Egg Harbor Township
Egg Harbor Township administrative offices are located at 3515 Bargaintown Road, Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234; phone: 609-926-4027.
Egg Harbor Township lies in an area that is identified on the old Dutch maps as "Eyer Haven" or Egg Harbor. This was due to the presence of many sea bird eggs that were present in the area. Egg Harbor Township was originally part of Gloucester County. In the 19th Century, Gloucester County was divided into Atlantic County and Camden County. Egg Harbor Township was continually divided between the late 1700s and early 1800s. Two (2) of the most significant of these divisions occurred in the late 1700s. First, Galloway Township was created in 1774 from the northern portion of the Township. Second, Weymouth Township was formally separated from eastern Egg Harbor Township in 1798.
The major rivers have supplied fresh water and a viable integrated transportation system to humans throughout time. The Lenni Lenape Indians were the first known inhabitants of the region and used the Great Egg Harbor River as a source of transportation and for food and water. Many of the first colonial settlements in Egg Harbor Township were located along the Great Egg Harbor River. Footpaths and trails were created along the river's edge that connected these early settlements. As formal roads developed, these establishments eventually grew into small communities and towns such as Scullville and Steelmanville. As far back as 1693 ferry service was established between Job's Point and other communities in Cape May County.
Many of the other small communities located in and around the Township were named for their original landholders. "McKee City" which is located partially in Egg Harbor Township and neighboring Hamilton Township is named after Colonel McKee of Philadelphia. After the Civil War Colonel McKee purchased a large tract of undeveloped land in this area. Bargaintown is an area that has several historic legends fabricated about its name. The most interesting of these legends is that speculative land values in this area collapsed in the 18th Century and a John Ireland bought numerous lots at a "bargain," hence the name Bargaintown.
Shipbuilding was a major industry that employed many of the residents in the Township. The area had an ample supply of cedar timber and limonite ore. The elements are critical to the shipbuilding industry. The tidal waters of the tributaries of the Great Egg Harbor River provided access to the river itself and the Atlantic Ocean. Ships and shipbuilding were of such importance to the industry and well being of the area that a ship's launching was treated as a local holiday. During the Revolutionary War the New York Harbor was closed and the Delaware Bay blockaded. Because of the blockade, the Mullica and Great Egg Harbor Rivers gained prominence in the Mid-Atlantic Region. These rivers were used to transport supplies to the colonial armies. Skirmishes between the Colonists and the British forces frequently occurred along the rivers in the coastal areas of southern New Jersey.
By 1800 the shipyards in southern New Jersey towns supplied ten percent (10%) of the vessels used for commerce in the Philadelphia region. Small boat builders played an important role in the communities along the coast and major estuaries—especially the Mullica, Great Egg Harbor, Maurice and Toms Rivers. Egg Harbor Township contributed significantly to this trade at five (5) different locations. These locations included English Creek, Jeffers Landing, Clarkstown, Morris Beach, and Job's Point.
During the first half of the 1800s, numerous railroads, turnpikes, and canals were constructed. The ability to deliver goods and services to the urbanized areas in days rather than weeks changed rural life and hastened the movement of laborers into cities. By the 1860s, the railroads and turnpikes forged the majority of the transportation links to the marketplaces of New York City and Philadelphia. As part of these improvements a coastal railroad was constructed between Philadelphia and Atlantic City. Introduction of the first form of mass transit between Philadelphia and Atlantic City fueled the tourist trade and introduced a new "industry" into the regional economy.
The age of the automobile has brought successive development in the cross-state highway system. The completion of the Atlantic City Expressway and Garden State Parkway in the late 1940s and 1950s opened the "mainland" region and Egg Harbor Township to development. The extension of the Black Horse Pike across the northern portion of the Township generated development along the primary transportation corridors based primarily on seasonal traffic. During this same time period the Pomona Naval Air Station was replaced with the National Aviation Facilities Experimental Station (NAFEC). This change in ownership, the completion of the Garden State Parkway, and continuing growth in the service industry spurred growth throughout Egg Harbor Township and in other mainland communities along the Township's eastern border.
Prior to the 1950s, the urbanized areas (metropolitan areas such as cities) throughout the Country gained population and continued to increase in size and financial stature. By the 1950s and 1960s, many changes in public policy/financing and social structures had been enacted and introduced decline and "urban flight" to our inner cities.