How to use:
The Maurice River Reaches Map is easy to interact with the simple controls and features provided.
Listed below are the key features and descriptions of how they can be utilized.

Working with the controls
The map is fully draggable. Simply click anywhere on the map and begin dragging your mouse to move the map to specific areas.
move up click to navigate the map "up".
move down click to navigate the map "down".
move left click to navigate the map "left".
move right click to navigate the map "right".
zoom in click to "zoom in" for a closer look.
zoom in click to "zoom out" to back away from the map.
default map setting click to get back to the "default" map setting.
red buoy click to learn more about that reach.
Maurice River Recollections Project
River Reaches
Debra A. Barsotti
Research Journalist
Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River
and Its Tributaries, Inc.

The Maurice River Reaches Project
Acorn Gut - Sweet Meadows
Reach #21

Acorn Gut is a former farm ditch between the Spring Garden Ferry Reach and the mouth of Buckshutem Creek on the western shore of the Maurice River. It is pinpointed on the compilation maps created by Charles Hartman in 1974. (The Hartman maps, are a composite of survey maps drawn by David Kinsey in 1831.)  Buckshutem Creek is dammed and forming Laurel Lake.

"Years ago, my grandfather would say that they can't give away this land on the river," said local artist Pat Witt. Witt was talking about the property near Acorn Gut. Her grandfather couldn't imagine that anyone would want to live on the marshy lowlands that bordered the Maurice River known today as Sweet Meadows.

Someone did want to live there. In fact, Pat Witt's cousin Gerry Moore, bought the stretch of land and built a house on it. The property became known as Sweet Meadows. It became one of the family's favorite gathering places.

Witt still recalls her own childhood memories about her cousin's house up on the hill above the Maurice River. "There was a tree there. He built that house around it," Witt said incredulously. Her cousin also built a tree house. "He put up a rope - and we would go flying," Witt said, smiling at the thought. In later years, Witt would take her own daughters to Sweet Meadows. When the extended family was around it was quite a lively group. Witt said that they loved being there.

Laura Johnson eventually became the owner of Sweet Meadows, adding improvements and renovations to the property that Witt's grandfather said that no one would want. "But I don't think they could save the tree," Witt said.

In the Millville Daily Republican column Ramblin' Round, dated August 17, 1964, more details of the property were given:
"Sweet Meadows covers an area of some 200 acres, most of it meadowland owned by Mr. Moore, a skillful mechanic who has created a home in the woods that most anyone would describe as a kind of Garden of Eden and from his brick home located on a hill high above the tidewater, the green meadows and the sweet smelling wildflowers, one can see in the distance, Acorn Island on which the Smalley's have built a Robinson Crusoe home…"

Julie Smalley became acquainted with Acorn Gut and Sweet Meadows back almost 50 years ago. Gerry Moore was building a garage on the Smalley's property in Millville at the time. Julie and Donald Smalley mentioned that they'd love to find a place on the river for their family swims and water-skiing adventures.

Moore thought that the little island on his property would be a perfect place for youngsters to have their adventures. The island sat right where Acorn Gut entered the Maurice River. Moore rented the plot to the Smalley's. He gave them permission to build a little shelter so that they could bring their young boys down to play during the summer.

"When we first moved there, there were a lot of trees on the island itself. Now there is not one tree," Julie said. There were times when the island would flood, and the river would seep into the cabin, "even though the house was on stilts," she recalled. The oasis was "rocky" and the water was tidal, so Julie never planted a garden on the island. But the Smalley's did consider it their Garden of Paradise, and spent ten wonderful summers there.

Julie Smalley knew the one time farm ditch near their island as Acorn Gut, but she said that they called their little summer spot Gerry’s Island.

Moore's property stretched above and beyond the tiny island to higher ground. "Gerry named his place Sweet Meadows," Smalley said. "As a matter of fact, if you go out there, there is a sign that says Sweet Meadows."

In the 1960's, Bill Leap leased the cabin on the old Pettinos property up on the bluffs of the Maurice River. He hung his own hand-painted sign, calling his piece of heaven Owl's Cove. Leap and his wife Clare (now deceased) and son Ken spent summers and weekends there. It didn't take long for them to realize that they could use a little fireplace in the cabin. Gerry Moore was enlisted to do the job, and that was the beginning of a good friendship, Leap said.

The two couples, Ann and Gerry Moore and the Leaps often spent time together. One of Bill Leap’s favorite memories is when the Moore's would invite them down to Sweet Meadows for "a mess of peas." Moore would plant peas, and then in early June, they'd collect them and cook them up. Served in a big bowl with milk and butter, it was a meal, Leap said.

In his book Maurice River Memories, Joseph Reeves described "one of the most beautiful places on the Maurice." He and his father were drifting through Spring Garden Reach where on the eastern bank "high ground came right up to the river and a forest of oak, gum, and maple covered the land." They were coming up to Acorn Gut where the waters were darker than downstream, probably from the tannic acid from the forests on these reaches of the Maurice River and its tributaries. 6/06

Editor's note: Today, Gerry Moore's home has been replaced by the Johnson's home.  The property still bears the name Sweet Meadows.  The island is all but gone and the shack was made reasonably sound and still stands on stilts.  The fishing hole in front of the shack is a popular fishing spot.  The old timers that frequented the Polenta Hotel (see Hilliards- Yellow House #17) called the fishing hole The Old Lady's Hole.