By now, the cranberry bogs at Double Trouble State Park should be filled with the tea-colored waters of Cedar Creek. Harvesters should be trudging through the flooded bogs in waders to catch as many of the crimson globes as possible.
But that won't be happening at Double Trouble State Park this year. The latest leaseholders of the bogs have retired.
The bogs, still damp from the heavy rains this summer, lie fallow. The leaves on the tiny plants are turning scarlet and butter-yellow in the cool October air. The berries will be left for the birds and animals that call the state park off Double Trouble Road home.
It's a situation that state Department of Environmental Protection officials are hoping is temporary.
"We plan to work on finding someone else to work the bogs, because we realize..."
The Leni-Lenape Indians were the first to harvest cranberries in the park. But the Double Trouble cranberry industry began to flourish at the beginning of the 20th century.
Edward Crabbe of Toms River bought the Double Trouble tract in 1904 and formed the Double Trouble Company. His primary goal was to cut lumber for his sawmill company.
But he pulled out the tree stumps in some areas and used the acreage as cranberry bogs, according to "When Cranberries Were King," a book published by the Ocean County Historical Society.
The Double Trouble Company soon became one of the largest cranberry operations in the state.
"Double Trouble Village was typical of company towns built in the Pine Barrens," according to the DEP's website. "These isolated communities were entirely self-sufficient and totally dependent on the success of the particular industry."
Daniel Crabbe, Edward's son, took over the cranberry operations after his father died. By the 1960s, Crabbe was using the "wet" method to harvest the berries, by flooding the bogs with water. They had previously been harvested by the backbreaking "dry" method. Immigrant labor scooped the berries out of the dry bogs by hand, according to "When Cranberries Were King."
Crabbe sold the Double Trouble tract to the state's Green Acres program in 1964, but leased back 125 acres and the outbuildings to continue his cranberry business.
Since then, the bogs had been harvested by second-generation cranberry farmers, who decided to retire in 2010, according to the DEP.
The cranberry bogs and a number of outbuildings at the park make up about 200 acres of the roughly 8,400-acre park. They are part of the Double Trouble Historic District, which was placed on the State Register of Historic Places in 1977 and on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Visitors to Double Trouble can still see the restored sawmill and cranberry and packing house, which are open to the public on guided tours. Some of the other buildings - which include a one-room schoolhouse, general store, bunkhouse, cook house, shower house, maintenance shop, pickers' cottages and foreman's house - are not open to the public.
To arrange a tour of the restored sawmill and cranberry packing house, call the park's interpretive center at 732-341-4098. For more information on Double Trouble State Park, visit www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/parks/double.