How to use:
The Maurice River Reaches Map is easy to interact with the simple controls and features provided.
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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".
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Maurice River Recollections Project
River Reaches

The Maurice River Reaches Project
Yock Wock
Reach #37

If trees could talk, perhaps they could tell of a great storm that ravaged the lower reaches of the Maurice River thousands of years ago. The Yock Wock Swamp, located between Mauricetown and Port Norris, was once a vast cedar swamp. There is evidence to suggest that this is more than legend. But in 1637, legend says that a powerful storm tore through the region and toppled the immense, ancient cedars that grew in the wetlands.

Lifelong Port Norris resident Louis Capaldi may just have a story that gives credence to this legend:  "They say that thousands of years ago there was a forest," Capaldi said, stirring up the imagination. He said that the forest was a great expanse of tall, hardy trees, similar to the trees found in the forests of northern California. Without written records, it's difficult to know for sure what fate this Maurice River forest met. Capaldi shook his head  "They say the wind knocked them down," he said.

Capaldi knew one story about a fellow who thought he could capitalize on this epic weather phenomenon. Fleetwood, a rich gentleman from Millville, was the owner of the Millville Iron works, Capaldi related. A notion came to Fleetwood, a notion that brought him to the lower reaches of the Maurice River and to the place where great trees had been felled in a horrific force of nature.

Fleetwood found his booty submerged in the tannic waters of the ancient swamp. "Under this water were logs that were 5 feet in diameter," Capaldi said. "No one had ever seen anything like that in NJ." The downed cedars sank into the muddy bottom of the swamp. Coated by the oozy sediment, they were well-preserved. Apparently Fleetwood had been familiar with similar situations in other swampy places, like in the wetlands of Florida, where they floated logs to the mill 100 years ago.  Woodsmen would extract the trees, dry them out, and saw them into planks. The lumber sold at top dollar. Fleetwood worked up a scheme to harvest the cedars, dry the logs and shave them down into cedar shingles - lots of cedar shingles. 

Capaldi related what happened: "Fleetwood invested a lot of money getting cranes to pull out the cedars. He invested money putting the sawmills up. He dried the logs out, put them through the mill. They cut beautiful," Capaldi had heard. "But when they dried out, the wood all fell apart."

Other more successful endeavors took place on the Yock Wock tract, but that ended when it was no longer profitable to dike the meadows.

According to one history of Commercial Township, this stretch of property bears the name of a stream called Yock Wock, which runs between what is now Dividing Creek and Port Norris. This stream flows into a creek at Tom's Bridge. A 1691 survey by Budd and Worledge, undertaken for Dr. James Wasse, showed that the 10,000-acre tract included what is now Downe and Commercial Townships.

“Those old maps and old indentures are interesting to look at," said Irene Reeves Ferguson. She is not only one of the founders of the Mauricetown Historical Society, but she is also from a long line of Maurice River folk.  "It's interesting to see how the names have changed, and how many name variations there are.” Ferguson is particularly interested in the Yock Wock tract. It is mentioned on deeds and old indentures. Ferguson would like to learn how extensive the tract was and how it was parceled out through the generations.

In the not-so-distant past, her father, Joseph Reeves, Sr., owned 220 acres of the original Yock Wock tract. "Daddy used to trap there for muskrats - between 1940 and 1973," Ferguson said. Reeves had a gentleman's agreement with Mr. Fleetwood, made after Fleetwood abandoned his cedar shingle endeavor. The Reeves family recently sold the tract to PSE&G, but Ferguson would still like to know how this piece fit into the Maurice River puzzle.