Parking passes are required on Saturdays. The Orientation Center and Cafe are open Thursdays – Saturdays. Trails and bike rentals open Tuesdays – Saturdays. The property is closed to the public on Sundays and Mondays.

Duke Farms
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Postcards from the Past 11-15

In this series, participants will visit the past while developing an understanding of the present by comparing postcards of "Duke's Park" from the early 1900s to current views of the same location at Duke Farms. 

Written by:


Jan 1, 2023


In this series, participants will visit the past while developing an understanding of the present by comparing postcards of "Duke's Park" from the early 1900s to current views of the same location at Duke Farms. 


James Buchanan Duke, amassing his fortune in tobacco and hydro-electric power, arrived on the banks of the Raritan River in 1893. He bought farms, mostly from early Dutch settlers, who had removed early growth while introducing many non-native plants to the area. J.B. Duke wished to emulate the European gardens and parks he encountered on his travels and desired to create his own park in Hillsborough, NJ. With manicured lawns, a variety of native and non-native plants, in addition to many structures and statues inspired by his ventures, he opened “Duke's Park” to the public in the early 1900s.

The Challenge

Over the next few weeks, we will present scenes from these early postcards of Duke Farms partnered with a current photograph of the same site.

  • Can you identify the specific differences between the view from a historic postcard and a current photo of the same area?
  • Can visitors, who have previously visited the property recognize the location? Or, if you are new to Duke Farms, we encourage you to explore our website or app for clues.  
  • If this activity inspired you to further explore how our recent initiatives improve the environment while maintaining the integrity of the past, click here
  • There are a series of questions under the pair of photos. 
  • The answers for each week will be posted under the following week.

Week 11

  1. The historic postcard view is taken from which of the main roads at Duke Farms?
  2. Which present day NJ highway extends the length of this stone wall?
  3. Most of the stonework done at Duke Farms was constructed by immigrants from which European country?
  4. Bonus: As with the postcard from the past, telephone poles are not visible in most European countries today. Why?

Week 12

  1. What two popular Duke Farms sites does the bridge seen here connect?
  2. These two views overlook which Duke Farms lake?
  3. Which previously viewed postcard is located to the right of this postcard?
  4. This bridge was constructed with what “cutting edge” cement developed in England in the 1800s?

Week 13

  1. From which previously viewed postcard location was this scene photographed?
  2. Mostly obscured in the recent photograph, which “lane” is seen in both views?
  3. This view overlooks what lake?
  4. Permitting growth along the banks of the lake discourages what aquatic bird?

Week 14

  1. This grandiose, long since removed, fountain was located close to which Duke Farms “Way”? For a clue, scrutinize last week’s Postcard.
  2. What are some reasons that Duke Farms maintain these meadows throughout the core?
  3. Many years ago, this fountain and many others were removed from Duke Farms. Why?

Week 15

  1. This waterfall flows into which Duke Farms lake?
  2. How many waterfalls can be found at Duke Farms?
  3. The water that feeds these lakes and waterfalls originally came from which nearby water source?
  4. What is Duke Farms present water source for the above?


Answers to Week 11

  1. Dukes Parkway West
  2. Route 206
  3. Italy
  4. Powerlines are buried underground

Click here to jump to Week 12

Answers to Week 12

  1. Great Falls and Old Foundation
  2. Vista Lake
  3. Mermaid Pool
  4. Portland Cement

Click here to jump to Week 13

Answers to Week 13

  1. Bridge between the Great Falls and Old Foundation
  2. Fox Hollow Lane
  3. Great Falls Lake
  4. Canada Geese

Click here to jump to Week 14

Answers to Week 14

  1. Oak Way
  2. To provide habitat for nesting birds and pollinators while providing nutrients to the soil
  3. This was a tricky one! Although no exact documentation exists, the stories abound.  What do you think?

Click here to jump to Week 15

Answers to Week 15

  1. Otter Lake
  2. 6
  3. Raritan River
  4. Wells

Click here for the next part in this series

This resource was created by Carl Cucchiara and Kate Reilly.

Written by:


January 1, 2023