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Solitude House Open House
Sunday, June 9, 2019 at 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Solitude House will be open on Sunday, June 9, from 1 pm to 4 pm. Exhibits will be on the Lake Solitude Dam, High Bridge and the wide range of products made by the Taylor-Wharton Iron and Steel Company, which traces its history back to the Union Iron Works that was started in 1742.
The first known dam across the South Branch here was constructed in 1858, in order to provide power to operate the forge hammer and bellows of the Taylor Iron and Steel Company. Similar to today’s dam, that dam had a long section that was an earthen embankment. The spillway back then, however, was a crib dam – a wood frame structure that was filled with stone, dirt and wood.
In 1909, when an expansion of the Power Plant at the iron and steel company was planned, the height of the dam was raised to provide greater power and the crib dam was replaced with a stronger structure – a masonry spillway with stone buttresses. The design was by Master Engineer Frank S. Tainter who had completed a buttress dam at Lake Carnegie in Princeton in 1906. The construction of the new Solitude spillway and the heightening of the earthen dam were carried out by the employees of the Taylor Iron and Steel Company.
Over a hundred years later, in 2011, when remediation work was necessary to ensure the dam would not fail, the Borough of High Bridge, the current owner of the dam, took great care to preserve the impressive stone spillway and its buttresses. Today, that spillway looks as it did in December 1909 when it was just completed!
This Sunday, photos and other information on the Lake Solitude Dam over time will be on display at Solitude House. There will also be exhibits on Taylor-Wharton which, for many years, made wheels, axles, switches and tracks for railroads. The company produced dredge buckets which were used to dig the Panama Canal, to mine gold in the West and to mine tin in Southeast Asia. Other products were seamless high pressure cylinders for industry, the military and the medical field, tracks for half-track vehicles and manganese steel safes. During war times, the company made shells, tank treads, and doughboy hats for the military. Present-day Taylor-Wharton products include cryogenic tanks for industrial and medical uses and even tanks for beverage carbonization! Photos of old-time High Bridge and scrapbooks of the High Bridge Jaycees will be on display.
Solitude House is at 7 River Road, High Bridge, NJ, 08829. For more information, or if you would like to volunteer to help the High Bridge Cultural and Heritage Committee events and our activities, please contact us at: [email protected]