Why do we call it Great Bridge ?

The earliest English settlers used the waterways for their highways, settling along rivers, bays and inlets. Our area was especially blessed with a plethora of waterways but as the population grew, settler’s began settling lands removed from easy access to waterways and a small system of roads gradually developed.

The colonial powers-that-were decided a road from Powder Point (we know it as Berkley) to North Carolina would be of great advantage in getting the tar, pitch, corn and tobacco of Currituck County and lower Norfolk County to the piers in Hampton Roads and ordered one to be built.

In keeping with the grand plans the highway was named The Great Road to Carolina. It meandered like a drunken snake in order to avoid swamps and waterways, generally following what is now Route 168/Battlefield Blvd. It successfully avoided water except at Northwest River and the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River.

The Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River wasn’t very wide at the point chosen to cross, but was flanked by mud flats and swamps for several hundred yards on either side. The road builders crossed by building causeways across the swamp and a humble 40 yard wooden bridge about as wide as six men abreast could walk, across the river itself.

When the road was inspected by Governor Francis Nicholson in 1690 he reported that it was in poor condition and needed to be improved. (The next time you’re caught in Battlefield Blvd traffic thinking the same thing it may be of some comfort to know that the sentiment is 300 years old.)

A small village of homes, shops and taverns was established by the bridge and was known as Bridgetown. Later, whether by common usage or the inspiration of an unknown resident, the name was changed to include elements of “Bridgetown”and “The Great Road to Carolina” to produce Great Bridge…and thus we have called it ever since.

***Several of Keffer Realty’s professional real estate agents have grown up in the Great Bridge area, and our brokerage is located in the Great Bridge area. If you are interested in learning more about available homes on the market in Great Bridge, please call Keffer Realty.

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Alan M. Keffer | Broker | 409 Slate Street | Chesapeake, Virginia | 23322
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