Jenny Jump State Forest
The setting for the Collective’s estate is based on New Jersey’s Jenny Jump State Forest and the swamp just south of the park. I wanted to set the estate in a secluded spot in New Jersey. The folklore surrounding this area closed the deal in my mind. The hiking trails in the forest are well maintained and the fall foliage is gorgeous. Here are a few highlights about the state forest that piqued my interest:
1. Shades of Death Road. I repurposed the road’s name for the river that flows through the estate’s swamp. Although there are a number of legends associated with Shades of Death Road, the 1850 malaria story captured my imagination and became the backdrop to Edward Devillin’s failed attempt to cross the swamp to reach the nearest doctor in Hope, NJ.
2. Ghost Lake. Yes, there really is in a Ghost Lake in Jenny Jump State Forest. Although everyone claims it is named for the spooky fog that rises from the surface, who knows for sure?
3. The Fairy Hole Cave. The cave from Alex’s vision quest can be found on the northern edge of Ghost Lake. To reach this fun little cave, you must venture along an overgrown path, climb over boulders and fallen trees and, if you’re lucky, you will see the entrance about 20 ft. up a steep slope. Sadly, the cave is now covered in graffiti and the ground is littered with trash. Once it was used by the Lenape Indians. A New Jersey state archeologist, Dorothy Cross, excavated the cave in the 1936 and found thousands of animal bones. Early excavations found some Lenape pottery shards and arrow heads.
4. Jenny Jump. Although Jenny is not featured in Book 1, look for her later in the series. There are many stories about Jenny — most of them tragic.
5. Eye Appeal. My son accompanied me on my research trip to Jenny Jump State Forest and we both agreed — although beautiful, the creepy factor is high, especially late afternoon in autumn. The sod farm between Ghost Lake and the swamp seemed just the right size for the Collective’s estate.
Jenny Jump State Forest is a great place to take in the autumn foliage. Hiking the Ghost Lake, Summit, Spring, and Swamp trails creates a nice circuit (just remember it’s all up hill from Ghost Lake).
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