Status: Lost Forever
1998: The Riegelsville Company Town Historic District has been declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
08/2010: The Riegelsville Toll-Supported Bridge is currently undergoing rehabilitation. The project, which is expected to be completed this year, will include replacement of the bridge’s sidewalks and floor structure, reapinting, and repairs to the piers and abutments.
11/2010: All of Riegelsville’s buildings, except the Riegelsville General Store, also know as the Shimer Store, have been demolished. The Store has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It is owned by a group of investors who would like to restore the building, but have been delayed due to finances.
This cozy village, where the Musconetcong River meets the Delaware River, was the site of grist and saw mills in the eighteenth century. In the middle of the nineteenth century industrial development was enabled by the introduction of railway lines, and John L. Riegel built a paper mill at what became known as Riegelsville. In 1873 it incorporated as the Warren Manufacturing Co., and quickly became a major producer of rope and glassine paper. The company built its main plant, over 300 feet long, above the shores of the Delaware River. At the crossing of that river stands a remarkable cantilever bridge built by the Roebling Company in 1904. The paper mill at Riegelsville remained in operation until 1982. The mills at Riegelsville have served as the focal point of the village throughout its history.
The threat to this resource results largely from its industrial past. The mill is contaminated with PCBs, which over the years have not only soaked into the ground, but into some of the concrete walls of the mill buildings. Under the authorization of New Jersey’s Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA), Riegel Products, the current owner, is cleaning up the site. The cleanup is proceeding without regard for historic resources; it includes plans to demolish the mill buildings. The NJ Register of Historic Places Law does not apply because Riegelsville is not listed on the NJ Register of Historic Places. If the Riegel Paper Mill is demolished, a large gap will be left in the heart of what is likely a Register-eligible historic district that, if listed, would be afforded a degree of protection from ISRA-funded projects. Archeologists are also concerned with the high potential for important prehistoric artifacts to be found at the site.
Riegelsville represents the many early industrial sites in New Jersey which are in need of environmental cleanup, a process which does not always recognize the existence of significant historic and/or prehistoric resources.
Dennis Bertland, Dennis Bertland Associates
PO Box 11
Port Murray, NJ 07865-0011