New Jersey has a lot of strange folklore and history, as evidenced by our very own alt-history magazine Weird N.J. Some of it is real, some of it is legend, but this one is definitely true(ish) and pretty cool to see in person:
In 1962 (or 1967, according to contradictory articles), a military jet, a Lockheed T2V-1 SeaStar to be exact, had critical problems or ran out of fuel and crashed in “a heavily wooded swamp infested with venomous snakes” in West Milford, N.J. According to the Milford Messenger newspaper (article no longer found online), the plane took off from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn before encountering problems, at which point the ejection system failed and the two crew on board were forced to crash land about 300 yards from a residential neighborhood. The plane remained largely intact and both survived without major injuries. They were picked up my emergency personnel shortly after, and the army later airlifted the engine out for salvage, but left the rest of the plane behind. This rotting husk is a shadow of what the T2V-1 looked like in action:
Although there isn’t a real trail for half of the walk, the wreckage is easy to find with these coordinates on Google Maps (41°04’37.3″N 74°23’48.1″W). You can park in the cul-de-sac on Evelyn Drive, where you’ll see a wide trail leading into the woods. I’m not going to give directions because it’s 2016 and if you’re reading this, you can use Google Maps.
Notes: I highly recommend wearing boots, as you will be ankle high in sticky swamp mud near the plane, and there may be poison ivy and *possibly* snakes. I saw a tiny garter snake, but nothing worrisome – snakes are very fearful of humans.
Also, please, please, please do not scratch your name into the plane, do not remove any pieces, do not punch or kick holes in the wreckage, and for the love of god do not fire a gun at it. All of these things have clearly been done in the past, and there is now less of the plane remaining, and it is heavily marked from past visitors. The oldest scratching I saw on a quick review was from 1996. You might be able to see the nose of the plane a few yards away from the wreckage – I guess someone tried to take it and gave up.
(Scroll to the bottom for plane photos)
Enter the trail on the cul-de-sac:
Turn right just after entering, and there is a very well-worn trail leading straight ahead with a rock wall on the right, until you get to this rock wall in front of you:
At this intersection, turn right down the hill and start following the trampled path as best you can. Even though it’s close, there is heavy forest growth and eventually swampy terrain, so the use GPS (Google Maps works fine) to be sure you’ll find the site.
Basically, you’ll want to head down the hill and then turn right a bit to angle toward the crash site. Some of the ‘trail’ is easy to see, but some rocky sections just look like forest:
If you can recognize trodden trees and brush, you’ll do fine. Otherwise just follow the GPS.
Once you’re closer to the plane you’ll see more ‘trail’ again, leading up and over a small hill.
Less than 10 minutes after leaving your car you’ll reach the swampy part of the forest.
Continue following the GPS signal past this and deeper into the swamp, and try to go around any open mud areas like this one:
You might see some small paths here from recent visitors. I found a discarded shoe stuck in the mud and some other trash, because New Jersey is classy as f*ck.
Congrats! You’ve wandered 300 yards from a residential neighborhood through the woods, and made it to one of New Jersey’s weirdest piece of history. Now for some photos:
If you plan to visit or have been there before, let me know in the comments!