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United States/Covers & Postmarks : North Jersey Postal Run

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
29 Mar 2019
06:09:53pm

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Yes! I hit the road again! I know it was only three weeks ago that I did the lower Eastern coastal run but I found myself with a late day appointment in North Jersey. I took the day to explore the northern tip of the state where there's an intersection with Pennsylvania and New York. This area intrigued me for awhile because it's all rural hill country. It's the starting point for the Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains, and the corner of the state where our ski resorts are located. So off I went!

I didn't leave my home especially early. I got my morning business interaction out of the way, and left around 9:30am. My first planned stop was Greendell, New Jersey because this small post office closed for the day at noon. It was a two hour journey so I knew I'd arrive at 11:30am with some time to spare. The Waze GPS program chews iPhone batteries at an alarming rate, about a quarter charge an hour even with the phone plugged into my electrical outlet. I knew my route to the general area so I only turned on my GPS once in the vicinity. My alarm went off when it wouldn't take "Greendell". It showed the address as 243 Kennedy Road, Green. As I headed there, I saw a sign that said, "Entering Green Township" so I knew we were okay.

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I am used to hunting for these small little post offices. I'm traveling down Kennedy Road and we went through Tranquility, then it was just farms and rural homes. We approached a clearing on the left and I saw a firehouse. The GPS triumphantly announced "You Are Here!" so I pulled in. I pulled around the building and found the post office on the left side of the building in the fire house basement. See the red arrow in this photo!

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Man, what a crummy little office it was! Tiny inside with a single clerk, a friendly young woman who was very happy to help me with my cancellation request. She even suggested I go to Tranquility, but I already own that postmark.

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I have a variety of colored cards and envelopes I've been using for cancellations lately to add interest to the collection. Nobody can disagree with me that I should use my green cards for Greendell in Green Township New Jersey! I also have been using the current Forever postcard rate stamps a lot because they show the cancel well.

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Bonus Cover! Tranquility, New Jersey. The Bridgeton Stamp Club mailed their meeting notice from a different post office each month. I have a few of these in my collection from that era.

Now what's interesting is that both Greendell and Tranquility post offices are both in Green Township on the very same road, 2 miles apart. Tranquility is in the town hall complex and in a modern building. It's open from 9-12:30 and 1:30-4:30 every day, while Greendell is only open until noon and is an awful little place. I would say we will see this as a DPO in the near future. It's just redundant! Other than the fact that's it's been in existence since 1915.

From Greendell, our next planned stop was Montague, planned that way because of distance and because it closed for lunch at 1pm. A lot of these small offices are one or two people offices and actually close for a lunch hour. So I knew if I missed it, I would have to wait until after 2pm. The Waze GPS jumped to service, and immediately recommended a backroad. Yipee! That's what I was out to see.

Sometimes we pass other post offices along our route. The GPS put us on Route 206, which meanders through Sussex County. We went smack through the center of Newton, the county seat and there was the post office. Newton is a fairly easy to obtain postmark so we didn't bother to stop.

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Newton Bonus Cover!

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Still as we sprinted towards Montague, I always keep my trained eye out for post offices. And right there on Route 206 was the Augusta, New Jersey office in a small shopping center. I can tell you that I have a lot of towns right off the bat. In fact I can even picture the cover I own representing that town in a lot of cases. Still, as I'm approaching 850 towns in the collection, I cannot recall them all. Augusta was one of those cases. As I had hastily planned this trip the evening before, I forgot to email myself my cancellation spread sheet, so I didn't have that available for reference.

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I could not recall having an Augusta cover. So I cautiously stopped and got one cover neatly cancelled. This was the only 4 bar cancel of the day, so I was glad to have received it. The clerk was cautious and offered me the cancel device to apply my own cancel. It did come out really nice for a spectacular cover!

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Bonus Cover! Once I home that evening I did check my album and yes, I did already have a vintage Augusta cancelled cover! And since both are interesting covers, they will both remain in my album! So we then continued onward to Montague!

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I rolled into Montague at 12:45pm, with time to spare. The clerk was a nice friendly guy in his late 30s who was cheerful to all of the customers ahead of me. When I approached, he asked, "You collect postmarks?" I responded, "Yes, for the state of New Jersey" He replied, "I get it! I'm a postcard collector!" and gave me super nice cancels on my two cards. I did let him get on to his work as there was a line behind me, no doubt all trying to make it before he closed for lunch at 1pm.

