West Milford is a township in Passaic County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 25,850, reflecting an decline of 560 (-2.1%) from the 26,410 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 980 (+3.9%) from the 25,430 counted in the 1990 Census.
West Milford started out as New Milford in what was then western Bergen County in the 18th century, having been settled by disenchanted Dutch from Milford, New Jersey (later renamed by the British as Newark). These same Dutch also built a town of New Milford in eastern Bergen County. When both New Milfords applied for post offices in 1828, a clerk in Washington, D.C. is said to have approved the other application first and assigned the name "West Milford" to the New Milford in western Bergen County in order to distinguish between the two locations.
West Milford became a municipality by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 10, 1834, when it was formed from the westernmost portions of both Franklin Township and Saddle River Township, while the area was still part of Bergen County. On February 7, 1837, Passaic County was created from portions of both Bergen County and Essex County, with West Milford as the western end of the newly formed county.
There are old name places in the township including Postville, Utterville, Corterville, Browns, Awosting, Echo Lake, Macopin, Charlotteburg (named after King George III's wife, Queen Charlotte and the town is now under the Charlotteburg Reservoir), Clinton (or sometimes called Clinton Furnace, now under the Clinton Reservoir, and the furnace still stands), Moe Mountain, Oak Ridge (a nameplace, but town is under the Oak Ridge Reservoir), Newfoundland, Apshawa, New City, and Smith Mills. Newfoundland is divided by the Pequannock River, which divides Passaic and Morris Counties; a small part of Newfoundland lies within Jefferson Township. A large part of the township, including the New City Village area, is reservoir property owned by the City of Newark in Essex County for their water supply. Prior to the Second World War, the township was a resort area with trains coming from New York City to stations at Charlotteburg, Newfoundland, Oak Ridge in the south and Hewitt (also known as Sterling Forest station) and Awosting in the north. Railroad service in the south was from the New Jersey Midland starting around the 1850s and in the north around the 1870s from the Montclair Railroad, out of Montclair, New Jersey and later the Erie Railroad (before their merger with the Lackawanna Railroad).
There is a seaplane area on Greenwood Lake, a few large marinas and lakeside restaurants with docks. There is a public airport called Greenwood Lake Airport just south of the lake on top of a mountain ridge and has two landing strips; one is long enough to handle small jets. There is one private airport in the township on a private estate.
After World War II and for the next 20 years the area underwent a major change from a resort area to year round residences. Before there were year-round houses, the summer residence of Cecil B. Demille was West Milford. Road maps of the 1950s showing the population on the backside said 2,000 winter and 10,000 summer.
Jeremiah "Jerry" Goodfellow, a white German shepherd and the senior canine member of the New Jersey Search and Rescue was inducted into the Animal Hall of Fame in 2009. Jerry lives with his owner and trainer, Sue Lavoie, on Union Valley Road in West Milford.