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Bordentown City Monuments

John Bull Locomotive Monument

Location: At the corner of Farnsworth Ave. and Railroad Ave. adjacent to the Farnsworth House, at 135 Farnsworth Avenue.

Significance - Moved here from its original location on Amboy Ave. in 1970, this monument commemorates the famous "John Bull" Locomotive. The inscription reads: First movement by steam on a railroad in the State of New Jersey, November 12, 1831 by the original locomotive "John Bull" now deposited in the United States National Museum at Washington. The first piece of railroad track in New Jersey was laid by the Camden and Amboy Railroad Company between this point and the stone 3,500 feet eastward in 1831.

More in-depth information courtesy of Delaware Valley Historian Paul W. Schopp:

According to the booklet issued for the monument dedication ceremonies, the Pennsylvania Railroad erected the monument “To mark the first piece of track laid between New York and Philadelphia, 1831.” While the bronze tablet set into the monument does celebrate the John Bull and its movement on the track, the monument primary purpose was to celebrate the trackage itself. The monument consists of a cube of Baltimore granite measuring five feet square and seven feet high set on a foundation of the stone sleepers, manufactured at Ossining Prison by inmates, which once supported the rails of the Camden & Amboy. A circle of original Robert L. Stevens’s designed T-rail encircles the stone cube. When the monument stood along the railroad right-of-way, a second marker, a stone obelisk, set 3,500 feet east of the main monument, marked the opposite end of the first section of track. Back in the early 1970s, a local plumbing supply retailer and renowned model maker named Ed Scholl rescued the monument and moved it to his front yard after discovering some miscreants had stolen a section of the original rail to sell for scrap. He recovered the rail section (or otherwise replaced it) and the main monument remained at his store and house until his death in the 1980s. Subsequent to Scholl’s demise, the City of Bordentown removed the monument and placed it at its current location. I am not aware of what happened to the obelisk marker.

Directions: Farnsworth Avenue is the main commercial street of Bordentown, accessible from both Route 130 and Route 206. Bordentown is a stop on the Light Rail Line. The light rail station is within a short walking distance of the three monuments listed here. Route 662 (W. Park St.) also connects to Farnsworth from the north west end. Route 528 (Crosswicks St.) also intersects Farnsworth.

Thomas Paine Monument

Location: At the corner of Prince St. and Park St. close to the Delaware River embankment.

Significance - The Bordentown Historical Society was responsible for initiating and constructing only the third public monument to Paine in the U.S. This statue was unveiled and dedicated with much fanfare and half the national colonial war re-creation forces on June 7, 1997 (the weekend of the 188th anniversary of Paine's death). The Inscription on the base reads: "Thomas Paine - 1737-1809 - Father of the American Revolution". The statue was sculpted by Lawrence Holofcener.

The statue features Paine standing with one bart resting up on a rock bearing the inscription "We have in our power to begin the world over again," from his book Common Sense, which inspired the colonists to war on behalf of democratic rights and independence, and not just a tax rebellion. Paine is depicted holding a copy of Common Sense in one hand and gesturing forward with the other. At his feet are his other great works, The Age of Reason, Rights of Man and American Crisis, as well as his musket.

The statue creates the first memorial to Common Sense, which exemplifies the American Revolution. The memorial depicts Paine as both author and soldier. Paine wrote Common Sense in the fall of 1775, in support of representative government, democracy and equality for all. He is credited in some circles with ghost-authoring the Declaration of Independence. This transformed America's mission from a rebellion against taxation into a struggle for independence and self-determination. Paine donated the proceeds from Common Sense to the Revolution. In 1776-77, Paine fought in the army as an Aide-de-Camp for General Greene. In 1777 he was appointed Chairman to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Another aspect of Paine's legacy is that he is credited with devising the cantilevered bridge.

Directions: The same general directions shown above apply here. Prince St. runs parallel to Farnsworth Ave.

Revolutionary War Ships Monument

Location: Overlooking the juncture of Crosswicks Creek and the Delaware River from the bluff at the end of Prince Street.

Significance - This monument was dedicated on May 20, 1990 by the Rancocas Valley Chapter of the National Society of Colonial Dames XVII Century. The inscription reads: "Waters of Crosswicks Creek and the Delaware River join below. 22 vessels at Bordentown and 4 at White Hill were among the 44 that were destroyed in a British raid on May 8, 1778. All were trapped in the upper Delaware when the British took Philadelphia in September, 1777. Sites in Crosswicks Creek containing thye remains of 2 vessels are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Directions: Same general directions as above.

 

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