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     ONE'S STATION IN LIFE red logo
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS POH

The Train Station Restaurant in Mountain Lakes, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
THE PATIO OF THE STATION AT MOUNTAIN LAKES, NEW JERSEY



For me there has always been a certain mystique about Mountain Lakes. This gracious community located in northern New Jersey has fascinated me since my first ride down its stately central boulevard in the back seat of our unassuming family sedan. While I was grateful not to be motoring via the bus or subway, as was the case with much of my early childhood, I suspected that there was something a bit more elegant than my parent’s 1964 Dodge Dart lurking behind the garage doors of the large homes dispersed along this handsomely landscaped thoroughfare between Denville and Boonton.



Home at Mountain Lakes, NJ as seen in American Public House Review



Mountain Lakes is one of those rare exceptions of planned development that has actually succeeded in maintaining the intent and integrity of its original design. The late nineteenth century vision of surveyor/engineer Lewis Van Duyne was brought to fruition by developer Herbert J. Hapgood and landscape architect, Arthur T. Holton. On March 11th, 1911 the family of Lawrence W. Luellen, the inventor of the Dixie Cup, crossed the threshold of the first of nearly six hundred Craftsman style houses that would be built by Hapgood in this suburban Eden.



Old fishing scene in Mountain Lakes, NJ as seen in American Public House Review

Old canoe scene in Moutain Lakes, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
 


Although paradise was promised, many of the early comers were subject to the discomforts and difficulties associated with most new ventures; but eventually the efforts of man and the effects of nature proved to be compatible. Swamps and creeks were transformed into recreational lakes. Patches of woodlands and rolling hills became lush flowering gardens. And the abundant fieldstone, the result of glacial recession, was liberally incorporated into structures throughout the settlement. One such structure would secure the future prosperity of the town.





FOR SOME GREAT HISTORY ABOUT MOUNTAIN LAKES, NEW JERSEY, 
CLICK ON THE PHOTOGRAPHS BELOW:


Mountain Lakes, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
GENERAL OVERVIEW OF MOUNTAIN LAKES, NJ


Moutain Lakes before the development as seen in American Public House Review
EARLY PIONEERS

                                                                                Photograph by Chris Poh
a sign regarding Hero Bull in Mountain Lakes, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
A STORY ABOUT A FORMER SLAVE



Mountain Lakes, NJ train station in the Blizzard of 1914 as seen in American Public House Review
THE BLIZZARD OF 1914



APHR WISHES TO THANK THE MOUNTAIN LAKES HISTORICAL PRESERVATION
COMMITTEE  AND THEIR REPRESENTATIVE, PAT RUSAK  FOR THE USE OF THEIR
OUTSTANDING OLD PHOTOGRAPHS AND LINKS TO THEIR ENGAGING ESSAYS.






In 1912 the Lackawanna Railroad opened the station at Mountain Lakes. This provided commuters direct access to New York City via the terminal at Hoboken and the newly constructed Hudson Tubes. In short order many wealthier upper middle class families abandoned the often oppressive and foul conditions of city living in favor of the safety and serenity of the suburbs. While the women and children tended to the responsibilities of home and hearth, the dutiful fathers would wage war in the urban jungle, transported to and from the battlefield by way of their iron steed.



Lackawanna Station in Moutain Lakes, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
LACKAWANNA STATION



Men returning form work to Mountain Lakes, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
GENTLEMEN PREPARING TO BOARD THE TRAIN TO THEIR JOBS IN MANHATTAN



There was a short period in my own life when I commuted to the city over these same rails. I discovered that going to work, or quite frankly going anywhere by train is very different than making the same journey by car. The automobile for the most part is just an extension of where you’ve been or where you’re going; but a train is a world unto itself. And the stations are like chapels or cathedrals, wonderfully crafted buildings where one can contemplate the journey ahead or simply take the time to appreciate another safe return.



By the time I got around to standing at the ticket window at the Mountain Lakes station it was already operating as a fine restaurant called the Phoebe Snow. Like its namesake it was a grand idea that came up just a tad short on substance. For whatever reason there wasn’t a proper place to sit in order to just have a drink.



The original train-riding icon called Phoebe Snow was nothing more than a bit of advertising fiction. She was employed to promote travel on the Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad during the early part of the twentieth century. But in 1949 the DL&W launched a streamlined luxury service between Hoboken and Buffalo on a train named after the legendary lady in white. And this beauty had all the amenities including an attractive tavern car.


PLEASE CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT OUR COMPANION ARTICLE TO THIS ONE. JOHN H. WEST VISITS
THE PREEMINENT PURVEYOR OF NEW AND VINTAGE, LIONEL, MODEL TRAINS ON THE PLANET.




The bar in The Station at Mountain Lakes, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
THE WARM, WOOD PANELED BAR



In 1999, after a two year closure, the restaurant reopened under new ownership and a new name. Today THE STATION AT MOUNTAIN LAKES retains its previous sophistication and charm, and after extensive renovations can also boast an excellent pub space that was built in the baggage room of the original depot. The current proprietorship of Kathleen and Steve Turkot, along with Carlos Vasquez and executive chef Brad Cooper had served well the dreams and aspirations of the founders of the Lackawanna Railroad and this historic whistle stop community.




The dining room in The Station at Mountain Lakes, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
THE ELEGANT, YET CASUAL DINING ROOM



After a recent visit to the world renowned Lionel Train Shop, located just a short walk from The Station, myself and associate editors John West and David McBride adjourned to the bar for lunch and libations. We discussed “O Gauge” and classic rock with the chef, (and musician Neil Young’s connection to both). I found a patron who was willing to indulge my need to chinwag about politics. With pint in hand, David went off to explore the finer details and architectural aspects of this splendid building. And John retired to a quiet corner with his personal journal and a glass of Cabernet.




Ticket window in the Station at Mountain Lakes, NJ as seen in American Public House Review

Pint on the bar in the Station at Mountain Lakes, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
THE STATION'S RAILROAD HERITAGE

IS OF THE ESSENCE



As our afternoon progressed I came to the realization that good public houses and well appointed train depots have much in common. Both provide shelter from those harsher elements, and both nourish the body, mind and soul in preparation for the journey ahead. This brilliant trackside coupling here in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey does much to improve one’s station in life.



THE LACKAWANNA STATION IN 1912
Lackawanna Station in Mountain Lakes, NJ as seen in American Public House Review


THE STATION AT MOUNTAIN LAKES


99 MIDVALE ROAD

MOUNTAIN LAKES, NEW JERSEY 07046

(973) 335-5330


thestationatmountainlakes.com


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