The town's history group will pose the question in a free exhibition at the Coorong Gallery opening this weekend as part of the SA History Festival, one of six events planned in the Murraylands.
At 2pm on Sunday, farmer and 2003 citizen of the year Robert Harkness will open the exhibition, which will feature memorabilia and photos showing European settlement from 1840, the 1852 gold route and 1886 railway development that laid the foundations for the town of today.
Between April 27 and May 31, visitors to Murray Bridge's hexagonal Round House will be invited to discover six stories about the pivotal part it played in local 19th-century history, from its origin as the home of the superintendent who oversaw construction of the first bridge across the River Murray, to its role as the city's first school, post office, church and council chamber.
The venue will be open from 11am to 3pm, Wednesday to Sunday, from April 27 until May 31; with high tea, croquet and regular guided tours every Sunday.
Meanwhile, the "big boys" from the Lower Murray Vintage Engine and Machinery Club will bring some of their vintage toys to life at the Captain's Cottage Museum on May 26.
Also on show will be vehicles, farm machinery, tools and displays from Murray Bridge's agricultural and transport history.
Admission to either attraction is $5 per adult, $1 per child or $10 per family.
Mannum Dock Museum will celebrate the Shearer steam car, the first with a differential engine to be built anywhere in Australia, throughout the festival.
David and John Shearer created their master work at Mannum in 1897, and 120 years later, brothers Doug and Roger Baker replicated the feat to build the model now on display.
Visitors can find out about the car's history through interpretive panels, video and artefacts.
Entry is free.
An exhibition titled Communicating with the Past will be on display at Meningie Cheese Factory Museum on May 19 from 8.30am to 4pm.
As well as everything from tin-can telephones to iPads, the day will feature tractors, farm machinery, arts and crafts, plus morning tea, lunch, train rides and a raffle.
Entry will be by donation.
Pioneer Park will host an open day from 10am to 4pm on May 26.
For a donation, visitors can take a guided tour through the park's collection of farm machinery, railway carriages and historic buildings from around the Mallee.
- More information: historyfestival.sa.gov.au.