Moores Creek Bridge
Photo taken by Geoff Hubbs in March 2021
License: Released into public domain
BH Photo #493469
SETTING / CONTEXT Located well below grade, the bridge that carries scenic NJ 29 over Moores Creek near its confluence with the Delaware River is not visible from the road. It is visible from the D & R Canal Feeder right-of-way, now a park, located immediately west of the bridge and highway. Elements of an abandoned railroad trestle bridge are in the adjacent park. The setting is wooded.
SUMMARY The 2-span stone arch bridge (later gunite) dates to the construction of the D & R Canal, and as such it ranks as one of the few surviving original canal-related bridges. It is one of two stone arch bridges on NJ 29 (the historic river road), and it is the better preserved of the two. The bridge was widened in kind in 1917 when NJ 29 was improved to its present width. The gunite coating was added in 1933. The value of the bridge is for its associative significance with the D & R Canal Feeder.
INFORMATION Bibliography: Trenton Public Library. Trentoniana Collection. Vertical File: Roads. Mercer Co. Engineers Office. Transfer File 211.1.
Physical Description: The 2-span stone barrel arch bridge/aqueduct has splayed wing walls and a high road embankment. It has been widened at least twice, but the 1933 gunite coating hides evidence of the modification. The original stone construction is visible inside the arches and where the gunite coating has spalled. A bullnose cutwater has been added to the upstream side, and a high embankment has been built up on the original deck to accommodate the raising of the road grade.
Historical and Technological Significance: The stone arch bridge/aqueduct was constructed ca. 1832-1834 as part of the original development of the Delaware & Raritan Canal Feeder, one of the important transportation routes in the region. The D & R Canal Feeder, which brought soft coal from rich fields of eastern Pennsylvania to the industrialized regions of Trenton and beyond, was completed between 1832 and 1834. Its right-of-way, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Since the aqueduct is an original canal structure, and it actually carries the historic waterway, it is evaluated as a contributing resource (criteria A, C).
In addition to the structure's association with the canal feeder, it is also an integral part of the old river road, an important 19th century thoroughfare. The New Jersey legislature designed NJ 29 as "Delaware Drive" in 1912. The purpose of the road was to encourage redistribution of population from the congested northeastern part of the state to the Delaware Valley by providing good transportation. The road was improved over the next fifty years, and it was taken over as a state route in 1945. This arch was extended on the upstream side in 1917 to accommodate the upgrading of the road. When the downstream side was extended is not known. That work would have been done by the Pennsylvania Railroad, owner of the canal feeder and railroad. The entire span was gunited in 1933. Despite the 20th-century alterations to aqueduct, it is of great enough historical significance to be evaluated as an eligible resource (criterion A).
The stone arch is one of two known mid-19th century bridges on the old highway in Mercer County and it is the largest. As such it is a significant remnant of the historical development of an important transportation corridors that contributed markedly to the industrial and physical growth of Trenton and Lambertville. It engineering significance is derived in part from demonstrating how the crossing of the canal, a controlled, manmade feature, and the natural stream were separated.
Boundary Description and Justification: The span is evaluated as significant for historical and technological reasons. Thus the span as well as its setting as part of the canal feeder and the historic river road are all contributing factors to its significance. The boundary includes the entire width of the structure and the area on the downstream portion that is part of the National Register-listed Delaware and Raritan Canal district.