Monmouth County is offering local history buffs an early holiday gift.
The County Division of Planning has announced the launch of its Cultural and Heritage Virtual Tour series, an interactive platform that includes eight digital tours of interconnected historical, natural, cultural and arts attractions in Monmouth County.
“We are bringing residents a new way to discover our county,” Freeholder Deputy Director Lillian G. Burry said. “These eight interactive story maps take you across the county, encompassing every imaginable point of interest, from Revolutionary War sites to space exploration; from natural landscapes to happenings in downtowns. And from solemn memorials to iconic pop culture landmarks.”
These virtual tours can be viewed by visiting bit.ly/monmouthmap.
Recommended in the 2016 Monmouth County Master Plan and modeled after the federal and state scenic byway programs, the complete series results in a network of tours featuring all 53 municipalities within county lines.
Two River-area educators and enthusiasts can tap into local circuits like:
The Historic Monmouth Crossroads: A 4-century-old path that winds from the Sandy Hook Bayshore in Highlands through Middletown, Holmdel and Colts Neck, all the way to Millstone. It was a prominent thoroughfare for Colonial and British troops during the Revolutionary War, but there are other surprises along the way, like the Evil Clown of Middletown on State Route 35.
MOCO Cultural Byway: The trail begins in Matawan before winding through the heart of the Two River area and down the shoreline to Asbury Park, documenting artistically and culturally significant sites along the way. From the massive satellite installations atop Telegraph Hill in Holmdel, which were once used as an anti-aircraft defense system during the Cold War, to the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, to Monmouth Park in Oceanport, this tour best defines the Jersey Shore experience.
Bayshore Drive: The tour allows residents and visitors to travel along local streets to explore the region’s downtowns and waterfront destinations. Once comprised of colonies of summertime bungalows and maritime industries, the area is now active year-round. The Bayshore region is characterized by traditional downtowns and denser residential neighborhoods set against the natural beauty of the Raritan and Sandy Hook Bay coastline.
Two River Tri-way: This is the shortest tour in the byway series, but it provides historic context regarding the importance of the Two River peninsula in the overall countywide narrative. Beginning in Red Bank, the tour travels to points east along River Road where a trolley once carried passengers between Red Bank and Rumson.
Visitors can also take the Ocean Drive tour, which begins on Sandy Hook and heads south along the Atlantic Coast, the County to Coast Byway tour, which extends out from Sea Bright and explores 350 years of local settlement, the South Monmouth Emerald Byway, an exploration of wildlife from Point Pleasant to Manasquan, and Upper Freehold’s Historic Farmland.
The Cultural and Heritage Virtual Tours program was designed to increase public awareness about the natural, cultural, historic, scenic, architectural, institutional and commemorative sites located in Monmouth County. Each tour has a unique theme which showcases attractions throughout Monmouth County, in categories such as: scenic, historic, architectural, art, cultural, science and technology, military, civic spaces, neighborhoods, crossroad/downtowns/commercial districts, pop, culture, myth/folklore/legends, unique or unusual and more.
Some sites noted on the tour are privately held and not open to the public.
Additional sites are currently being considered for inclusion on the byway tours. To nominate a site, email the name, location, a brief description and photo (if possible) of the site to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published in the Feb.7-14, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.
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