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Bridgewater Borough


Bridgewater Borough Hall is located at 199 Boundary Lane, Bridgewater, PA 15009; phone: 724-774-7615.

Beginnings [1]

Early settlement at the site of the Borough of Bridgewater first occurred after the surveying and platting of the town of Beaver in 1791 Beaver was laid out along the Ohio River just below the mouth of the Beaver River as a town of 200 acres, with the adjoining 1000 acres to the east platted as agricultural out-lots of five to ten acres each. In 1804, the out-lots to the east of the Beaver were separated from the Borough of Beaver, and later became the township and Borough of Rochester. Finally, in 1834, after considerable settlement in the area, the General Assembly authorized the independent incorporation of the remaining original out-lots of Beaver to the west of the river with the establishment of the Borough of Bridgewater (which merged in 1868 with the tiny neighboring Borough of Sharon to the north to bring Bridgewater to its current boundaries). This history indicates the close relationship of the three boroughs at the mouth of the Beaver River. Their street patterns result from Leet's plan — not just the original grid of streets and alleys in Beaver, but also the major streets of Bridgewater and Rochester, which followed the boundary lines of many of the original out-lots. The locations and general economic development pattern of the three boroughs also resulted from their common origin. Bridgewater and Rochester were situated to take advantage of commercial traffic on the Beaver and Ohio Rivers, ensuring that they would grow along with the development of trade in the region. Beaver, however, was sited by Leet atop the bluff that marks the western boundary of Bridgewater, a bluff that provided a view of both rivers, but severely limited access to them. Beaver, therefore, never developed a strong transportation or industrial character. Regardless, the close connection between the three boroughs is illustrated by the fact that their principal commercial districts were all joined by the same road. Brighton Avenue in Rochester, rising from the Ohio, becomes the street that crosses the Beaver River on the Bridgewater Bridge. Bridge Street in Bridgewater, in turn, used to climb the bluff at its west end and join Third Street, which is the main commercial street in Beaver.

Bridgewater developed and became significant as the result of the transportation facilities that existed and the transportation improvements that were made during the nineteenth century. The principal thoroughfares in the region during the colonial and early national periods were the Ohio and Beaver Rivers. The Beaver River connected the strong east-west traffic of settlers and goods on the Ohio River to the towns that sprang up along its own banks, such as New Brighton and Beaver Falls, to take advantage of the water power at the river's fall line. A lively boat-building trade developed along the Beaver River, and by 1800 one of the centers of the trade was the settlement of Sharon (now the northern end of Bridgewater, outside of the boundaries of the historic district). In fact, the Sharon boatyards, which were located near the mouth of Brady's Run (also outside of the historic district), were sufficiently well-known to attract the attention of Aaron Burr, the former vice-president of the United States, who hired Captain Amasu Brown to build a number of "Orleans boats." These were sixty- to seventy-foot-long covered keelboats, commonly used in the Mississippi River trade with New Orleans, which Burr wanted for his alleged plan to invade Texas and Mexico. Burr spent parts of 1805 and 1806 in and around Bridgewater and Sharon supervising the construction of the boats, gathering supplies, and recruiting men for his expedition (which was later aborted with disastrous results for Burr). None of the early resources in Sharon, nor any traces of the boatyards along the Beaver River, which were associated with this period of Bridgewater's history, are extant.

  1. Buerkle, John Jr., Bridgewater Historic District, Beaver County, PA 1996, nomination document, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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