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Bear Tavern Bridge


Bear Tavern Bridge

Photo by Preservation New Jersey September 2009

License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike (CC BY-SA)


View this photo at preservationnj.files.wordpress.com

BH Photo #449643

Street View 


SUMMARY The 4-panel half hip pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge supported on ashalr abutments was designed and fabricated by the King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company of Cleveland in 1882. It is the oldest thru truss bridge in the county. The bridge is nearly identical to, although 27' (one panel) shorter than, the 1885 King Iron Bridge Co. span on Mine Road (1100072), which is also eligible. The bridge is well preserved, with welded repairs limited to the lower portions of some verticals.

INFORMATION Bibliography: Simmons, David A. "Bridge Building on a National Scale: The King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company." The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology. Vol. 15, No. 2, 1989. Mercer County Engineers Office.

Physical Description: The six panel half-hip Pratt pin-connected thru truss with a wood deck rests on an ashlar abutments. The inclined end posts and upper chords are built-up box members composed of shallow channels with a face plate. 3" by 2" angles are used for the laced verticals. Diagonals and counters are both rods fitted with turnbuckles for tuning the bridge, and the bottom chords are made up of square eyebars with drop forged eyes. The originality of the rolled I beam floor beams is not known, but a 1972 inspection report states that they are wrought iron. The lateral bracing is connected to brackets riveted to each beam. The plain portal struts have diagonal corner braces and each strut carries a King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Co. plaque. A few welded repairs to the verticals at the panel points are visible, but otherwise the bridge is very well preserved. Some verticals have also been bent from impact damage.

Historical and Technological Significance: The well-preserved 75'-long pin-connected thru truss fabricated by the King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company of Cleveland, Ohio was erected in 1882, according to its plaque, and is one of two King thru trusses from the 1880s in Mercer County. The bridge is an excellent example of a standardized pin-connected Pratt design, the most common late-19th century bridge type. On a road named for an early-19th century tavern located to the north, the Bear Tavern Road Bridge, as well as its counterpart on Mine Road (1100072), is a regionally important survivor of a historic bridge type that has become rare.

The King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company was established by Zenas King in Cleveland about 1860. Learning the bridge selling business in the 1850s as a salesman representing the Moseley Bridge Company (a patented tubular bowstring), King patented his own tubular bowsting bridge that was to be the company's chief product through the 1870s, and he successfully marketed it nationally through a network of regional representatives. He published catalogues in 1875 and 1884 as well as annual reports, and, as the market moved away from the light bowstring truss about 1880, he diversified his product line to include what was becoming standard thru and pony truss bridges. The King company was one of the largest and most prolific bridge fabricating firms in the country yet only less than half a dozen documented examples of the firm's work survive in New Jersey. While the company remained an active, viable concern for about a decade after the founder's death in 1892, it was not a regional force this century.

The King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company, known as the King Bridge Company after 1892, represents, in addition to period engineering and technology, the manner in which iron and early steel bridges were marketed in this country. The fabricator served as both engineer and builder. That practice was to disappear with the rise of the consulting engineer and the professionally trained county engineer in the early years of this century.

Boundary Description and Justification: The bridge is evaluated as individually significant. The boundary is thus limited to the span itself.


Through truss bridge over Jacobs Creek on Bear Tavern Road (CR 579)
Hopewell, Mercer County, New Jersey
New bridge open; Truss portal and sway bracing widened then placed as non-functional decoration over new Valley Road bridge
Future prospects
Portions of superstructure incorporated as decoration into new bridge on Valley Road at Pleasant Valley Road near Howell Living History Farm
Built 1882 by the King Bridge Co.; rehabilitated 1950; closed to traffic Sept. 2009
- King Bridge Co. of Cleveland, Ohio
Wrought iron, 6-panel, pin-connected Pratt through truss
Length of largest span: 70.9 ft.
Total length: 75.1 ft.
Deck width: 16.1 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 12.6 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Jacobs Creek Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.29204, -74.84075   (decimal degrees)
40°17'31" N, 74°50'27" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/513535/4460183 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2018)
Inventory numbers
NJ 1100060 (New Jersey bridge number)
BH 25353 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of June 2018)
Overall condition: Good
Superstructure condition rating: Very Good (8 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Very Good (8 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Very Good (8 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 79.1 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • January 21, 2020: Updated by Art Suckewer: Added details and history of superstructure
  • July 7, 2019: Updated by Art Suckewer: Updated status including re-erection as decoration on new bridge on a different road
  • June 12, 2019: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • April 13, 2015: Updated by Art Suckewer: Updated status
  • November 12, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Relocated"
  • May 16, 2010: New Street View added by Nathan Holth
  • October 28, 2009: Bridge is closed to traffic; updated history and design

Related Bridges 



Bear Tavern Bridge
Posted March 11, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

New bridge won an award. Old bridge is confirmed to be stored for future restoration and erection at the Howell Living History farm.


With a bit of luck there will be three historic bridges added to the three existing historic bridges in the valley.

Bear Tavern Bridge
Posted September 19, 2014, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Interesting comments from the locals (below the political comments):


Bear Tavern Bridge
Posted September 9, 2014, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Totally unimpressive!!!

Bear Tavern Bridge
Posted September 9, 2014, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)
Bear Tavern Bridge
Posted September 6, 2014, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

New bridge to open soon - i saw it the oher day, its a concrete slab. Article mentions that the old truss will be re-erected at the Howel Living History Farm which is a few miles away. Apparently it will be erected next to a 1972 concrete slab bridge that replaced a similar King truss bridge.


Bear Tavern Bridge
Posted May 15, 2014, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)
Bear Tavern Bridge
Posted May 15, 2014, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Most of the links with pictures are dead in the other posts are dead. Here is a large set of pictures that are still viewable. Can someone bring the pictures across to this website while the link still works?

Bear Tavern Bridge
Posted February 17, 2014, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

The latest that I have heard is that the Bear Tavern Road bridge will be placed across Moore's Creek (same stream as the Hunter Road Bridge) adjacent to the bridge built in 1972 that carries Valley Road over Moore's Creek. Apparently there was a King through truss at this location prior to 1972.

Bear Tavern Bridge
Posted November 12, 2013, by Art S. (Asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Latest update; apparently, the truss will be put up at Howel Living History Farm. There is an 1890s Variety Iron Works pony already there.


Bear Tavern Bridge
Posted January 4, 2013, by Art (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Bridge was taken down after Hurricane Irene


It is in storage and may be installed near by sometime in the future.

Bear Tavern Bridge
Posted September 29, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Article on this span in the latest National Trust for Historic Preservation newsletter:


Bear Tavern Bridge
Posted February 11, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Attached is a press release that provides information on efforts of local community to get this bridge preserved in place for continued vehicular use.

Attachment #1 (application/pdf; 9,299 bytes)