My Sister, Pattie, used to live in South Jersey for many years. This is Pattie's Story.
My husband, Mark, and I were in the habit of taking "coffee rides" (he would have coffee and I would have tea, then take a long drive to drink at our leisure, while enjoying the sights along the way). It was our chance to get away for a little adventure, away from the rigors of reality, of working hard and raising our six children. Later on in the evening, when homework was done and it was almost bedtime, we'd leave the older ones in charge for about an hour or so, so we could wind down.
We alternated with a few different routes to make things interesting, so we didn't fall into the same old pattern. However, we did start gravitating to one particular road (County Rd 539 in Tuckerton), cruising it more often than our other choices. It was a long stretch that went on for several miles with nothing but short, scrubby pines on either side, but it was lonely enough for us to enjoy some peace and quiet, with only an occasional car showing up here and there. We were close to a branch of Maguire Air Force Base, but there were no buildings or anything else around and the surrounding area didn't look active.
On a few occasions, we spotted some very large vultures, who were way over the weight limit for the scraggly branches they sat upon, bending them almost to the ground. It was cool seeing them, as they permeated the dark night with an air of mystery. We wondered if there was impending death nearby, calling our senses to attention, to keep out a watchful eye for anything else that might be out of the ordinary, making our ride more of an adventure.
Then, one night, out of the blue, about halfway through our well traveled road, we noticed a town full of lights, deep into the woods to our left. We looked at each other for some kind of explanation since we both never noticed that before. We thought, how could we not have noticed a whole town! Were we that oblivious to our surroundings? We vowed to each other to be on the alert to look out for it the next time we passed through.
We decided to take our ride a little earlier, while it was still light outside, to see what it looked like during the day. We didn't know the exact location since there were no identifying markers to indicate we were getting close, but we did estimate by how many miles we traveled. We drove slower than usual and paid close attention, but we never saw anything resembling a town along the way. Very strange!
The next time we went during our usual time, being extra vigilant... Still no town! We kept coming back, time and time again, trying to spot our town, to no avail. It eventually became a "quest"...We even wondered if it was a figment of our imagination or something.
We gave up our search and when we least expected it, we saw it again, in the distance, our phantom town lit up with it's many lights! We almost wanted to stop the car and get out, to walk through the woods to see what was really there, but it was too creepy! We didn't want our children to read in the paper of the couple they found in the woods, eaten alive by something they couldn't identify, with the vultures finishing the job! Haha... I know I just got carried away there, but the fact remains... There lies a phantom town, somewhere along our lonely road. Maybe someone knows what it's all about, but we never figured it out.
We saw the town one more time before we moved away from this area.
I did find a bunch of military related places, namely The Warren Grove Gunnery Range: a military bomb practice range, and Coyle Field which has a military history. There are also other air strips & military locations in that area.
This being said, I still like the idea of phantom places that appear & disappear. There's a lot to science that remains undiscovered! I like your story & wish you had investigated more; however, with a family depending upon you I certainly understand your apprehension.