The graffiti-decorated ruins of the Pasadena Terracotta Brick Factory — or “Brooksbrae” as Google Maps calls it — exist in the woods alongside Pasadena Woodmanse Road in Manchester Township, NJ. If you allow Google Maps to direct you there, it will lead you down treacherous mud roads. Instead, drive down well-paved Pasadena Woodmanse Road* and look for graffiti on the road, park your car, climb the hill, climb over the train tracks and walk into the woods. Spray-painted trees, discarded spray paint caps, the smell of aerosol paint, and random yucca plants will show you the way.
There’s no missing it once you get there. Walls, doorways, and foundations — most without rooves or floors — trees and grasses reclaiming the land — graffiti scripts and modern-day hieroglyphics covering anything mad-made. Most graffiti is bubble-letter tags, but there are enough illustrations & variety of vibrant colors to make it interesting. It’s reminiscent of the graffiti road in Centralia, Pennsylvania.
* The best way to get there is to start at Hot Diggidy Dog in Chatsworth, get yourself some hot dogs, then go north on Main, and make a right onto Savoy Boulevard and take Savoy all the way to Mt. Misery Road. Make a right onto Mt. Misery, and then a quick left onto Pasadena Woodmanse Road, and look for the graffiti.
The brick factory is not far from Hot Diggity Dog, the Franklin Parker Preserve (more train tracks), Evert Trail Preserve (floating swamp trail), the Michael Huber Prairie Warbler Preserve, and something called Hidden Lake.
I’ve always been curious about the Pine Barrens, thanks to the legend of the Jersey Devil, John McPhee’s book The Pine Barrens, and reading dozens of Weird NJ magazines. As a child, I collected rocks and minerals; someone gave me a hunk of rainbow-colored glass from the Batso glassworks, and at the time I vowed to visit Batso but never made the trip until 2019. Later in life, I made trips to Manchester to look for Megatibicen auletes cicadas — the largest cicada in North America. Summer of 2021, with nothing else to do, I started visiting the Pines almost every weekend.
More from the Pine Barrens: