What do you do if you want to build a mansion on a hill overlooking the water, but there's no hill - and no bodies of water - on your property? If you're tobacco tycoon J.B. Duke, you simply excavate an enormous lake and use the tons of removed earth to create a hill. That's exactly what the millionaire entrepreneur accomplished at Duke Farms more than a century ago. excavating not one, but nine connected lakes, transforming the farmland of Hillsborough Township, New Jersey into Duke's Park.
|Excavating Vista Lake, circa 1907|
Duke didn't let the lack of a perfect vista get in the way of siting his never completed mansion exactly where he wanted it. Temporary railways, steam shovels, and hundreds of laborers were employed in creating the million dollar view.
|The view from the Old Foundation, postcard circa 1920s|
As I attempted to duplicate this postcard scene a few months ago, I had to wonder how the photographer was able to capture the fountain and lake from such a high vantage point. I held the camera way over my head, but it wasn't nearly enough.
|The view from the Old Foundation, 2015|
Could this brief news item from the July 22, 1922 edition of the New Brunswick Daily Home News provide a clue?
|New Brunswick Daily Home News, July 22, 1922|