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.