Morgan Monument – Paving Stone Road from South Amboy Thru Morgan
So far and hopefully for a long, long time, Morgan still has something rare that few other places still have and which remains one of my most favorite things about Morgan. Other than Oz, how many other places can you name that still have a brick road? Morgan still has one! It is named Old Spye Road. Both the road and the pre-Revolutionary War era Old Spye Inn, which burned down in 1976, were named for the British spy who, according to local legend, was hung from a tree at the inn during the Revolutionary War.
Old Spye Road will be discussed on a to-be-reposted page on this web site and I am happy to now to be able to report when the road was paved with its much loved “paving blocks”. Of course, you’ll have to read a little more before I give you that info! In doing the research, I will provide you with another interesting tidbit which I, as has so often been the case, did not know.
Before State Highway Route 35 was extended in the 1930’s to its present configuration, the main thoroughfare through Morgan traversed from the South Amboy border to the bridge over Cheesequake Creek. In present day terms, this means:
- South Pine Avenue at the northern most point of Christ Church Cemetery, i.e., the South Amboy border, across from Monihan House Tavern.
- South on South Pine Avenue to where it crosses over the present day north bound lanes of Route 35 then joins the south bound lanes of Route 35.
- The route departed from present day Route 35 and turned right onto Old Spye Road, past the remains of Joe’s Kozy Bar & Kozy Lanes/Club Bene/Chrome.
- It continued past the Morgan Hose and Chemical Company #1 fire house, down the hill and curved left at the previous site of the Old Spye Inn and ran parallel with Cheesequake Creek.
- Today and ever since July 1925, Old Spye Road ends at the railroad tracks – previously the site of Morgan’s railroad station. At this point the road would have crossed over the railroad tracks, across the parking lot of Zubeck’s, under the current Route 35 bridge (which wasn’t there until 1943) then a sharp right turn to cross over Cheesequake Creek on one of the previous bridges over Cheesequake Creek.
The below articles are from the South Amboy Citizen and are available to everyone courtesy of South Amboy’s Sadie Pope Dowdell Library. From reviewing them, we can see that the effort to pave the road was:
- Funded by Middlesex County
- One of two contracts, the first contact was for a “vitrified brick on concrete base” road between South Amboy and the railroad tracks in Morgan. The second was for a “bituminous concrete on the old macadam base” road from the railroad tracks in Morgan to the Monmouth County Line at Whale Creek.
- The contract for the Morgan section was awarded to Abraham Jelin of New Brunswick for $41,121.38.
- It appears as if work on the road was started in the September/October 1915 time frame.
- In November 1915, seven car loads of bricks were rejected due to quality problems.
- Also during November 1915, there were what turned out to be overly optimistic reports that the road might be able to be completed by Christmas of that year.
- The bricks (technically “paving blocks”) started to be put in place in the December 1915 time frame with the first one symbolically put into place by a young man by the name of Master Russell Van Hise.
- The road however was not completed by Christmas of 1915. In fact the construction appears to have been significantly delayed. At least one residence in Morgan Heights was destroyed by fire (the current Morgan Fire House wasn’t yet built nor the fire company yet established) due to the “impassable condition of the road to Morgan.”
- At the end of July 1916, some 10ish months after the awarding of the contract, the road was still not complete and the county gave Mr. Jelin two weeks to finish the road.
- As of August 1916, the road was still not complete.
- By the next spring (May 1917), the road appears to have been completed. The Citizen indicated that within an hour and forty-five time period on a Sunday, 750 automobiles passed a given point on the Morgan Road.
Most likely the road was completed toward the end of 1916 though I have not yet found an information source which indicated the exact date. More amazing and surprising is that the brick road wasn’t confined to present day Old Spye Road but extended all the way up present day South Pine Avenue to the South Amboy border! You’ll note that the Jersey Central Traction trolley paralleled the brick road for the majority of its length.
NOTICE TO CONTRACTORS.
Sealed proposals will be received by the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Middlesex, at their rooms in the County
Record Building, at New Brunswick, on MONDAY, AUGUST 23rd, 1915, at 2:30 o’clock, P. M., for the construction, of the South Amboy-Keyport Road from the South Amboy City Line to Monmouth County Line at Whale Creek, in two sections as follows:
Section. 1. Beginning at the South Amboy City Line and extending to the New York & Long Branch Railroad Tracks at Morgan Station—to be paved with vitrified paving brick on concrete base.
Section 2 and 3. Beginning at the New York & Long Branch Railroad Tracks and extending to the Monmouth County Line at Whale Creek—to be paved with bituminous concrete on the old macadam base.
Separate bids will be received for each section as above specified according to plans and specifications on file at the offices of Alvin B. Fox, County Engineer, Perth Amboy, N. J., and Edward Burt, County Collector,New Brunswick, N. J.
A deposit of Five Dollars will be required for copy of plans and proposal sheets, which will be refunded upon the return of the plans in good condition. Such plans and proposal sheets may be obtained by bidders only from the engineer’s office.
Each bid must be accompanied by a certified check in the amount of $1,000.00 without any conditional endorsement, which check shall be forfeited should the successful bidder fail to enter into contract and bond within ten days from the award of the bid.
The Board reserves the right to reject any or all bids if in their opinion it is to the best interest of the County so to do.
A. J, GEBHARDT, Director.
Contractor Jelin, will commence work at once on his contract on the road from the city line to Morgan. He was in town on Wednesday looking for teams, but met with poor success, as every team seems to be busy.
Contract Given Out For Paving Road From This City to Morgan.
