BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Bald Eagle was chosen as America’s national bird because it soars the highest in the sky, and is a fierce yet noble creature. It seems fitting that a Boy Scout’s highest honor is achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. Troop 368’s Sailesh Prasad, of Clark, New Jersey, achieved this honorable title after completing his board of review on March 21.

Perhaps one of the more daunting requirements for the rank of Eagle--along with leadership, service hours, and merit badges--is the Eagle Scout project. Prasad proposed and executed a project to clear, unearth, and expose the remains, foundations, and various artifacts located at Feltville’s historic mill.

Prasad led the project and delegated tasks to fellow scouts, adults, and friends. The group removed shrubbery and brush, cleared rocks and trees, and dug out the foundation--that stretched 150 feet in length and 50 feet in width--over a period of several days, unearthing and documenting historic artifacts such as tools and piping. Four posts were built at the building’s corners, making the once-hidden structure visible to those using the trails.

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“When I made the first draft of my eagle project proposal, I could never have imagined the scale and workload that it would require,” Prasad said.“But my friends, family, and fellow scouts aided me immensely with the massive amount of labor we had to do.”

The mill, located in the Deserted Village at the Watchung Reservation, was built in 1845 by David Felt. After constructing two dams to supply power, Felt established Feltville, a small community comprised of the mill workers and their families. The property was sold in 1860, and passed through the hands of different owners who sought success in their business ventures, to no avail. Soon after, the area was vacated, earning the town the title “The Deserted Village.” In 1882 the mill was purchased by Warren Ackerman, who used it as a cattle stable, until the building deteriorated and was finally taken down in 1930.

“History never ceases to fascinate me. Doing this project not only allowed me to touch history, but to actually be a part of it,” said Prasad, “I’m proud of the work I was able to accomplish on my project to finally achieve the rank I've been working towards since I was young.”

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