West Milford NJ – “The Heart of the Highlands.”

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Get off the beaten path!

Do you run, bike, hike, walk or kayak?

Maybe you are a competitive runner or cyclist who keeps mileage logs and race numbers neatly in plastic sheets in a three ring binder. Or maybe you just hop on your hybrid and head to the nearest 7-11 for Ben and Jerry’s every so often. No matter what group you are, West Milford has something to offer you.

West Milford History 

Lenni Lenape Indians
West Milford was settled by the Lenni Lenape Indians, a peaceful tribe, that sold their land to the English and moved south. Later, English, Dutch, and German settlers realized the potential and wealth of West Milford from trapping and mining and began to develop communities. The forest provided fine habitat for wildlife which was prolific. Animal pelts that were extremely valuable in the Old World were easy to come by in West Milford; thus, trapping became a main source of income for the early settlers.

First Industry
The first industry in West Milford came with the discovery of iron ore. The essential resources necessary for the iron industry were moving water and wood which were in abundant supply and furnaces sprung up throughout the town. A few still remain as testimony of the Township’s early development. The Township’s development continued as people discovered the beautiful countryside, lakes, streams, and mountains, and West Milford emerged as an early resort community. Summer cottages began to spring up everywhere, particularly along the lakefronts. It remained a summer community until the late 1960’s when its potential as a year round residence was realized. Wise planning in the following years will help maximize the Town’s growth without sacrificing its semi-rural character.

Greenwood Lake History
Native American Indians, the Lenni Lenape, called the lake “Papeek Guneu” which meant “The Long Pond”. The first white settlers were Dutch farmers who arrived here in the early 1700’s.
How the lake got its name “Greenwood” remains a mystery to this day.
In the 1700’s and 1800’s dams were built on the east shore to provide water for iron works below.
“Gloria”, the first rocket-powered airmail flight took place on Feb. 23, 1936. It was launched from the frozen lake near Sterling Forest and crashed in NJ not too far away.
Baseball Great, Babe Ruth, owned a house in Sterling Forest and spent time boating on the lake and hunting in the forests.
October 6, 1876, was the date of the first regattas held on a 5 mile course of Greenwood Lake. To this date the races are held on the lake but the boats are now powered by engines instead of oars.

Township Library History
Originally founded in 1952, as a private association, the library was located on West Milford Presbyterian Church property until 1954 when it moved to larger quarters. A bequest from Claudine MacDonald’s estate enabled the Library Association to acquire land adjacent to Town Hall and construct the present building in 1970. Just a few years later the library again experienced space limitations resulting in the construction of the Jan Casciano Wing which now houses the Children’s Room.

Historic Preservation Commission
The Historic Preservation Commission is a body of seven citizens whose main concerns lay in protecting West Milford’s historic resources. It is the Commission’s belief that historic preservation is more than merely saving old structures. The Commission is striving to maintain a sense of history and community that is important for a desirable living environment.

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