Shark River

The following sections are reproduced from Grace Trott Roper‘s historical retrospective on how the Borough of Belmar came to be. The original booklet is © Copyright 1978 by Grace Trott Roper, Belmar, NJ and was printed by Hoffman Press, Belmar, NJ.

Duplication or reproduction is not permitted

Shark River is said to be the only river in the United States to be crossed by two vehicular bridges. Both have won national awards for their beauty and design. The bridge that connects Main Street Avon with “F‘ street replaced the old wooden span that was constructed in 1896. Trolley tracks crossed the river a few feet west of the old bridge.

This bridge was designed by Morris Goodkind, who was employed by the Highway Commission. The estimated cost was $400,000. It was fabricated and erected by the American Bridge Company and dedicated on October 12, 1933.

In a National Contest sponsored by the National Business Magazine in 1934, the bridge was award first prize for spans costing between $250,000 and a million dollars.

The Highway Commission in 1921, considered constructing a new bridge over Shark River on Highway 35 west of the railroad bridge. The cost would be approximately $300,000 to $400,000. There was much resistance on the part of Belmar but the Commission won and on January 27th, 1927 construction on the new span was begun by Parker and Graham Inc. of Paterson. During the construction, the skeleton of a whale and a cannon ball from the Revolutionary period were found.

In 1935 the War Department sent notice that the bridge across Shark River Inlet must be altered within a year to provide greater safety to boats. A contract was awarded to Merritt and McLean Corp. and the bridge was completed and dedicated on Memorial Day 1937. The new bridge is known as the double leaf bascule type and was built to stand the violence of the ocean as well as the tides of the river. It has a clearance of 18 feet. It is raised with electric power and has reserve gas power. The lifting is below the bridge deck.

This bridge was awarded honorable mention in 1937 for beauty and design by the American Institute of Steel Construction.

The Railroad Bridge runs parallel to the “F‘ street and the route 35 vehicular bridges. It was newly constructed after much debate between the company, the War Department and the Township during the year 1935. It was officially opened in August 1937.

Shark River – The Name

Shark River is the name the Colonists picked for the river called Nollectquest by the Indians. It Is referred to by this name in a deed dated July 25th, 1689.

The first attempt to change the name was made by James A. Bradley of Asbury Park. He bought a large tract of land in what is now South Belmar. This was situated between “B” and “F” streets extending from Lake Como to 17th avenue. Because he was so impressed with the beauty of the site he had a sign painted “St. Peter‘s Bridge” placed over the bridge that crossed over Shark River. Peter White, one of the original owners of Ocean Beach became insulted and ordered the sign removed.