A view of old Kingstown as you cross over from Chestertown. Source: Chestertown and Kent County, Keiser, et al. (Arcadia Publishing 2005).

When was the first bridge built over the Chester River at Chestertown?

A. 1720
B. 1802
C. 1899
D. 1930

Answer: Unfortunately, we forgot to put “E. None of the above” on the list of possible choice for this week.

Sorry for any confusion. A kind shout out to Kevin Hemstock, former Kent County News editor and local historian, for pointing this out.

Bridges are amazing! They provide solutions–one of the greatest is that of saving time. It is no wonder that early Americans, most of whom have always been in a hurry, got busy and found a way to “bridge” the Chester River at busy Chestertown. The new gateway replaced a pokey but valliant ferry that might have taken an hour to make the crossing–when it could make it.

The process of building the first bridge started in the first decade of the 19th century when the Chester River Bridge Company was legislatively established. It was not built until 1820 because of the intervening War of 1812. It was a toll bridge to defray expenses of upkeep until1890 when it came under the state and county’s control.

Most bridge pictures show Chestertown’s picturesque historic riverfront. In Keiser, Horsey and Biddle’s photographic portrayal of “Chestertown and Kent County,” a unique image of an earlier bridge facing east to Kingstown in Queen Anne’s County shows the end of the bridge at Old Bridge Road. This curious landing point is still there, but little explanation. The neighboring building on the North is the former Riverside Hotel, a perfect place to spend the night–great view and all.

The bridge in that photo was replaced in 1929. After a great deliberation, the Kent County access remained at Maple Avenue (formerly Fish Street), but the access into Queen Anne’s County was changed and moved slightly to the north where it is located today, a gracious icon that has moved us smoothly from past to present and soon into the future.

Special thanks to Kevin Hemstock, R. Jerry Kaiser, Patricia Joan O. Horsey, William A. (Pat) Biddle and Bayly Janson-La Palme for their fine research and preservation of Kent County history.

The Kent County History Quiz is a weekly local brainteaser sponsored by The Peoples Bank. Kent County historian and author Joan Horsey and columnist Kate Meehan contribute to the quiz’s development. Our goal is to create an opportunity for local learning and discussion. If you have a quiz idea, send it to steve@kentpilot.org.