Monday, July 31, 2006


recieved from Weird NJ newsletter:

The Appalachian Mountains stretch all along the eastern Coast of the US, and go thru NJ in the area of Warren, Passaic, Morris, and Sussex County. Here you can gain elevation of 800 or 900 feet and see miles of forest (or new developments -- pfft!) as far as the horizon. On the boundary of West Milford and Bloomingdale is a state park with typically beautiful views, but also something very very unique called the Stone Living Room (SLR). The SLR has provided a resting place for weary campers, hikers, backpackers, cub scouts, explorers, and couples for three decades, perhaps longer. Located about a 30 minute hike up a steep trail, you might take off your backpack and sit for a while and enjoy the view. Someone in the 1970s decided they needed something more, so they lugged slabs of rock from the surrounding hilltop and made a base, created a back to lean against, and then piled rock behind it make it secure. When I visited the SLR three years ago, I was amazed by how comfortable it actually was. It didn't feel like rock, though perhaps I was so tired from my hike that I didn't care and was just grateful for the resting spot.

The SLR unfortunately attracted partygoers who would come to the spot to drink and light a bonfire in a makeshift fire pit. Fires are against the rules in all state parks because of the potential for a forest fire, but this doesn't stop people from lighting them all the time. The noise, the litter, and the fire hazard made this a source of irritation for the local residents and the Parks Department. Over the years, the trail maintainers would dismantle the fire pit from time to time. The fire pit was always rebuilt, mainly because it's not hard to make; a few rocks in a circle and there you go.

West Milford is known for many things, most of which they'd rather not be associated with: Demon's Alley with its vandalism and arson, Jungle Habitat with its stories of animal abuse and escapes, and Clinton Road with the tales of ghosts, witches and wild animals. The SLR, on the other hand, was a positive thing, something West Milford should have been proud of. Unfortunately, for someone it was not so positive. In mid-May of 2005 someone destroyed the SLR, cracking the larger pieces of stone in an effort to prevent it from being rebuilt.

Why would anyone destroy it? Could it be the Parks dept, tired of the complaints and threats of fire? If it was, it's strange that they wouldn't also have destroyed the fire pit. When I asked the Parks Dept they denied any responsibility, and I believe them. If they had, they'd simply admit it and justify it somehow and that would be that. What about the explorers who enjoy being destructive? It seems unlikely that someone who might tag an abandoned building with graffiti or break windows in a mental institution would have done this, since most people enjoyed coming here, especially the explorer types. The most likely culprit is a local resident. Tired of the noise, the partying, and the fires that could threaten their homes, perhaps they decided they would eliminate this magnet for partyers once and for all.

In July 2005 a group of adults and children spent three hours moving rocks, using tools to pry up pieces of slab, and lining them up so that the SLR would be comfortable, and also stable once again. Some of them had never visited the SLR before, but volunteered because they knew this was something unique that deserved to live again. The fifteen people left that day feeling that they had righted a wrong, secure in the knowledge that it would be there many years from now. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Within eighteen hours, the unknown vandals struck again and destroyed the SLR for a second, and sadly, final time. They destroyed the rocks, cracking the slabs into pieces, ensuring they could not be reused to reconstruct the SLR a third time. The SLR cannot be rebuilt without going great distances to get suitable pieces of building material, making the chances of another rebuild very remote.

Whoever you are, you have eliminated something that was special to people from all walks of life, all age groups, and from all over NJ and beyond. You've taken a vista with wonderful views and made it a sad place. Anyone who visits the SLR now will see the shattered pieces of rock and know that there was once something special there, and that someone destroyed it. The partying will likely continue, and so will the pit fires. The only difference will be that the partyers will be a bit more stiff-legged and might have some sore muscles. I can't imagine your motives for destroying such a unique NJ attraction. I pity anyone who's life is so miserable and purposeless that they are left with nothing to do but destroy what others have built and hate a place that has brought a smile to the faces of so many. -A Reader

It's a damn shame when spiteful people destroy landmarks that bring joy to others. Things like the Stone Living Room are part of what makes New Jersey great. People have traveled the country looking for things like this, and I have a sort of pride in my state for having so many cool locations for the seekers of the weird to visit.

I never did get to see the Stone Living Room. It was one of those things that were on my list of places to see...and now I never will.

Thanks a lot, you jerks!


Anonymous said...

Oh my god... 3 years later and I am only now learning about the demise of the stone living room.

I am so disgusted.

this was a place that was more than special to me.

that climb was nothing less than sacred to me and few of only my closest friends in my life.

This news absolutely devestates me

-rob catalfamo


App said...

Every time I go through my archives and see this post I cry.

3 years later and I still cry.

Anonymous said...

It is still there. I was there today on October 15, 2008.

Anonymous said...

we were just there last night at like 3:30 AM 2/1/09

App said...

I am glad to hear that it was repaired.

Is it like how it used to be? Can anyone that was there before the destruction compare it to what it is now, to give us some idea?