2019 Update: This bridge's beautiful and unique portal bracing and sway bracing has been hacked off and ugly welded beams have been placed on top of the top chord!
This historic through truss has had large load-bearing girders added to support the load of traffic. These are hard to miss, the large galvanized beams outside of the original truss lines. Despite this alteration, the original truss does remain and is a noteworthy bridge. It has a number of unusual distinctive design details... details which have been noted on some other bridges in western New Jersey, potentially indicating a common builder for bridges displaying some of these details. The unusual details include cast iron caps at the ends of the top chord, struts (sway bracing) composed of plate riveted to angle, and pedimented portal bracing. An unusual fabrication detail on this bridge (and some other western New Jersey bridges) is that some rivet heads are not the typical round head found on bridges. On this bridge, look at the top chord and end post, and note the cone head rivet heads on the interiors of the channel flanges.
Note: For some reason all the authorities misreported the dimensions of this bridge. It is a six panel truss, when it was reported as four panels, and it was also listed as only 58 feet long, and it is clearly longer than this. The length given by HistoricBridges.org is a very rough estimate and may also be incorrect.
Information and Findings From New Jersey's Historic Bridge Inventory (Written Prior to Adding Load-Bearing Girders)
The 4-panel pin-connected Pratt thru-truss bridge is supported on random ashlar abutments. The span is technologically significant because of its distinctive details including beveled bearing plates, paddle-shaped ends on the verticals, and bottom chord eyebars that pass under the pin connection. Portals are set on the top chords, which end in faceted stops. The fabricator is not documented, but the construction details are unusual and distinctive. It is technologically notable.
The bridge carries one lane of a lightly traveled country road over Rockaway Creek. It is located in a wooded rural setting adjacent to a well-preserved 18th-century farmstead. The unspoiled setting contributes to the significance of the bridge.
The single-span Pratt thru-truss bridge is almost entirely original except for an asphalt filled corrugated metal deck. The bridge consists of what appears to be wrought iron I-beam stringers and floor beams hung with U-bolts from two truss lines. The trusses consist of inclined end posts and top chords built up from two channels and a cover plate with widely spaced battens. An unusual detail is that the ends of the top chords extend slightly beyond the portal diagonals and are finished with a decorative palingended end cap. The principal diagonals and bottom chord consists of round headed eyebars. The counters consist of rods with turnbuckles for adjustment. The verticals consist of channels with lacing. The original diagonal-pattern lattice railings are present along both truss lines. The bearing plate is an incline which results from the masonry plates having inclined web extensions. The rationale behind this bearing type is unclear. The bearings at both abutments are inclined back away from the span. There is no clear indication if one or both sets of bearings were intended to be the expansion bearings. The pins in the bearings have been welded in position. The abutments consist of rubble stone masonry of poor quality, with U-type wingwalls. Concrete toe walls have been placed in front of both abutments to protect from scour.
Historical and Technological Significance
The date of construction and fabricator of the well-preserved pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge has not been documented in the County Engineer's records, but the span is mostly original, with few alterations, making it a good representative example of the important bridge type (criterion C). It is technologically distinguished by two unusual features not found on other thru truss bridges in the county. The top chord portal connection connotes extraordinary attention to detail. The inclined bearings appear to indicate a unique design philosophy. In addition to the preservation of the unusual construction details, the span enjoys integrity of setting in a wooded rural area adjacent to the Ten Eick-Weed farmstead, which includes a frame farmhouse with a stone wing, an English barn, and a smaller frame barn.
Boundary Description and Justification
The bridge is located adjacent to an 18th-century farmstead, but the history and significance of the two resources are separate and distinct. The bridge is evaluated as significant in its own right. Its boundary is the limits of the substructure and superstructure.
Hunterdon County Engineer's Office, County Bridge card R20. Hunterdon County Master Plan: Sites of Historic Interest, 1979.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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