"PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: The single-span pin-connected thru truss bridge with cantilevered sidewalks was rehabilitated and widened in 1985, when it was converted into a stringer span with a thru-truss superstructure. Prior to 1985 the floor beam hangers and diagonals in the outside panels had been strengthened. The sensitive rehabilitation considered aesthetic elements, duplicating lattice portals and retaining original fabric. Decorative finials, balls, and plaque remain. The plaque identifies the builder as I. P. Bartley of Bartley, N.J. The original pin connections and elongated hangers are still present. The original fieldstone abutments are encased in concrete. Some original steel fabric is stamped "Carnegie."
HISTORICAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge built in 1887 is individually historically significant as an example of a small local bridge-building firm, I.P. Bartley of Mount Olive Township in nearby Morris County. The bridge is one of less than 5 examples of the firms work. It was widened in 1985 when rolled I-section steel stringers were added beneath the trusses and the bridge functionally became a stringer rather than a truss span, but the original fabric of the span was preserved."
This bridge is just about the same design, age, and length as the bridge in Bloomsbury on the west side of the county (http://bridgehunter.com/scripts/bridge/edit.cgi), and both have suffered the same fate: modernization that forced widening which in turn forced the bridges to become decorative trusses placed on top of modern stringer bridges. But the one here in Califon was only widened a bit, perhaps 6 feet, so it doesn't look anywhere near as disproportional as it's cousin to the west. The white paint might help too. I asked the guys preparing the bridge for painting if it was going to stay white, but they didn't know. I hope it does. We have scores of truss bridges in the county painted pale green, so one white bridge in decent shape would be nice.
While this bridge has suffered a few bashes and bangs over the years, which I hope will get straightened out, the modernization of this one (which occurred almost 30 years ago) was done in a much better way than the horrifying "emergency splint" fix done for the White Bridge Road bridge a few miles to the south (http://bridgehunter.com/nj/hunterdon/white/), perhaps because it wasn't done as an emergency repair. The modernization wasn't even as blatant as the job done on the Valley Road Bridge (http://bridgehunter.com/nj/hunterdon/10XXB26/), which was well done but not subtle. Purists may not like it, but I feel that these modernizations are an honest attempt to keep us in touch with our past. Sure, a modernization that keeps the old truss at least halfway active, like the awesome job done on the Rockafellows Mills bridge (http://bridgehunter.com/nj/hunterdon/10RQ164/) is the best we can hope for, but that one is in a rarely used out of the way corner of the county. When the old bridge is literally on Main Street like this one, and needs to be 2 lanes wide and handle big trucks, what else can you do, other than tear it out and put in boring modern concrete?
If I had to wager I would still bet that Massillon was involved and likely supplied the trusses to this firm who then erected them. This was likely a smaller company that unlike the large Ohio firm, had no manufacturing facility.
I am familiar with several firms here in Indiana that supplied trusses for contractors who then took credit for "building" the actual bridge. These firms sometimes even discretely supplied those trusses to their competitors.
Yes, that does appear to be exactly the same style of plaque. I wonder if it is even the same size. There was probably lots of copying going on in those days, and/or such things were available out of the parts catalogs, like all the cast iron architectural building bits being made at the time.