One of the great features of Metuchen is its hidden treasures — surprises hidden down shady roads or tucked behind old buildings.
One of those places is Dismal Swamp, an entrance to which sits in a cul-de-sac at the back end of an industrial section at the edge of town.
Another hidden gem is Woodwild Park, set amid a residential neighborhood and accessed through what looks like some sort of official service road.
The Woodwild Park Association recently launched a fundraising campaign targeting $65,000 for preservation. The funds would be used for three purposes: $45,000 to restore the horse watering trough at the intersection of Oak and Middlesex avenues that dates to 1900; $12,500 for masonry work to stabilize the stone pillars that form the entrance to the park off of Middlesex Avenue; and $7,500 for woodland maintenance and storm clean-up.
The horse trough, the bulk of the project, is rusting away. It was repaired for around $8,000 in the 1980s, but needs a full restoration, according to the association. The trough was actually a water fountain at first and is the only one of three that were in the borough, the association said.
Jacquie Zuvich, president of Woodwild Park Association Board of Trustees, drove me back there recently to show off this hidden treasure. A narrow road actually winds through this wooded area, behind houses and out to Middlesex Avenue. Access to Woodwild comes in from Middlesex, barely marked by the two crumbling pillars, or off of East Chestnut Lane via what might as well be someone’s driveway.
A hilly area in the park is a popular spot for sledding in the winter, Zuvich said. I haven’t tried it out yet, but if it actually gets cold and snows this winter, that may be first on the list.
For more information, check out http://www.woodwildpark.org.
Photo courtesy of Woodwild Park Association