200 Years of History
By R. Richard Willis
In the October issue (Part II Transportation) the Central
Railroad of New Jersey, The Gravity Railroad, New York Susquehanna
& Western Railroad and the Hurdtown Airport were covered.
There were many different boat lines that ran on Lake Hopatcong.
The following were either in Jefferson or served Jefferson
White Line, First Generation:
The original White Line consisted of four side-wheelers:
These boats ran out of Landing, Roxbury Township. The queen
of the line was the Hopatcong, which had a double deck and Theodore
F. King was president of this line. These boats did not originate
in Jefferson, yet they served the Jefferson section as well
as the whole Lake.
- The Alametcong
- The Nariticong
- The Hopatcong
- The Musconetcong
White Line, Second Generation:
Later the second generation White Line was based out of Great
Cove, Jefferson Township, at the New Kenvil Store (Hockenjos
Boat Marine) and Bryant Villa (Suomi Hovi) Dock. John D. and
his brother William L. Willis leased these boats from B.I.T.Co
(Bertrand Island Transportation Company). The Willis brothers
ran the line for some eight to ten years. They provided tour,
freight, passenger, and commuter services. Their line had
an agreement with the Morris Traction Company (trolley line)
at the Bertrand Island Trolley Terminal. Special tickets for
the trolley riders could be purchased that would provide round
trips to the Amusement Park and Picnic grounds at Nolan’s
The boats of the White Line second generation were:
- The Richard J. (steam and queen of the line)
Named for Richard J. Chaplin
- The Benedict CK (gasoline, sister ship to the
Richard J., Named for Benedict C. Kaiser. Latter the Benedict
CK. was sold to The Black Line and renamed The Evelyn L.
H. (Named for Mr. George Hulmes’ daughter)
- The New Breslin (gasoline)
- The Uncle Dan (the fastest steamboat on the Lake).
Named for Dan Vorhees
- The Esther R (gasoline) Named for Esther Runyon
- The LaFalot (gasoline).
The Black Line:
The Black Line, circa 1900’s consisted of a number of
boats. The Mystic Shrine was the Queen of this line; she had
side windows that could be open for warm weather and closed
when it rained or when it was cold. This boat was used in
the winter also, as she towed ice flows to the different icehouse
located on the Lake. Mr. George Hulmes and his son Raymond
owned this boat line. These boats served the whole lake as
well as the Jefferson Township. This boat line provided service
to the commuters. The Black Line which picked up passengers
at the Landing Railroad Station. Where the canal was located
alongside the Railroad tracks. The boats would travel up the
feeder canal through the lock and into the Lake. Then to all
the hotels, amusement parks, and picnic groves. Such as Bertrand’s
Island and Nolan’s Point. Mr. Hulmes and his son were
residents of Jefferson Township. Mr. Hulmes also owned and
ran the merry-go-round at Nolan’s Point Amusement Park.
In the early 1920’s he moved it to Bertrand’s
Island Amusement Park.
The Decker Boat Line:
The Decker family, who lived on Raccoon Island in the summer
and the Espanong/Minisink area of Jefferson in the winter,
owned the Decker Boat Line. Their family provided boat service
around the lake. The Deckers also served as fishing &
hunting guides. Mr. Ans Decker was the famous fishing guide
and invented the “Decker Plug”. Their boats were
the Edeva D, (kerosene engine) named for Edeva Decker Crater
and the Sallie D.
The Raccoon Island Transportation Corporation:
In July 1891 the Chincopee Bridge was completed, this connected
the mainland to Raccoon Island. At that time there was the
Raccoon Island Hotel, store, and summer cottages on the island.
Later the hotel changed it name to The Hollywood Hotel.
In the spring of 1899 the bridge disappeared, when the ice
decided to go south for the summer, it did not let go of the
bridge. This bridge was almost level with the water of the
Lake and at times it was under water.
Plans were discussed with the Morris County Freeholders for
a new bridge and by 1928 it was approved, but it never got
built because of the Great Depression. The Raccoon Island
Transportation Corporation came into existence in 1932, when
a ferry was built for the people that lived on the island.
Most of the homeowners on Raccoon Island are members of the
Corporation. The original ferry did not have any railings,
just a flat area for the cars. Latter sides were built. This
ferry runs from April to October.