Additional Information: The Historic Bridge Inventory information references the Musconetcong Valley, however this bridge crosses the South Branch of the Raritan River, not the Musconetcong River. As such, some of the inventory information (and/or the National Register nomination) appears to be in error.
This truss bridge has been severely altered. It no longer functions as a truss, and instead the trusses are only decorative in nature, having been placed on load-bearing steel stringers. Additionally as part of this alteration the bridge was also widened. That the bridge was widened is quite clear by looking at the portal bracing where the ends of the portal bracing have a different design, and the portal cresting is not present on these sections either.
Despite these alterations, the bridge is notable for retaining its ornamentation including plaque, finials, and portal cresting. These details also tell a very unusual story about this bridge. The plaque on the bridge reads "I P Bartley & Co, Builders, Bartley, NJ." This would normally who fabricated the bridge. However, this bridge has details indicating that Massillon Bridge Company of Massillon, Ohio fabricated the bridge. Little is known about I. P. Bartley, but it must have been a contractor who bought the bridge fabricated from Massillon, or perhaps Bartley was even an agent for the company.
The design of this plaque, including shape, details, and even the font style are absolutely 100% identical to those used by the Massillon Bridge Company of Massillon, Ohio. See the plaque on the CR-21 Bridge as an example. Additionally, the finials on this bridge are also a Massillon Bridge Company design. See the 66th Street Bridge as an example. Additionally, a historical photo of a former bridge on Fulton Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan displays the same finials. See below. The key unique detail on these finials that would not be found on finials by other bridge companies are the unusual spherical buttons with the crosses on them, set into the square base underneath the main ball.
Information and Findings From New Jersey's Historic Bridge Inventory
In order to retain the 1887 full hip, pin connected Pratt thru truss bridge, it was widened and converted to a stringer span in 1985. The ashlar abutments were extended with concrete. The original lateral, sway, and portal braces were spliced with in kind material to accommodate the widening. The original plaque, cresting, and ball finials remain. Although it has been widened, the trusses themselves are well preserved. As a result, the structure retains Its individual eligibility for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria A and C, and remains a contributing element of the Califon Historic District.
The bridge carries 2-lane wide Main Street over the South Branch of the Raritan River. It is located in the Califon Historic District, surrounded by 19th century residences and shops. Described in the nomination as "a documentary of life in a small 19th century rural based village," Califon was a stop on the High Bridge Railroad. The bridge was part of the farmers' access to market.
The single-span pin-connected thru truss bridge with cantilevered sidewalks was rehabilitated and widened in 1985, when it was converted into a stringer span with a thru-truss superstructure. Prior to 1985 the floor beam hangers and diagonals in the outside panels had been strengthened. The sensitive rehabilitation considered aesthetic elements, duplicating lattice portals and retaining original fabric. Decorative finials, balls, and plaque remain. The plaque identifies the builder as I. P. Bartley of Bartley, N.J. The original pin connections and elongated hangers are still present. The original fieldstone abutments are encased in concrete. Some original steel fabric is stamped "Carnegie."
Historical and Technological Significance
The pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge built in 1887 is individually historically significant as an example of a small local bridge-building firm, I.P. Bartley of Mount Olive Township in nearby Morris County. The bridge is one of less than 5 examples of the firms work. It was widened in 1985 when rolled I-section steel stringers were added beneath the trusses and the bridge functionally became Although the bridge is located within the a stringer rather than a truss span, but the original fabric of the span was preserved. In addition to its historic significance, the bridge is located in the National Register-listed Califon Historic District. It was not rated in the nomination, but it was built within the period of significance of the district, and it contributes to the historic theme or area of significance of the district. The nomination describes the district as presenting "a documentary of life in a small nineteenth to twentieth century ruralbased village in the Musconetcong Valley..." as it existed between the years of 1870 to 1920. The bridge allowed the surrounding farmers access to the mills and railroad station of the village of Califon, and it was thus an important element in the historic development of the village. Although the bridge has been altered, the alterations were accomplished in a sensitive and non-obtrusive manner. The picturesque bridge contributes to the character of the late Victorian-era street scape. It was a key element in the development of the village as a trading and shipping point. All of these factors argue for inclusion of the structure as a contributing resource to the historic district.
Boundary Description and Justification
The bridge is a contributing resource in an National Register-listed historic district. The bridge and its setting are significant. For a precise delineation of the Califon Historic District boundary, refer to the National Register file at NJHPO.
Hunterdon County Engineer's Office Bridge card J1. Hunterdon County Master Plan: Sites of Historic Interest. 1979. NJHPO. National Register Files: Hunterdon County; Califon; Califon Historic District.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Trusses Converted To Decorative
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