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During its early years Wilkes-Barre was an isolated village, situated "in the interior of the country, walled in on every hand by mountains lofty and wild, and remote from the great thoroughfares of travel. "
The region surrounding it was devoted largely to agriculture, and the surplus product of the farms was marketed principally at Wilkes-Barre.
From here Wilkes-Barre it was hauled in sleds or big canvas-topped wagons over the mountains to Easton, sixty-five miles distant, or else shipped in arks down the Susquehanna to Middletown in Dauphin County, or to Columbia, in Lancaster County, whence it was conveyed across the country to Lancaster and Philadelphia.
Easton being the most accessible town, however, especially after the construction of the Easton and Wilkes-Barre turnpike in 1802-8, was for many years the chief market town for the merchants of Wilkes- Barre and the principal farmers of the Wyoming Valley.
The first bridge across the Susquehanna in the Wyoming Valley was erected at the foot of West Market street, occupying the same site the present bridge does. Work upon the structure was begun in the spring of 1817 and the bridge was completed and opened to the public in the autumn of the following year, 1818.