Revised - A Letter from Jerseyman about the Old Salem Road and Kings Highway 1/18/2011
While not based in law and reality, you could say the King's Highway runs between Salem and Perth Amboy. To be factual, however, the route represents two different roads, both of which have their own distinct and fascinating histories. The road to Amboy appears on the earliest map of Burlington—drawn by Salem surveyor Richard Noble in 1677 and annotated several years later by others—and labeled “Old Indian Road.” This road provided a good route between the West New Jersey and East New Jersey seats of government, which became very important after the two groups of proprietors surrendered their provinces to Queen Anne in 1703 and the “Jerseys” became a royal colony. During her reign, residents referred to modern-day Kings Highway as “the Queen’s Highway.” This is the route that armed men escorted William Franklin, New Jersey’s last royal governor, from Burlington to Perth Amboy during 1776. There were several roads in New Jersey that became known as “the King’s Highway” during the colonial era.
Our Kings Highway, or, more correctly, the Salem Road, became officially established under a 1681 law approved by the Colonial Assembly. The roadway has undergone modifications several times as the early population nucleated at certain locations like Moorestown, Haddonfield, Gloucester, and Woodbury. As first laid out, the Salem Road left Burlington over the Yorkshire Bridge and traveled up the Perth Amboy Road as far as Cedar Lane. At that point, the Salem Road traveled down Cedar Lane to Slabtown (now Jacksonville) and then down Jacksonville Road to Mount Holly. The Salem Road then reached Pine Street/Eayrestown Road and traveled out to Eayrestown, where a ford provided a relatively painless passage over the Rancocas above the head of tide. From there, the route passed over Bella Bridge Road and across Fostertown Road, where it then traveled the route of the predecessor of Elbo Lane and today’s Pleasant Valley Drive to the west end of Moorestown. The Salem Road then turned onto its present route, more or less down to the South Branch of Pennsauken Creek, where the road crossed a bridge over the South Branch by the Matlack plantation. Passing through present-day Cherry Hill, the original Kings Highway ran west of the present one, passing through Colestown Cemetery immediately outside the door of old Saint Mary’s Church. As the road approached Haddonfield, it diverged over towards Brace Road and crossed the North Branch of Coopers River, running east of Brace Road. A section of the old roadbed is still there today in the woods just east of Brace Road near the state historical marker. The road continued running down east of Brace Road until it arrived at Ice House Lane is the modern residential development named “Uxbridge,” located off Haddonfield-Berlin Road, and forded across the South Branch of Coopers River. From there it passed through the Haddonfield Public Works property and over Gill Road to Warwick Road. The Salem Road went down Warwick Road to Laurel Road, crossing the North Branch of Timber Creek at the milldam constructed for what later became Tomlinson’s mill proximate to the old Stratford Military Academy. The road ran up Chews Landing Road to Hider Lane/Coles Road/Almonesson-Blenheim Road and then crossed the South Branch of Timber Creek at Limber Bridge, located just upstream from Cole Landing and adjacent to Cheesman’s Landing. Passing over Almonesson-Blenheim Road until it becomes Cooper Street, the Salem Road moved into Woodbury before the town every existed and then turned southwest towards Salem, running more or less down present-day Kings Highway.
Several key changes occurred in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In February 1689, the judges of the Burlington Court directed that a new route be laid out between Burlington and the original route at the west end of Moorestown. During the same court hearing, the judges licensed a ferry for the first time over the Rancocas Creek. As a result of this court order, surveyors laid out the section of Salem Road that crossed the London Bridge in Burlington and down through Willingboro, a portion of which still remains in service today, and down to Adam’s wharf or Hackney’s Dock, next to the Willingboro VFW, which burned a couple years ago. The ferry service, generally known as Hollinshead Ferry, provided a riverine link in the Salem Road, and upon reaching the old Chester Township shore, the Salem Road continued straight across the landscape to present-day Borton Landing Road and then on to Main Street, Moorestown, which the Salem Road more or less followed along the ridge of the camelback to the western end of town and connecting to the original route.
The second major change occurred in 1704, when colonial law directed a new route into and out of Haddonfield for the Salem Road. The route diverted from east of Brace Road and took today’s Munn Lane for a distance before it headed across the landscape and crossed over the Free Lodge milldam and entered Haddonfield. Going down through Haddonfield, the route went down Kings Highway or Main Street, Haddonfield, past the end of present-day Warwick Road and on down through Audubon/Haddon Heights, across Kings Run at the milldam and up into Mount Ephraim. Upon achieving Mount Ephraim, the road did not run as it currently does, but it dipped easterly to near Little Timber Creek and then in Market Street and on to a now non-existent road that ran behind Cedar Grove Cemetery that provided access to Little Bridge, the crossing over Little Timber Creek. The road then ascended the high riverbank (a swale from this road still remains in the landscape to this day!) and went through Brooklawn between 4th and 5th avenue and down to the crossing over Big Timber Creek near the bowling alley off Route 130 N. After crossing Big Timber Creek, the Salem Road went down through Buck Tavern (Westville) and on down Old Broadway to the Kings Highway at the lower end of Woodbury, rejoining the old route.
The New Jersey State Legislature did not incorporate the Gloucester and Salem Turnpike Company until March 1851, so it is a relatively recent moniker for the roadway.
Sorry if this is a long and confusing read; I tried to make it as clear as possible. You may want to have a local road atlas handy as you read this comment.