From Far and Wide
People from around the Garden State and from as far away as Philadelphia annually venture to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey to take in the wondrous color that lines the Mullica River, a waterway seemingly untouched by modern man. Frequent Atlantic City tourists venture 10 miles out of their way to witness God’s beauty that surrounds the Mullica River in Atlantic and Burlington counties. The moderate Southern Jersey climate combines with sandy soils and deep underground aquifers to create wonderful collections of orange, yellow, purplish-red and red leaves each year.
Start in Port Republic
The 30-mile Mullica River Fall Foliage Tour begins on Clark’s Landing Road in Port Republic, a community once known as Wrangleboro when it was a grist mill community founded before the Revolutionary War. Prominent citizens here gave refuge to the victims of the 1781 Battle of Chestnut Neck.
Drive west on Clark’s Landing Road’s tree-lined winding corners and rolling hills to continue the Mullica River Fall Foliage Tour. Turn right on Route 563 and follow through Weekstown, a community named after the family that began area shipbuilding in the 1700s.
Joseph Mulliiner: Land Pirate
At the far end of Weekstown, rurn right toward Sweetwater and head toward Pleasant Mills, a 17th century mill community. Along the way, look to your left for the grave of Joseph Mulliner, a land pirate who was convicted, hung and buried at High Bank in 1781.
On the right you pass the graveyard of St. Mary’s in The Pines, the cemetery for a 19th century church. It’s where Joseph Fralinger, who created the world-famous Atlantic City saltwater taffy, is buried.
Batso Church and Village
At the end of the road is 1808 Batsto Church which was built near the original worship site for Batsto, Pleasantville Mills and Gripps Mill residents. The church’s graveyard contains the remains of the movers and shakers of 18th Century Pine Barrens high society.
Turn right at the church to continue the Mullica River Fall Foliage Tour. Drive east along Route 542. Soon you will pass Batsto Village, a 18th Century mill town where many of the original buildings remain and are open to the public. Stop in and see the owner’s mansion which dates to 1766. Walk the village’s main street to see workers’ homes, the wood mill or the village dam.
Movie Stars and Ghost Towns
Continue east along Route 542 and you’ll trace the Mullica River as you pass by Crowley’s Landing, the area where the first Mason jars were manufactured. You’ll pass through the former town of Herman City which thrived immediately before the financial Panic of 1873 before it collapsed also.
Stay east and you will pass through Green Bank, home of the locally-famous Green Bank Inn and nationally famous Kathleen Crowley. She starred alongside Robert Redford in the 1969 hit movie “Downhill Racer.”
Lower Bank’s Beautiful Homes
Further down Route 542, you’ll drive past the Lower Bank Tavern. Be sure to stop in and sample their chicken wings. Head south for about two miles down on Route 562 and drive past beautifully maintained 18th century homes. Lower Bank is also where Swedish settler Eric Mullica built his first farm in the 1600s.
Turn around and continue east along Route 542 to continue your Mullica River Fall Foliage Tour and you’ll continue to drive through tree-lined country roads. You’ll pass through the town of Wading River on the way to New Gretna. Checkout the Allen’s Clam Bar for great food in New Gretna.
At New Gretna, turn South on Route 9, cross the Mullica River and you’ll be in Port Republic again.