Batsto Country Living Fair

By Staff
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Spectators 'fawning' over Bill Britton's half scale Little Deere.
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New Jersians were spellbound by Tom Nivison's corn sheller.

130 Serpentine, Dr. Bayville, New Jersey 08721

Mention the words ‘New Jersey’ and usually the larger
cities such as Newark and ‘Joisey’ City come to mind with
people and cars bustling to and fro and pavement as far as the eye
can see. This is a common misconception about the Garden State. It
is true that along with the rest of the nation our state has been
experiencing a decline in the amount of farmland and countryside,
yet there are still some country places where one can have a nice
day’s outing. One of these getaways is Historic Batsto Village
in Batsto, New Jersey.

Located in the central southern part of the state, Batsto came
to prominence as an iron ore producer during the American
Revolution and thus contributed to America’s entry into the
Industrial Age. Batsto produced what was then commonly referred to
as ‘bog iron’. This was iron ore that was literally scooped
out of the bogs and wetlands that cover much of this area.

The creation of these ore beds is a complicated natural process.
Iron rich aquiferous water would slowly pass through a swamp and
mixing with the abundant decayed vegetable matter of the swamp
would release these ‘iron salts’ into this organic matter.
This brown sediment would settle to the bottom of the bog.

The one drawback of this renewable resource was that the
percentage of iron to ore was not as high as the other methods of
mining that were soon to follow. As a result, Batsto could not
compete financially with the more efficient mining operations that
began to develop in Pennsylvania. By the outbreak of the Civil War,
Batsto had’ ceased iron production altogether. Fortunately,
much of this colonial iron works has been preserved or restored by
our state park system.

On Sunday, October 20, 1991 Batsto held its Annual Country
Living Fair. The day’s activities included historic tours,
colonial crafts, blacksmithing, cider making, shingle making,
carpentry, food booths and flea markets, antique autos and nearly
200 gas and steam engines, models, tractors, and equipment on
display. The weather was perfect and drew a crowd in excess of
30,000. Many of the visitors at the show were ‘flatlanders’
(Snuffy Smith’s word for city folks). Most were viewing antique
engines for the first time and had plenty of questions.

Our club, the Pinelands Antique Engine Association, was happy to
be a part of this show for the second year. We enjoy sharing this
hobby with the public and with fellow collectors from all over New
Jersey.

If you enjoy visiting historical places and are a gas engine nut
to boot, why not join us at Batsto on October 18, 1992? For
information, please write or call me at (908) 269-6580.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines