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Get Personal with Double Trouble State Park

January 20, 2016


Photo Contest Enjoying Kathleen LaPergola
Kathleen LaPergola, Mount Laurel, NJ, I was lucky enough to be at Double Trouble State Park the day they were harvesting cranberries.

The Pinelands Preservation Alliance needs your help to protect the natural heritage of our state.  We are looking for people who are interested in taking part in projects that further the goals of conservation. Volunteerism is a critical component to the preservation of our public lands, and we need you to continue building on the success of the past.  A group of committed individuals, grounded by science and the philosophy of conservation, have more power to effect change than any other factor and we are calling on you to join in.

We are helping the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) gather volunteers for a volunteer day to complete forest stewardship activities in Double Trouble State Park.  These are the first activities of the recently-approved Double Trouble State Park Natural Resource Stewardship Plan.

Located in the Cedar Creek watershed, Double Trouble is a popular paddling destination and is home to an important historic village.  Cedar Creek is a major contributor to Barnegat Bay and a very enjoyable paddle through its cedar and maple swamps. I have personally enjoyed Cedar Creek in late August, watching Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor) fly in graceful loops over the water in search of insects and have enjoyed canoeing gently over a beaver’s damn after observing it quietly swim into its fortressed lodge.  A 35-acre area of upland forest was severely affected by a wildfire in 1994 so state foresters planted pine and oak species to quickly establish forest cover. That area has now grown in densely and the state Division of Parks and Forestry is requesting help from citizens to thin the new growth.  This project will improve the stand’s resiliency and resistance to disease and insect outbreaks.

Here is a bit about the history about the area.

The name Double Trouble gives immediate rise to an inquisitive mind.  Upon hearing it, I recall The Witches Spell from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble.  Cool it with a baboon’s blood, then the charm is firm and good.”  I like to think that this poem would have been in the minds of those who worked the furnace and forge of nearby Dover, located just upstream, as they processed the bog ore. Henry Charlton Beck proposed a possible explanation for the name in his folkloric book Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey (1936). Beck recounts the story of J. Reed Tillman, the cranberry bog superintendent at that time, who claimed that the name came from a local preacher who took to fixing the earthen dam that provided water power to the sawmill in use at the time. Beck explains,

“It seems there was once a profusion of muskrats at the end of the lake where, today, the cedar water piles over with such a rush that a foam of white suds tops the surface beyond the sluiceway. The old preacher and those who lived there with him had to repair the dam many times because the wild creatures ate away at the barrier. On several occasions, this man, whose name Tilton has forgotten, called out, “Here’s Trouble!” When the dam was gnawed through twice in one week, the cry became, “Here’s double trouble!” And here is Double Trouble to this day—though all that was nearly a hundred years ago.”

Earlier than this account, The Sun Newspaper of New York published an article on June 2, 1918 quoting Edward Crabbe, part owner of the Double Trouble Company:

“How did Double Trouble receive its name?” repeated Mr. Crabbe. “Good Luck, further down from Double Trouble, was the birthplace of the Universalist Church in America. In 1770, the clergyman who established the Universalist Church built a dam at this point and the beavers and muskrats, according to the story, broke through the dam and when the men came up to inspect it and saw the havoc wrought he remarked, “More trouble, double trouble”.  The name stuck.  If you will look at the topographic maps of New Jersey, you will see Double Trouble indicated. I have looked back over records in Perth Amboy and I find Double Trouble mentioned in deeds as far back as 1790.”

Cranberry operations were started at Double Trouble in the 1860s by the Burke Family who used the wetland areas left open from the logging of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Formed by Edward Crabbe in 1909, after the purchase of lands from the Burke Family in 1903, The Double Trouble Company eventually grew to be one of the largest cranberry operations in the state. Many of the company’s original structures are still preserved in the historic village, including a rare cranberry packing house and a saw-mill. (Smestad-Nunn)

Double Trouble State Park is now 8,000 acres and protects important historical and natural resources.  Your efforts aid in restoring this forest’s ecological function and help build a larger community of committed individuals with a conservation ethic. If you wish to attend, please RSVP to me at Jason@pinelandsalliance.org and I will provide you with directions and further details.

To learn more about visiting Double Trouble State Park please visit the state’s webpage here.  Guided tours of the historic village and exhibits are available.  Check with the state park for more information.


  1. Beck, H. (1961). Double Trouble and Dover. In Forgotten towns of southern New Jersey (pp. 265-268). New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
  2. Good News From Double Trouble. (1918, June 2). The Sun. Section 7, Page 8. Retrieved January 17th From The Library of Congress, Chronicling America online http://1.usa.gov/1PhDtex
  3. Smestad-Nunn, J. (2015, June 19). From Cedar Mill to Cranberry Bog at Double Trouble Village. The Jackson Times. Retrieved January 17th, 2016, from http://micromediapubs.com/from-cedar-mill-to-cranberry-bog-at-double-trouble-village/

One response to “Get Personal with Double Trouble State Park”

  1. John Hooven says:

    We are working on a volunteer club to help out with volunteer work for Double Trouble. We are organizing efforts to start a nonprofit friends group to help the park and bogs. On Facebook, search for Friends of Double trouble state park.


    John Hooven
    NJ Woodland Stewards Program participant

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