Many of us travel on Seven Bridges Road to get back and forth between Little Silver and Oceanport. It’s a nice road, with some beautiful homes and nice views of the Shrewsbury River and several of its inlets. Still, there’s a deep secret hiding there, so perhaps someone can help us solve the mystery: why was it named Seven Bridges Road?
The obvious answer is that if you travel the entire length of it you’ll cross seven bridges. Have any of you bothered to count the number of bridges on Seven Bridges Road? Whether I’m looking while I’m driving, or whether I’m looking at satellite photos of the area I can only find four bridges. What happened to the other three?
Perhaps there were three more small inlets at some time, and over the years they silted in, making the 3 old bridges unnecessary when the road was repaved over the years. This sounds like a reasonable explanation to me, and yet I haven’t been able to find any old maps or descriptions of the area showing three additional bridges. Does anyone know the answer?
In the absence of a historically factual answer, we can let our imaginations run wild and create our own explanations. Maybe the answer lies in the country song, “Seven Bridges Road” written by Steve Young and sung by the Eagles, Dolly Parton, Eddy Arnold, Joan Baez and others. Maybe the song wasn’t really based on an old country road in Alabama that leads to the cemetery where Hank Williams is buried. Maybe Steve Young was actually walking from Little Silver towards Oceanport and saw that “there are stars in the Southern sky, Southward as you go”. Not very likely, is it? And it still doesn’t explain the missing 3 bridges.
How about this: in Celtic legend, witches, warlocks and the Devil can’t cross running water. Robert Burns used this superstition in his Scottish poem, “Tam o’Shanter”, where Tam, being chased by the “hellish legions”, tries to ride his trusty mare to a bridge that crosses running water. Washington Irving used it in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, where Ichabod Crane tried to outrun the Headless Horseman to another bridge crossing running water. Maybe the original settlers of Little Silver/Oceanport were very superstitious, and since that area consisted of spooky marshlands that became even more dangerous dark and windy nights, maybe those folk shoveled out 3 more creeks so they could add three more bridges for safety on the scary road.
Since Rabbie Burns’ birthday falls in January (the 25th), I lean towards this second explanation, and I leave you with his words of warning:
Now, wha this tale o’ truth shall read,
Ilk man and mother’s son, take heed:
Whene’er to Drink you are inclin’d,
Or Cutty-sarks rin in your mind,
Think ye may buy the joys o’er dear;
Remember Tam o’ Shanter’s mare.
Note: a “cutty-sark” is a woman’s skirt. In Burns’ poem, Tam saw a beautiful witch named Nannie dancing in a cutty-sark that was too short for her.
Please reply to this post if you know the “real” reason why it’s called Seven Bridges Road instead of Four Bridges Road!