Spring at Paint Island Spring

Skunk Cabbage by ammodramus88
Skunk Cabbage, a photo by ammodramus88 on Flickr.

It’s easy to miss Paint Island Spring, even though the road that runs past it is named after the spring. It’s just a tangly wet spot at a dip in the road, with nothing obvious to distinguish it. You have to stop and take a closer look to notice its most distinctive feature; the ground around the spring is a rich ochre color.

Beck’s account of the spring quotes Gordon’s Gazetteer at length. I’m not sure if the extensive chemical analysis of the spring that Gordon gives is up-to-date with the most current understanding of chemistry (the book was published in 1832), but suffice it to say that the spring provided the raw material for paint manufacturing.

Apart from its commercial uses, the spring was also believed to have medicinal properties, and it was a popular spot for picnics. According to Beck’s informants, there was even a dance hall and a carousel there.

Today, the spring is overlooked by McMansions. Its waters ultimately make their way to the Toms River. The spring lies not far west from the stretch of the Monmouth-Ocean County border that is marked by the old Monmouth Road (now Rt. 537).

The last time I visited the spring was on a gray January day. It was a pleasant surprise to stop on the first day in April and find the ochre watercourse accentuated by fresh green skunk cabbage.


About Jennifer W. Hanson

I have a BA in Art History from Douglass College and an MLIS from the Rutgers School of Communication and Information (SCI, formerly SCILS). I have worked in publishing, libraries and sundry other places. My writing has appeared in Birding, The Chronicle of the Horse, International Wader Studies and Records of New Jersey Birds. My photographic specialties are historic sites and nature, mainly in New Jersey. My photography has been used for editorial and advertising projects; it can be seen in Weird N.J. magazine and Take a Beach Walk by Jane Kirkland. One of my photos is slated to be used in a permanent exhibit at the New Jersey Pinelands Commission's visitor center.
This entry was posted in Industry, Monmouth, More Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Spring at Paint Island Spring

  1. Bill Davis says:

    Nice that you’re doing this. I inherited a musty copy of HCB’s book The Roads of Home, and just started it … I’m two chapters in. It has an incredible old-timey evocative feel and is a good jumping-off point for research and exploration. I’ll be checking back here. My own exploration specialties, by virtue of proximity, are Mahlon Dickerson Reservation and the Berkshire Valley Wildlife Management Area. Thanks, -Bill Davis, Roxbury

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