The vicinity of the bridge has been in use as a river crossing for over 300 years. In 1695, the colonial General Assembly granted the first licenses to operate a toll ferry service between Perryville and what is now Havre de Grace. In 1837, railroad lines extending south from Wilmington, Delaware and north from Baltimore arrived at the riverbanks. For 29 years, including the duration of the American Civil War, a train ferry exchanged passengers (on foot) and freight cars between the two towns. Passenger cars could not be transported until the introduction of a larger ferryboat in 1854.