Eagle Rock Reservation, West Orange, NJ

 
 

Prospect Ave & Eagle Rock Ave. | West Orange, NJ 07052

 
 
 

Eagle Rock Reservation is a 408.33-acre tract of wooded land located in the central section of Essex County on the crest of Watchung’s First Mountain. The mountain got its name in the early 19th century, when bald eagles were said to nest in the rocky cliffs on the eastern edge. The reservation is laced with bridle paths and hiking trails. Lookout Point provides visitors with a spectacular view of the New York skyline

The first purchase of land took place in 1895, and the entire tract was finally assembled in 1907. Frederick Law Olmsted created a preliminary design for the reservation which was further developed by the Olmsted Firm in the early 1900′s.

A historic structure that sat on the crest is the old casino built in 1911. This was an open masonry shelter with a series of arches. It has since been transformed into the Highlawn Pavilion restaurant. This saved the structure, which had been slated for demolition. (The term “casino” refers to an Italian style county dwelling or summer house.)

In 1894, the trolley line to the foot of Eagle Rock Avenue had been placed in operation to provide cheap transportation to Eagle Rock, which had become a Mecca for Sunday picnickers because of its high elevation and magnificent view of the growing metropolitan area.

The park was a famous spot where week-enders congregated. Visitors would travel by trolly from New York, transfer in Newark, take another trolly via the Orange line to Harrison Avenue where passengers either walked up the mountain to the top or transferred to the Eagle Rock line.