Where Is The Raritan Valley?

Good question. You must not be from New Jersey. The Raritan River is not as well known as the mighty Mississippi or the tuneful Swany (which deoesn’t even exist, but Foster may have meant the Suwannee). Let me say first that it is not near an exit of the Turnpike.

The Raritan River has its headwaters in rural Western New Jersey. The major branches that form the river, called the North Branch and South Branch oddly enough, join near the suburban town of Raritan to form the river. It meanders eastward to empty into the Raritan Bay at Perth Amboy in the more urban part of the state.

The river is the major geological feature of central New Jersey (one of the few geological features, actually; another is the glacial moraine that forms the Watchung mountains and extends eastward to form Long Island, Cape Cod, and Nantucket, but that’s another story). Suburban Somerset county, much of Hunterdon county and parts of Middlesex county are often collectively called the Raritan Valley area, thus comes the name of our band.

What the valley lacks in spectacular geography it makes up for in a rich history. For example, on the banks of the river in Somerville is the beautifully restored Georgian style Wallace house. It is best known as the residence of George Washington during the winter of 1778-79 (in other words, George Washington slept here). It’s worth a visit on the way to one of our concerts.

Washington Crossing State Park Panoramic
Creative Commons License photo credit: bizzlenj