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Packanack Lake’s Spooky Hollywood Connection

By: Tessa Payer, Museum Specialist at the Wayne Museum and Staff Member of the Passaic County Department of Cultural & Historic Affairs

Wayne Township is made up of several communities and areas, among them Preakness, Mountain View, Pines Lake, and the subject of today's blog post, Packanack Lake!

Like Pines Lake, Packanack Lake is an unincorporated community surrounding a man-made body of water. It was the brainchild of Joseph Castles, who purchased 700 acres of land in Wayne with the dream of creating a model community. By the late 1920s, the acreage was turned over to Packanack Lake Inc., which a manged the construction of a dam, the lake area, roads, a clubhouse, cabins and houses, and other community properties. In Images of America: Wayne Township, Cathy Tobin describes how “beach sand was brought from the New Jersey shore, fish were stocked in the lake, and tennis courts, a bathhouse, and polo grounds were built.”[1] Opening day was held on May 6th, 1928. Initially, the Packanack Lake Country Club and Association had 600 members; today, they advertise about 1500 eligible residences on the property.[2]

A Packanack Lake marketing booklet, likely from the early 1930s, survives in our collection today, and illustrates many of the qualities that first drew residents to the community- and continues attracting people today! Packanack Lake, "where life is a delight", offered "glorious views", "pretty and practical" homes, "plenty of fun all year round", and "folks of the sort you will be glad to meet and fraternize with." [3] Proximity to cities, like Newark, Paterson, and Jersey City, was also highlighted; as noted, "good roads from everywhere lead to Packanack Lake." [4] Interesting in traveling back in time and turning the page? Browse the entire marketing booklet below!

Now for Packanack Lake's spooky connection….

At nearly 100 years old, Packanack Lake has seen years of summer fun, and this may have inspired the creators of the Friday the 13thmovie franchise. Set in the fictional Wessex County, New Jersey, Friday the 13th sees a masked killer stalking teens at Camp Crystal Lake; in reality, filming took place at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, a Boy Scout camp in Hardwick, NJ.[5] The sequel, Friday the 13th Part II, which premiered in 1981, takes place in the midst of a counselor training program at Packanack Lodge, just next door to Crystal Lake.[6] Unfortunately, despite the in-universe continuity, filming was moved to Connecticut, with the town of Kent taking the place of Hardwick.[7]

While the filmmakers have not commented on the connection between the fictional Packanack Lodge and Packanack Lake, the shared name and New Jersey location suggests that the lakeside community may have provided some tangential inspiration. Today, Packanack Lodge remains a beloved location for fans of the Friday the 13th franchise, and its name serves as an homage to one of Wayne Township's lakeside communities.[10]

[1] Cathy Tobin, Images of America: Wayne Township (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2001): 90. [2] “Membership.” PLCA. 2017. Accessed December 15th, 2021.

[3] Packanack Lake: A book of Homes. Wayne: Packanack Lake Inc., undated. From the Wayne Museum.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Kellie B. Gormly, “The 1980 Slasher Movie ‘Friday the 13th’ Was Filmed at This Boy Scout Camp in New Jersey.” Smithsonian Magazine. October 26th, 2021. Accessed December 15th, 2021. [6] “Friday the 13th Part 2.” IMDB. Accessed December 15th, 2021. [7] Jason Parker, “Friday The 13th Part 2 Filming Locations.” Friday the 13th Franchise. May 6th, 2011. Accessed December 15th, 2021.

[8]“Friday the 13th Part 2.” Then & Now Movie Locations. Accessed December 15th, 2021.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Jason Parker, “John M. Stewart Brings Packanack Lodge Back To Life With Stunning Diorama.” Friday the 13th Franchise. August 8th, 2020. Accessed December 15th, 2021.