Home » Have you ever…. visited Jacobs Creek?

Have you ever…. visited Jacobs Creek?

by Kim Robinson

Have you ever visited Jacobs Creek in the Winter, when there’s snow on the ground, and the sun is shining, and it’s so bright that you can barely see?  I don’t mean, “Have you driven over the bridge?” I mean, have you actually visited the creek? 

I know, I know; it does not have the most convenient parking (only two parking spaces near the interpretive signage). But if you’re driving by and one of those two spots is open, do climb down the bank to get a full view. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

With its headwaters on the west flank of Pennington Mountain in Hopewell Township, the Jacobs Creek is actually a lot longer than most people think. From the Mountain, it flows southwest, going over and under many of our local roads.  It takes in the flow from the Woolsey Brook, and after passing under River Road, it  empties into the Delaware.\

As many of you will remember fondly, the Jacobs Creek Bridge sat across the creek for 130 years.  A beautiful 1882 pin-connected, Pratt through truss bridge, built by the King Iron Bridge Company, it was eligible for listing on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. If you feel nostalgic, one can still drive under part of the JCB superstructure, which has now been placed on Valley Road, as a welcoming entrance over the creek there.

Now let’s talk about George Washington, as he also became quite familiar with our Jacobs Creek. If you did not know: when Washington’s troops arrived at Jacobs Creek in December 1776 on their march to Trenton, it appeared much the same as it looks today, but with no way to cross, other than through the rushing, icy waters of Winter. The troops faced a steep ravine going down into the water, and another to get up the bank on the other side. Using only ropes tied to trees and sheer will, Washington’s troops maneuvered 2,400 troops and 18 cannon across that ravine – an incredible feat.  Unfortunately, two soldiers froze to death on the side of the road after the creek crossing. The army, however, continued their march (on what was later dubbed The Victory Trail) to the Battle of Trenton, which proved to be the turning point of the Revolutionary War. 

Jacobs Creek is actually detailed in multiple books, including David Hackett Fischer’s Pulitzer Prize winning Washington’s Crossing.  It is also detailed in Hopewell Township’s Master Plan, a plan that lists the landscape and fording point as historical elements that warrant preservation and protection. This crossing of Jacobs Creek was imperative to the birth of our nation, and it presented a formidable challenge to the Continental Army, second only to the crossing of the Delaware River. 

You and your family can follow in the Continental Army’s footsteps. But maybe wait until summer to actually ford the creek. We don’t want anyone else freezing to death.

Photos copyright Kim Robinson

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MercerMe is the only hyperlocal, independent, online news outlet serving Hopewell Valley in Mercer County, New Jersey.

Contact us: [email protected] 

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