Montague is a postal mystery as in the book "New Jersey Postal History" and my other references show it existed from 1815-1908, with no current office. So I will have to find out when it was opened to complete my records. Or did I enter the Twilight Zone?

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At this point, we are up in the mountains in ski country, and right on the New York State border. My next stop was Unionville, and no surprise, we headed up the side of a mountain. In fact there were spots with brilliant views of valleys and mountains off in the distance along the way. My Hyundai kept downshifting as we headed up steeper and steeper grades. Finally we come out into a little town "Village of Unionville"! It is the proverbial mountain village. A neat little town with ancient buildings.

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I drive through this hilly little town and find the post office. It's a bit after 2pm and their lunch hour is 1-2pm so I figure they are open. The post office is nothing special, one of those 1960s brick buildings looking out of place in this historical little town. I walk up and read the sign, United States Postal Service, Unionville, NEW YORK! Damn! I scooted over the border! How the heck did that happen?! I try the door and they're still closed anyway. These small town offices aren't all that punctual, I've waited for them to reopen many times.

I just leave. I'm ticked and I later figure out how this happened. There were several post offices in a row all along the border. When you bring them up one at a time in the USPS phone app, it just gives the office name and not the state. It worked against my own master list because there once was a Unionville, NJ post office. The big error of the day! Next up, McAfee, NEW JERSEY this time!

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As I said earlier, as I travel I keep both eyes open for post offices and other sights. I am wandering as a tourist after all! I'm passing a shopping center and notice two USPS vans parked together at the edge of the parking lot. Yes, a post office. Now I'm fairly sure I already have Sussex, NJ but I stop anyway as I'm no longer in a hurry. I notice the building is marked "Sussex Wantage Post Office" so I'm intrigued.

The clerk was pleased to cancel my cards and I noticed the cancel only said "Sussex" and not "Wantage". I asked and he confirmed that there was no Wantage on their postmarks. Oh well. I check my album upon returning home and indeed I have a Sussex cancellation on an old postcard. The card has a lot of writing on it, so my new card will replace it. A good stop.

So we head onward to McAfee!

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This is where I received my first date wheel cancel of the day. These are still fairly rare, so it was interesting that they had one.

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And why not another bonus cover? This is McAfee Valley, a DPO from 1868-1924 when the name was shortened to just McAfee! And this is the reason I wasn't leaving this trip without a McAfee postal marking!

We are still up in the mountains, in fact we drive right through the Vernon, New Jersey's Mountain Creek Resort. We actually had to stop at the cross walk for skiers. Funny as that seems, it's near 60 degrees out and they're headed up the mountain. Looking up I can see the snow.

It's a nice day, sunny and warm. I've left my jacket in the car most of the day. We are traveling on rural roads and I see a good amount of road kill. Everything from deer to squirrels, possums and raccoons. I pity those poor animals that they survived the cold all winter just to be killed as spring approached. But that's just the way it went for them.

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Bonus Cover! Vernon, New Jersey with my beloved Ben Franklin stamp! The reason why we didn't need to seek out the current Vernon post office.

Onward to Highland Lakes!



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As we head to Highland Lakes, we pass a lot of lakes up high in these mountains. This area is rich in ski money all winter and boaters and fishermen all summer. A year round area! The Highland Lakes post office is directly across from Highland Lake. The land was neatly carved out of rock and high above the roadway. The post office is very new and architecturally pleasing!

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The clerk was again very nice and offered me the cancellation. I hand stamped my cards with the second two color date wheel cancel of the day! I showed the clerk the cover from McAfee and noticed the colors were reversed. I mentioned it and the clerk said they had another one in the back that was all red. So there is no central control on postal markings!

Leaving Highland Lakes, this is the first time the GPS sent me back the way I entered, no doubt the only way out of this little resort area! Onward to West Milford!

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We received our West Milford postmarks without any issues. I forgot to take a photo of the post office. Note that in this three state triangle, Milford is in Pennsylvania, New Milford is in New York, and West Milford is in New Jersey. To further complicate things, there is a Milford and New Milford in other areas of NJ.

