Waterloo Village has a long history of bringing joy to people of all ages, bringing the past alive for hundreds of thousands of visitors over the years.
Waterloo dates back to the time of the Munsee (Lenape) Indians who inhabited northern New Jersey and made use of the rich natural resources and the abundance of the landscape and waterways. Later, with the discovery of rich veins of iron nearby, the Andover Forge was established here, making bar iron for shipment to England before the American Revolution. The village had its most active period with the construction of the Morris Canal in 1831. With a canal lock and inclined plane located here, Waterloo Village became a small inland port on the cross-state trip from the Delaware River to the Hudson River.
The inclined plane, an engineering wonder, carried canal boats over hills by a system of railroad tracks and cables, overcoming extreme changes in elevation. Once the railroads were built, however, their speed and efficiency made the canal obsolete. With the closing of the canal, Waterloo was left a quiet residential hamlet.
In the 1960s, the nonprofit Waterloo Foundation for the Arts restored the village and began holding major concerts and festivals, such as Lolapalooza. In 2006, the New Jersey State Parks Service assumed all responsibility for Waterloo Village; the State Park Service also oversees the surrounding Allamuchy Mountain State Park.
Since then, Waterloo Village has been open only for passive recreation such as hiking, except for occasional special events, run by groups such as the Friends of Waterloo Village and the Canal Society of New Jersey. The New Jersey State Parks Service runs educational programs at the site’s recreated Lenape Village for school and scout groups and the resident Waterloo United Methodist Church holds weekly services.
The Highlands Festival at Waterloo brings together all the stakeholders and fans of Waterloo Village to celebrate “All Things Local” in New Jersey. Once again, thousands of people of all ages can come enjoy our local heritage in this historic locale.
Waterloo Village is on the US National Register of Historic Places and is a New Jersey State Historic Site.