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Higginsville Road Bridge North

Higginsville Road Bridge North

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 11, 2008

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Higginsville Road Over South Branch Raritan River
Location
Rural: Hunterdon County, New Jersey and Somerset County, New Jersey: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1890 By Builder/Contractor: Milliken Brothers of Brooklyn, New York

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
2000
Main Span Length
103 Feet (31.39 Meters)
Structure Length
106 Feet (32.31 Meters)
Roadway Width
15 Feet (4.57 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
18A0605

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

This bridge is in a unique setting. It is one of two different historic truss bridges that share an earthen pier in the middle of this wide, swampy section of the Raritan river. The two bridges are thus within sight of each other, yet are two different bridges with different builders. Each is historically significant. This setting with two unique bridges makes for a beautiful arrangement that deserved to be preserved. The Historic Bridge Inventory recognized the significance of this unique situation and listed the two bridges as a single historic resource eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, rather than two separate historical resources. Due to their design differences however, they are presented as separate structures on HistoricBridges.org. Click here to visit the page for the other bridge.

This bridge was painted an attractive cream color, which is a nice change from the darker colors that so often are painted on truss bridges which are preserved, such as those many olive green bridges seen in the interior of Hunterdon County, which blend right into the trees making them difficult to photograph.

The bridge has been altered/rehabilitated with added tension bars. However, this work did not weld materials to the original eyebars or connection points. As such, the original bridge material and design was not compromised, and as such these alterations are much less adverse than alterations seen on truss bridges elsewhere in New Jersey. The main area in which original bridge material and design has been removed is several locations on the bridge where rivets were replaced with bolts.

This bridge was built by Milliken Brothers, and this is a rare surviving example of their work. The bridge features an attractive plaque listing the builder. The bridge displays uncommon detail at the vertical member, where the built-up beams are riveted angles with v-lacing. This is a lighter weight version of built-up beam more commonly seen in pony truss vertical members, than in through truss vertical members. On through trusses, back-to-back channels connected by two sets of v-lacing are much more common.

Information and Findings From New Jersey's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

Summary: The 7-panel pin-connected half hip Pratt thru truss bridge is not only one of the most complete examples of the popular late-19th century bridge type in the region, but it is a rare example of the New York City fabricator Milliken Bros. that operated from 1891 until 1907 when the business failed. Few of their bridges have been documented. The design itself appears to be undistinguished from the host of other Pratt trusses of the era, but the pristine condition of the bridge is remarkable.

 Physical Description: The 7-panel pin-connected half hip Pratt thru truss is supported on ashlar abutments. Composed of standardized rolled sections, the bridge has a built-up box member for the top chord and inclined ends posts while the verticals are toe-out angles joined by lacing. The original built-up floor beams are connected to the verticals by U-shaped hangers while the endmost floor beams are carried on full-length hangers, an arrangement mandated by the half hip panel. The latticed portal brace carries the makers plaque. The only apparent alteration to the original design is the replacement of the original railing with modern beam guard rails. It is not known if the bridge is composed of steel and/or iron members. The bridge is extremely well preserved.

Technological and Historical Significance: The Pratt truss was the most common late-19th century bridge type, but few examples in the region are as complete as the Higginsville Road span. It survives in basically unaltered condition and is thus an important example of 19thcentury technology and construction techniques. The bridge works in tandem with the 1893 Pratt thru truss (18A0605) fabricated by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio. That span is immediately north, and the two share a common large earth-filled abutment. The bridge was designed and fabricated by the Milliken Brothers of Brooklyn, New York (1887-1907). There are few documented examples of their work which increases the historical importance of the Higginsville Road span. Milliken Brothers was established in 1887 by brothers Foster and Edward Milliken as the successor to their father's Brooklyn company, Milliken, Smith & Co., agent for the Phoenix Iron Works. In addition to representing the Phoenix Iron Works, the brothers took on structural iron and steel work for buildings, and in 1893, they dropped their association with the Phoenixville company in order to concentrate on fabricating and erecting their own design. Foster Milliken was a structural engineer trained at Columbia University. The company flourished primarily on its structural steel and building operations with branch offices located all over the world. Because of its phenomenal growth, the brothers moved their operation from Brooklyn to a 175-acre plant complete with an open-hearth steel mill on Staten Island in 1903-06. The expansion proved to costly and ambitious, and the firm failed in 1907. Edward Milliken died in 1906, and Foster went on to work for the construction firm of Charles T. Wills. Milliken Bros. is representative of the many small designers/fabricators who dominated 19th-century bridge construction. They obviously learned the trade serving as representatives for another company, and then went off on their own. The pattern is not unusual. Their corporate history is a significant contributor to the understanding of how early metal truss bridges were designed, marketed, and built.

Boundary Description and Justification: This span and the adjacent span (18A0605) are considered as one 2-span resource that is individually distinguished. The boundary is limited to the superstructure and substructure of the 2-span bridge, although the bucolic character of the setting does enhance the context.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The one-lane bridge is located in a picturesque rural section on the county line with Hunterdon. It carries a quiet country road over the river. A similar Pratt thru truss bridge over the flood plain is located immediately southwest (18A0605), the two spans share a common earth-filled pier. Few bridges in the county are as nicely sited as this important pair of early trusses. The unspoiled crossroads settlement of Higginsville (Hunterdon County) is just west of the bridges.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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