Somerset Hills

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The Somerset Hills is the northern region of Somerset County, New Jersey including the townships of Bedminster, Bernards Township, Bernardsville, Far Hills boro, and Peapack & Gladstone.

The Somerset Hills is known as the northern region of Somerset County located in the U.S. state of New Jersey and includes the townships of Bedminster, Bernardsville, Bernards Township, Far Hills, Peapack & Gladstone. The term was coined in the early 1800s and references the 2nd Watchung Mountain which crosses Bedminster as well as the Bernardsville Mountain that is the highest mountain in the region.[1] The Somerset Hills is in the northern section of Somerset County that was created on May 14, 1688, from portions of Middlesex County.[2] There are also hills in Somerset in England. Many of these hills are important historical, archaeological and nature conservation sites, as well as popular hiking and tourist destinations in the county of Somerset in southern England.

Geography[edit]

The high point in the Somerset Hills is on Mine Mountain in Bernardsville, at approximately 860 feet (260 m) above sea level.[3]

Adjacent municipalities[edit]

Somerset Hills contains the following townships/boroughs:

Adjacent counties[edit]

Somerset County borders the following counties:[4]

Climate and weather[edit]

In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Somerville have ranged from a low of 18 °F (−8 °C) in January to a high of 85 °F (29 °C) in July, although a record low of −16 °F (−27 °C) was recorded in January 1984 and a record high of 105 °F (41 °C) was recorded in August 1955. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 2.84 inches (72 mm) in February to 4.83 inches (123 mm) in July. The county has a humid continental climate which is hot-summer (Dfa) except on Mine Mountain west of Bernardsville where it is warm-summer (Dfb).

History[edit]

Somerset Hills region of New Jersey 1850
This is a remake of the Somerset County map of 1850 showing what the Somerset Hills would have looked like in 1850.

The Somerset Hills is the northern section of Somerset County, New Jersey and is part of one of America's oldest counties and is named after the English county of Somerset. Most of the early residents were Dutch, Scottish and German. General George Washington and his troops marched through the area on several occasions and slept in many of the homes located throughout the area.

For much of its history, the Somerset Hills area was primarily an agricultural county. In the late 19th century, the Somerset Hills area became a popular country home location for wealthy industrialists. The area is still the home of wealthy pharmaceutical industrialists.[5]

In the 1960s, townships that were once exclusively agricultural were quickly transformed into suburban communities. This growth was aided by the development of the county's very strong pharmaceutical and technology presence. More recently, there has been an influx of New York City commuters who use NJ Transit's Gladstone Branch or use Interstate 78.

Historic events[edit]

Widow White's Tavern capture of General Charles Lee
Drawing of the capture of General Charles Lee at the Widow White's Tavern in Basking Ridge, New Jersey on December 13, 1776

The Somerset Hills played host to a number of events that changed the course of history in the United States. The area hosted three winter encampments for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The first was in 1776 in nearby Bernardsville and Morristown, and the other two were winter encampments in nearby Middlebrook. During the winter of 1778-1779 General Henry Knox and over 1000 artillery troops spent the winter in Pluckemin, New Jersey at what is now known as America's First Military Academy[6], created 28 years before the founding of the US Military Academy at West Point. Another notable events was the capture of General Charles Lee at the Widow White's tavern in Basking Ridge on December 13, 1776. If it were not for this capture, Lee might have been selected the "father of our country."

In 1779, General Washington wrote General William Alexander, the Earl of Stirling to construct a series of signal beacons to warn the continental army if there was detected movement of the British troops moving west from New York City and Staten Island. This chain of beacons proved effective during the battle of Springfield. These Rev War beacons were remembered during the 225th anniversary of the British Evacuation day on November 25, 2008.

Historic landmarks[edit]

John Lillie drawing of the Pluckemin Cantonment 1779
The Pluckemin Cantonment was built by the artillery forces for General Henry Knox during the winter of 1778-1779 in the village of Pluckemin (Bedminster, New Jersey). The drawing is referred to the John Lillie drawing and is in possession of the National Park Service in Morristown, New Jersey

The northern section of Somerset County in the Somerset Hills is rich in history dating back prior to the Revolutionary War.

Parks and recreation[edit]

Somerset County parks include Lord Stirling Park (part of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge), the Environmental Education Commission and the region is one of the largest equestrian areas in the United States. Home to the United States Equestrian Team Foundation next to the Hamilton Farm Golf Club, the area has one of the oldest fox hunting organizations, the Essex Hunt Club in Peapack, New Jersey.

Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster is an exclusive golf club owned by Donald Trump.[7] The facility has also served as the 45th President's Summer Whitehouse[8]. Two other golf clubs are the Somerset Hills Country Club in Bernardsville, and Fiddlers Elbow Country Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The United States Golfing Association (USGA) and museum is also located in Bernards Township, New Jersey.

One of the largest equestrian events in the United States is the Far Hills Race Meeting held annually in Far Hills, New Jersey. Known also as "The Hunt" it is one of the most prestigious steeplechase races in the United States. It is also one of the largest events in the county as the borough grows to over 25,000 (5th largest city in New Jersey) [9]on the October Saturday. In 2020, the FHRM will celebrate its 100th running.

