A walk-through tale of our lake’s past

We love Lake Hopatcong. We really do. So in 2009, when we saw a vacant property on Nolans Point Park Road we wanted to add to the Lake Hopatcong experience. We wanted something that was family friendly and resonated with a classic summer past-time. Minigolf seemed to be the natural fit!
We also figured we weren’t the only ones who couldn’t tell our friends enough about Lake Hopatcong’s history. Lake Hopatcong Golf Club showcases the rich history of Lake Hopatcong. After doing some homework we chose a few historical locations to showcase throughout the course. Putters stroll among replicas of noteworthy lake structures and learn about the lake’s rich history. Lake Hopatcong Golf Club opened its doors in the Spring of 2012. The rest, so they say, is history.

Our Club House

Our Club House was designed with Lake History in mind. The use of wooden siding, columns, copper flashing, as well natural colors and textures speak “lake” to all who visit. In addition to the LHGC kiosk, the building holds offices, both public and private restrooms and facility storage. The kiosk sells cold beverages, packaged ice cream items, popcorn, hot pretzels and a variety of snack foods. We even have a growing selection of toys and gifts. Feel free to sit on our lawn area up top or on the docks down near the water.

The Lake Hopatcong Dam

The Lake Hopatcong Dam was built in 1827 to enable Lake Hopatcong to feed the Morris Canal, which stretched east to Jersey City and west to Phillpsburg. The dam permanently raised the water level in the lake by 12 feet changing the geography of the entire area by connecting the once separated Great and Little Ponds, creating two islands, two major peninsulas and many coves. Lake Hopatcong would be about half its current size if not for the dam. The dam is located at the southernmost point of the lake at Hopatcong State Park and is used to date to maintain and monitor lake levels throughout the season. Water flowing over the dam continues into the Musconetcong River which is a tributary of the Delaware River.

Hopatcong Steamboat

The 1880’s began a new era in Lake Hopatcong history – booming tourism. Visitors flocked to the crisp air and refreshing water of the lake to escape the excessive summer heat of surrounding cities. Tourists traveled on newly constructed (or re-purposed) railroad lines to spend a day, weekend or longer enjoying the lake and its many (and growing) attractions and hotels. Passenger who arrived by rail to Nolan’s Point or Landing Station would be taken to their lake destination by boat. Roads around the lake were either in poor repair or non-existent at that time. Two major steamboat companies transported guests to and from their lake destinations for as little as 25 cents. The White Line’s largest steamship ‘Hopatcong” was a double decker with open air seating on the roof of the main cabin.

Allen’s Pavilion

Allen’s Pavilion and grounds surrounding it were a great attraction on Nolan’s Point, where we are today. Built in 1887, Allen’s Pavilion was a restaurant, dance hall, photo studio, billiard hall, ice cream shop and more. Over the years the buildings were rebuilt or expanded. The grounds surrounding the building included a carousel, swimming beach, great picnic lawn, shooting range, rental boats, and even a roller skating rink. It was the heart of Nolan’s Point Amusement Park for many decades. In 1963 the building became the Windlass Restaurant which is next door to our golf club.

The Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club

During the turn of the century, increased tourism and more summer ‘cottages’ meant more socializing on the lake resulting in the formation of many clubs and associations. The Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club (formed 1905) chose a site with majestic views of the lake from Bertrand Island for its clubhouse. Today the building still stands in pretty much the same condition as it did in 1910 when it opened. The club is registered on the National and New Jersey Historic Places and the majestic Adirondack style of the building is a living example of the Golden Era of Lake Hopatcong.

Ogden Mine Railroad

The Ogden Mine Railroad, built in 1866, transported iron ore from Ogdensburg to Nolan’s point along Weldon Road. The track was about 10 miles long. Upon reaching Lake Hopatcong, the ore was transferred from the railroad cars and onto barges. The barges then travelled via the Morris Canal to many forges in and around Newark. During the heyday of operations 100,000 tons of ore were transported annually – and since it was a water passageway – operations were only during ‘ice free’ seasons. In 1882, Central Railroad of New Jersey constructed a length of track from Nolan’s point which put an end to canal and lake dependency on transporting ore. Soon ore was no longer an active industry and the rail lines were used for tourism and the transportation of ice which was harvested and stored in massive ice houses on the lake. Prohibition virtually put the end to the ice trade. The 1930’s brought the automobile to Lake Hopatcong. By 1941 the rail line was shut down. If you travel around and on the lake you can still see remnants of this once booming rail industry.

Main Lake Market

The Main Lake Market building was constructed in 1905 to serve a growing lake community and camping ground. Originally known as the Shadowlawn Boathouse, the building housed a tea room, groceries and other items. The ownership of the building changed hands a few times in the last hundred years – serving as home to the famous Sutphen boatworks, Prospect Point Boat yard and finally as the Main Lake Market. 100 years of non-stop operations on the lake. While not a historical landmark, many of the attributes of the building you see today are as close to the original building in 1905. Including the fact that below the main floorboards lake water flows!

The Wildcat

The Wildcat roller coaster made Bertrand Island Amusement Park an official destination for thrill-seekers when it was built in 1925. The 80 foot all wood coaster was designed by Herbert Schmeck who, despite not having an engineering degree, designed 84 coasters for the most prominent manufacturer of coasters at the time – the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. In 1983 when the coaster came down it was the oldest of its kind which was still standing. There are many Lake Hopatcong residents and visitors alike who fondly recall the thrilling ride of the Wildcat…