“Thick growth and graffiti encapsulates you in your entirety and there is a constant feeling of being alone.”
Nestled deep in the Pine Barrens, lay the small town of Pasadena, New Jersey. To the naked eye of a weary traveler, the town seems almost vacant, but surprisingly, there is history all around you. Specifically, the ruins of Brooksbrae Terracotta Brick Factory. We will talk about how to safely get there and the ruins located at this one of many #NJspots. There are many tales of murder, arson, death and decay associated with Brooksbrae to fuel your curiosity. Some of which are well documented, some are old wives tales, but first, let’s get you there.
How Do I Get There?
Pasadena Woodmanse Road seems to dominate the landscape with surrounding undergrowth in full bloom. A lone rail, from the old Raritan & Delaware Bay Railroad Company, runs parallel with gravel pouring from both sides and eagerly showing its age (est. 1866). Find the tracks by navigating North West from GPS coordinate (39.889214, -74.440095).
If you don’t have a GPS, you can easily find this spot by facing the northwest side of the road and looking for signs of graffiti on the street, itself, and for trees that are sparsely spaced apart in comparison to the rest of the road. It’s easy to miss, so travel slowly and, if, at night, have your high beams on. You’ll see ruts or a lack of ground foliage on either side of the road. This is where you will park and where your adventure begins!
Navigate the trail that goes to the railroad, over the tracks and then immediately into the Pines. There will be an intersection in the trail, perpendicular to the direction you are already heading, but continue straight. Now you know you’re going the right way! Continue on the sand trail bearing right at first, and then left as the trees grow less and less dense. You’re getting close! Follow the final long left bend as the trail widens and you should start to see ruins.
The Ruins at Brooksbrae, New Jersey
There is much to see, so feel free to explore the property, spanning just shy of one acre. Be careful of the many pitfalls along the ground and when climbing, use extreme caution. With every season comes further separation of the man-made structure. Freezing water, precipitation, and even plant life forces the concrete apart with an unbelievable amount of force. As you finally reach the structure, you will find two large pieces of brickwork with two large holes in them. To your left, a 14 foot Archway with an entrance on all four sides. To the north, you will see a long wall, spanning approximately 120’ in width and about 8 feet in height.
This is one of four walls, all running parallel with each other. These were the kilns. This is where they would burn charcoal or wood underneath the structure to bake the clay harvested from the Pinelands’ many waterways. In front of the main wall, there are three entrances to an underground tunnel system. Many of these tunnels are blocked off at the other end and there is little ambient light, so bring a headlamp for the best experience. After leaving the tunnels, circle around the entire area, there are many structures, either partial or complete, that are scattered all around the grounds. Observe any signs that indicate private property and respect them to keep places like this open for us to enjoy!
As with exploring anywhere, please be sure to bring out what you bring in, tread lightly and admire with care. If you are interested in the Historical portion of the Brooksbrae Terracotta Factory, click here for more info.
Written by: Dave Wybierala
Local guide David enjoys hiking, road trips, stargazing, camping and relaxing in his hammock around a campfire whenever he can. Anything involving the outdoors, he craves to be a part of. Dave is also very passionate about photography.
“I like to reroot myself in nature. Every week or so, I take a trip to a place, far away from the noise and lights. I reconnect with the earth , animals and plants around me. The pine barrens is a unique ecosystem and holds a very special place in my heart, with a colorful history and so much to learn from”
One of his many loves is to find and document secluded/forgotten spots of the NJ Pine Barrens and sharing them with others.
“After spendings almost 5 years immersing myself in the pines, in search of every forgotten gem, I have to say, I’m very excited to share what I know with NJSpots and its followers.”