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One of the oldest state parks in New Jersey, Washington Rock was originally purchased in 1913 to commemorate the historical events of 1777. Situated on top of Watchung Mountain in Green Brook Township, the park is best known for its scenic vista and historical significance. The park is a popular site for picnicking and relaxing.
Green Brook Township
Open to the Public
Open to Investigations
Open for Public Contact
The strategic location of Washington Rock made it a valuable lookout point during the American Revolution for General George Washington in June of 1777 when the British army under General William Howe was moving toward Westfield. From the vantage point of this natural rock outcropping, General Washington had a thirty-mile panoramic view of the valley and was able to instruct his troops to circle behind Howe’s troops and cut off their retreat. We can never know whether General Washington actually stood on Washington Rock, although the tradition is an ancient one and most likely true. In 1897 George W. Fitz-Randolph, a descendant of the Vail family, wrote that: "In the year 1777 or '78 Washington, with 6,000 men was encamped on the Ridge at Middlebrook near and west of Bound Brook. The British army were encamped at New Brunswick, Rahway and Perth Amboy, making incursions into the surrounding country. Doubtless with an intent of guarding against a serious incursion or surprise, Washington was on his way to the top of the mountain back of Green Brook. Be that as it may, he, with an aide-de-camp, mounted, rode in the gateway and up to a group of men standing between the house and the barn on the farm, now known as the Jonah Vail farm. Washington said: 'Can any of you gentlemen guide me to some spot on the mountains from whence a good view of the plain below can be obtained?' Edward Fitz-Randolph, one of the group, said: 'I know of the best point on the mountains for that purpose' and added that, if he had his horse, he would take him to it. Thereupon the General requested his aide to dismount and await his return. Fitz-Randolph, mounted upon the aide's horse, piloted the General to the Rock, which to-day bears the historic name of 'Washington's Rock.' I have given the above nearly word for word, as given to me by Ephraim Vail, who died a few years since aged 90 and over, on the farm where he was born and raised. Josiah Vail gave me the same version of the incident; indeed any of the old residents of Green Brook would corroborate the same, were they alive. All these Vails were Quakers, owning adjoining farms, and their word is ... reliable ...." Dr. Philip Rakin, who married Sarah Vail, noted that in 1830 he met with Edward Fitz-Randolph shortly before he died and Edward confirmed the story. Looking through his glass, Washington was said to have rejoiced "at finally watching the British fleet of 270 transports leave Amboy bay heading to sea and leaving Jersey forever". Many incidents occurred on the plains below and within a radius of ten miles between January 5, 1777 and the end of June that year that were well worth watching. In fact, there were almost daily skirmishes, including the encounter at Spanktown (Rahway) on Jan. 5 and the one at the Millstone River on the 20th. On Feb. 1 and 20th, April 23d and May 10th there was fighting near Amboy and Piscataway. There were engagements at the confluence of the streams forming the Rahway River and on the roads from Elizabeth to Morristown near Springfield as well as at Scotch Plains and the Short Hills. "From the 15th to the 27th of June, Gen. Howe and his officers," wrote the Central N.J. Times in its Centennial issue, July 13, l876, "by marching and countermarching, feints and circuitous movements attempted to draw Washington from these heights, but to no purpose."
The Devil has supposedly appeared to visitors both at the park and through dreams after visiting the park. There have also been reported sightings of the New Jersey Devil at the park as well, further compounding the reports of paranormal activity there.
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