Hopatcong’s Long Lost Past

Most of Hopatcong’s residents have lived here for years, but how many recognize how much this town has changed and how much it has endured? The only clues are the ruins of old buildings that still suggest Hopatcong’s inherent beauty.

The Borough of Hopatcong now encompasses the western shore of Lake Hopatcong, as well as lands to the west, including Bear Pond. The history of the Borough of Hopatcong parallels the history of the Lake— from its emergence as a great hotel resort, to its evolution into a summer community similar to the Jersey shore, and to its eventual transformation into an all-year-round community.

From the time the Lenape tribe first discovered the waters of Lake Hopatcong, about 12,000 years ago, it has been a special place. A deep spring-fed lake formed by glaciers, Hopatcong was the perfect setting for a Native American community. Its forested shores, supported plentiful game while the water provided abundant amounts of fish.

The Lenape people dugout canoes and were the first to glide on the waters of the lake. The next boat to be placed on the waters was the power pleasure craft (steamboats) that went a remarkable speed of 8-10 mph; these were introduced in the 1890’s, wowing the spectators! The body of water the Lenape knew was 12′ below the level of the Lake, as we know it today.

The natural Lake ran roughly from Hopatcong State Park to just north of Nolan’s Point and was known as Great Pond or Brooklyn Pond. From there a damn built by Garret Rapalje in 1750, connected it to a smaller body of water, known as Little Pond, located in the area we know today as Woodport or Lake Forest. The Brooklyn Forge located at the head of the Musconetcong Creek at the uppermost falls near the mouth of Lake Hopatcong, operated for 30 years, raising the lake level by 6’. In following years, dams and dredging amplified the Lake to its current size. Even at its original size, Great Pond would be the largest Lake in the State of New Jersey.

As the western shore of Lake Hopatcong began to develop, landowners believed they were not receiving sufficient attention and resources from Byram Township. On April 2, 1898, the New Jersey Legislature approved the formation of the Borough of Brooklyn. With a voting population of 43, the Borough of Brooklyn held its first elections on May 4, 1898.

The newly formed Borough stretched from the Musconetcong River—in what is today Hopatcong State Park, to the southern shore of Byram Cove. This left the areas of Byram Cove and Northwood, as well as significant lands to the west (including Bear Pond), still in Byram Township. As these locales began to develop, their residents wished to join Hopatcong, which shared interests.

In 1922, the local population of these areas voted to join Hopatcong and the Borough grew to the wonderful borders we know today.     

NOTE: Future Hopatcong Historical Articles Coming Soon!


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