The Perth Amboy & Woodbridge Clay Pits

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pastby Diane Norek Harrison

PERTH AMBOY-WOODBRIDGE-This is from my own research dated 1884. If anyone has more information on the area clay pits or what is now built on them, please send it for another column.

 W.H.P. Benton’s clay pits are situated on the low ground west of Perth Amboy road, and the railroad and south of the one of Mr. Phillips. It was opened some eight years ago.

 The Charles Anness & Sons’ mines are just in the line of Woodbridge Township. In this clay pit there is considerate irregularity and variation in the thickness of the several layers and the vertical section of any given pit is not always representative of that immediately adjoining it. In the following layers were observed: red shale drift; 18 feet, yellow sand and gravel; 6 feet, white sandy clay; 3 feet and feldspar; 4-5 feet and is about ninety-one feet above high-water level.

 Mention made of the following clay-miners and dealers who are interested in the pits; in this Perth Amboy and on the line of the roads from Woodbridge some of the finest kaolin clays have been found. The clay pits of Isaac Inslee, Jr., Merritt’s kaolin pits. A. Hall & Son, Samuel Dally’s fire-sand pit. Feldspar has been cropping out in the Eastern and Amboy Railroad cut one mile west of Perth Amboy and east of Eaglewood road. This was in the bottom of the cut.

 I.H. Manning’s clay pits is one and a half miles west of Perth Amboy, not far from New Brunswick road.

 E.F. Roberts’ clay pits are situated south of Easton and Amboy railroad, near Woodbridge and Perth Amboy line, and a third of a mile north of Florida Grove.

 These clay pits are so intersected with the Woodbridge clays, and as there are a number of firms and individual owners in both the township of Woodbridge and at Perth Amboy, what has been remarked for one is represented by the other. A number of owners may be mentioned, but a description given of the clays is all that is necessary. The source from whence the materials for this formation originated must be looked for to the southeast of the present strata. Though bordering upon and overlaying the red shale and sandstone which lies to the northwest of it, there is not a fragment of those rocks to be found in any of these beds, nor any of their striking and characteristic red color to be perceived in them.

On the contrary, the materials of these beds are white, gray, or blackish, and of at all tinged with the reddish color of oxide of iron it is a yellowish-red, and not a purplish-red, like the red shale and sandstone. The appearances all indicate that they have originated from the material of disintegrated and partially decomposed feldspathic granite or gneiss.

 If you have your own memories or past information for Carteret, Edison, Metuchen, Perth Amboy, Sayreville, South Amboy or Woodbridge you can email me at dianenorekharrison@juno.com or send copies of your material to me c/o CMD Media, 1139 East Jersey St., Suite 503, Elizabeth NJ, 07201.


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  • http://none Ben

    I heard a story from Weird NJ about some primitive statues figuringes that were allegedly found at the clay pits. They said that there was a community of inbred people living in the Woodbridge Clay Pits, possibly descended from Hessian soldiers who deserted. They also said that the place where the figurines were found now has a Fortunoff store on the site.
    I don’t know if either is true, but it makes for some weird urban legends.

  • jim

    I grew up in Fords, and the clay pits were part of my life. They were at the end of my street (Carlton St.) in Fords. There were many ponds, where I used to catch sunfish and frogs. The main pond was called “Catfish Pond”, although I never caught any catfish in it. There was also lots of ponds with green water, that we called “Acid Ponds”. No life in them – probably toxic waste. There was a “No Trespassing” sign outside with “Mc House Clay Company” on it , and also s “US Government Rsservation – Keep Out” sign outside the woods.
    Last time I visited, There is now a highway thru the whole place.The clay pits in Woodbridge is now a mall.
    Hope this helps.