After this article was published, some careful readers alerted me to a few errors which merit attention.
Covered Bridge series
In a recent post on the life of John P. Rittenhouse, I mentioned that his parents, Samuel & Hannah Rittenhouse, lived near the covered bridge in Delaware Township. This reminded me of the interesting article written by Egbert T. Bush about the history of the area around Sergeant’s Mill.
In my previous post I wrote about the history of the Lambertville Iron Works, the company that constructed the Lockatong bridge. At that time, after several months of work and an initial bridge opening, the bridge was closed again in order to repair the repairs. It has since been reopened, and is definitely worth a visit. It is not exactly the bridge it used to be, but it has been beautifully restored, and all concerned should take pride in it.
Hunterdon County probably holds the record for the most 19th century iron truss bridges that are still in use. In Delaware Township alone there are nine iron truss bridges, not including the Covered Bridge, which is also a truss bridge. The most important of these iron truss bridges is the one crossing the Lockatong Creek on Rosemont-Raven Rock Road. That bridge is an outstanding example of the urge to lend some grandeur to a very functional structure. None of the other township bridges quite matches it.
In his article, “Old Sentinel Oak Has Passed,” Egbert T. Bush wrote that the old oak, across the road from the Baptist Church in Stockton, close to where Route 523 meets Main Street, stood near a “never-failing stream.” This stream runs along Route 523 for some distance and today is a little hard to find. But it does show up on Google maps, and is a clue to two interesting road records of 1813.
Richard J. Garlipp, Jr. New Jersey’s Covered Bridges, Images of America, Arcadia Publishing, 2014.
If you’ve ever had first hand knowledge of a story in the newspaper, chances are you’ve said to yourself, “the reporter got it wrong.” This also happens with books, including this one. Mr. Garlipp has long been a student of the history of covered bridges, and has undertaken a large and under-reported subject. But Arcadia books are not held to a very high standard and do not engage in fact-checking, so the results are sometimes a disappointing mixture of fact and fantasy. History is challenging, and mistakes are all too easy to make, as I have often learned to my dismay. I just wish this book had been better.Continue reading »
In a recent post I mentioned that I found two items at the Hunterdon County Historical Society that explained what Nathaniel Saxton was doing during the years 1808-1815. Besides investing in Raven Rock and a couple properties in other locations, and becoming an active supporter of the Federalists, Saxton was thinking of infrastructure, in particular, construction of a bridge between Bull’s Island and Lumberville.Continue reading »
By Egbert T. Bush, Stockton, N.J., June 30, 1935
Hunterdon County was once well supplied with covered bridges. Now the lonely last one stands at what has long been known as “Green Sergeant’s Mills.” Some say that there is no other such bridge in New Jersey today. I cannot vouch for that; but the covered bridge is almost a thing of the past.
Final episode in the four (and a half) part saga of the Covered Bridge.
Click on the topic “bridges” in the right column to see the other posts.
The Legislature’s Blessing
Once Commissioner Palmer had made his announcement, the only thing needed was an Act of the Legislature to legitimate the funding. On April 3, 1961, a bill was enacted into law permitting the State Highway Department to spend the money it needed to build the bridge.
An unanticipated threat to the bridge arrived in the early 20th century when automobiles began to be widely used. Little damage could be done to such a solid structure by a horse and wagon. A car or truck, on the other hand, could do quite a lot.
For drivers, the biggest challenge was dealing with the single lane of traffic through the bridge. With so little sight distance, drivers found it necessary to stop and honk before entering the bridge. This practice was still being used in the mid 1950s when Helen Carl Maliszewski and Kay Sherman Larson were riding through the bridge with their parents.