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Springer's Brook

Not far from Route 206, a sandy road called East Stokes Road intersects Hampton Road. A few more interesting sites are to be found along Springer's Brook in this area, including a CNJ timber trestle bridge and a now depleted iron-ore pond.

February 28, 2009

The former CNJ railroad tracks run a straight line through the Wharton Tract, crossing a number of streams. Not far from where East Stokes Road crosses Hampton Road, the CNJ tracks cross the road. A few hundred yards north along the tracks lies another small trestle bridge, this one crossing Springer's Brook.

USGS Topographical Map.

Many of the smaller bridges along the former CNJ mainline are hard to spot from the satellite maps, but they are easier to identify with USGS topographical maps such as this one from ACME Mapper.

The former CNJ tracks cross East Stokes Road less than half a mile from Hampton Road and about 1.7 miles from Route 206.
CNJ Bridge 77 is smaller and shorter than the Batso River Bridge at Rider's Switch. Much more rot is present on the structure.
CNJ Bridge 77 crossing Springer's Brook.
A better shot from the opposite bank.
Trains will never again rumble through the Pine Barrens.

March 22, 2009

SSpringer's Brook is one of numerous streams and tributaries that feed the Batsto River. Many of these streams provided bog iron for the primitive blast furnaces and forges up until the 1860s. Although many of the ore beds in Pine Barrens lakes and streams were depleted by mining activity, the process of iron formation goes on. One such area is an old iron ore pond located between Springer's Brook and Deep Run. This particular area probably provided bog iron for the furnace at Batsto.

This Google Earth image shows the proximity of Springer's Brook and Deep Run to the iron ore pond. Note the intense redddish color.

Getting to this strange place in the Pine Barrens was far from easy. The access road leading in from East Stokes Road, was narrow and sandy, weaving between the pine trees. The road practically ended right at Springer's Brook and the only way across was by boat, hip waders or fallen tree. Lacking the first two, I chose the fallen tree. It was stable enough to walk on, but beyond the tree lay a thicket of briars! I made it past the briars and entered a stand of cedar trees about 100 yards away. I wore waterproof boots to get the shots inside the shallow pond, but I stayed on the dead grass clumps to avoid sinking too deep in the soft, orange mud. The one thing that struck me was the total isolation of this place.

The most convenient and only dry crossing of Springer's Brook was this fallen tree.
The bright orange mud indicates high iron content.
This view looks toward the southern end of the ore pond.
This is further above where I entered the pond. High grass and mosquitos would make it much more difficult to traverse in summer.
Even the pitcher plants are red and orange.
The outflow at the lower end of the pond feeds back into Springer's Brook.
The total isolation of this amazing place is apparent.

March 27, 2009

An evening return trip to the ore pond at Springer's Brook was in order. I was curious as to how far up the pond went. It seemed the further up I went the deeper and muckier the bright orange mud became. There were few places I could walk where I was not sinking to the top of my boot. Details of the bog-slogging aside, there are some fascinating bacterial and chemical processes going on in this pond.

The orange flocculent material in the water covers everything. This is iron oxide formed by colonies of bacterium Leptothrix Ochracea. It is this bacterium, and others that are similar, that oxidizes the iron present in the water and causes these large orange colored flocs. This oxidation is believed to be involved in the formation of bog iron. The iridescent oily film on the water is another sure sign of bog iron formation. There were numerous patches of varying sizes everywhere in the pond.

The iridescent oily film is caused by the bacterium Leptothrix Ochracea.
These oily patches were everywhere in the ore pond.
Navigating through this was like walking through a minefield. One wrong step...
More oily patches. The black areas are thick mats of decaying plant matter and micro-organisms.
No pollution here, just natural processes at work.
These brilliant colors were not in any way enhanced by the camera. This is bog iron in the making.
The water is deeper at the upper end. The orange floc covers everything.
This cord road at a narrow point in the swamp was probably laid by workers removing bog iron back in the early 1800s.
The upper middle section of the ore pond. This is a truly inhospitable and isolated place.