life in cape may

History Comes Crashing Down

Posted 2/16/07
By Jane Kashlak

Cape May, NJ - On Valentine's Day night, the weather forecasters were busy talking about traffic pileups and snow accumulations north of Cape May.

The Cape May area was only getting rain, while the rest of the North East was pummeled with more snow.

What went unreported was that, on Valentine's day night, a record amount of rain was falling on the Southern New Jersey shore area. It was more precipitation than we ever had had on that date!

And, on that same night, winds along the coast were gusting to as high as 50 miles per hour.

The powerful combination of gale force winds and soggy soil toppled one of the oldest trees on Cape Island - the huge Silver Maple in front of the Eldredge House in West Cape May.

Todd Land, owner of the Eldredge House, heard the howling wind bring down the 100 foot tall tree around 2AM.

That North West gale ripped out a piece of West Cape May history.

Mayflower descendants Thomas and his sister Mary Eldredge planted the tree around 1800, right after they built their new home on what is now Broadway.

It was the last of several silver maples that once lined the then carriage route.

The tree was around for the Civil War and both World Wars, not to mention 41 West Cape Christmas parades.

Although the toppled tree uprooted a 125 year old fence, it caused no major damage to the two houses on either side.

It's just leaving a hole in Broadway's streetscape that will take many years to fill.

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