One of South Jersey's best kept secrets is Birch Grove Park in Northfield. It's home to 21 small lakes - or, probably best described, ponds. How did the ponds  get there?

Even though we don't/didn't live in Northfield as my kids were growing up, we spent a lot of time at the park. We walked the trails, tried our hands at fishing, played in the playground, and later - as the kids got older - they played on the baseball and softball fields. Did you know there used to be a small zoo at Birch Grove?

The park has been a Northfield city park since 1952. In a story at, it's mentioned that the Birch Grove Park Commission was incorporated "for the purpose of developing, maintaining and improving the park."

The article also mentions how the ponds were formed. The answer: they were all man made when the property belonged to a brick-making company:

The land use history of Birch Grove Park began in 1847. In this year Hubert Somers bought 300 acres of land in Northfield. The purchase of this land marked the start of the Somers Brick Yard which began manufacturing brick in 1900. This land was suitable for brick making due to the high quality and huge quantities of clay and sand materials found there. Clay deposits make excellent brick material because it is impervious to water.

The holes were the results of the clay being extracted from throughout the property. Each hole was hand dug by workers, digging out the clay.

During the Great Depression, the plant shut down, and nature took over, with rains filling the holes. In the years that followed some reforestation took place, bridges, were built, and ta-da a great little park was born.

If you're interesting in reading more, check out the original article here.

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