The Yanticaw Park is an Essex County-owned park in Nutley, New Jersey. It is located between Centre Street and Chestnut Street, extending west to Passaic Avenue
Essex County began purchasing land in 1911 for creation of the park. Wetlands in the park were drained, and a dam was set up to form a lake. The park was completed in 1914. In 1962, the lake, containing a small island was drained and a channel was dug as a continuation of the natural third river from the south.
This park contains a segment of the 36-mile Lenape Trail, a unique urban/suburban trail connecting 18 parks and 11 municipalities in Essex County. A guide to the trail, including comprehensive trail maps, has been written by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference in close collaboration with the Essex County Essex County Dept. of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs and can be found here.
Yanticaw Park is located in the Township of Nutley in the eastern section of Essex County. It is a mid-sized park—the eleventh in size in the county park system, encompassing 28.75 acres—and is traversed by the Third River. A park drive separates the picturesque valley created by the river from the upper flatland where there are several ballfields.
The park name is of Native American derivation. The name Yanticaw, widely used throughout the town of Nutley, had its origins from an early local Indian ceremonial dance of thanksgiving called Yantacaw. It stems from the Lenni-Lenape words meaning "place of the wood boundary." Tradition tells us that the Lenni-Lenape Indians made an annual trek to the seashore to catch fish and to gather shells used for cooking and eating utensils. On their way they gathered at a spot where the present Third River—recorded as Yountakah on a 1666 deed made between Captain Robert Treat and the Indians—flows into the Passaic River in Nutley.
In 1895 John R. Clark and Dr. Thomas E. Satterthwaite campaigned ceaselessly for creation of a park here. In 1908 the Town Commission decided under pressure to send a representative to a hearing in Newark on the subject of creating a County Park Commission. It was Clark who forced through a plan for a Nutley Park in the first Essex County Park Appropriations bill on May 5, 1909. A year later Clark appeared before the Town Commission to report that a map had been prepared to preserve the natural beauty of the Third River "Along Yanticaw and Bear Creeks" from Harrison Street to Passaic Avenue.
Through the efforts of Charles B. Vroom of Nutley and the Nutley Improvement Association the claim was made to the county that Nutley had been paying its share of a county tax for 17 years, had seen beautiful parks rise everywhere else, but had none of its own. Vroom haunted the Commission meetings and finally won $40,000 to buy land and $200,000 for its development.
Actual acquisition of park land started in 1911 and by 1914 Yanticaw Park became a reality. The swampy lowlands were drained. A dam was built to create a lake (later removed) and paths were laid out following the design of the Olmsted Brothers.