On-line Book




Chapter 1

Chapter 2
Urban Development

Chapter 3
Maritime Activity

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Appendix 1
Patterned Brick Houses

Appendix 2
Stack Houses

Appendix 3
Existing Documentation


Historic Themes and Resources within the
New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route
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South Jersey, in step with nationwide innovations in transportation, progressed from depending upon trail, sail, and rail for travel and economic development from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. Today, only the footprint and a smattering of structures remain from burgeoning port towns and railway hubs. The major—and most intact—network is the state and county highway system which, for the most part, mirrors the historic trails and roads that bisected the region.

Indian Trails

Many of the thoroughfares employed by seventeenth-century European settlers and inhabitants of subsequent seaside, domestic, and commercial centers were taken from the Lenape Indians. They established an extensive network of trails in both North and South Jersey to facilitate seasonal migrations to the coast; trails also enabled improved trade relations, attendance at ceremonies held at major villages, and the seasonal movement of hunting grounds. All major trails linked villages, while a network of minor trails that branched out from them led to hunting and fishing grounds, camp sites, gardens, and rock shelters. [1]

The nature of these Indian paths benefitted the Europeans immensely by not only linking major settlements, but by mapping out the courses of least resistance to the pedestrian traveler. Logic dictated that Indian trails—2' to 3' across—were kept clear by regular travel and were situated along dry land in relatively low terrain where there was an absence of rocks and other obstacles. When crossing streams, Indians chose areas that were shallow, of uniform depth, and with firm bottoms. In addition to traveling on land, the Lenni Lenape made great use of the dense network of inland and coastal waterways via dugout canoes of tulip popular, white cedar or sycamore, or a bark canoe of elm, black oak, or hickory bark. [2]

Upon arrival in North Jersey and New York, the Dutch used Indian trails as trade routes, establishing along them trading posts and forts, such as Fort Nassau near the present town of Gloucester, and Fort Casimer near New Castle, Delaware. Many such centers existed along the banks of the Delaware River. If the Indians were at war, traders traveled in sloops up the waterways instead of risking capture on their trails. [3]

When the Swedes arrived in the Delaware Valley, they brought with them economic competition. Like the Dutch, they adopted the Indians' routes and established the forts and trading posts along the river. Fort Christina was established on Christina Creek in Delaware, and Fort Elfsborg was erected on the Delaware River just below Salem Creek. [4] As the population grew and migrated toward the interior, Indian trails again led the way.


Travelers' reliance on water for mobility was one result of the crude condition of overland routes. Most trails were wide enough only for one person on foot or horseback; if they were passable for wagons, an average rainfall could transform the route into dense mud where wagons were easily mired. These conditions persisted even as more formal turnpikes were built. The early farmers attempted to overcome them by attaching sleds on runners for hauling grain, hay, and tobacco—but the rivers continued to prove most efficient. [5]

By the end of the 1600s, the colonial government recognized the need for improved roads. In 1681 the Assembly authorized a survey for the King's Highway from Burlington to Salem. Four years later, the West Jersey Assembly implemented the last measures for creating a highway system to connect the Salem area with the upper part of the West Jersey province. Through passage of general legislation, the Assembly "provided locally for the laying out of highways while the inhabitants were empowered to levy such taxes as shall be necessary from time to time, for the making and repairing their respective bridges and highways." [6]

By 1697 the West Jersey Assembly agreed that a highway was needed to connect Cape May with the capital, Burlington, with the hope that citizens might become more politically active. The burden of cost and maintenance fell on Cape May inhabitants until the area between Burlington and Cape May could be settled; the highway was completed in 1707.

