Regardless of where your hometown is, I’m sure there is something about it that makes it unique, something about it that keeps a piece of your heart when you leave, and something about it that makes you proud to call it home. My home just happens to be a small lake community in Northern New Jersey called Ringwood. If you call Ringwood home like I do, I’m sure it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes it so special. I guess we can begin here...

The random pool of knowledge that most know to be true

The best place to get a ham, egg and cheese sandwich is, in fact, Goldbergs. Growing up, Fab Fridays at Cupsaw lake were nothing short of fab. You know that everyone thinks their own lake is the greatest and yes, Stonetown is part of Ringwood too. You know all the best places to hike, and you were devastated when the McDonald’s closed. You know ELPOA day and the St. Patrick’s Day parade are basically national holidays, and you know that The Old Forge isn’t exactly the classiest bar in America. And you also know that if you want get a message across for the whole town to see, you paint the rock.

The surrounding community

The irony of Ringwood is that no one can quite understand how incredible it is by just driving over Skyline Drive and through the one light town (just installed in 2013). People see the lakes and the trees and experience the winding roads with no sidewalks, and they see the lack of industrialization. But what they don’t see when they are driving though is the spark in the community itself. You cannot go anywhere in town without seeing someone you know. Everyone is connected in some way, somehow.

The history embedded in the town

I’m not going to give you a history lesson, but there are a few pretty cool facts worth mentioning:

  • The Hudson River Chain used by the Patriots to stop the British from crossing the Hudson River during the Revolutionary War was manufactured in the Ringwood ironworks.
  • George Washington visited Ringwood Manor as a guest frequently because of his mapmaker, Robert Erskine, but he never actually slept there.
  • The castle, known as Skylands Manor, was once an old Christian liberal arts college named Shelton College.
  • Up until 1935, there was always a gateman present at the Erskine entrance along Ringwood Avenue to ask the destination of travelers coming into the lakes. For several years, a sign that said "Restricted Christian Community" stood at the entrance.
  • The name “Ringwood” is derived from the descriptive “ring of woods” landscape.
  • In 1933, Cupsaw Lake was part of the Erskine Lakes Country Club, and due to depression era-inflation, the cost to belong rose from $3.00 to $5.00 annually.
  • The paving of Skyline Drive in the 1950s led to the expansion of Ringwood and resulted in more people living in Ringwood year-round as opposed to just owning summer homes.

The beauty

You cannot escape describing Ringwood without bragging about its beauty. Ringwood is home to New Jersey’s Botanical Garden. It’s home to an abundance of hiking trails and spectacular views and lakes. Even if Stonetown doesn’t get its own lake, the Monksville Reservoir is the best spot to catch the sunset. And fun fact: there is a bamboo forest in the state park. I kid you not. If you grew up in Ringwood, you know that being outside every day was a given. You know that seeing deer and black bear around the corner was a normal occurrence. You know that the go-to brag-worthy photo-op in Ringwood is either the Monksville Reservoir or the lane of trees in the state park. And, at one point in your life, you’ve been to Warm Puppy Rock.

At the end of the day, I hope you consider yourself blessed to live in such a beautiful and unique town. Whether you grew up in Ringwood and moved away or you’re living there now, just know that you’re lucky enough to have a place like Ringwood to always call home.