— About Town —
Steam, Cranberries, and Horsepower
Words: J. Conley | Images: J. Conley
Tucked against the Crosswicks Creek where it meets the Delaware River lies a hidden piece of New Jersey charm: Bordentown. Dating back to 1682, Bordentown has had its share of fame. From the delicate arts of Patience Lovell Wright to the rabble rousing Thomas Paine, to the banished Joseph Bonaparte, Bordentown has been home to them all.
Bordentown is also where the first locomotive in the United States turned its wheels. The "John Bull" arrived in September 1831 as crates full of parts with no instructions included. In a short eleven days, an Irish mechanic named Isaac Dripps assembled the locomotive in Bordentown on a short piece of track.
Bordentown has also been the home of modern commercial enterprises. For seventy years, Ocean Spray operated a bottling plant near the town. In conjunction with the Downtown Bordentown Association, Ocean Spray sponsors the annual Cranberry Festival each October.
The 4,000 residents of present day Bordentown haven't forgotten their history. In 2014, Bordentown resident Leon Stanley started the Isaac Dripps Invitational Motorcycle Show to honor the mechanic who brought steam power to America.
Despite a deluge of rain that cancelled the first day of the celebration, this year's Cranberry Festival saw thousands of people lining Farnsworth Avenue to enjoy food, music, wares, and, of course, motorcycles.
Although the Cranberry Festival is a great time to visit, Bordentown is a charming spot of Americana and well worth the short drive from Philadelphia any weekend you have.