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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Appleby Estates Finale

The last Appleby Estates Blog, posted March 17, 2013, ended with Steve Eichinger and I running into the following barrier and sign while driving in the Appleby Estates area of the Pine Barrens.

The signs read:
Restricted Area - Unlawful to enter this area without authorization of the Installation Commander.
. . . on this Installation all personnel and the property under their control are subject to search. Use of deadly force authorized.

Living in Bass River Township, Steve and I are familiar with the United States Government operations in this remote area of the township, but many of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere are probably wondering "What's going on here?"

Well, here's the skinny. The federal government operates the Warren Grove Bombing Range for the east coast National Guard to practice bombing and strafing activities. 

Barriers and warning signs have been placed along the many sand roads leading into the bombing range to protect any Pine Barrens travelers from venturing onto the bombing range and placing their lives at risk. Steve and I were two of these travelers in our search for the elusive Appleby Estates.

Over the years planes from the bombing range have proven to be both an annoyance and a danger to local residents. Low flying jets circling outside the bombing range have produced noise pollution in our peaceful Pine Barrens and some nervous moments. I can recall incidents when jets streaking low over the Bass River have passed close by my house making the glassware in our china cabinet vibrate and rattle.

The dropping of dummy bombs and flares have resulted in many forest fires throughout the years, some of which endangered nearby pineland's homes. Some of the most recent fires are listed in a Wikipedia article on the Warren Grove Gunnery Range:

·         In May 2007, flares dropped from an F-16 belonging to the 177th Fighter Wing set off a large wildfire that consumed more than 18,000 acres (73 km²) of the Pinelands and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents.
·         In January 2002, another aircraft practicing at Warren Grove crashed near the Garden State Parkway spewing flames and molten metal across the busy road.
·         In June 2001, a 1,600 acres (6 km2) forest fire occurred when an Air National Guard plane dropped a 25-pound practice bomb at the range.
·         In April 1999, Nearly 12,000 acres (49 km2) of forest, wetlands, cedar swamp and cranberry bogs burned after a Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 111th Fighter Wing plane dropped a "dummy" bomb more than a mile from its target.

The most serious incident occurred on Thursday, November 4, 2004 when an F-16 jet from the District of Columbia National Guard, on a night time training mission, accidentally strafed the roof and parking lot of the Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School, now the Frog Pond Elementary School. Fortunately, a tragedy was adverted as the incident occurred in the evening when students were not present.

So, I guess Steve and I were lucky. We merely got excited by a couple of threatening signs. It could have been worse, for as far as I know, Steve's truck is not bullet proof. Needless to say, I don't think we'll be back to Appleby Estates anytime soon.

Pete S

PS- Sorry about the long delay since the last Blog post. Computer and health problems combined with a severe case of writer's block took their toll. I'll try to get back to a once a week schedule.

1 comment:

  1. Great to have you back on the historical trail, Pete! Keep up the good work.

    Best regards,