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LHT Historic Site – A Mill and a Bridge in the Back Country

A Mill and a Bridge in the Back Country

The Story

Two centuries ago this was a remote spot. Stony Brook flowed swiftly down the narrow, winding, wooded valley. There was no bridge, no mill and no indication in the landscape that this was where the Province Line had been surveyed through the wilderness of colonial New Jersey in 1687. For several generations, the land hereabouts had been in the hands of the Golden family, farmers whose New Jersey roots likewise extend back into the late 17th century.

Above: View upstream from 1957 showing the south end of the Warren pony truss bridge, which was erected to replace an earlier bridge in 1903. (Courtesy of Mercer County Engineering Division).

LHT Mill and Bridge History Map closeup
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LHT History Golden's Mill

The Mill

Jacob Golden first installed a sawmill here on the banks of Stony Brook in the late 1840s. The sawmill employed a water-powered ripsaw turning out board lumber, mostly oak.

Jacob Golden’s gristmill was an important focus of his 149-acre farm (Everts & Stewart, Lawrence Township, Atlas of Mercer County, New Jersey,

Around 1870, a flourmill was added and Golden engaged Charles Temple and his son John as millers. By 1880, another of Charles Temple’s sons, Samuel, was also working at the flourmill, which ground wheat flour, feed and Indian cornmeal on its three sets of millstones. The milling operations were seasonal, small-scale and short-lived; neither lumber nor grain processing continued beyond the 1880s. The reasons for the mills’ demise remain murky. Was it the economy? Did Stony Brook flood and damage the workings?

Milldams sometimes doubled as causeways with bridges spanning the millrace and waste gates; at other times, a separate free-standing bridge was erected close by the mill.

LHT History Golden's Mill

The Construction

Mill customers wanted access to a mill from both sides of a creek. When the first bridge carrying Province Line Road over Stony Brook was built is also unknown. It may have been shortly after 1864 when local residents petitioned Mercer County for a bridge. A bridge appears to be in place in 1875, as seen on a map of that year. In 1882, the abutments were repaired and the timber deck was replaced. The present span, a Warren pony truss constructed by the Berlin Construction Company of Berlin, Connecticut, and installed in 1903 on the old stone piers and abutments, is the longest and one of the best preserved of its type in the county.

LHT History Golden's Mill

The Proposal

Mercer County published a request for proposals to repair and replace the earlier bridge that existed here in the early 1880s.

Trenton State Gazette, October 20, 1882

Construction drawings for the proposed new bridge in 1903. This is the bridge that still survives today.

Courtesy of Mercer County Engineering Division

LHT History Golden's Mill

The Drawings

Continuing the Story

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This project: Funded by the FHWA Recreational Trails Program, through the NJDEP.
This sign: Content development by Hunter Research, Inc. Graphic design by Douglas Scott.

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