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The History of Collings Lakes
– by Joe Turzanski,
Partially based on data collated from;
“The History of Folsom New Jersey, 1845 – 1976″
Copyright© 1975 by Gertrude Eckhardt. (Used by permission)
The history of Collings Lakes below begins as an “extension” if you will, of the history of Folsom. Today, more than fifty-seven percent of homes in Folsom are within Collings Lakes.
Our nation was seventy years old when a band of German immigrants Selected this spot in the wilderness, a two mile stretch of land on “The Old Coach Road,” twenty five miles south of Camden. Their settlement was called “New Germany” (part of the vast Weymouth tract,) and became what we now call Folsom. Settlers bound for New Germany came to the United States in small groups between 1845 and 1850, and landed in the ports of Philadelphia. The Settlers left their wives and children with friends or relatives in Philadelphia, and the men traveled on by stage coach to buy their farms and build cabins for their families.
“The Corner” in Folsom
New Germany became Folsom when the residents decided they wanted a post office of their own. Postal authorities agreed, provided they changed the name of the town to a “one word” name, and the name “Folsom” was selected, being the surname of then President Grover Cleveland’s new wife.
Collings Lakes Begins
If you’re from Collings Lakes, the Cushman name is familiar because of the lake and street that still bear her name. She was a noted actress, and looking to ensure her future financial well being, she purchased 495 acres of swamp land on December 2, 1866, including much of what is now Collings Lakes.
For about fifty years, the lakes were Cranberry bogs. With a return / upswing of new prosperity in later years, there would be a great need for new housing, and Collings Lakes as we know it would be destined to be born… but not yet.
Ms. Cushmans heirs sold her real estate holdings that would become the major part of Collings Lakes to Mr. Ellwood Braddock (The Lakes Namesake) who then sold it to his brother-in-law, Edward Z. Collings, in 1879. Mr. Collings developed the swamps into cranberry bogs, and reportedly did quite well in profits from them.
After a time, Mr. Collings son took over, and ran the family business at profit until the 1930′s, when the bogs became depleted and were partially destroyed by fire. Some twenty years later, Mr. Collings (Jr.) would decide to retire from the cranberry business and sell his holdings, including the Cushman tracts, for home sites… and Collings lakes was now finally destined to be born!
In 1951, Mr Collings sold his holdings to Mr. David Miller, who selected Earl Rehman of Hammonton to lay out the development. Mr. Rehman presented the first segment of the layout for approval to the town council at Folsom in 1952.
The bogs were then flooded to form the chain of five beautiful lakes and a reservoir, strung together on 500+ wooded acres. The easy “front door” access to the Black Horse Pike made convenient travel to and from the major cities of Philadelphia and Atlantic City, making it a wonderful place to buy single family homes for those longing to escape the cities and enjoy nature and country life.
Cushman Lake, Named for the actress, from the dock at the home of George Hile.
Mr. Rehman had the privilege of naming the streets and lakes, and supplied Gertrude Eckhardt with the following information;
Lakes Cushman and Braddock were named, obviously, for the former owners of the land. Lakes Jay and Robin were named for the sons of David Miller, the developer. Lake Albert was named for Albert Leppi, the contractor. Lake George was named for Mr. George Daminger, a surveyor on Mr. Rehman’s staff. Hospitality Reservoir was named for the river which provides the incoming water for the lakes.
During the 1950′s to 1960′s, an “Exodus” of sorts began in the cities, with more and more families who previously loved city living now finding themselves in less than happy circumstances. Middle income housing in the cities found it’s neighborhoods deteriorating and crime, violence and drugs escalating, convincing many with good jobs to look outside the cities for places to live within an easy and quick commute. Gas being $0.22 – $0.27 per gallon in those days made commuting that much more attractive, since the cities were largely ignoring the pleas and plight of it’s single family homeowners. Collings Lakes was a perfect solution.
A great many people in the lakes were born in Philadelphia, including myself, and my parents were delighted when they found good schools, (Including Our Lady of Victories Parochial school) quiet (well usually) tree-lined streets, nature in abundance, and sporting life, including fishing, hunting and other shooting sports, and all manner of recreational activities perfect for two growing boys, and our sister.
My parents felt particularly privileged, since in those days, Lakefront sylvan areas like ours were normally reserved for well-to-do families with businesses and stock holdings, “Summer Homes” for the privileged. And here we were, on my fathers salary as a mechanic, still able to buy our own, beautiful, split-level home on a wooded acre of property for $11,600.00 (in 1964!) I remember my father telling my mother that the shed would have to wait because “we needed a 12′ aluminum rowboat… ” and the look of consternation on her face. The woods, and the lakes were what living here was all about.
Over the next twenty years, Collings Lakes would almost double in size, seeing less “Summer Home” people and more permanent residents as property values rose, and costs for new homes kept pace.
[coming soon; more recent history, 1970 to present ]
Please click the fish above (and giggle) to get information regarding Fishing regulations concerning all resident and non-resident fishing. DO NOT assume that if you are a resident you do not need a valid NJ Fish & Game fishing license! All non-resident fishermen must read this!
Many thanks to the Eckhardt Family for permissions to use
photographs, selected excepts and edited text from;
“The History of Folsom New Jersey, 1845 – 1976″
Copyright© 1975 by Gertrude Eckhardt.
Please Note: Anyone with old photos of Collings Lakes (very early in the history of the lakes especially!) please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop them off with any CLCA member or trustee, and they will ensure I get them. Please scan and save hard copies if you can in order to ensure they don’t get lost. We are looking for scenic shots and landscapes; Photos with people or groups in them (without much else) won’t be able to be used.
Also, if you have old photos of Folsom, George Eckhardt (whom we owe many thanks for the data on the History of the Lakes) would love to have copies. Please email him at the link in his name above. Thanks for your support!