New Jersey was one of the original 13 colonies, which means that there’s been a ton of history in the making in this state. Some of the earliest major constructions that still exist today are the first bridges that settlers built. New Jersey’s oldest bridges might surprise
you, in both their location and history. This quick blog post will tell you a little bit about the oldest bridges in NJ, and answer some of the questions armchair historians might have. So, what is the oldest bridge in NJ? Keep reading to find out…
If we wanted to get very technical about the title of New Jersey’s oldest bridge, we’d have to say that the oldest bridge was most likely a log that was placed across a stream before settlers even came here. However, we’re going to talk about the bridges that were build out of stone. The oldest bridge in NJ is the Old Stone Bridge, and it was authorized to be build in 1727 as a way to help settlers cross Bound Brook in Raritan.
The bridge wasn’t actually built until 1730, for reasons unknown. However, when it was built, it only took a full year to finish. By 1760, Bound Brook had two stone bridges as well as a causeway, making the entire area a major commerce site. The Old Stone Bridge, known for its three picturesque arches, carried two of the state’s most historic highways during its glory days. According to historians, the Old Stone Bridge isn’t just the oldest bridge in the state – it’s the second oldest bridge in the entire USA.
Interestingly enough, the bridge had also acquired a bit of historical notoriety during the Revolutionary War. The Battle of Bound Brook, which took place in 1777, actually had Washington’s troops fight against both British and Hessian troops ontop of the bridge. While the actual fight only lasted about 10 minutes, it still is an important part of history. After all, if George Washington fought there, it was likely a make-or-break moment in our country’s formation.
However, not all was well with the bridge. For the past 140 years, the bridge had become buried up to its parapets with mud, sand, and overgrowth. This all began in the 1870s, when a railroad embankment was built nearby. The embankment flooded and covered most of the bridge. Since the bridge was places on the Register of Historic Places in 2008, a group of volunteers have begun to unearth the bridge and let people see it in its glory form once more.
However, there is a second runner up for oldest bridge in New Jersey, if you want to get technical. The second runner up is the oldest covered bridge in New Jersey, and unlike the Old Stone Bridge, it’s located in Southern New Jersey. This covered bridge is made completely out of wood, and is one of the only two remaining wooden bridges in the entire state. Built in 1872, the Seargeantville Bridge was erected on abutments that can be traced back to pre-Revolutionary times.
The bridge was still widely in use up until 1960, when it became condemned for heavy traffic. A group of locals dismantled and rebuilt the bridge in the next year, and added steel girders and reinforcements to the bridge itself. Though the bridge used to be a two-way bridge for carriages, the current schematics of the local road make the oldest covered bridge in NJ suitable for only westbound traffic. And, while it does see public usage, care should be taken while crossing it. (It is mostly wood, after all.)
New Jersey’s oldest bridges aren’t quite as famous as the Driscoll bridge, but they sure do show a lot about our state. Neat, huh?
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