HISTORY ALONG THE LHT
As the LHT winds through Lawrence and Hopewell Townships, it passes many sites with a rich history, sometimes in plain view, sometimes hidden by time, development, and change.
The Lawrence Hopewell Trail passes through preserved open space and farmland, which still suggest the area’s rural past, with numerous fields, farmhouses, and mills in the landscape. More recent history includes the Pole Farm, an AT&T transmission site used in early international communications. The area is also home to some early and prominent corporate campuses, including Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), and Educational Testing Service (ETS).
Based on research by historical and archaeological consultants at Hunter Research, Inc., History Along the LHT is placing historical markers at several dozen locations along the trail. Here are the historical markers that are currently installed, markers that will be installed soon, and other points of interest in the history of Hopewell and Lawrence.
As you travel the LHT, look for these historical markers:
Location: Mercer Meadows, off Federal City Road
Rosedale Lake is the largest water feature along the LHT. This manmade lake was formed in the 1960s when two creeks were dammed to minimize flooding and sedimentation. Mercer County acquired the lake and surrounding Blackwell Farm in 1968.
Location: Near the intersection of Pennington-Rocky Hill Road and Carter Road
Named for the crossroads hamlet just up the road from here, the Mount Rose Ridge runs east-west from Rocky Hill and Kingston, passing north of Princeton and terminating just west of Hopewell Borough. It is made of a hard volcanic rock called diabase, sometimes known as “trap rock,” which dates to the time of the dinosaurs and is used in road construction.
Location: Province Line Road at exit from ETS campus
Laid out in 1687, the Province Line (sometimes called the Keith Line, after its surveyor) was the historic boundary that divided New Jersey into the two colonial provinces of East Jersey and West Jersey. Today it still separates many New Jersey counties and municipalities, including the border of Hopewell with Princeton and the borders of Lawrence with Princeton and West Windsor.
Location: Princeton Pike at Lenox Drive
Established in 1807, the Princeton-Kingston Branch Turnpike (now known as Princeton Pike) was an early effort to improve transportation in the 19th century. Turnpikes were built straight to allow for faster travel, and tolls paid for maintenance and improvements. The nearby Princessville Inn, destroyed by fire in 1982, was established to serve travelers along the turnpike.
Location: Near the LHT crossing of Lewisville Road
The LHT crosses Lewisville Road at the southeast end of what was once the village of Lewisville, Lawrence Township’s oldest African American community. In the decades prior to the Civil War, Lewisville became a center of African American life and culture and remained so for nearly a century at a time when segregated communities were common in New Jersey.
Location: Near LHT crossing of Old Mill Road
Old Mill Road takes its name from this mill, which operated for almost 200 years. Ruins and the remains of a stone dam are visible just upstream of the bridge. This timber and grain mill was in operation from approximately 1750 to 1941.
Location: East of Princeton Pike
This 345-acre township park stretches from Meadow Road to Province Line Road and from Princeton Pike to the D&R Canal. These fertile wetlands were occupied by Native Americans long before Europeans came to New Jersey. In colonial times they were drained and used for cattle grazing.
Location: Phillips Avenue at James Street
A short section of the LHT follows the former Johnson Trolley Line through Lawrenceville. The two-story brick building at the southeast corner of James Street and Phillips Avenue was the former trolley company station and powerhouse. Known as the “Fast Line,” the trolley operated from 1901 until 1940. Freight service continued into Lawrenceville until I-295 was built in the 1970s.
Location: Bergen Street entrance to Village Park
In the early 20th century, what is now known as Bergen Street was once planned as part of an ambitious automobile parkway. Modeled on the parkways of New York City, it was to provide a pleasant and uninterrupted drive between Trenton and Princeton. Only a tiny bit of it was ever built, connecting Olden Avenue and Spruce Street in Ewing.
Location: Bristol Myers Squibb campus across from Lenox Drive
The Brearley Oak is the largest Black Oak (Quercus velutina) in New Jersey and is on the state’s registry of Champion Trees. Its age is estimated between 250 and 400 years. It is named for the prominent Brearley family, who first settled this land in the late 1600s.
