More On The Woodbridge Clay Pits

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pastBy Diane Norek Harrison

WOODBRIDGE-I received the following email from a reader: “Hi Diane, We read with interest your excerpt about the Perth Amboy and Woodbridge Clay Pits in the Feb. 6 Atom Tabloid. You might be interested in this material from “The Clays and Clay Industry of New Jersey by Heinrich Ries and Henry Kummel in 1904.” We appreciate your efforts in describing local historic content.”

Here is an excerpt from the material: The Woodbridge Clays: Beneath the “Feldspar-Kaolin” sands, there occurs the Woodbridge clay bed, the most important and most widely worked of all the subdivisions of the Raritan formation. Its importance is due to its great thickness (50 to 80 feet where not eroded), to its wide outcrop, and to its character.

It has been opened in four somewhat district areas, a) south of Woodbridge, b) north of the Raritan river from Florida Grove to Bonhamtown, c) south of the Raritan from South Amboy to Sayreville and south to Jas. Bissettes’ brickyard on South river, d) at South River village to Milltown. The four districts may be spoken briefly as a) Woodbridge area, b) the Sand Hills area, c) the Sayreville area, d) South River area. The Woodbridge and Sand Hills are separated from each other by a belt of hills, the tops of which are formed either by thick deposits of glacier drift or by higher members of the Raritan formation I.e., the “Feldspar-Kaolin” sands and the South Amboy fire clay. Whether or not the Woodbridge clays are continuous across the belt beneath these later deposits, or whether the core of the ridge of hills is formed by Triassic red shale, as may be inferred from an isolated knoll of this formation between Engleswood and Spa Spring is uncertain.

The thickness of this member varies from about 50 feet in the vicinity of Woodbridge to 80 feet near Spa Spring and Maurer, as shown by borings, but this amount of clay is nowhere exposed in any one bank. At many of the banks near Woodbridge, particularly the more northwesterly openings, the upper part of the bed has been eroded away, and only the lower 15 or 20 feet remain. In fact, there has been a varying amount of erosion wherever the yellow Pensauken gravel or the red glacial drift lies upon the clay. In some cases also huge masses of the clay many feet in diameter have been included I the drift. But where the black, laminated clay at the top is overlain by a white, micaceous sand, that is by the next higher Cretaceous bed, there has been no erosion of the Woodbridge clay. This is the case in most of the banks about Maurer and Keasbey, and at Sayreville. Here, however, the base of the clay lies so deep that it is below sea level and is reached only by borings. The thickness given above make due allowance for the upper layers where they have been eroded, or are based on the data furnished by borings where the base of the clay is not exposed.

The Woodbridge clays do not form a homogeneous bed, but are made up of many layers of varying quality. At the top there is a black, lignitic clay with alternating seams and layers of sand. These were called by Dr. Cook the “laminated clays and sands.” At the base there is a bed of fire clay Cook’s Woodbridge fire-clay bed. In some areas certain beds just above the fire clay have a marked individually, and can be recognized in adjoining banks. Elsewhere the corresponding layers are not sharply separable from the laminated clays and are included with them.

Thank you to my contributor! If any reader knows where Maurer, Engleswood or Spa Spring as referred in the material is located, please let me know for another column.

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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0 comments for “More On The Woodbridge Clay Pits

  1. Giff Kucsma
    April 29, 2009 at 2:14 am

    “If any reader knows where Maurer, Engleswood or Spa Spring as referred in the material is located […]”

    “Spa Springs” was a Cutter family farm. It was generally in an area bounded on the south by Florida Grove Road, west of Convery Boulevard/Amboy Avenue, and bounded on the north by the present-day NJ Turnpike in Woodbridge. Ephraim Cutter was born at the Cutter family farm in Woodbridge, New Jersey, August 11, 1854, this farm having been the home of his father and grandfather, the farm being known for many years as the Spa Spring Farm. Much later (into my lifetime), this area was referred to as “Cutter’s Woods”, or the Cutter clay banks.

    “Maurer” was an area radiating around the junction of today’s Maurer Road and Amboy Avenue, on the boundary between Woodbridge and Perth Amboy. Henry Maurer, a native of Germany, came to Perth Amboy in 1875 from New York, where he had been in business for many years, and purchased the fire-brick works of Joseph Forbes, near the mouth of Woodbridge Creek. Maurer was at one time a stop on the railroad between Woodbridge and Perth Amboy.

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