High Bridge, New Jersey
Photos from September, 1991
Plus train pictures and a collection of High Bridge related links.

Back to my Home Page
What's New
In May, 2010 I heard from a resident who was born in High Bridge in 1940. He agreed to let me share these interesting memories with you.
About Me
My family moved to High Bridge in 1979. We lived at 4 Sunset Drive in Jenny Jump subdivision. I attended eighth grade at High Bridge Middle School and went on to graduate from Voorhees High School in 1984. I then went off to Ohio State, worked in Buffalo, NY and ended up living in Columbus, Ohio.

During the summer of 1991 I returned briefly to live with my parents in High Bridge, after I had quit DuPont in Buffalo and signed up for Graduate School at Ohio State. Dad was still working for AT&T in Bedminster, but corporate upheaval would soon lead to a retirement and consulting career. With the children gone and Mom completing her Divinity Degree, Mom and Dad would soon sell the house and move on.

Dad bought a new camera in the summer of 1991, and it was an opportune time to photograph High Bridge, which went through many changes in the 90's. Most of these photos could not be reproduced again.

I have been correcting this site - thanks to Kelly Iselin, Nancy Van Dyke and Jack Jakucyk among others for recent details. I last visited High Bridge in 2001 when I was on a business trip to the area. I like coming back every ten years to see the changes.

George Campbell, 9/29/07
High Bridge Train Pics
(for more details on the Central Railroad of New Jersey see The Blue Comet. Buried on that page are some 1974 pictures of High Bridge Station, here and here.
I am standing at High Bridge Station looking towards Annandale in the summer of 1981. The siding gave freight trains somewhere to park when the passenger trains were coming. One time I was at the station with a friend and two engines were parked on the track. We went up to them and asked if we could climb aboard. The crew not only let us climb up, but they actually let us run the engines down the track from High Bridge to Annandale, and back. I remember that they seemed to feel really heavy when you used the air brake, and they would coast a long way. Now how many High Bridge kids ever got to run a real train right across the top of the arches?
This is a great picture from 1972! A freight train is leaving the main line at the Station and switching onto the High Bridge Branch. The High Bridge Branch Line carried freight traffic for the Lehigh Valley RR during 1972, with trains running 3 times per week. The Branch Line had mostly been used to connect to ore mines.

One day in 1979 the small yard on the north side of town was filled with ore cars. Apparently, they retrieved the unused ore cars from somewhere on the branch line. This was the only time I ever saw trains on the branch line. The tracks were removed soon after. Also note in this picture that the mainline used to be double tracked out west of High Bridge, but the double track was terminated just east of High Bridge and a new signal has been installed - in the middle of the old track! In the 1970's, the railroads fell all over themselves to see who could rip out infrastructure the fastest. Pity.
This rare photo shows ore cars in the High Bridge Branch Line yard (this is located where the walking trail is at the north end of town. This picture dates from the 1930's, and you can see a steam engine on the right.
Another rare photo, from May 17, 1953. This was taken standing on the High Bridge Branch Line looking west across Main Street into the High Bridge Yard. I once heard a rumor that the American Freedom Train got stuck on the tight, left curving track of the wye shown in the photo in July, 1976.
This is the freight station across the tracks from the passenger station. This photo from the 1970's is about the time when Apple Plumbing occupied the structure. You can clearly see that it was an elegant building, and the long lean-to was added later to make it into a goofy looking structure.
I copied this photo off of an E-Bay auction. It shows the station before the long shelter roof was added, and probably dates to the late 1800's.
The flagship passenger train of the CNJ was the "Comet", and this observation car once served on that train. We saw it in regular service in the early 1980's on the Raritan commuter line through High Bridge. This was taken in the summer of 1981, and the New Jersey Transit train is enroute to Phillipsburg after stopping at High Bridge. Another observation car wound up as the eating area of the Daz-O-Del restaurant on Rt. 31 near Clinton. That's gone now too, and I wish I had a picture of it!

