29 January 2015

Duke's Big Dig

While we are still on the topic of Duke Farms, here are two more postcards from my personal collection.

The first one, circa 1907, shows the construction of Great Falls Lake and one of Duke Farms many bridges.  Look closely to see the temporary railway used to facilitate construction during the "big dig".  The tracks in the foreground were probably used in construction also, as the South Branch Railroad tracks ran east of this location.

Lake construction at Duke Farms circa 1907

This second view is from a 1915 postcard depicting the bridge and lake after completion.

Bridge and lake circa 1915

22 January 2015

J.B. Duke Estate 1905

On March 26, 1905, as construction was about to begin on J.B. Duke's grand mansion in Hillsborough, New Jersey, The New York Times reported that the tobacco and power magnate had spent upwards of $2 million on improvements to the property - and that was just in the preceding three years after he had begun to very seriously transform his 2500 acres on the Raritan River.

The New York Times, March 26, 1905

There were 400 people working on the estate in 1905 - which today would make it Hillsborough's second largest employer.  They were mostly engaged in landscaping - it was nothing for Mr. Duke to place an order for 50,000 evergreens, for example.  Already completed was the first of the series of artificial lakes, the boathouse, the conservatory, the magnificent stables, and the clubhouse which the Dukes were to reside in while waiting for their new home to be completed.

The proposed "country home" for J.B. Duke was never completed

The circa 1905 postcards below are from my personal collection.  While much has changed at "Duke's Park" over the past 110 years, a careful examination of the final image reveals that at least one restriction remains constant. Enjoy!