On Monday [September 20, 1915] the Board of Freeholders of this county …
The contract for paving the first section of the South Amboy-Keyport road from the South Amboy city limits to the New York and Long Branch Railroad ending at Morgan Station was awarded to Abraham Jelin of New Brunswick, for $41,121.38. The lowest bidder, T. H. Riddle of New Brunswick, Freeholder A. J. Gebhardt stated, could not secure the brick upon which he bid. The next bidders Meagher & Smith of Perth Amboy, had not filed a certificate of equipment as required.
A communication from the water commissioner called attention to the fact that the water meter pit on the Morgan Road was not high enough to meet the level of the new paving which is to be laid on that road. The letter stated that it would be necessary to raise it two feet and that in order to prevent cave-ins it would be advisable to construct the new pit of concrete with a man hole in the center large enough to admit a man, for the reading or to make any repairs that might be found necessary at some future time. Councilman Parlson remarked that he was familiar with the situation and that it was something that should be attended to at once, especially so in view of the fact that the contractor had already commenced work upon the road. His motion that the matter be referred to the water committee with power to have the necessary work done was carried.
Freeholders Take Action Toward Paving Street
On resolution offered by Freehold’s Kerr at a meeting held recent County Engineer Alvin B. Fox was instructed to prepare plans and specifications for pavement of county road on Bordentown avenue from Stevens to Pine, and continuing to city line to join pavement now being laid on Morgan road. As soon as plans and specifications are ready bids will be asked for the laying of brick pavement.
This is a portion of the street that the council hesitated so long to turn over to the county. Had prompt action been taken when resolution was first offered, the contract for improvement would have been underway now. However, the property owners will ere long have a nice pavement, and also be relieved from dust.
Since closing the Amboy-Keyport Road everything at Morgan seems exceedingly quiet, there being no traffic that way what so ever.
Seven car loads of bricks shipped for use on the county road between this city and Morgan have been condemned as not being up to the test required. The Board of Freeholders will not stand for any inferior article.
Contractor Jellin is making good headway on paving the Morgan road, and if severe weather does not set in he may have the contract completed by Christmas.
Bricks now now being laid on the Morgan road. Master Russell Van Hise had the honor of laying the first brick, and he now feels as “big” as the contractor.
No doubt in the near future the Board of Freeholders will extend the pavement from the city line on the Morgan road along Pine and Bordentown avenues to Stevens avenue. Before this work is started some effort should be made to have the bridge on Bordentown avenue over the Raritan River Railroad widened to the full width of the street. With two trolley tracks running over this bridge it is now too much congested with traffic and dangerous. It forebodes some serious accident sooner or later, and with paved roadway and correspondingly increase in speed of motor traffic the danger is augmented. Safety first should be our motto, and now is the time to urge the widening of this bridge. Get busy, you who have the authority to act.
Peter Lynch, of New Brunswick, got into the police court Tuesday evening for being drunk and disorderly Tuesday morning. Peter, it seemed, had given the police quite a job getting him under cover and had to be taken in a wagon at that. He works on the Morgan road for contractor Jelin of New Brunswick. Peter had not the price of a ten-dollar fine imposed by Mayor Dey but Mr. Jelin agreed to pay the fine.
Buehler Bungalow Destroyed by Fire
Early Tuesday evening fire broke out in the bungalow of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Buehler, of Morgan Heights and the house was burned to the ground. Calls for assistance were sent to the City Hall but the impassable condition of the road to Morgan made it impossible to send any apparatus in time to be of any use.
Mr. and Mrs. Buehler were at the theatre in Perth Amboy when the fire was discovered. They were sent for and hired a taxi cab to get home in. The machine turned over at “Dead Man’s Curve” and the occupants fortunately escaped injury. They had to crawl out of the door as the machine laid on its side.
The building and contents were completely destroyed. A pet dog lost his life.
Jelin Given Two Weeks To Complete Road
Last September Abram Jelin was granted a contract by the Board of Freeholders to pave a section of the Morgan road from this city to the tracks of the New York &, Long Branch Railroad. He has been making attempts from time to time to complete the contract and it is still far from being completed. Complaints have been continually made of the delay, and the Board of Freeholders are tired of receiving them, and consequently at a meeting on Wednesday the board gave Mr. Jelin two weeks in which to complete the contract, and if not finished then the Board will have the work done and hold the bondsmen responsible.
The delay on this contract has placed the traveling public to great inconveniences. It is not a big job, and any contractor with push could have completed the work by last spring at least. We trust that the Freeholders will carry out their resolution to the letter. Let there be no more delays.
A flagman has been stationed at the corner of Pine and Bordentown avenues to warn automobiles that the road is closed below Morgan on account of the road building that is going on.
Contractor Riddle will probably complete his contract on the road from Morgan to the county line this week. When the road from Morgan to this city will be completed no one can answer.
Contractor Jehlin is still making feeble efforts to complete his Morgan road contract.
In an hour and forty-five minutes last Sunday there were seven hundred and fifty-two automobiles passed a given point on the Morgan Road.
STATE ROAD MAY FOLLOW SHORE
There is a rumor in circulation, apparently coming from authentic sources, to the effect that the new state road known as Route No. 4 in passing through this city will traverse Broadway along its entire length and then parallel the tracks of the N. Y & L B. R. R. to a point near Morgan Station. This would have a tendency to divert travel from the paved road from the city lines to Morgan recently built by the county authorities. The proposal is also said to include the private right of way road …
Originally posted on January 14, 2013.