Government[edit]

The Somerset Hills Region of Northern Somerset County, New Jersey

While part of Somerset County, each of the Somerset Hills townships are governed by their own separate government bodies. However, there are a number of shared government services that are shared between townships in the Somerset Hills. Somerset County is governed by a five-member Board of Chosen Freeholders, whose members are elected at-large to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with one or two seats coming up for election each year.

Businesses[edit]

With access to routes 287 and 78, NJT rails service via the Gladstone Line, the area has shown a viable rural employment area. Companies that call the Somerset Hills home include:

  • Bernards Township
  • Bedminster
    • AT&T
    • Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals
  • Peapack/Gladstone
    • Pfizer Pharma
    • Matheny Medical & Educational Center

Education[edit]

Townships within the Somerset Hills are overseen by individual public schools for elementary thru middle school. The Somerset Hills area is home to two public high schools:

Private education facilities:

Municipalities[edit]

Municipalities in the Somerset Hills (with 2010 Census data for population, housing units and area) are listed below.[11]

Municipality Mun.
type
Pop. Housing
Units
Total
Area
Water
Area
Land
Area
Pop.
Density
Housing
Density
School
District
Communities[12]
Bedminster
Township
Township 8,165 4,349 26.30 0.22 26.08 313.1 166.8 Somerset Hills (9-12) (S/R)
Bedminster Township (PK-8)
Lamington

Larger Cross

Lesser Cross
Pluckemin
Pottersville

Bernards
Township
Township 26,652 10,103 24.06 0.13 23.93 1,113.6 422.1 Bernards Township Basking Ridge

Franklin Corners
Liberty Corner
Lyons

Madisonville

W. Millington

Bernardsville Borough 7,707 2,871 12.98 0.08 12.91 597.2 222.5 Somerset Hills
Far Hills Borough 919 418 4.88 0.08 4.80 191.6 87.1 Somerset Hills
Peapack-Gladstone Borough 2,582 949 5.85 0.04 5.81 444.5 163.4 Somerset Hills Gladstone

Transportation[edit]

Roads and highways[edit]

The Somerset Hills area is served by a number of different routes. U.S. Routes include U.S. Route 202 and U.S. Route 206. The two Interstates that pass through are Interstate 78 and Interstate 287.

Public transportation[edit]

Bernardsville station

NJ Transit provides train service on the Gladstone Branch [13] Public bus transportation is provided by several transit agencies.[14]

NJ Transit provides bus service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, as well as service to major cities in New Jersey and within Somerset County.[15] Ridewise provides three SCOOT shuttles[16] as well as DASH buses and CAT buses.[17][18]

Airports[edit]

There three closest airports are the Somerset Airport (small plane) in Bedminster, Morristown Airport (Mid) and Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey

Attractions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Second Watchung Mountain". Topozone.
  2. ^ Snyder, John P. The Story of New Jersey's Civil Boundaries: 1606-1968, Bureau of Geology and Topography; Trenton, New Jersey; 1969. p. 221. Accessed October 30, 2012.
  3. ^ New Jersey County High Points, Peakbagger.com. Accessed October 1, 2013.
  4. ^ Areas touching Somerset County, MapIt. Accessed January 19, 2015.
  5. ^ Clemence, Sara. "Home of the Week: Peapack Palace", Forbes, March 14, 2005. Accessed May 22, 2008. "It was once the country home of some of the 19th century's wealthiest families, and modern-day residents now include pharmaceuticals and chemicals barons."
  6. ^ Betz, Brooks. "America's First Military Academy". Mr. Local History project.
  7. ^ Welcome, Trump National Golf Club. Accessed October 6, 2013. "Greetings from Donald J. Trump: When I saw this beautiful piece of property in Bedminster, New Jersey, I knew that it deserved only the best."
  8. ^ "Trump's Summer White House in Bedminster, New Jersey". Mr. Local History Project.
  9. ^ "Far Hills Race Meeting History". Mr. Local History Project.
  10. ^ History, Somerset Hills Learning Institute. Accessed October 29, 2017.
  11. ^ GCT-PH1: Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County -- County Subdivision and Place from the 2010 Census Summary File 1 for Somerset County, New Jersey, United States Census Bureau. Accessed May 14, 2015.
  12. ^ Locality Search, State of New Jersey. Accessed May 11, 2015.
  13. ^ Gladstone Branch Raritan Valley Line, NJ Transit. Accessed October 6, 2013.
  14. ^ Transportation Services Archived August 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Somerset County, New Jersey. Accessed October 1, 2013.
  15. ^ Somerset County Bus / Rail Connections, NJ Transit, backed up by the Internet Archive as of May 22, 2009. Accessed October 6, 2013.
  16. ^ Scoot, Ridewise. Accessed October 1, 2013.
  17. ^ DASH, Ridewise. Accessed October 1, 2013.
  18. ^ CAT, Ridewise. Accessed January 19, 2015.

External links[edit]