This bridge was built by the Smith Bridge Company. Some sources suggested a 1905 construction date, but this bridge was a type built by the company in the 1880s, and a ca. 1885 construction date is appropriate. Smith Bridge was prolific in the Midwest, but it is rare to find one of their bridges so far east. The bridge features the traditional design choices of the company including eyebars with rectangle-like eyebar heads, and vertical members that have no lacing or lattice and instead use only battens.
Information and Findings From New Jersey's Historic Bridge Inventory
The 5-panel pin-connected half hip Pratt pony truss is supported on stone abutments and concrete backwalls. It exhibits no distinctive design details. The eye bars are stamped. The span is a late example of a common bridge type in the county. While technically undistinguished, it is one of the few documented examples of the Smith Bridge Company of Toledo, a small firm established in 1890. The historical interest is augmented by the fact that the span is well preserved.
The bridge carries one lane of a lightly travelled rural road over the scenic Musconetcong River, the boundary between Hunterdon and Warren counties. The bridge is located in a wooded rural area.
The 5-panel, pin-connected Pratt half hip pony truss bridge supported on ashlar abutments is 70' long and 15' wide. It is composed of steel sections with the top chord and inclined end post of channels with cover plate and the verticals of channels joined by battens. The eyebars used for the lower chords and diagonals are stamped while the counters are round bars with forged eyes. The rolled I-section floor beams are hung from the panel points on U-shaped suspenders. the roadway deck is wood. alterations appear to be limited to the addition of welded outriggers and a protective rail welded to the inside face of the truss lines.
Historical and Technological Significance
Although a late example of a pin-connected Pratt pony truss bridge, the most common bridge type from the last two decades of the 19th century, the 1905 Point Mountain Road bridge is historically significant because it is the product of a small Ohio bridge fabricator, the Smith Bridge Company of Toledo. Robert W. Smith moved his wood truss bridge works established in 1867 from Tippicanoe City (Ohio) to Toledo in 1869. There he built composite (wood and metal) trusses, and in 1870 he formed Smith Bridge Company which he sold in 1890. The new owners changed the name to Toledo Bridge Company and later sold to American Bridge Company in 1901. Smith, however, went back into business as Smith Bridge Company. How much past 1905 the small operation continued is not known, but this span is one of the few documented examples of their activity in New Jersey. Smith Bridge Company is historically significant in that its history represents how metal truss bridges were manufactured and marketed during the last quarter of the 19th century. Using standard shapes and fairly standard designs, small companies like Smith Bridge Company fabricated trusses that were marketed to county officials through regional agents. The historical significance of the span is enhanced by the fact that it survives in such a complete state of preservation, and the historical and technological value of the structure combine to make it a significant example of its genre (criterion A). Ohio was a particularly fertile state for bridge fabricating companies which was the home state for giants like Canton's Wrought Iron Bridge Company and smaller concerns like the Massillon Bridge Company and the Champion Bridge Company of Wilmington. Many of these smaller companies, like Wrought Iron Bridge Company and Toledo Bridge Company, the group that bought Smith's first company in 1890, were amalgamated into J.P. Morgan's and then United States Steel Corporation's American Bridge Company starting in 1900. Although that the American Bridge Company consolidation then controlled 50% of the nation's fabricating capacity (Darnell, p. 85), small concerns like Smith Bridge Company did continue to be successful through the 1900s. The change in technology with the widespread acceptance of the rolled stringer span was the reason most companies like Smith's abandoned their bridge fabricating operations in the 1910s and 1920s (refer to corporate histories of Dover Boiler Works and Berlin Construction Company).
Boundary Description and Justification
Located in an unspoiled wooded setting on a lightly traveled road, the bridge is evaluated as individually significant. Although the setting is pleasant, it does not possess National Register significance. The boundary is thus limited to the superstructure and substructure of the span itself.
Hunterdon County Engineer's Office. Bridge File:L-25W. Darnell, Victor. Directory of American Bridge Building Companies 1840-1900. SIA, 1984.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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