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Blairstown Township

Blairstown Township Hall is located at 106 Route 94, Blairstown NJ 07825; phone: 908-362-6663.

Beginnings [1]

Blairstown is located in rural Warren County, almost as far west from the New York metropolitan area as a New Jersey community can get. From the beginning, agriculture helped drive the economy of the area, with the first settlements grouped around gristmills and sawmills, followed by other services such as smithies, a general store, a tannery, a wagon shop. John Blair provided a transportation link that connected the area's products to a broader market, by developing the Paulinskill Railroad and making the Village area a trading center for northern Warren County.

In the late 1800s, I. W. Smith operated a creamery in the Vail area of the Township, one of many dairy farms that once were abundant in Blairstown, and in the early 1900s the Empire State Dairy Company had creameries in Blairstown and several neighboring communities. Beginning in the 1960s, however, a number of factors combined to weaken the historically strong dairy industry in Warren County's farming communities. Improvements in refrigerated transportation technology reduced the dependence of the nearby metropolitan markets upon the dairy industry of western New Jersey. The greater availability of dairy products across the country caused milk prices to fall sharply, which hurt the economic viability of local dairy farmers. The price of fuel a significant input to the transportation dependent dairy industry spiked as well. In addition, continuously rising land prices in the post World War II boom era put economic pressures (such as higher property taxes) on farmers. Consequently, many dairy farmers fell into debt or retired, and the number of local dairy farms steadily dropped over time. Today, agriculture in Blairstown is heavily oriented towards traditional field crops, especially hay, corn and soybeans, rather than dairy products.

A land parcel in the area of present-day Blairstown Township is known to have been deeded to John Hyndshaw in 1729, and another surveyed to William Penn as early as 1718. By 1760, Benjamin Smyth had built a gristmill in what is now the historic Blairstown Village area, north of Route 94. Other hamlets, such as Vail, Paulina, Walnut Creek, Cedar Lake and Jacksonburg, grew up to service the rural settlers. Today, commercial activity is mainly clustered in Blairstown Village and westward along Route 94 then south to another pocket along Vail Road, where a small village was established in 1888. Today, the remaining hamlets are basically residential clusterings set amid the woodlands and farms that define Blairstown's character. The Township consists of 31.8 square miles and has approximately 5,747 residents (Census 2000). While Blairstown Township has traditionally been a farming community, the character of farming has changed from predominantly dairy in the early 1900s to predominantly field crops in recent years.

As the northeast United States grew into one of the major commercial areas on the continent, regional transportation routes were established throughout the area and John Blair, for whom the Township is named, contributed to these as a railroad magnate. At one time, three railroads ran through the Township. Now, the path of the former Paulins Kill Railroad, established by Blair in 1876, serves as a recreational rail trail through the center of the Township. The 27-mile trail stretches west to the Delaware River at Columbia, and northeast to Sparta Junction in Sussex County. A section of railroad known as the Lackawanna Cutoff runs through Blairstown south of the Paulins Kill Valley Trail. It is currently inactive, but the NJ Department of Transportation plans to reactivate the line, providing service from Pennsylvania to New York by connecting to the existing train service at Netcong. Through his railroads and other industries, Blair made Blairstown a regional trading center for northern Warren County and it remains so today.

  1. The Land Conservancy of New Jersey and the Township of Blairstown Agricultural Advisory Committee, Comprehensive Farmland Preservation Plan Update for the Township of Blairstown, County of Warren, 2010,, accessed April, 2013.
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