Califon was a station on the High Bridge Branch of the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The rail line was abandoned in 1976 and now serves as a Hunterdon County administered rail trail called Columbia Trail, which runs south to High Bridge and north to points in Morris County.
Califon was first called California, from Jacob Neighbor's enthusiasm in the milling business about the time the California Gold Rush broke out. The Califon Historical Society has registered 170 structures with the National Register of Historic Places. Califon is a Victorian-style enclave where the houses are marked with the names of the builders and their dates of establishment rather than with street numbers. Many contemporary businesses are housed in the older buildings: an art gallery, mosaic shop, a market, hardware store, book shop, and a combined flower, antique, and gift shop.
Califon straddles the South Branch of the Raritan River, and it is here that the water begins to widen and strut just a little, suggesting the beauty that lies ahead. Nearby is Ken Lockwood Gorge. Named in dedication by Trout Unlimited for the conservationist and fly fisherman, Ken Lockwood, the Gorge is immediately reminiscent of someplace in Montana.