The Gift of a State Park
High Point State Park
High Point – One of New Jersey’s First State Parks
Like many early parks, High Point was privately owned for many years. During the early 1900s it was the summer estate of Anthony Kuser and his wife, Susie Dryden Kuser. Senator John F. Dryden, founder of Prudential Life Insurance, also owned a substantial amount of the land. Devoted conservationists, the Kusers and Drydens ultimately decided that their estates should become a public park for all to enjoy.
High Point State Park was dedicated in 1923 as a nature reserve for the public and to protect wildlife and water resources. High Point was one of the first state parks in New Jersey, and served as a model for other parks.
The CCC Helped Shape High Point State Park
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” program, operated a camp in High Point State Park from 1933 to 1942. Companies 216 and 1280 lived and worked in the park and were responsible for many of the improvements seen at High Point today. They built Park Ridge and Sawmill Roads, and Sawmill and Steenkill Lakes. They also did extensive trail work, and built three Appalachian Trail shelters.
Early Park Design Can Still Be Seen at High Point
Today, High Point still looks much like it did in the early 1900s. It has changed little from the original plan that was laid out by the Olmsted Brothers and implemented by the CCC and the High Point Park Commission. To honor and preserve this example of early park design, High Point was placed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places in 1996.
High Point: The Park
1923 High Point State Park is established. Olmsted Brothers prepare a plan for the park.
1928-1930 The High Point Monument is constructed.
1929 The Stock Market crashes bringing on the Depression.
1932-1944 The CCC builds roads, dams, and trails at High Point State Park and Stokes State Forest.
1937 The construction of the Appalachian Trail stretching from Maine to Georgia is completed.
1939 John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is published.
1939-1945 World War II
1946 Eight thousand Americans own television sets.
1962 Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring.
1963 President Kennedy is assassinated.
1965 High Point’s 800-acre Kuser Natural Area is created – the first in NJ.
1969 Neil Armstrong walks on the moon.
1970 The first Earth Day is celebrated. NJ Department of Environmental Protection is created.
1996 High Point State Park is placed on the State and National registers of Historic Places.
Marker is on New Jersey Route 23, on the right when traveling north.