Another scary bridge

Don't fall off this bridge. Yeesh.

At the base of Campbell’s Pond, in the South Mountain Reservation, there is the foundation of an old bridge that you’re probably not supposed to walk on. There are no railings, and the wooden beams are rotting, and the “no trespassing” fence has collapsed, and there’s a 15-to-25-foot drop off one side.

But it seems pretty sturdy, and this fisherman is hanging out on it, so why not?

Initially, I thought it might have been part of the New Jersey West Line railroad, which was never finished but had some functional tracks that passed through the Reservation… unfortunately, this bridge is too far north to be a part of that. As such, I have no idea why this bridge was originally constructed, or for whom, or by whom. Any thoughts?


Edit, 6/21/12: Campbell’s Pond was formed from a branch of the Rahway River, dammed in 1882 to be a supplemental reservoir for the City of Orange. It was in use at least into the beginning of the twentieth century, possibly longer. For references and additional information, see a more recent post about the Campbell’s Pond pumping station.

Edit, 8/14/12: The “No Trespassing” fences have been re-erected on both sides of the bridge. It is now almost impossible to cross here.


6 Responses to “Another scary bridge”

  1. It looks like the top of a dam. When was it built? 1900 or so? Is it possible that it was part of a mill once upon a time? Maybe it was built to be a mill, and there wasn’t enough force to make it work?
    (Would you like more thoughts and speculations?)

    • The dam/ mill idea is actually very good, and probably at least partly correct.

      This whole area of Millburn, around the Rahway River, was once a big mess of dams and mills (hence the town name MILL-burn.). Most of the ponds that resulted from this treatment have since been filled in, but several of them (including Campbell’s Pond) are relics of this period.

      (If you want a visual, here’s a map showing some of the mills Short Hills and Millburn had: The funny blobs connected by a squiggly line are mill ponds. [The sunburst things are mountains.])

      It’s very, very likely that the stone foundations are from a mill.

      The wooden bridge itself, though, seems more stable than something laid 150 years ago, and it’s got modern rusty metal planks on top. Here’s a close-up of that red metal:

      Armed with this new information, do you have any additional thoughts and speculations? 🙂

  2. Wow, that is a great shot, vertigo inducing. Sorry I have no insight about the structure (being a NJ newbie, and happy to have found another Jersey blog :), though I agree it looks like it may have been a dam — except laid over with a newer bridge (walkway?)

  3. I would have to bet that it would be for a mill. i live in town and i have been to that dam area. there are industrial structures on the east side of cambell’s ponds so it makes sense. i can explore it further and see what it looks like.

    Here are some questions and tips: Look for engravings on the rock/stone structure, look on the metal planks for dates/manufacturer info/serial no., and look on the wooden planks for the same information. also, explore the wooded area on the east side of the pond looking for clues.

    • I have yet to revisit the bridge itself, but I did some research on the nearby pumping station (link). Apparently Campbell’s Pond was created (dammed from a branch of the Rahway River) specifically as a supplemental reservoir for the City of Orange in 1882.

      This leads me to conclude that this bridge/ dam structure was probably built to dam/ cross the reservoir.

      Furthermore, if the pond/ reservoir was being maintained well into the twentieth century, the modern-ish metal industrial basketweave-patterned sheeting on the bridge would make far more sense than if the dam were built for an old nineteenth-century mill. (My timing may be a little off, but I’m pretty sure Millburn was trying to get away from its reputation as an industrial mill-town by the time this dam was built.)

      Thoughts? As I’ve said, I do still need to investigate the bridge itself.


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