Note that at Phillipsburg they would uncouple the engine and run it around the train for the trip back. For operations ending at High Bridge, you couldn't use the observation car because you needed a special passenger car with a control cab and headlight to run the train back to Newark.
Typical commuter train in 1981. Here you can see the back end cab for running with a pushing engine. Although New Jersey Transit has taken over operation, the cars retained their original CNJ paint.
This was 1981. This was the first paint scheme that NJT adopted after taking over commuter service in the 70's.
From our house on Sunset Drive in Jenny Jump, the trains looked like a lionel set all lighted up on the hill across the valley. They could be pretty loud too.
High Bridge Links
The Hill Topper, a High Bridge High School history site!
The Solitude House Museum, where High Bridge history resides.
Save Lake Solitude, show your support to save Lake Solitude.
The Golf Course that Saved a Town
Columbia Trail
Community Events Calendar
High Bridge Council
High Bridge Demographics
High Bridge Hills Golf Club
High Bridge Official Site
High Bridge Railroad Branch Line
High Bridge Schools
High Bridge History
I'm for High Bridge
Lake Solitude Dam Photo
...another Dam Photo
Map of High Bridge
South Branch of the Raritan River
Wikipedia Article

The Arches

To begin with, High Bridge is named after an early iron railroad trestle that was supposed to carry the CNJ over the South Branch of the Raritan River when the rail line was opened to Phillipsburg in 1852. Reportedly the bridge swayed severely, scaring everyone and requiring the railroad to replace it soon after it was built.

Two massive stone arches were built to contain the river and the road, and then car loads of dirt were dumped over the trestle to form a fill (the original bridge is buried in the fill). I have memories of the arches causing ice to back up in the spring, and of the borough workers attacking the ice with backhoes to try and keep it moving.

Railroad Station

High Bridge was an important railroad town for most of its history. In the picture you can see two tracks. The track nearest the station was the Raritan Branch of the CNJ, and it went to Easton and on into Pennsylvania as far as Wilkes-Barre. Through freight service ended in the early 1970's and today the line is a commuter line, with High Bridge as the last stop (prior to 1984, the commuter trains ran all the way to Phillipsburg). In 1986 the extension of I-78 cut this line near Alpha NJ, and it has been removed west of Glen Gardner.

The track in the foreground is the High Bridge Branch, a line that extended past Califon on to Edison, NJ, built in the 1860's. This line was last used in the early 1970's but the track was still there when my family moved to High Bridge in 1979.

Taylor Wharton Trestle

Crossing McDonald Street by the Post Office we see the old Taylor Wharton Trestle. The Taylor Wharton Iron works was formed in 1914, preceded by the Taylor Iron works which dates back to 1742. It closed in 1971, and this trestle is how ore cars were delivered to the facility. I believe the trestle has been removed.

I walked across this trestle several times - it was one way to get home from school. I saw a switch engine on it once, right after we moved there - they may have been removing a couple of cars or something from the iron works. When the plant closed in 1971, hard times were visited on High Bridge, and when we moved there in 1979 the town still had a hardscrabble aspect to it.

The A&A Market

This wasn't a supermarket, and it wasn't a convenience store, it was an honest-to-gosh Mom and Pop market run by Al and Arnold Gasparetti. They came to High Bridge from Easton, PA and owned the Pizza House next door (on the bank side). Much of downtown High Bridge had buildings with apartments in them and people, especially the elderly, could walk to the A&A. It was right out of the 1940's, and closed soon after this picture was taken in late 1991.

They kept a fine a little store, and we would always stop there to buy a snack on the way home from school.

Behind the A&A, I remember there was a dress factory. High Bridge had a variety of these little industries even into the 70's that are unimaginable today existing outside of China. Another little business made computer power supplies down across from Gronsky's. I hope it is still there...