In 1760 the Assembly decided that the best way to improve overland passage was to make road-building officials responsible to the people. As a result, overseers and surveyors were elected by voters—and were punished if they neglected the duty. Overseers inspected the roads and bridges in a respective district, and if repairs were needed, he called on the residents to make them. The fact the government did not concern itself with roads and their maintenance allowed citizens the right to build their own thoroughfares for personal or public interest. Many of the highways in South Jersey were developed for the purpose of exploiting agriculture and natural resources, especially to bring timber and iron ore out of the interior. Other roads were established to serve area glassworks. [7]

Residents gradually transformed the winding trails by cutting back trees and brush. They were often ungraded and stumps were a menace, and the road sometimes followed an awkward course to avoid bisecting a farmer's field. Neither were swamps generally traversable, since the road through them consisted of a few loads of unbroken stone or a series of logs laid crosswise to form a corduroy "pavement." Both proved problematic well into the nineteenth century. [8]

Traces of these old corduroy roads can be found along the banks of many of the creeks in South Jersey. Definite remains, however, can be found along the banks of Dennis and Sluice creeks in Cape May County (Fig. 83). Many of the logs, branches, twigs and bark used to form the roadbed lie perpendicular to the creeks within their banks. In many instances, the logs protrude from the shore in several layers. New logs were continuously placed atop the old bed because the combination of soft ground and weighty wagons caused them to sink into the mud. If the logs were not replaced, wagons would become mired and movement impossible. In most cases the timber used to make the roads was harvested from nearby cedar and pine forests.

corduroy road
Figure 83. Corduroy road remains, such as these along Dennis Creek, are found preserved but buried in layers of mud throughout the tidal marshes. Sebold.

Bridge construction, like road development, was directed by local officials. The expense, however, warranted municipal or county financial assistance. Usually of timber construction with planks laid as flooring, bridge surfaces also had to be repaired or replaced often. Stone bridges were rare because of the high cost of construction. Some of the earliest bridges in Salem County were located at Hancock's Bridge in Lower Alloways Creek Township and Quinton's Bridge in Quinton Township. Both were the site of Revolutionary War battles.

In 1711, Benjamin Acton, a surveyor for Salem County, helped to lay out the Old Penn's Neck Road which ran from Market Street in Salem across the Salem Creek via the Trap Causeway and Bridge, in Mannington Township, and then on to Penn's Neck. A century later, much of this road and its bridge were abandoned when the New Street (presently Griffith Street) Bridge was constructed. By the time New Street was finished, most of the main roads in Salem County had been laid out. In 1820 John Denn commenced building a canal near Salem in Mannington Township in order to shorten navigation on the Salem River by two miles. The one-half mile canal was completed in 1840. [9]

Among the earlier crossings in Cumberland County was a bridge over the Cohansey River at Bridgeton. When Bridgeton first appeared as a small settlement in the early eighteenth century, it was known as Cohansey or Cohansey's Bridge. The exact date of the first bridge's construction is unknown; however, in a reference concerning the building of John Garrison's house in 1715, there was mention of it relative to the bridge. The bridge at Cohansey was part of the road that connected Salem with Cape May via Greenwich and Buckshutem. [10] Numerous such covered bridges existed throughout the area, including one across Dividing Creek (Fig. 84).

covered bridge
Figure 84. The covered bridge across Dividing Creek carried modern Route 553; historically passengers were warned of $10 fines for moving "faster than a walk." Wettstein, late 19th century.

By the end of the colonial period, the main roads in South Jersey were in place. The most important of these, the King's Highway, connected Salem with Burlington to the north and with Greenwich via Quinton's Bridge and Jericho. From Greenwich it went on to become Broad Street in Bridgeton. Once Commerce Street Bridge was erected in Bridgeton in 1771, the highway turned southeast toward Cape May. Before this, the road turned northeast at Pearl Street, to the present-day corner of East and Irving avenues, toward Indian Fields. [11] Another road paralleled the Delaware Bay shoreline from Salem to Bridgeton, though its exact route remains a mystery. In the mid eighteenth century, a road from Port Elizabeth to Shingle Landing (later Millville) on the east side of Maurice River was laid out from Berriman's Branch near Leaming's Mill. At that point a bridge on log cribs was built across the river. In 1798, another road was made from Bridgeton to Fairton; prior to it, travelers reached Greenwich via the King's Highway and Laning's Wharf ferry. In the early 1800s, Bridgeton's East Commerce Street continued on toward Millville, while Buckshutem Road branched off from it to link up with the Spring Garden Ferry on the Maurice River; the road continued along the east side of the river into Port Elizabeth. [12] The Ferry Tavern is extant in Greenwich (Fig. 85).