Location: Province Line Road at Stony Brook
This bridge over the Stony Brook is the longest surviving Warren pony truss bridge in Mercer County. Closed to motor vehicle traffic in 1981, it was rehabilitated in 2012 and now provides a scenic and tranquil trail across the Stony Brook. Just upstream of the bridge was Golden’s Mill, one of several mill sites powered by the flow of Stony Brook.
Location: Along Old Mill Road
The McDougal (Chamberlin) Farm was a prosperous dairy farm dating to the late 19th century. The classic clapboard barn with three cupolas is a defining feature. Large, well-ventilated barns were essential for dairying.
Location: Mercer Meadows, one-half mile north of the Pole Farm interpretive display
This modest hilltop marks the dividing line between the Delaware River and Raritan River watersheds. To the north, rainfall flows to Stony Brook, then to the Millstone River, then to the Raritan River and New York Harbor. To the south, rainfall flows to Shipetaukin Creek, then to Assunpink Creek, then to the Delaware River.
Other historical points of interest along the LHT:
Mount Rose Distillery
Location: Pennington Rocky Hill Road, east of Bailey Court
The LHT travels along Pennington Rocky Hill Road and enters the historic village known as Mount Rose. The settlement of Mount Rose took root in the 1820s with the establishment of a pair of stores and a schoolhouse, soon after acquiring its name from the fine roses grown by a local gardener. The Mount Rose Distillery (known locally as the “Whiskey House”) is the only remaining building. It served as the office building for an applejack distillery that operated in the mid-19th century.
BMS Lawrenceville Campus
Location: US-206 between Province Line Road and Carter Road
In 1967, officials at the E.R. Squibb pharmaceutical labs in New Brunswick decided they needed room to expand and settled on a tract in north Lawrence. Their facility opened in 1971. The company, now Bristol Myers Squibb, is a global pharmaceutical manufacturer with multiple facilities in central New Jersey. The 280-acre Lawrenceville site is an early discovery site with research & development laboratories, offices and support services.
Lawrence Township Historic District
Location: US-206 through Lawrenceville
The LHT crosses US-206 in downtown Lawrenceville. The two-mile stretch of Main Street between Franklin Corner Road and Fackler Road contains numerous buildings of historic importance, including houses, cemeteries, an 18th-century church, and the campus of The Lawrenceville School. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Location: North side of Blackwell Road
The Hunt family goes back many generations in Hopewell Township, and the Noah Hunt House anchored a prosperous farmstead dating back to the 1700s. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, and now serves as the offices of the Mercer County Park Commission.
Location: To the north and east of Rosedale Road and Carter Road
In 1958, Lawrence Township welcomed its first major white-collar employer as Educational Testing Service opened its new campus on Rosedale Road. The majority of the 340-acre site had been the farm estate of Fred Schluter. Schluter’s farm had been home to a cow called Bessie, which in 1957 set a world’s record for butterfat production–over 1500 pounds of butterfat, which is enough to churn out almost a ton of butter. ETS is the world’s largest private nonprofit educational testing and assessment organization.
King’s Highway Historic District
Location: Intersection of Province Line Road and US-206
What we now know as US-206 has been a significant trail and roadway since colonial times. It was a portion of the King’s Highway that was laid out by order of Charles II of England to connect Boston with Charleston. The King’s Highway Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. It begins with NJ-27 in Kingston and ends at US-206 and Lawrenceville-Pennington Road in Lawrence.
1761 Brearley House
Location: The end of Meadow Road
This sturdy Georgian farmhouse serves as the headquarters of the Lawrence Historical Society. It was built for James Brearley, a member of one of the founding families of Maidenhead, as Lawrence used to be known. Archeological research indicates that at least two earlier houses existed on the site. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Location: Mercer Meadows, at Keefe and Cold Soil Roads
From 1929–1975, the Pole Farm District of Mercer Meadows was the site of a large shortwave radio station used for AT&T’s international telephone communications. Pole-mounted radio antennas covered the Pole Farm, configured to communicate with cities in Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. The LHT follows an old service road parallel to the lines of giant towers that once transmitted to Buenos Aires and London. In the early 1960s, the Pole Farm was the largest shortwave station in the world, and handled millions of international phone calls each year.
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Lawrence Hopewell Trail Corporation
The Historic Hunt House
197 Blackwell Rd.
Pennington, NJ 08534
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