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Boonton Township

Boonton Town Hall is located at 100 Washington Street, Boonton, NJ 07005; phone: 973-402-9410.

Boonton as described in 1939 [1]

Boonton, built high into the ledge that overlooks precipitous Rockaway Gorge, has the alert look of a New England commercial center. Gray factory yards at the town's outskirts recede before the steep hill on which is the business district; Main Street thrives. If cities can be placed in time, Boonton fits most perfectly into the bustling, driving years of the 1880s. An early iron works was established here and for about 50 years in the middle of the 19th century, when iron rails were demolishing the West's frontiers, the town was one of the largest iron centers in the country. Today its industrial plants comprise two nationally known hosiery mills, gunpowder, dynamite, and torpedo plants, a radio factory, several garment concerns, and two bakelite plants. Bakelite was first manufactured and commercialized in Boonton; a local man, Richard W. Seabury, opened an old rubber works to manufacture the new phenol product after large rubber companies had rejected the idea.

Boonton's steep, winding streets seem to have been hewn hurriedly out of the rock to keep step with industry's swift progress. Main Street itself, at a right angle to US 202 as it enters the city, winds up around the rim of the gorge's knife edge. From a wooden pavilion next to the bank building is a view over the precipice into the Rockaway cut; below, the twisting river sluices its way through the sharp rocks and on the far bank the Lackawanna tracks gleam in the sun. Sheer crags rise above Rockaway Falls. One summit, is known as The Torn, from the Dutch word toren, or tower. Beyond the gorge is the blue face of Parsippany Reservoir. Once it was the good, dry community of Old Boone Town, busy with forges and iron works; in 1902 the town was flooded to provide a water supply for Jersey City. An underwater dram was enacted at the dam in 1904. When one of the pipe-line valves failed to close, Bill Hoar, a diver, went 90 feet below the surface to block the intake with a large wooden ball, weighted with lead. Hoar was trying to remove an obstruction when the torrent of water pouring through the open line snapped the 2-ton sphere forward, shattering the diver's leg and pinning him against the pipe. During the 4 days that Hoar was trapped, newspaper extras detailed the progress of rescue attempts. Finally two other divers succeeded in partially closing the valve, but when Bill Hoar was hoisted to the surface, he was dead.

  1. Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of New Jersey, New Jersey: A Guide to Its Present and Past, American Guide Series, The Viking Press, 1939, New York
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