by Erin Feith, Research Assistant
April 10, 2023
This year, two Morris County municipalities, Riverdale and Mine Hill, celebrate their centennial! While their origins differ greatly, both followed a similar path to incorporation in 1923. Small, industrious communities that were shaped by 20th century suburbanization, Riverdale and Mine Hill have rich histories that continue to be appreciated a century later.
Originally a part of Pequannock Township, the area later known as Riverdale is thought to have attracted initial settlers with its access to water power via the nearby Pequannock River. Indeed, mills formed an early, albeit small-scale local industry. In the latter half of the 19th century, graphite mines and lead works also achieved modest success. Despite these enterprises, Riverdale experienced little growth until WWI and the construction of planned residential neighborhoods. On April 17, 1923, the NJ State Legislature passed a referendum, creating the borough of Riverdale.
As evidenced by its name, Mine Hill’s early history was intrinsically linked to its numerous iron mines, and mining activity in the area can be traced back to the 18th century. In fact, Mahlon Dickerson, notable politician, NJ State Supreme Court justice, and eventual manager of his family’s Dickerson-Suckasunny Mine, built a mansion there known as “Ferromonte” (“Iron Mountain” in Italian). When mining declined in the first half of the 20th century, Mine Hill’s abundant open space allowed for the erection of bungalows as summer retreats. Mine Hill gained its independence from Randolph, becoming its own township after a referendum held on May 8, 1923.
While remaining two of the County’s smallest municipalities, Riverdale and Mine Hill keep evolving and expanding. Since the mid-20th century, both areas’ populations have more than doubled. With this growth, Riverdale and Mine Hill continue to be vibrant communities, adding still more to their multi-faceted histories as they head into the next 100 years since incorporation.