An 1806 woodcut of the first bridge in Mercer County.

The Hopewell Public Library is hosting a lecture about local bridges spanning the Delaware River at the Hopewell Train Station on Wednesday, Sept. 26. Speaker Joe Donnelly, of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, will discuss the history of the county’s Delaware River bridges, illustrated with historic photographs, news items, documents and maps.

Bridges have spanned the Delaware River between New Jersey and Pennsylvania for more than 200 years, and Mercer County has played a prominent role in that transportation legacy. Mercer County was the location of the first bridge to span the river (1806), the first to carry a railroad between two states (1830s) and the first bridge to become publicly owned without a toll (1918).

Today, the county is host to the narrowest vehicular bridge, the oldest bridge, and only wrought-iron bridge between the two states. Next year, the county will host the river’s newest bridge when the first completed span of the Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge opens to traffic.

The history of Mercer County’s river bridges includes early wooden structures, floods, fires, private stock-issuing companies, railroad barons, a trolley line, a free-bridges movement, a mystery bridge, and a river crossing that ceased existence 60 years ago this year.

Donnelly became the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission’s deputy executive director of communications in February 2008. He previously handled communications in the New Jersey General Assembly and worked as a reporter for The Record. A Lambertville resident, he has researched the history of his agency’s 20 bridges, some of which rank among oldest and most unique interstate river crossings in the nation.

The Hopewell Train Station is located at 2 Railroad Place in Hopewell Borough. All Hopewell Public Library talks are free and open to the public. For more information and updates check the library website at redlibrary.org, Facebook, or contact the library at 609-466-1625.