Califon is a borough in Hunterdon County. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 1,076. Califon was a station on the High Bridge Branch of the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The rail line was abandoned in 1976 and now serves as a Hunterdon County administered rail trail called Columbia Trail, which runs south to High Bridge and north to points in Morris County. Califon was first called California, from Jacob Neighbor's enthusiasm in the milling business about the time the California Gold Rush broke out. The Califon Historical Society has registered 170 structures with the National Register of Historic Places. Califon straddles the South Branch of the Raritan River, and it is here that the water begins to widen and strut just a little, suggesting the beauty that lies ahead. Nearby is Ken Lockwood Gorge. Named in dedication by Trout Unlimited for the conservationist and fly fisherman, Ken Lockwood, the Gorge is immediately reminiscent of someplace in Montana.
Shopping and Dining
Many contemporary businesses are housed in the older buildings: an art gallery, mosaic shop, a market, hardware store, book shop, and a combined flower, antique, and gift shop. Brasserie 513 offers a full-service bar and complete lunch & dinner menu Brasserie 513 is open for lunch and dinner, and serves only the freshest ingredients available. They offer a variety of finely crafted dishes ranging from homemade soups, fresh salads, grilled burgers and a unique selection of specialty entrees.
Parks and Recreation
Ken Lockwood Gorge, just down the river from Califon in High Bridge is Ken Lockwood Gorge, an area known for huge glacial boulders in the water, calm pools, bubbling rapids and tall hemlocks along the banks. It’s popular among fly fisherman and those who appreciate the unique scenery. Califon Historical Society Museum is located at 25 Main Street, The Califon Historical Society shares the site with the town museum. Original station furniture, historic photos and antique uniforms donated by long-time residents are among the displays. The Central of New Jersey Railroad built both a wooden freight and passenger station in town around 1875, and the citizens of Califon replaced it at their own expense with the existing stone structure. The seven-mile long Columbia Trail, passes through Califon, running from Lake Solitude and the South Branch of the Raritan River on to High Bridge. As a former railroad bed, the level trail has no grades higher than 2.5%, making it ideal for hiking, biking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing.
Califon is a Victorian-style enclave where the houses are marked with the names of the builders and their dates of establishment rather than with street numbers. In addition to the classic front porch Victorians in town, Califon has a mix of housing styles including waterfront homes on the river; Federal homes from the early 1800s; vintage homes dating from the early 1900s, sometimes with a detached garage building or small barn in the back; traditional Colonials; historic stone and clapboard homes; antique farmhouses and well-kept residences built in the second half of the past century.
Schools, Health, Transportation
The Califon School District serves students in public school for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and public school students in grades 9 through 12 are served by the North Hunterdon-Voorhees Regional High School District. The district is classified by the New Jersey Department of Education as being in District Factor Group "I", the second highest of eight groupings.
Hunterdon Medical Center or Somerset Medical Center is only a short drive away.
Califon is a few miles north of Interstate 78, about 60 miles west of New York City, and less than an hour from Newark Liberty International Airport. There is train service into New York City from High Bridge, about three miles south. Bus service runs from Clinton and Annandale along I-78 to both Newark Airport and New York City. Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown, Pennsylvania is about 42 miles away, and Newark Liberty International Airport is about 47 miles from Califon.