Johns Manville Shanty Town?

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One of the biggest Manville urban legends that has continued to escape me is one about a “shanty town” that had sprung up around the JM property. I think I have possibly tracked down some photos. I cannot confirm this is it, using context clues here is what I came up with. In the photo above on the left is what looks like the asbestos bays from JM that backed up to the tracks that run over Main street. It looks like the Watchung Mountains in the background there. On the right if you really look you can se the other train line that cuts through the Lost Valley. To be honest when I look at these photos it seems more like this whole site is on what would’ve been the Federal Creosote Factory land, which was nestled in between the two train lines right before what was then know as Port Reading Junction (or basically the Manville train yard).

From the lose hearsay and unreliable information I have gathered over the years, I’ve heard that this was essentially built by workers out of old train cars and scrap wood and that it had eventually burned down. If anyone has any stories of can confirm that this is actually the shanty town, please comment on this. Here are a few more shots. They will all expand if you click on them. Thanks Anne Sullivan for contributing these.

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12 thoughts on “Johns Manville Shanty Town?

  1. I would love to tell you the story about your pictures here as told to me by a cousin who actually was a witness to the burning and by someone else however If i do online it would become an issue I’m sure. please feel free to contact me and i’ll be happy to share the story as it was told to me. your pics are great. I will show them to my mother who grew up in manville she may be able to help confirm some of these pics as well.

  2. I love this would love to see more and would love to help find out more of these urban legends……so fricken cool !!!

  3. I’ve always heard of Manville’s tough early years and the pre-Manville years but never thought I would actually see photos of the living conditions. These are amazing pictures and can’t wait to see what else is in this collection. Makes you wonder how many more photo collections of the early years are still out there sitting in storage somewhere.

  4. My mom told me they were up by the high school. It was housing for workers at the creosote factory, all of them being African Americans.

  5. My grandfather was a early patrolman with the MPD. He gave an interview to the Manville News in the 80’s. He described the above pictures as follows.
    “The Creosote factory, which was where the Rustic Mall is today, was another sore spot in town. There were a bunch of colored people who lived in boxcars back there, and we had to go in there quite often. There were some pretty big fights back there. ”
    He used to say they sent him in because of his size(6ft4, 245lb). He never told me when they cleared the site out. This is the first time I have ever seen photos of this. Great job

  6. Special thanks to Mike for maintaining this site and his love of history. And, thanks to all who have contributed with memories and facts passed down. We can document b4 the memories disappear…. AWESOME!!! I’m loving my walk through Manville!

  7. Pingback: Manville Shanty Town Fire? | Manville, NJ … Revolution on the Millstone

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