Thank you for your interest in learning more about Mercer County, which has the distinction of being New Jersey's capital county - meaning it is home to the state's capital city, Trenton. The New Jersey Statehouse, where the Governor and the State Assembly members and Senators have their offices, is in Trenton, and it is the second oldest statehouse in the nation to be in continuous use.
Around the corner from the Statehouse is the Old Barracks Museum. The Old Barracks is open to visitors every day of the year and is one of the county's significant Revolutionary War sites. Though Mercer County is integral to American history, it actually did not exist until 1838 when it was created from portions of Burlington, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Somerset counties and named in honor of General Hugh Mercer, who died during the January 1777 Battle of Princeton.
Four signers of the Declaration of Independence lived in what would become Mercer County: John Hart of Hopewell; Richard Stockton and the Reverend John Witherspoon, both of Princeton; and Joseph Hewes, who had moved from Princeton to North Carolina by then. Richard Stockton's home, Morven, later became home to five of New Jersey's governors, including my father, the late Governor Richard Hughes. I am fortunate to be able to say that I lived in Morven, which is in Princeton, when I was in elementary school, and I am happy to note that Morven has been renovated and was reopened as a museum and garden.
The current governor's mansion, Drumthwacket, is in Mercer County too - in Princeton. Hopewell is the name of both a borough and a township in Mercer County; Hopewell Township is where General George Washington's troops landed when they crossed the Delaware River from Pennsylvania in December 1776. In all, Mercer County has 12 municipalities. Trenton is the only municipality with a city form of government. The other municipalities are Hightstown and Pennington boroughs, and East Windsor, Ewing, Hamilton, Lawrence, Robbinsville and West Windsor townships.
More than 360,000 people reside in Mercer County, which also is home to one of America's oldest universities, Princeton, and to Mercer County Community College, Thomas Edison State College, Rider University and The College of New Jersey (which had been known for decades as Trenton State College). Many county residents have jobs at those colleges and universities and in area school districts. While federal, state, county and municipal governments provide jobs for many, the county also has many large private employers such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Capitol Health System and Princeton University.
The Delaware River is the county's best-known waterway. The Delaware and Raritan Canal, no longer a venue for trade or travel, is used for recreation. The Assunpink Creek runs 25 miles from Monmouth County into Hamilton, Trenton and Lawrence, covering a 91-square-mile watershed. Mercer County also lies within the 285-square-mile watershed drained by the Stony Brook and Millstone River.
You can find a lot of recreational activities here, many operated by the County. The Sun National Bank Center, which is owned by the Mercer County Improvement Authority, serves as a venue for popular performance acts such as Disney on Ice and the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus. Arm and Hammer Park on the Delaware River is home to the Trenton Thunder, a New York Yankees minor league baseball affiliate. Mercer County Park has fields for cricket, football, lacrosse, softball, soccer and volleyball, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, an ice rink for skaters and hockey leagues, and Mercer Lake for paddle boating.
You might like to step back into the past at the Howell Living History Farm, where household and farmyard chores are done as they were in the 1890s; ride a horse at the Equestrian Center; or visit the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. All three are County facilities in Hopewell Township.
In Mercer County, you will find many museums dedicated to local history and to art and science, as well as a variety of shopping districts and malls. You can drive here or take a train to one of the New Jersey Transit train stations in Princeton, Hamilton, Trenton and the Princeton Junction section of West Windsor or on the River Line, which runs from Camden and stops at many towns along the Delaware before it gets to Trenton. You also can fly to Mercer County on Frontier Airlines, a commercial airliner serving Trenton-Mercer Airport in Ewing Township.
For any other information you may need, contact us again or log on to www.mercercounty.org. I hope you can visit Mercer County someday soon.
Brian M. Hughes