Burlington Island, NJ, has all the makings for a funky gore-fest novel about an apocalyptic, dystopian, inbred circus-freak haven of morbidity, with ghastly, sub-human creatures inhabiting its confines, hidden well within the overgrown vegetation on this mysterious landmass in the middle of the Delaware River.
The island’s history dates back to the early-seventeenth century with the Dutch, their making it a trading post and fort in the province of New Netherland.
The first recorded murder in NJ took place there, when two Lenape Indians slaughtered two Dutchmen somewhere on the 300 acres of land.
An amusement park graced Burlington Island from the early twentieth century through the ’30s, but fire destroyed it, leaving only the carousel unscathed, which ended up as an attraction on Seaside Heights’ boardwalk. I’m wondering if Sandy demolished it.
Now completely desolate, the island serves as a curiosity for canoers and kayakers, who row over from the Bristol Basin, diagonally across the river to an opening where the boaters can pull their small crafts out of sight before venturing inside.
While perched on my favorite rock on the riverbank in Basin Park, hoping to catch a glimpse of the bald eagles that live on Burlington Island, I noticed three people were standing on the shoreline across the way.
The man on the right had been marooned there for a day. The two beside him were canoers who had just rowed over to the northern side of the island from Bristol Basin.
According to the couple—who told me this when they rowed back to Bristol—the guy on the right had been left stranded on the island by so-called friends when it started to rain earlier in the day. The latter returned by their boat to the Basin, leaving their compatriot behind to fend for himself.
With friends like his, etc.
Not wanting to leave their only way back across the river unattended, postponing their hike on the island in the meantime, the woman called 911 for someone to come and give this guy a lift across the river. Three people wouldn’t fit in their small canoe.
“Poor fellow,” I was told by the woman canoer. “He was all alone without any potable water or food. Had we not come along, who knows how long he’d be stuck there.”
The state trooper told everyone before taking this fellow back to Bristol, PA, that no one is allowed on Burlington Island; and it’s unlawful to be there.
The canoers said they didn’t know that, sorry; and they’ll be leaving right away, which they did, unfortunately without having taken their first-time, intended walk about the interior of the island.
As they crossed the Delaware toward the Bristol Wharf, the man appeared as if he was doing his best to explain himself to the police officer, presumably hoping not to receive a summons for trespassing on Burlington Island:
All’s well that ends well; everyone was let go with a warning not to do it again. The man made his way off the patrol boat and onto the wharf, taking off like a fox on the run.
Never a dull moment exists on the Delaware River. A majestic schooner’s sailing out of the City of Burlington’s riverfront took the place of the previously exciting events. Footage of this magnificent sailing ship can be viewed below, with a spotlight on the aforementioned canoeing couple’s return across the river to Basin Park.
The bald eagles never made an appearance. Once autumn appears and the leaves fall from the trees on Burlington Island, the raptors will be easier to see again.
Until the next entry, Happy End of Summer!