It is getting late in the day so I start plotting my final stops. In the early part of the day, the post offices were further apart. Now I can knock off a few in less time than it took me to travel between two earlier! With that in mind we point our trusty little red car towards Oak Ridge, NJ where the post office is appropriately on Oak Ridge Road.

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The Oak Ridge post office is a modern postal building. Like several of the offices I visited today, the front counter wasn't manned and I had to ring the bell for service. A little lady appeared, I asked for my postmarks and she rapidly hit my cards with no regard to cancel angle or getting remotely near the stamp! Then as quick as she appeared she disappeared to the back! I just laughed. Take note that the Oak Ridge postmark just says "Oak Ridge Post Office" with no mention of the state of New Jersey!

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Oak Ridge Post Office

I figure I have one stop left before I need to head towards my business appointment. That would be Jefferson, New Jersey. The lady there had a charming British accent and questioned if it would be appropriate to cancel my envelopes since I wasn't mailing them. I pulled out the stack of covers already cancelled for the day, and the section of the USPS Manual called "Cooperation With Collectors". She glanced just at the part I had underlined and said, "If all the others did it, I suppose it's okay." and gave these super light cancels to my covers.

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I asked if she had a darker cancel and she said that's all she had, the ink was drying up. She then pointed out that although her post office was marked "Jefferson" her marking actually said "Jefferson Station" because there as another "Jefferson" post office. Hmmm, my records show there was one from 1871-1906 in Gloucester County, down in South Jersey but nothing currently. This post office, whether Jefferson or Jefferson Station must have been established after 1977 because there is no reference of it in the New Jersey Postal History book.

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The Jefferson Station Post Office. I believe I'm at the end of my day and I'm ready to head back towards my business meeting in Parsippany, NJ. I took a quick look at my papers and see that Stockholm, NJ is just a few miles away. So why not one more stop?

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In just a few minutes I arrive in Stockholm... New Jersey that is! I'm a bit disappointed since the Cologne, NJ post office was picturesque while Stockholm is in a modern shopping center. I was hoping for more! The clerk inside was a guy with a crew cut that reminded me of Sgt Carter on Gomer Pyle, USMC. He had no issues with giving me nice cancels.

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And that brought me to the end of my day. It was 3:45pm and I had a 4:30pm meeting in Parsippany. I worried a bit about the legendary New Jersey rush hour traffic in that area, but I never saw any. I got there with time to spare and was standing at the meeting registration counter at 4:15pm. It was a wonderful day!

All told we made 11 stops and got 10 postmarks. We click off 8 new towns, add one to an existing town and replace one! In these rural parts of Sussex, Passaic and Morris Counties there was no resistance to my collecting postmarks and every postal employee was delightful.

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Here's something new, I wanted to track my movement on this trip so I put all the addresses into Google Maps. The start point is the Greendell post office and the end point is my business meeting in Parsippany. All told the postal run was 108 miles and would've taken almost three hours if I didn't make the stops, a bit over four hours as performed! Once I had driven two hours to our start point, and two hours home that evening, it was a 300 mile, full tank of gas kinda day! But a good one!

My collection tally at the end of the day is 844 unique offices out of 2197 known offices and variations. That puts the completeness at 38.42%. The collection has been hovering around 38% for some time now. Note that today we added two new offices to our list, so that changes the mix as well as when I add new covers to the collection.

Until next time!

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philb
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30 Mar 2019
12:44:58pm

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re: North Jersey Postal Run

This Joisey cover is i am sure COMMON for you...BobGGGG sent it to me as a birthday card (January 1 ) my wife thinks the card was unmailable because of the glitter on the numerals 1908.Image Not Found

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"If a man would be anything, he must be himself."
BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
02 Apr 2019
12:56:36pm

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re: North Jersey Postal Run

Hey Phil! Yes, I know both Lincroft and Red Bank intimately. My first apartment was in Lincroft and my job at the time was in Red Bank. Both are Monmouth County, my home area. Thanks for posting! The January 1 postmark is certainly cool. The fact that the card traveled on that day is also interesting.

Your cover is interesting. Lincroft would have been all farms in 1901. It's part of Middletown Township. Red Bank is a small town, about the size of a county courthouse town. It was well established by 1901.

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St James Church, circa 1906

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Same view today. That's the high school to the left. And they added the tower top to the church.

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