Figure 85. Greenwich Ferry Tavern-Jail (1686, l760, HABS No. NJ-268). Built by Mark Reeve in 1686, the one-story block was probably the jail when Greenwich was the Cumberland County seat after 1748.

Many of the early roads in South Jersey can be identified by the presence of a tavern or inn. Once the roads were established, stagecoaches became a common mode of travel from Powles Hook and Cooper's Ferry to New York and Philadelphia. It was not until after 1750 that stagecoaches were used for local traffic. [13] Between 1765 and 1775, the Cooper's Ferry stage line was extended east and south to connect Philadelphia with South Jersey. The first line to open ran between Cooper's Ferry and Salem once a week, then every five days. The subsequent line linked Cooper's Ferry to Bridgeton, with branches to Greenwich and Cape May. In 1773, another stage line was opened from Cooper's Ferry to Roadstown. In 1815, a stage line served the route from Millville to Philadelphia via Malaga. [14]

Properly financed turnpikes of stone or gravel were demanded to accommodate nineteenth-century traffic as the population rose and the frontier line advanced to link up with the rest of the East Coast. Moreover, an improved road reduced the transportation cost of shipping products to Philadelphia and New York markets. In 1825, a direct road from Bridgeton to Shiloh was laid out and later became part of the toll-road system to Salem. Some important turnpikes were built in South Jersey between 1849 and 1860: the Bridgeton and Fairfield, Bridgeton and Millville, Cape May, Millville and Malaga, Port Elizabeth and Millville, and Salem and Woodstown. The turnpikes in South Jersey suffered from low capitalization and mileage, such that companies found it difficult to attract outside investors. So they relied on local farmers, storekeepers, merchants, and stage drivers—"the value of whose property or business would increase with better transportation facilities." Even with financial backing, many companies lacked the money to maintain the roads. [15]

The toll revenue collected for using the turnpike was determined by each company's incorporation charter; rates were inconsistent, based on the route's cost of construction and volume of traffic. The average rates consisted of the following: carriages with four horses or less cost 1 cent per mile; a horse and rider cost 2 cents per mile; a dozen calves, sheep or hogs cost 1/2 cent per mile; and a dozen cattle, mules, or horses cost 1 cent per mile. [16] Collectors lived in toll houses that were built five to ten miles apart. Deerfield Pike Toll Gate House, outside but near the NJCHT boundary, was built in 1853. [17] In 1876 there was a toll gate in Quinton's Bridge.

By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, several substantial bridges helped facilitate travel throughout the network of small South Jersey towns. Mauricetown had a 60' drawbridge that carried High Street across the river; this was replaced in 1888 by a single or double intersection plank-deck Pratt bridge that remains partially extant. Among others were a drawbridge at Quinton's Bridge, and an undisclosed type at Hancock's Bridge. An existing nineteenth-century bridge can be found on New Bridge Road in Lower Alloway's Creek Township, Salem County (Fig. 86).

Figure 86. New Bridge Road Alloways Creek Bridge, built by the New Jersey Bridge Company of Manasquan (1905), is an unusual metal truss swing bridge with a Pratt pony-truss approach.

Whether plank or macadamized, turnpikes offered definite benefits to local farmers and industries despite their cost: smoother and speedier travel, fewer delays, and the potential for larger loads. The revenue came mostly from teamsters who hauled freight in wagons, or herds of animals being driven to market. Most turnpikes, however, especially those in sparsely settled areas, were unprofitable and met their demise once the railroad was established. [18]

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Last Modified: Mon, Mar 14 2005 10:00:00 pm PDT

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