WEST ORANGE, NJ — A new historical marker was unveiled in the Valley section of West Orange on the corner of Hazel Avenue and Valley Road on July 14. The marker — the latest in a series of roadside markers sponsored by the Downtown West Orange Alliance — commemorates the Orange Valley Toboggan Slide of the late 19th century, which was used for winter recreation by local residents. Township historian Joseph Fagan donned a winter hat and scarf with mittens in the hot July sun as he addressed the small crowd in a brief dedication ceremony.
“It’s really cool to be in the Valley tonight,” Fagan said, giving a brief history of the toboggan slide, which opened in 1886. Its popularity attracted many visitors from New York City, who marveled at the winter wonderland of the Orange Valley. The marker sits at the location of the Essex County Toboggan Club’s former clubhouse, where spectators once gathered around a warm fireplace.
State Sen. Richard C. Codey, who was invited but unable to attend, sent this special message in support: “My grandparents first settled in the Valley section in Orange when they arrived here from Ireland. I grew up in the Valley and my sons attended Hazel Avenue School. Although I’m not old enough to remember the toboggan slide, the Valley has always been a big part of my family for well over 100 years. I’m profoundly happy to see the rich history of the neighborhood being remembered with this marker.”
The marker was made possible by a donation from the former Valley Community Watch group. Following the dedication, a small reception followed at the West Orange Arts Council.
Photos Courtesy of Melinda Huerta