New Exhibits for the 2019-2020 Season
Mahwah’s His-“TREE”: 75 Years as a Township, 1944-2019
Mahwah’s history dates back to the 1600s and 1700s, belonging to several territories with different names. In the 1700s and 1800s, Mahwah grew from a seedling of Franklin Township and later stemmed from Hohokus Township. As other towns broke off from Hohokus Township, Mahwah remained, leaving it the largest tract of land in what is now Bergen County.
Mahwah blossomed as an independent community, and was officially incorporated as a township in 1944. Our exhibit will explore the different branches of what makes a community live, breathe, and thrive. Mahwah’s roots as a township were strengthened through the growth of borough organizations, housing developments, schools, recreation, religious and civic groups, and industry.
No matter how far back you can trace your roots in Mahwah, come share our shade as we honor the people, places, and organizations that have continued our history into the 21st century.
Palisades Amusement Park Comes to Mahwah – In Miniature!
(Photo credit: Vince Gargiulo)
New Jersey’s famous Palisades Amusement Park closed nearly 50 years ago. But most Jerseyites over the age of 60 will still smile at the mere mention of this classic American fun center. Mahwah resident, Vince Gargiulo, has been keeping the memory of Palisades alive for the past quarter of a century. He founded the Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society (PAPHS) in the early 1990s. His book, “Palisades Amusement Park: A Century of Fond Memories,” was the fastest selling book in the history of Rutgers University Press. His 1998 PBS documentary of the same name won several awards for outstanding documentary and was nominated for a New York Emmy.
His latest project is a working 1930s model of the park that he has been restoring for over a year. A long time park employee, Joe Prisco, originally built the wooden model in the 1990s. After his death, the model was moved several times and sustained a great deal of damage. In 2018, Gargiulo reached out to Prisco’s family, who donated the model to the PAPHS. Gargiulo set about to restore each piece, most requiring a great deal of work and patience. “The Carousel was the hardest piece to restore,” Gargiulo noted. “Many of the ornamental decorations were missing. Half of the light bulbs were burned out, and replacing them was not cheap!”
But his biggest challenge with the carousel was getting it to rotate. “I wish this model came with some kind of instruction manual,” Vince joked. “It would make repairing it so much easier.” After a month of experimenting, he was finally able to get the merry-go-round to operate properly. Gargiulo has completed restoration of 25 pieces including the Tunnel of Love, the World’s Largest Outdoor Salt Water Pool, the Ferris Wheel, the Carousel, the Free Act Stage, the Bumper Cars and much more. On September 22, the miniature amusement park will be on display as part of the Mahwah Museum’s 2019-2020 lineup. Also on display will be some extremely rare artifacts from the park from Gargiulo’s extensive collection.
A College Comes to Mahwah: Ramapo College, 1965-1975
(Photo credit: Vincent Marchese)
When the State of New Jersey decided to build a new college in Northern New Jersey in 1965, few towns wanted anything to do with it. Fears of radical students, traffic, and lost tax revenues dogged early efforts in Leonia, Hackensack and Saddle River. When the Birch Estate was proposed as a potential site, Mahwah quickly became the front runner. Our exhibit on the establishment of Ramapo College in Mahwah takes a look at life in the township 50 years ago and the creation of a unique liberal arts college.
Working with early faculty and graduates from Ramapo College, the exhibit will provide a brief history of the College’s aspirations and a look at its early curriculum. Students recall what campus life was like when the campus was being built around them; the makeshift “dorms” at the Carmel Retreat, a Boy Scout Camp, and Club 300; the jazz festivals; and student and faculty strikes. These challenges forged a tight community and left fond memories. Come and experience an early 1970s college in Mahwah — sights, sounds, and recollections!
These exhibits will be on display along with our very popular permanent exhibits, the ever expanding Donald Cooper Model Railroad (open weekends only) and Les Paul in Mahwah!
Family Favorite! The Donald Cooper Model Railroad is open every weekend from 1-4 pm.
Free for children and Museum members – $5.00 for non-members.
Get on board with the Donald Cooper Model Railroad! A four-level-high, DDC- controlled model train layout has something for every size, child or adult. The layout honors the importance of the railroad in Mahwah’s development and history!
The Donald Cooper Model Railroad continues to entertain children of all ages with seven trains running at a time. Adults and children delight as they watch over the four layers of the railroad, seeing the many wonderful things that are made possible only by the assistance of trains! As the passenger cars make their way through the Amtrak stops and the subway stations, and mine workers wait for their lumber load to arrive, thirty-car coal trains take large sweeping curves as they climb the grades of the two-track main line!
The Blue Main Line sits between the lower level and the large freight yard and passenger terminal. You can find either passenger or freight trains making their way along the rocky cliffs that identify this line. Trains coming from Union Station or the freight yard must enter this line before heading down the connector track to the large lower level main line.
Come visit our railroad to see it in action. See also our collection of Lionel “O” Gauge trains representing railroads all across the country and all types of locomotives.
This exhibit was made possible through the generous donations of Renee and Ebrima Darboe of Mahwah, New Jersey and the Margolis family of Ramsey, New Jersey.
The Donald Cooper Model Railroad is a permanent exhibit at Mahwah Museum, open Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 pm, September though June. The model Railroad is not open on Wednesdays. It is not a train ride and it is not a free train display. The Donald Cooper Model Railroad is one of our most popular permanent exhibits. The layout is a favorite stop for children of all ages.
VOLUNTEER WITH THE DCMRR TRAIN CREW
Are you a train buff? ff you are interested in model railroading, we would welcome you as a member of our train crew. The requirements are a love of the hobby, being twelve years of age or older, and becoming a member of the Mahwah Museum Society. If you have any questions please click here to email our train crew or call 201.512.0099 and leave a message for the train crew. For more information about how to volunteer with the DCMRR crew please click here.