Van Slyke Castle Ruins – Oakland, New Jersey - Atlas Obscura

AO Edited

Van Slyke Castle Ruins

Oakland, New Jersey

The remains of a century-old mansion that met a fiery demise years after it was deserted.  


Built in the early 1900s, Van Slyke Castle (previously known as Foxcroft) transitioned through multiple owners until the final blow to the property came when vandals burned the mansion in 1959. Large portions of the castle, pool, and water tower can still be explored today (the pool and water tower are not too far from the castle ruins). 

William Porter, a stockbroker, built the place in the early 1900s. He named the property Foxcroft, as it was built on Fox Hill. Porter died in a car crash in 1911 while his wife, Ruth, was traveling home from a European vacation.

Ruth later married Warren Van Slyke, an attorney who served as an assistant to the higher naval command of intelligence during World War I, in 1913. The couple changed the mansion’s name to Van Slyke Castle and used it as a vacation home. Ruth retreated there permanently after Warren passed away in 1925.

Ruth died in 1940, leaving the castle without an owner for nine years. It was finally purchased in 1949 by a couple who subsequently resold the property two years later to Suzanne S. Christie. She abandoned it shortly after. No one knows why she left the place, though it’s suspected it could have been the result of a bitter divorce.

After years of desertion, the mansion met its fiery demise when vandals broke in and set the place ablaze. The overgrown remains are now part of Ramapo Mountain State Forest.

A video of the exploration and hike can be seen here.

Know Before You Go

Print out the trail map for Ramapo Mountain State Forest. The castle ruins and water tower are marked on the trail map and will guide you. The trails are blazed.

In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web