L. H. Taylor Hose Company

High Bridge had two fire stations. This is the original station. It's named after a Taylor and sits at the front gates of the Taylor Iron Works, which was probably the most likely place to be on fire, and certainly the most valuable. The volunteer fire department was made up of people who worked nearby and could get their in hurry when summoned by the enormous fog horn. The fire station also contained a busy bar, so it was a combination of "Rescue Heroes" and "Cheers". They probably drank to forget the horrible auto accidents that occupied most of their runs.

When we lived in Hunterdon County it seemed to be awash in vehicular carnage. There was a mangled car in the Hunterdon County Democrat every week. You had "killer 31" and "dead man's curve". The corner of 513 and 31 was called Mary-Ann's corner after a (pregnant?) woman who died in a crash there.

Rescue Squad Building

The story on the northern fire station is that a train blocked the tracks during a fire in the early 1970's and they couldn't get across the tracks. They built this station north of the High Bridge Branch Line tracks to prevent a train from blocking a rescue. Of course, the railroad abandoned the tracks about ten minutes after they completed this station, but who knew?

The fire department held an Easter Egg hunt that I can remember here. They really were the core of the social life of the city.

The Bank

When this picture was taken in 1991, this was the First Fidelity Bank, but for many years prior it was known as the Hunterdon County National Bank. This building is a 1930's art deco masterpiece. Its interior was decorated with the kind of positive social murals in vogue at the time. The tellers sat behind ornate metal gates with marble countertops.

This bank was the sort of institution where you removed your hat and brought a letter of recommendation from your minister before asking to borrow 80% of a home's value. Mom and Dad got their mortgage there. I understand its a wine shop now, but at least they check ID which is more than most mortgage brokers did over the past few years...

The Bars

High Bridge was a drinking town, there is no doubt about that. I used to deliver the Easton Express with my brother John - he took the town and I delivered down Hart Street. We would go in these bars to drop off papers and play the video game - Missile Command comes to mind.

The bars were located near the corner of Bridge Street and Main Street. I remember in 1979 I was delivering papers and this guy stumbled out of the bar and got in his Buick. Taped to the back window of the Buick was this photocopied picture of Mickey Mouse giving the finger, and the caption read "Hey Iran!". That image really shocked me at the time (hey - I was 12). The guys who hung around in those bars looked like the drinking buddies in the Bill Murray film "Groundhog Day". Anyway, they were always nice to me.

High Bridge had a substantial downtown population, and there was a laundromat to the left of the building to serve them.

Town Hall

The Borough Council meets here. When we lived there, High Bridge was still a blue collar town that forbade the planting of Japanese Cherry Trees because the mayor was still torqued about World War II, and did little to fix up the town in the 70's and 80's. The I'm for High Bridge Committee did step up to try and clean the town up.

The creation of a municipal golf course combined with a real estate boom really lifted the town's fortunes in the 90's. It was a difficult transition for the borough to go from being an industrial town, to having no economic base after Taylor Wharton shutdown in 1971, to becoming a corporate suburb community, and then finally stabilizing the borough's finances by opening a public golf course.

LaneCo

Any old timer in High Bridge will know exactly what you are talking about when you say "LaneCo" - they were a K-Mart like store chain based in Pennsylvania that had an outlet in Clinton. It was the closest place to buy general merchandise to High Bridge. It is hard to imagine today how underserved High Bridge was for retail in the 1970's.

Does anyone remember the Kodak Photomat that sat in the parking lot for years? The Great Yellow Father (Kodak) is a shadow of its former self, and the need for Photomats in the digital age is no more.

Another interesting thing about LaneCo is that it is more proof that High Bridge was oriented economically more towards Pennsylvania than New Jersey. The Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton area was a manufacturing hub at the time, and many people in High Bridge worked there. On the other hand, next to the LaneCo was a Carvel Ice Cream shop. Carvel simply screams "Paramus" so I guess High Bridge had a split identity.

LaneCo Sign

I recently learned that where Laneco once stood there is now a Wal-Mart. When I google "laneco clinton" I get a lot of hits on "Laneco Plaza", so that must still be the name of this shopping center, Wal-Mart or no.

