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

The Maurice River Reaches Project
Old Ferry Compton
Reach #30

In an interview in 2004, local artist Pat Witt pinpointed one her favorite Maurice River places, The Vanaman Meadows. Witt's favorite meadowlands edge the Maurice River between Bricksboro and the Manumuskin River.

Witt's father, Alfred Jester Vanaman grew up on the family farm located on Ferry Lane in Maurice River Township. People knew the property as the Vanaman Farm. The farm and the house are still there. The Vanaman's continue to hold a family reunion every year. Witt said that the reunion encompasses over 100 years of family history.

The Vanaman Farm stretches along a bend of the Maurice River. Along the bank there is a small run that empties into the river. "It is very special there," Witt said, recalling one of the prettiest places on the property. "My father called it Captain Ghene's Ditch."

Witt didn't know the significance of the name. Nevertheless, it has always been one of her favorite places on the Maurice River. Flipping through the pages of a diary she keeps religiously, Witt smiled and acknowledged her frequent visits there. During the interview, Witt read from an entry, reliving a recent visit to the meadows. That day she sat in the warmth of her truck enjoying the winter landscape. Vanaman Meadows has been a place of inspiration for the artist, even when she was a child. 

Witt said that her father would often tease her about her attachment to this spot on the river's edge. "Patsy, what is it about this ditch?" he'd ask her.

"I love that ditch," Witt said, admitting that the subject and titles of several of her landscapes reflect her infatuation with the serene spot.

"I spent time a lot of time on the Vanaman Farm and on the meadows there," Witt said. "A lot of the places have high banks, but there's a low beach there, too." Witt continues to find solace there, returning to watch - and paint - the effects of the seasons and the light on the meadows and the little ditch that still meanders along its way to the Maurice River.

In the 1876 Atlas of Cumberland County, J. W. Vannaman (spelled this way in the atlas) was owner of a tract of land just south of the Manumuskin and north of Bricksboro.

Witt said that the ferry once ran from here - from Ferry Lane, which borders the Vanaman Farm. Ferry Road reappears on the eastern shores of the Maurice River in Commercial Township, linking with Buckshutem Road.

This reach of the Maurice River is also known as Old Ferry Reach.

In his book, Maurice River Memories, Joseph Reeves, Jr. refers to this name in an account of a fishing trip. The Reeves boat was headed upriver on September 1942, Reeves wrote. He and his father, Joseph Reeves, Sr., were going through Upper Bricksboro Reach, "past the big breach in the marsh which had been known as Walter Bateman's farm before the dike ruptured in 1933."

Their boat veered towards the west bank of the river "at the south end of Old Ferry, down the river from Steep Run." They set their nets there and were home by 4:00 am, Reeves wrote. Later that day, they returned to the spot to find that they had netted several hundred pounds of carp, which tested the capacity of their livecar but made it one memorable day in the lives of the fishermen.

There is another "fish tale" about a catch at Old Ferry Reach. This one has become a real legend, and there are photos that document the moment. In the spring of 1946, Herbert Bradway and Leonard Pfeiffer caught one of the largest sturgeon ever pulled from the Maurice River. The 300-pound catch was six and a half feet long. The 43 pounds of roe brought in a high market price.

As for the evidence of the old ferry service, there is an early map indicating that in the 1800's Ichabod Compton's operated a ferry that connected the roads known today as Old Ferry Road (Commercial Township) and Ferry Lane (Maurice River Township) and onto downtown Port Elizabeth.

Map collector Charles Hartman compiled information from 3 surveys done by David Kingsey in 1831. His compilation map, created in 1974, puts the Compton Ferry landing near the entrance of Muskee Creek on the eastern banks. The landing on the western shore is charted at the confluence of the Maurice River and the original course of Steep Run before it was rerouted.

The Compton Ferry is also documented on the 1862 Map of Cumberland County that is hanging in the Lummis Library in Greenwich, NJ.