The village grew up around an ironworks that dates to 1766. The original ironworks made primarily cookware and household items, but after 1776 it began supplying artillery and munitions for the Continental Army. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the iron business lagged and Batsto turned to glassmaking, but by 1867, even that had declined and the property fell into receivership.
Philadelphia entrepreneur Joseph Wharton, who endowed the business school at the University of Pennsylvania that bears his name, purchased property in Batsto and eventually began preserving the area as a nostalgic village. Wharton also accumulated more than 100,000 acres of land around Batsto, which the state purchased in 1954. The land is now part of the Pinelands National Reserve.
Visitors to Batsto Village can tour more than three dozen restored structures, including a general store, gristmill, sawmill, and blacksmith shop. At the heart of the village is a 32-room mansion that was elegantly renovated by Wharton in the late nineteenth century. Fourteen rooms are open to the public.
Batsto is not just the village, though. The grounds and the surrounding parkland host events such as war re-enactments, star-gazing sessions, environmental hikes, and the Country Living Fair—a crafts, music, and old-time farming celebration to be held this year from 10 am to 4 pm on October 18.
The Batsto Visitor Center has a museum that is a good primer for exploring the village. Guided and self-guided tours of the village are available—including one that uses an audio card that can be hooked up to a cell phone. The Wharton mansion, which has been extensively refurbished in recent years, has separate guided tours for $2 ($1 for children 6-12). There is no fee for entering the village itself, but Memorial Day through Labor Day there is a charge for parking at the visitors center. For the energetic, there are hiking trails along the nearby rivers and lakes. The longer trails lead to campsites and more remote parts of the Pinelands.
Batsto Village is located on Route 542 in Washington Township. The grounds are open dawn to dusk every day except major holidays. For information, call 609-561-0024 or visit batstovillage.org.
Click on the links below to read our Fall Day Trips stories:
Take A Hike: Aching feet and burning quads are a small price to pay for a trek on New Jersey’s Appalachian Trail.
Shudder And Quake: From fright fests to haunted hayrides, ghostly attraction abound in NJ.