More than a century before this area of Vernon, N.J., became part of Wawayanda State Park, a small village existed here built around the ironworks. William Ames built the furnace which is the lone standing structure remaining from the Wawayanda Ironworks. It was built in 1846 and was in operation until 1867.
Iron ore, mined in the surrounding area was fed into the furnace and was formed into bars which were called iron pigs. The pigs were used to create various products. A nearby pond was dammed to produce the water power to run the operation. In 1860, 75 men were employed here and more than 1,000 tons of pig iron were produced at the site.
At its height, Wawayanda Village included workers housing, a blacksmith and carpenters shop and a company office and store. There was also a sawmill and a grist mill. The foundations for some of the village buildings still exist.
The area became part of Wawayanda State Park which was created in 1963. It covers 34,000+ acres in Vernon and West Milford, N.J. The park has extensive hiking trails, including the popular “Stairway to Heaven” that goes up 1,300-foot Wawayanda Mountain and overlooks Wawayanda Lake where there is a beach and boating dock. A 20 mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail goes through Wawayanda State Park.