|Ages ago Chatham Township was the southerly edge of a glacial field. A large, deep lake covered what is now the Great Swamp. The same glacier gave the township many of its other distinguishing features: the Passaic River along the entire southern border, the wooded ridge parallel to the river and the gentle rolling hills that offer an expansive view over and beyond the Great Swamp.
The first white settlers arrived around 1710, attracted by the fertility of the soil and the rich iron ore deposits in the region. During the Revolutionary War, the entire area shared in the activity of the Morristown encampment.
In 1806, the Township of Chatham was incorporated and included the areas that are now the Borough of Chatham, Madison and Florham Park. It was named Chatham in honor of Sir William Pitt, the elder Earl of Chatham, who had spoken in favor of the colonists in Parliament.
These areas were connected by turnpikes and toll roads originally built by private corporations to transport their goods to market. Local residents later built Shunpike Road to avoid paying tolls.
The most important transportation development was the coming of the Morris and Essex Railroad in 1837. This led to sharp increases in the population, which resulted in incorporating Chatham, Madison and Florham Park as separate boroughs.
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