Grayrock Rd. Bridge

This bridge spanned the South Branch of the Raritan River on Grayrock Road, near Rt. 513. The bridge would often flood, as would Jericho Road, Hurricane David in 1979 being one example.

My friends and I got some truck tire inner tubes and we would get in the river near the base of Lake Solitude Dam, float through the old iron works, through the arches (creepy!), past Gronsky's, under Grayrock Road bridge, under Rt. 31's "dead man curve" and along into Clinton, where our Mom's would pick us up at the old Red Mill. That was in say 1981, I don't know if any parents let their kids do that now. It was fun!

Lake Solitude Dam

The locals always refered to this dam as "the Falls". The Taylor Iron Works built it in 1909 in front of an earlier, less substantial dam that is now silted over, to provide electrical power for the iron works.

There is something ancient and creepy about this dam - it seems to sit there holding back a pretty powerful and wild river with no human oversight, surrounded by overgrowth.

Dad and I were stopped by a security guard while taking these pictures and told we were on private land. He asked where we lived and we told him Jenny Jump, and he launched into a tirade about how they wanted $10,000 down payment on those houses when they built them (1970) and how he and nobody else in town was going to pay that and we were fools for living there (and this was in 1991!). Maybe he liked the more recent real estate market where nobody makes a down payment. Anyway, once he got that out of his system he was nice enough to let us take a few pics.

Dam Top

Although you can see some rusting machinery on the far side, it has been decades since this dam had any provision for regulating the silt-filled lake - it has essentially become a waterfall.

I heard from Jack Jakucyk (HBHS '63) and he reported that he jumped off this dam many times, and the Arches as well.

With all that silt on the back side it looks like you could walk across the lake too. If they try to remove this dam, where is all that silt going to go? Would you have to dredge it to drain it? Guess I'll have to pay another visit to High Bridge someday to see if they've done anything with it.

Lake Solitude

Looking towards the top of the dam. This is a really pretty place that the owners wish nobody knew about because its a liability nightmare from hell. Its also a nice wildlife sanctuary

You can get a good view of it from the Columbia Trail

Here's another Lake Solitude Dam memory: my friends and I were exploring the Taylor Wharton property and we came upon this enormous (48"?) cast iron pipe that went into a block house. This must have been the pipe to the generators. Anyway, it had a hole in it about the size of a penny and this perfectly smooth stream of water was shooting about six feet straight up out of the hole, so the pipe was pressurized! I got the willy's thinking about what would happen if that pipe broke. I wonder if its still there (this was in say 1982).

Apartment Building

This building is located at the corner of Main Street and Bridge Street. I used to deliver papers to Mrs. Apgar (hope I got that spelling right, Apgar and Hoffman are two long established High Bridge family names), she must have been in her 80's then. She lived on the bottom floor and always had the payment ready on collection day ($2.70 due every two weeks for the Easton Express).

A lot of elderly people lived in downtown High Bridge at that time (say 1981)

The building to the right was another bar where we played Missile Command. I heard from a local that this building has been torn down.

Original School

This building was the original High Bridge School, located near the main entrance of the Taylor Iron Works. It's been multi-family housing for years now.

Taylor Wharton

When they shut down Taylor Wharton in 1971 they just walked away, leaving a locomotive engine and big overhead cranes and whatnot. It was slowly cleaned up through the 70's and in the late 80's I believe someone was using it as a place to build shipping pallets. The water tower still stood when we took this picture in 1991.

The CNJ Bridge

The main line of the Central Railroad of New Jersey crossed Bridge Street at the south end of town. The side of the bridge had the steps built in to walk up to the station. Some people still make the incredibly grueling daily commute into New York from here.

In the summer of 1986 I made the commute to work at an intern job for AT&T in the World Trade Center. It was 2 hours each way, thank goodness I was 20 years old then; I couldn't do it now!

