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In 2010, Mercer County merged 5 separate parks into the “Mercer Meadows, a 1,619 acre utopian park for walking, cycling, and wildlife observation. Primarily consisting of acres upon acres of wildflower meadows, it’s a beautiful place for an easy stroll or a relatively flat ride through some very pretty terrain.
The heart of Mercer Meadows is the old AT&T “pole farm,” which was once a vast 820-acre antenna field that beamed telephone signals around the globe–the largest radio-telephone station in the world. Enormous timber poles were arrayed in a diamond shape rhomboids, with antenna wires stretching between them. Originally built in 1929 by AT&T, the International Radio telephone Transmission Station provided communications to Europe, South America, the Near East, and Hawaii. Many critical transatlantic conversations took place via this Lawrenceville site. In 1932 after the Lindbergh kidnapping, the pole farm provided telephonic connections to aid in the investigation. After the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, Churchill and Roosevelt were connected via the Lawrenceville station. By 1963 it was handling over six million calls a year; but by the mid 1970’s, the farm had been emptied, made obsolete by transatlantic cables and eventually satellites. While the forests that dot these meadows are still thick with support cables (if you look closely you can find them), there is only one pole left standing–preserved by a farmer who used it as a lightning rod.
The historic pole farm has been merged with Mercer County’s Equestrian Center, Mercer Educational Gardens, Curtis Lake, the Historic Hunt House (built in the mid 1700’s), the Rosedale Park (with a baseball diamond, an off-leash dog park, picnic pavilions and playgrounds). With four water bodies (all of which allow fishing, some of which allow canoeing) and miles and miles of trails, there’s a lot to explore. Every attempt is made to conserve the meadows with native grasslands species, even periodic mowing that prevents the takeover of fields by non-native trees and shrubs (and mimics the natural factors such as fire and herbivore grazing). The result is a vast, rolling expanse, filled with wildflowers and butterflies. It’s a joy to ride through, and makes you feel at one with your natural surroundings. In the winter, you can go cross-country skiing.
Of particular note is the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, an extensive bicycle trail imagined by employees of Bristol-Myers Squibb and Educational Testing Services. When fully realized, it will be a 20-mile trail that connects Pennington, Lawrenceville, and their surrounding districts in a multi-use hiking and cycling corridor. Six miles of the trail weave throughout Mercer Meadows.
If you like hills and tricky terrain, then Mercer Meadows will bore you to tears. But if you like being out in the fresh air for a relaxing jog, stroll, or cycle–then you’re going to love this newest addition to Mercer County’s Parks. We’ll see you on the trails!