Vernon Township is a township in Sussex County, New Jersey, United States. It is located about one hour's drive from New York City and is part of the New York Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 23,943, reflecting a decline of 743 (-3.0%) from the 24,686 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 3,475 (+16.4%) from the 21,211 counted in the 1990 Census. It is both the most populous municipality and the largest in area in the county.
Vernon is home to Mountain Creek (formerly Great Gorge and Vernon Valley), a ski resort and water park as well as the Crystal Springs Resort's Minerals Hotel and Elements Spa. The Hidden Valley ski resort, which opened in 1976 and occupied a property that included one of New Jersey's three remaining downhill skiing facilities, closed at the end of the 2013 season and could find no buyers at an auction held that year. The Great Gorge Playboy Club was located in the Vernon community of McAfee, but was sold and turned into a hotel, now called the Legends Resort & Country Club.
The independent township of Vernon was established on April 8, 1793, from portions of Hardyston Township, and the township was formally incorporated on February 21, 1798. The which marked the town's borders over 200 years ago have not changed since. However, the population of Vernon, which was 1,548 people as recently as 1950, has steadily grown since the 1960s, when the ski industry was introduced to the area. Additional growth has come as home prices have soared in the near suburbs of New York City and property buyers seek the better values available from real estate developments in the area.
Iron mining in the town of Vernon was prevalent during the mid-to-late 19th century. Mines such as the Canistear Mine, Williams Mine, and the Pochuk Mine created industry which spawned local businesses, and brought rail travel to the town.
It is not known how Vernon Township got its name, but author Ronald J. Dupont, Jr., posits that the township could have been named after:
Dupont, Jr., also writes that in the late 19th century two places named Vernon existed, the one in Sussex County and another in Essex County. When the Essex County community was granted a post office, they found out that another Vernon existed, and so they eventually named the community Verona.