I would have never imagined that they would be destroyed only fifteen years later :-(

Fairview & Church

Rt. 513 makes a turn at this intersection after coming down the big hill. Many times trucks lost control and crashed into the two houses, knocking the porches clean off. The borough kept increasing the strength of the barriers, first with wooden poles and then with double strength highway barriers. You always wondered how the people who lived in these houses slept at night.

Main Street

Here we are standing by the train station looking down Main Street. One of High Bridge's greatest assets is its beautiful location amid the green hills.

The building on the right was Apple Plumbing when I was a kid. It was a former railroad building.

Uhlig Farm left

The farm that became a golf course instead of houses! Apparently one son of the original farmer still operated the farm (and wanted to keep farming), but his siblings wanted their inheritance so they overruled him and it was time to sell. These pictures were taken from the corner of West Main Street and Cregar Road. I remember that you could turn off of Cregar Road and the farmer was selling eggs and such.

Uhlig Farm center

High Bridge bought this 145 acre farm for 1.8 million to construct a municipal golf course. This was a master stroke because 1) it prevented the construction of hundreds of town homes that would have dumped students into the school system at great expense, 2) it is supposed to provide a source of revenue for the borough (currently operating at a loss?) and 3) let's play golf!

When we moved here in 1979, you could go to the end of Sunset Drive where there is a turnaround, and see the cows in the field. At least it is still open space.

Uhlig Farm right

Here you can see the barn and outbuildings. With the value of land I can't imagine that farming in New Jersey is worth the effort.

Elementary School

When we moved to High Bridge in 1979 I was already in eighth grade, but my brother and sister went here. Perched on a hill, this school was much more modern than the middle school I attended.

Middle School

This had been a High School until 1973, when regionalization was implemented. Students attended North Hunterdon High School (classes of 74-76) until Voorhees High School took over (class of 77). I remember that Mr. Mancini, the English teacher, put together a field trip so we could go to a Broadway Show (Grease). He was a great teacher - energetic and connected with the kids. (The "Mance" e-mailed me! He retired in 2005 - see his web site here.)

Mr. Roesch, who taught music, wrote a special piece so that I could play a Tuba solo while he accompanied on piano during the Christmas concert. I used a white fiberglass sousaphone that still had the letters "High Bridge High School" on it.

Another memory is that I was contributing an article to the school newspaper. Now, in those days when you watched the news every night they would say "This is day 265 of the Iran Hostage Crisis". I was writing some news article about what High Bridge would be like in 100 years so I started it off with "This is day 93,600 of the Iran Hostage Crisis". The principle came to me and said "Can we take that sentence out? People might be offended" and she was all nervous about it, like she hated to ask me. It was the first time in my life I had made an adult visibly nervous. I said she could take it out no problem, I was just suprised because I thought the high number made it really funny, you know, like they're still talking about this 100 years from now.

Voorhees High School

During the 1970's all the small towns in Northern Hunterdon County went through the politically wrenching process of regionalizing the high schools, and I benefited from that. Voorhees High School had high quality academic programs and excellent teachers. When I went off to Ohio State I was well prepared. Highlights for me included Mr. Farber, who taught calculus with an enthusiasm and ability that my college instructors couldn't match, and Miss Shaw who really made english literature fun and interesting. I was in the band with Mr. Mazzarisi and that was fun too. I graduated in 1984.

I wish I had a killer anecdote from High School, but I just don't. My brother John left more of a legacy there than I did. I didn't really bloom until college.

4 Sunset Drive

This picture is from the summer of 1979. My parents had just bought this house and we were moving from Ohio to High Bridge. I was 12 years old.

They were still finishing some houses in the development - at the time this house was 10 years old. My parents paid $94,000 for it, which is laughable today. It had a massive rotatable antenna on top - imagine trying to get TV reception in High Bridge without cable!

When my folks bought this house it was heated by electricity, and by the late 80's the utility bills rivaled the mortgage in size. They sold the house in 1995 so that they could move to Cranford, NJ, where Mom had her first job as an interim Presbyterian Minister.

