Mount Mitchill (Yes! The spelling is correct!)

For many years it has been the site for Easter Sunrise Services. When the Twin Towers were struck and collapsed, it was where hundreds came to watch in horror, hug each other, and cry. For decades, before Top of the East was built next to it and Ocean Blvd ran directly in front of it, it was a great Lover’s Lane with a few. Earlier, it was simply a nice place to walk and enjoy spectacular scenery from the highest point on the east coast from Maine to Florida, excepting an island off Maine. Everyone has special memories about Mount Mitchill and its history is no less special or spectacular. If you’re up there this Easter morning, or any morning, for that matter,, any time to take in the beauty of Mount Mitchill, preserved, thanks to our Monmouth County Parks System, and appreciate some of its own history. Standing 266 feet proud, the amazing height can best be attributed to the effects of glacial rebound. Ages old ironstone conglomerate creates a caprock along the crest, overlying marine mud rocks. When the sea level was lower many moons ago, the Highlands hills were actually a high valley wall on the south side of the Hudson and Raritan rivers. The river system was later buried by younger sediments including deposits from the Sandy Hook Spit. There is still more than just height that makes Mount Mitchill stand out. Look at the history and natural beauty, and even the addition of a recreation area for kids once it became a county park. Mount Mitchill was named for Samuel Latham Mitchill, a 18th and 19th century physician, naturalist, and politician who earned his medical degree in Scotland, taught chemistry and natural history at Columbia College, as the present day university was known in the 1790s. He also collected, identified and classified plants, animals, and aquatic organisms for his studies, was an organizer of the Medical College at Rutgers in the 1820s, and was an early advocate in personal hygiene and sanitation as a powerful means to prevent disease. But he was even more than that, this New Yorker who had the good sense to visit our Bayshore. He served as both a Congressman and Senator, and was a strong supporter and advocate of building the Erie Canal. It’s not surprising that he was an ardent fan of Thomas Jefferson, who apparently admired him as well, since the third President referred to him as the “Congressional Dictionary.” Our Mount Mitchill should never be mistaken either for Mount Kahadin in Maine, the highest peak in the Pine Tree State, or the other Mount Mitchell, the one spelled with an “E.” That one is in North Carolina and while it stands 6,089 feet above sea level, making it not only the highest peak in the Tar Heel state, and the highest peak west of the Mississippi, it’s not on the shoreline. Visit Mount Mitchill. See the magnificent memorial to 9-11 and all who grieve because of that day. Admire the beauty. Search out a view of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse on Sandy Hook, and contemplate the New York skyline. Than thank Monmouth County for saving that precious piece of land from being yet a second high rise changing the skyline of the very best part of New Jersey.


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