Pre-History - The Tappans, affiliated with the Minisinks, occupied the northern valley of the Hackensack River and its major tributaries, extending downstream to French Creek at New Bridge. The tidal lowlands to the south were occupied by the Hackensacks and Sanhicans. The Hackensacks were closely related to the natives of Long Island and had their winter hunt there. In 1676, the Hackensacks guarded their northern boundary at New Bridge with a palisades plantation, described as an "Indian Castle." The clay flat on the west bank of the river at New Bridge was known as Tantaqua's Plain, inhabited by Tantaqua, a Hackensack elder or sachem, and his kin. Artifacts found at New Bridge are on display at the Steuben House.
1) Steuben House. ? Jan and Annetje (Ackerman) Zabriskie prospered as miller and merchant at this site. They built a five-room stone cottage in 1752 and enlarged to present size in 1767. Described in 1784 as a "Large Mansion House containing twelve rooms built with stone, with Outhouses consisting of a Bake House, Smoke House, Coach House, and two large Barns, and a Garden, Forty Acres of Land consisting of Meadow Land and two Orchards." The State of NJ presented the confiscated war-damaged house to Major-General Baron von Steuben in 1783. Steuben's aide-de-camp, Capt. Benjamin Walker resided here, while Steuben made regular visits and summer retreats from his Manhattan lodgings. He sold it back to the Zabriskies in 1788. Owned by State of NJ.
2) New Bridge. ? A "New Bridge" with sliding draw was built here in 1744. Eye-witness Thomas Paine described this small bridge as "our first objective" in the American retreat from Fort Lee on November 20, 1776, memorializing the darkest hour in the hopes for American independence as the "times that try men's souls." The crossing saw much activity during the war because it is the narrows of the river above Newark Bay. The present Pratt-type Low Truss Swing Bridge opened February 2, 1889. Closed to automobile traffic in 1956. Listed on NJ and National Registers by BCHS as the oldest highway swing-bridge in State.
3) New Bridge Landing. ? A narrow mill landing, built of log cribbing in 1744, could accommodate sloops 40-ton burden. Iron was brought here from Ringwood and Long Pond for transshipment. Farmers from the surrounding area shipped produce to city markets and in turn purchased goods at the Zabriskies' store. Grain was ground at the mill.
4) Zabriskie Tide Mill. ? Johannes Ackerman resided near the present intersection of Main & Elizabeth St. - about 2 blocks west. He built a grist-mill, 40 ft by 20 ft, containing two pairs of grinding stones in 1714 at the outlet of Cole's Brook. Jan Zabriskie purchased the mill in 1745. His grandson, John J. Zabriskie, was crushed trying to free the waterwheel in 1793 and is buried in the French Burying Ground in New Milford. High tide was trapped in Cole's Brook behind a dam, creating an artificial pond twice daily to run the waterwheel during ebb tide. The date stone lozenge set in the south end of the Zabriskie-Steuben House depicts the tide-driven waterwheel. The mill burned down in 1852.
5) Demarest House Museum. ? 18th-century two-room sandstone dwelling with double front doors and distinctive spring-eave on front. Removed from original site beside French Burial Ground in New Milford in 1955-56. Displays collection of Demarest family and Bergen Dutch artifacts. Owned by Blauvelt-Demarest Foundation.
6) Campbell-Christie House. ? Jacob Campbell, a stone mason, constructed a store southeast of the intersection of River Road and the highway leading from Old Bridge to South Church, now Henley Ave., in New Milford, about the time of his marriage to Altche Westeevelt in 1774. Private Jacob Campbell served with the Bergen militia during the American Revolution. His property was damaged during the war, but tax records for 1780 list him as a merchant. After his father's death in 1793, Jacob sold to Abraham Brower. Blacksmith John D. Christie purchased the house for ?250 in 1795 and operated a tavern. When he died in 1836, he bequeathed his residence to son John J. Christie, a farmer. It next passed to Jacob Brinkerhoff Christie, manager of the Comfort Coal & Lumber Company. J. Walter Christie, born here on May 6, 1865, achieved fame as a mechanical genius and inventor. Best known as the "father of the modern tank."
To save it from demolition, the Bergen County Historical Society offered the County of Bergen a 50-year ground lease to move the Campbell-Christie House from New Milford onto its lands in 1977 on condition that BCHS not only have occupancy of the structure in keeping with its mission, but also the exclusive right to determine its use and historic restoration. The County of Bergen agreed to pay utilities & to maintain the house in sound condition.
7) Westervelt-Thomas Barn. ? Built 1889 by Peter J. Westervelt on his farm on Ridgewood Road, Washington Township. Henry Thomas purchased farm in 1906. Donated to BCHS and relocated in 1958.
8) Out-Kitchen. ? Authentic out-kitchen built by BCHS in 1990, using antique materials, replicating John R. Demarest Out-Kitchen in Demarest. Includes beehive oven and smoke room. These separate kitchen structures prevented fires from spreading and the loss of the family's residence.
9) Brett Park. ? Part of the New Bridge battleground during the American Revolution. Site of Rekow's Farm and Bensen's campgrounds. The park was named after former Teaneck Mayor Clarence Brett in 1971 and includes a variey of trees. The oldest is a Sycamore which is near the location of the house of loyalist VanBuskirk. The viewshed is protected with the inclusion of Brett Park in Historic New Bridge Landing.
10) The Meadow. ? Former auto-part yard. Land acquired by the HNBL Park Commission in 2005. The property has been completely remediated.
11) Future BCHS Museum & Library Building. ? We plan an elevated building for exhibits and safe storage of the BCHS collections.
P) Parking Lot. ? Parking for Historic New Bridge Landing.
Experience History in one of the Storied Places where it was made.