How Exactly Did a Harbor (and a Township and a City) Get Named After Eggs?
The Great Egg Harbor River, the Egg Harbor (or Egg Harbor Bay) itself, Egg Harbor Township, and Egg Harbor City -- we're surrounded by eggs here in South Jersey. But did you ever wonder where the name "Egg Harbor" comes from?
Our area was not home to a great chicken farm that once produced millions of eggs (South Jersey's isn't exactly the egg capital of the world) -- nor has anyone named "Egg" ever done anything substantial to have a bunch of stuff named after him or her.
So what gives?
For the answer, you have to go back over 400 years and you'll see how one man influenced the names of many places here in South Jersey.
According to Wikipedia, the Great Egg Harbor got its name from Cornelius Jacobsen Mey. Mey -- whose name was sometimes spelled "May" (more on that in a bit) -- was a Dutch explorer and fur trader. In the mid 1610s, Mey navigated many of the major waterways in our area, including the Hudson River and Delaware Bay, as a trader peddling his goods.
In 1614, Mey came upon the inlet to a large body of water (what we know as the Great Egg Harbor River). As the story goes, the meadows were covered with so many shorebird and waterfowl eggs that he called it "Eyren Haven" (Egg Harbor). Thus, Egg Harbor and the Great Egg Harbor River were named.
I mentioned above that Mey's name was sometimes spelled as "May." It is Cornelius Jacobsen Mey (May) that Cape May, the City of Cape May, and Cape May County are named after. And it is those bird eggs and/or the local waterways that Egg Harbor Township and Egg Harbor City are named after.
Now that you know the history of Mey and his impact on South Jersey, you might be thinking that we're the only area with things named after an Egg Harbor. Not true! Egg Harbor, Wisconsin, is a town of about 200 people located an hour north of Green Bay. However, it appears that they don't have any connection to Mey (nor do they have any Wawa's or awful traffic circles).