Two Washington's Rocks
Washington Rock State Park in Green Brook (5 miles from the Middlebrook Encampment) is where George Washington went to monitor British Trooup movements, when General Howe was moving toward Westfield in 1777.
  Historian, Robert A. Mayers came across an account of another rock observation post along the ridge in a British account written in 1785. This document mentions Washington's observation post as being on a rock on the south side of Middlebrook Heights. The area of the Middlebrook Encampment.
He found several other more recent references to a Middlebrook Washingon Rock, including Boom's reference to Benson Lossing's book, "Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution".
This makes sense since the army was camped at Middlebrook heights in 1777.

This is not to say Washington didn't use the Green Brook location. It provided a view of Westfield and Manhattan not visible from Middlebrook heights.
See map below.

In The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution or, Illustrations, by pen and pencil, of the history, biography, scenery, relics, and traditions of the war for independence. Lossing says.

"Returning to the village, we proceeded to visit the camp-ground, which is upon the left of the main road over the mountains to Pluckemin [now Vosseller Ave]; also "Washington's Rock." The former exhibits nothing worthy of particular attention; but the latter, situated upon the highest point of the mountain in the rear of Middlebrok, is a locality, independent of the associaations which hallow it, that must ever impress the visitor with pleasant recollections of the view obtained from that lofty observatory. We left our wagon at a point half way up the mountain, and made our way up the steep declivities along the remains of the old road. How loaded wagons were managed in ascending or descending this mountain road is quite inconceivable, for it is a difficult journey for a foot-passenger to make. In many places not even the advantage of a zigzag course along the hill sides was employed, but a line as straight as possible was made up the mountain. Along this difficult way the artillery troops that were stationed at Pluckemin crossed the mountain and over that steep and rugged road heavy cannons were dragged. Having reached the summit we made our way through a narrow and tangled path to the bold rock seen in this picture [drawing to the right). It is at an elevation of nearly four hundred feet above the plain below, and commands a magnificent view of the surrounding country included in the segment of a circle of sixty miles, having its rundle southware. At our feet spread out the beautiful rolling plains like a map, through which course the winding Raritan and the Delaware and Hudson Canal. Little villages and neat farm-houses dotted the picture in every direction. Southward, the spires of New Brunswick shot up above the intervening forests, and on the left, as seen in the picture was spread the expanse of Raritan and Amboy Bays, with many white sails upon the bosoms. Beyond were seen the swelling hills of Staten Island, and the more abrupt heights of Navesink Mountains, at Sandy Hook. Along this lofty rock Washington often stood, with his telescope, and reconnoitered the vicinity. He overlooked his camp at his feet and could have descried the marchings of the enemy at a great distance upon the plain, or the evolutions of a fleet in the waters beyond. In the rear of Plainfield, at an equal elevation, and upon the same range of hills, is another rock bearing a similar appellation, and from the same cause. It is near the brow of the mountain, but, unlike the one under consideration, it stands quite alone and rises from a slope of the hill, about twenty-five feed from base to summit. From this latter lofty position, it is said, Washington watched the movements of the enemy in the summer of 1777."
Lossing had a sketch of the Middlebrook Rock. Mayers is exploring 2 possibilities, one between Herb Patullo's place and Chimney Rock and another nearer Vosseller Ave. (red dots A & B on map below) (red dots A & B on map below)
Note: Trail names are proposed
Black&White version.

Location B near Vosseller Ave.:
40.5814,-74.5439 - 40.5813,-74.5440
These are several different observation points along a 150 ft area of the 20 foot cliff.

(Click on pictures for a larger version)

The bolder to the right could be the one jutting out in the sketch above, which broke off.

View from trail below.

Looking along the face

View south towards New Brunswick                                                      Trail Below.
Case for Vosseller location:
Rock formations look more like Lossing's drawings.
It is a higher location (375') vs the chimney rock location (315'). Closer to the road thru Wayne's gap (Vosseller Ave.)
Provides a better view thru Wayne's gap.
That is where General Wayne's Brigade was camped.

Location A near Chimney Rock:
    Looking East Looking West
Case for chimney rock location:
If trees are removed the view is better to the S-SE toward New Brunswick than the view from the Vosseller location, where the ridges on either side of Wayne's gap (Vosseller Ave) give you a narrower field of view.

Neither location has a view of the valley in the background when looking across the rock face like the sketch.

Chimney Rock was ruled out. There is no view to the SE toward New Brunswick.

Field of view from Vosseller Ave Rock (B)

Note: You can move about 100 yards down the ridge to get a view of Sandy Hook in the winter when there are no leaves.
The field of view is for the winter when there are no leaves. We assume Washington's army with nothing to do, would have cut down any trees blocking the view.

Note: The only place where you can see the valley below when looking across the rock face is at the first picture above in "View along rock face", but the cliff is on the right. I think Lossing took a little licence in the illustration.

I walked below the ridge for 1/4 mile on either side of Vosseller Ave and didn't see any beter location.

Other rocks shown on topo map above:
1. 40.5805, -74.5479                 2. 40.5805 -74.5461

Return to: Middlebrook Encampment

last updated 24 Aug 2017