N.J. ghost town was home to YMCA camp when it was destroyed in 1914

A New Jersey ghost town that was once a thriving paper factory community was home to a YMCA camp when a fire destroyed most of the town’s remaining buildings in 1914.

The camp, hosted by the YMCA of Atlantic City and known as Camp Lyon, set up camp in Harrisville, New Jersey in the spring of 1910 after finally receiving permission to use the site that owner Joseph Wharton had reportedly refused to grant while he was living.

Fire broke out in the old paper mill in the town on April 19, 1914 and ended up burning every tent owned by the camp, a loss of $300, according to a newspaper account. The fire also consumed the mill property, general store building, two large houses and numerous small buildings, all unoccupied. The camp occupied a cook house, but it’s not clear from newspaper accounts whether it was damaged in the fire.

A 1976 article in South Jersey Magazine titled Early Life on the Wading River: Part Three has photographs of the camp and reprinted newspaper articles. One of campers inside the cook house writing letters is below.

Little remains of Harrisville today, just a few brick remnants of the town that was in an area known as the Pine Barrens in Bass River Township, Burlington County. The Atlantic City YMCA today is part of the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA.

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Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at Tangzine.com and MatthewRalph.com. I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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