This bridge's design was created by Francis C Lowthorp. Lowthorp's name is often misspelled as Lowthrop. Lowthorp is correct and is how it is spelled on the original patent. The bridge was constructed by WM Cowin, which was a company run by William and Charles Cowin.
This bridge is one of three bridges in Hunterdon County which follow the Lowthorp design and were built by Cowin, and they are the only three such bridges in the whole state which utilize cast iron for all compression members/chords on the bridge. These bridges are among a small and elite group of metal truss bridges in the nation, as cast and wrought iron bridges. As pre 1880 bridges, they also are among the oldest metal truss bridges in the country, which is unsurprising given the use of cast iron in the bridges. Cast iron was rapidly replaced by wrought iron for bridge construction after 1800. As extremely old bridges, using cast iron for major structural components, the three Lowthorp/Cowin bridges in New Jersey are among the most important group of historic bridges in the United States.
The Lowthorp/Cowin truss bridges are a true expression of what makes historic metal truss bridges so special. The bridges have a complex appearance to them, yet in the same way they are also simple in their overall design. In design, these bridges are simply pin-connected Pratt pony trusses with vertical members. However, the detail and design in the form of the cast iron beams and components on this bridge is truly remarkable. There are no decorations or embellishments added to the bridge, the decoration and embellishment is the bridge's structural components themselves. Because the components were cast rather than rolled like wrought iron or steel beams, this allowed the fabricator of the bridge to shape the beams in any way they desired. Advantage was taken of this property, and this is evident in the architectural design and treatment of the various cast iron components on the bridge. This property of cast iron also eliminated the need for a separate bridge plaque; instead, information is cast directly on the top chord of the bridge. This would not be found with rolled beams of wrought iron or steel. While the name/brand of the metal is often found on rolled beams, this is a permanent part of the equipment which rolls the beams and cannot be changed easily as a result.
Among the three Lowthorp/Cowin truss bridges, the New Hampton Bridge is the oldest example, with an 1868 construction date, while the other two were built in 1870. While this bridge retains overall excellent historic integrity, especially given its age, among the three Lowthorp/Cowin truss bridges, it does have the most visible alterations, mainly in the form of the added outriggers which have been placed on the bridge. Clamps on the top chord which hold the outriggers obstruct the view of the connections and cast iron top chord detail.
While the bridge is on a short residential street, future preservation work to consider for this bridge might be the installation of low-profile guardrails on this bridge to protect it from vehicular damage. This bridge's end post was damaged in 1991 due to a collision. Any railings placed on the bridge should be low profile however and not obstruct the bridge.
Information and Findings From New Jersey's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of BridgeThe cast and wrought iron Pratt pony truss bridge is one of the most technologically significant spans in the state. The 8-panel truss represents the transition from wood to metal truss spans, and it is the design of noted engineer F. Lowthorp and foundryman W. Cowin of Lambertville. It is the earliest of 3 similar spans in the area. In 1991 the north end post suffered severe impact damage, but it was sensitively repaired, preserving the integrity of the structure. The bridge is well-preserved.
Discussion of Surrounding AreaThe bridge is located in a wooded setting on the northwest edge of the village of New Hampton. It is adjacent to poorly maintained 19th century buildings. Ruins of a mill are on the property adjacent to the bridge. The bridge carries one lane of a rural road over the Musconetcong River, the boundary between Warren and Hunterdon Counties.
Historic Bridge Management Plan Evaluated: Yes
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Cast Iron
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