borough of Port Oram formed from the settlements of Port Oram, Irondale, Luxemburg, Maryville and Mount Pleasant.

1902 -- Port Oram renamed Wharton.

1977 -- in 1976 the Borough of Wharton restored a section of the canal and channeled a small stream to keep it filled with water. This is probably the best preserved stretch of canal in the county. This one-half mile piece is the most striking of publicly accessible level sections. In places the canal was cut into a rock ledge above the Rockaway River while along the hill is fine stonework.

The park is named for Hugh A. Force, municipal servant and humanitarian.


Walk to the back of the park and walk through the gate. Turn right onto the towpath.

The canal travels on the south side of the Rockaway River heading east to west (nearby are the abandoned tracks of the Central Railroad of New Jersey).

There are remains of the canal basin before it went under the old central railroad trestle just west of Lock 2 East.

You pass the site of Lock 2 East, known as Burd's Lock. Ruins of the lock tender's house are nearby.

You can return by following the abandoned tracks of the Central Railroad of New Jersey back to your starting place.

11/20/04.  Rosemary Cooney, Sarah-David Rosenbaum, dog Sonar and I parked the car behind the Public Works Department along side the park.  The triangular park is a small one and a good part of it taken up by a children's playground.  There is an historical plaque on a rock telling a bit about Hugh A. Force "A Friend to all."  Another plaque, dedicated September 18, 1976, tells the visitor that here is the area of Lock 2 east - Plane 4 East.

We walked around the fenced-in park up to the upper parking lot.  We then turned right to walk along the canal that is filled with water.  The canal is on the left with a hill beyond that.  Partly up the hill is  the railway track.  On the hill are a lot of hemlock trees and mountain laurel shrubs.  On the right down the hill is the Rockaway River.

A short walk brought us to Burd's lock and the end of the water filled part of the canal.  Just beyond the lock on the left are the remains of the lock tender's house surrounded by a fence to protect what remains.  A short distance ahead there is a large pond on the left that we investigate. 

Now we pass through a power cut area.  Down below us the ground falls away to the river. We keep going until we climb up a short hill to a raised path area that reveals a huge car junkyard in front of us.  We turn left and head toward the hill and the railway tracks.  We take the path on the left as the main path heads straight ahead. 

We reach the railway part of the path.  Some of the old railway ties have been removed while others have been left in the ground.  The area is very beautiful with the green of the evergreens.  We reach a part of the path that is blocked for about 75 yards by stacked railway ties.  We have to get off the causeway on the left to walk along the short path to get past the pile of railroad ties. 

Back on the path we soon are searching for a way off the causeway down to the Hugh A. Force Park.  The slope is pretty steep.  But we keep walking and the slope becomes less and less steep so that it is not a problem to descend to the canal path and then to Force Park itself.  From here we walked back to the car.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.

 Dr. Patrick L. Cooney, Rosemary Cooney, Sarah-David Rosenbaum
* = blooming on date of field trip, 11/20/04

Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)  lots of it
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Ostrya virginiana (American hop hornbeam)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Picea sp. (spruce) planted
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Populus grandidentata (big-tooth aspen)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus sp. (elm) ?

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepper bush)
Comptonia peregrina (sweetfern)
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Cornus sericea (red osier dogwood) ?
Decodon verticillatus (yellow loosestrife)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Forsythia sp. (golden bells) *
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Rhododendron periclymenoides (pink azalea)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) lots of it
Rosa sp. (Carolina rose) ?
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Rubus sp. (dewberry)
Salix sp. (willow)
Scutellaria lateriflora (mad-dog skullcap)
Spiraea alba var. latifolia (meadowsweet)
Staphylea trifolia (bladdernut)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)

Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet) lots of it
Dioscorea villosa (wild yam root)
Polygonum scandens (climbing bindweed))
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Arctium sp. (burdock)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Aster spp. (aster)
Centaurea maculosa (spotted knapweed) * 1 in bloom
Chelone glabra (white turtlehead)
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)
Coronilla varia (crown vetch)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Desmodium sp. (tick trefoil)
Galium sp. (bedstraw)
Geum canadense (white avens)
Gnaphalium obtusifolium (sweet everlasting)
Hepatica americana (round-lobed hepatica)
Iris sp. (blue or yellow flag)
Leonurus cardiaca (motherwort)
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)
Melilotus sp. (sweet clover)
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain)
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Silene vulgaris (bladder campion)
Solidago spp. (goldenrod)
Stellaria media (common chickweed)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)
Trifolium spp. (clover)
Typha latifolia (broad-leaved cattail)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Verbena hastata (blue vervain)

Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)

Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Panicum virgatum (switch grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail grass)
Setaria glauca (yellow foxtail grass)
Sorghastrum nutans (Indian nut grass)

Lycopodium obscurum (ground pine)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Polypodium sp. (rockcap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)