Main Street

This is another view of Main Street in 1991.

Some places on Main Street that I remember include Cepka's Upholstery Shop. My brother John and I delivered the paper to them every day. They were really nice, and their store smelled of fabric and wood. Another store I liked was the Variety Store, where you could get bubble gum cards and candy and such. There were two Barbers in town, and John and I delivered papers to both of them and we had to alternate our haircuts between them so that they wouldn't get offended. Carl's shop had Ms. Pacman in it, so I spent some time in there.

Post Office

Here is the post office - I suppose this hasn't changed since 1991. It was a fairly modern building compared to the rest of downtown. Nancy Van Dyk reminded me that Mr. Seals delivered the mail for many years. Also, the original post office was across the street from the American Hotel at Main and MacDonald streets.

Downtown Clinton

Now we're in Clinton, and this is the bridge near the falls of the South Branch of the Raritan River. While High Bridge was struggling in the 70's, Clinton had already found its calling as a quaint touristy destination for folks from the more urbanized parts of Jersey. Architectural gems like this cast iron bridge and the mill helped. Clinton was also where you had to go for a grovery store (the A&P) and of course Laneco.

Clinton A&P

This is the A&P in Clinton. I worked here from 1982 - 1984. My starting wage was $2.65/hr. I worked the 3pm - 8pm shift and hand mopped the floor every night. I was making $60/wk after a while and used the money to take flying lessons. I flew a solo flight, and then right after quit because I had to go to college and couldn't afford it anymore. Plus, I'm just too big to fit in a Cessna 172.

This was the only job where I belonged to a union. I remember they were going to go on strike once and I had decide whether to cross the lines or not, but the strike was called off so my union credentials were never put to the test.

There used to be a crazy lady who would shop here. She would go up and down the aisles screaming at the top of her lungs. She made the cashier cry so the store manager and the office assistant took over the checkout and checked her out. She would be screaming obscenities at the top of her lungs the whole time. Then she would go out into the parking lot and back her car in and out of the same stop twenty times in a row. Funny, the things you remember...

The Clinton Mill

This mill was famous because it appeared in cigarette magazine ads for decades. Speaking of cigarettes, the houses up on the hill behind the mill registered some of the highest readings of radon gas ever recorded in a home (like smoking two packs a day, they said), because the granite around the area has uranium in it that breaks down into radioactive radon that goes into the house. The radon then breaks down into radioactive lead that gets in your lungs. Huge numbers of houses had to be retrofitted in Hunterdon County for radon (including ours) and now radon tests go hand-in-hand with real estate transactions.

To fix our house, they drilled a hole into the basement slab and installed an exhaust fan that sucks air out of the foundation. When my parents went to sell the house they had to hire someone to put a monitor in the basement for a day and then get a lab report. I think its a miracle that any real estate transaction goes through with all the hoops that buyers want you to jump through.

July 4th 1982

On this day, the Voorhees High School band marched through High Bridge with me on the tuba (closest to the camera), and my brother John marched with the High Bridge Middle School band and he played the tuba also (see next picture). The High School Band had many fine tuba players - I was nowhere near the best.

The principle of Voorhees wanted our bandleader to do less band competitions and more marching in the parades of the little towns that supported Voorhees High School. I distinctly remember him grumbling about having to march in this parade, but there we were and we were powerful! High Bridge probably hadn't seen a high school marching band since High Bridge High closed in 1975.

The tuba players had to wear their hats backwards.

July 4th 1982

Here is John playing the High Bridge Sousaphone. They had two of these in the band room, hand-me-downs from when High Bridge was a high school. When we moved there in '79 Mr. Roesch was thrilled because he didn't have a tuba player. My brother and I kept them in Tuba players for years.

Parades were murder for the tuba player - your shoulder would hurt for two days afterwards. Note that you can see the Taylor Wharton trestle in the background.