Greetings from Lake Hopatcong

by Anne Motto, F.M. Kirby Curator of Collections
April 9, 2024

Beginning in the 1880s, Lake Hopatcong developed into a popular summer destination, and the newly arrived railroads brought crowds to its shores. An assortment of early 20th-century postcards in MCHS’s collection captures the halcyon summers when hotels, cottages, yacht clubs, and camps dotted the landscape.  

 

The Hopatcong Steamboat Co.’s White Line dredged the Landing Channel at the southern tip of the lake to allow their boats to dock close to the train station in order to compete with the Black Line. From there, visitors could be ushered to the hotels and other locales on the lake’s islands and shoreline.

 

Constructed in 1886 under the guidance of famed New-York based hotelier James Breslin, the Hotel Breslin consisted of four floors and 300 rooms, which included steam heat and electricity. Arriving at the hotel’s dock, guests enjoyed a variety of amenities like boating and tennis for $5 a day or $28 per week. Later known as the Alamac, it closed its doors during the Great Depression and was destroyed by fire in 1948.

 

Raccoon Island was connected to the mainland by a bridge in the 1890s. After the bridge’s collapse, a ferry service was eventually inaugurated. The island became the site of the Hollywood Hotel and a general store, which guests could reach by steamboat. The hotel was destroyed by a fire in 1912, but the store survived.

 

 

Hudson Maxim, a scientist, inventor, and author, built an estate on Lake Hopatcong in 1904 which became known as Maxim Park. Heavily involved in the development of the lake, he donated lots of land for public use and gave his name to many sites around his beloved home.

 

The Sister Islands, located in the northwest corner of the lake, became the site of a hotel in 1912.

 

The steel River Styx Bridge, which crosses an inlet of the same name on the west side of the lake, was built in 1909 to replace an earlier wooden one. 

 

Bertrand Island was at first a popular spot for swimming, but in the 1920s was transformed into a much-loved amusement park that operated for decades before closing in 1983.