This Neshanic Station Bridge, also known as Elm Street Bridge, has been on my to-do list for several years. Every time I drive out to visit my brother-in-law in Annandale or stop in at Conclave Brewing for a pint I take a route that leads me through Hillsborough and Neshanic Station. On this occasion, I was returning from completing a photo project. I had spent the morning photographing from the banks of the south branch of the Raritan River in Clinton Township. On the drive out to Clinton, I slowed down and paid attention for potential places to park the car and made a mental note to stop on the way back.

Neshanic Station is an unincorporated community located within Branchburg Township, in Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. In 2016 most of the village was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Neshanic Station Historic District.Wikipedia

The sun was lower in the sky when I started my return drive home. I parked on the shoulder of the road on the eastern side of the Raritan River. I could easily see the banks of the River. I grabbed my camera and tripod and made my way through the brush to the river bank. The snow or ice had melted, and the ground was muddy and slipper. I slid down to the river bank. I almost slide right in. My shoes were full of chunks of mud, but I set up my tripod and grabbed a few shots from a few locations.

So what do I know about this bridge? From what I gathered from various online sources The Elm Street Bridge is a lenticular truss bridge that carries Elm Street (Somerset County Route 667) over the river out of the community to River Road. Because of the length of the Raritan River, there are quite a few towns in New Jersey with a River Road.

The Elm Street Bridge (Neshanic Station Bridge) over the South Branch of the Raritan River, is a rare example of a lenticular, or parabolic, truss. The structure consists of two spans and is 285 feet in length. It was built in 1896 by the nationally known Berlin Iron Bridge Company of East Berlin, Connecticut. The Elm Street Bridge still retains its historical integrity and original design and is the best-preserved example of this type of truss bridge in the state. It was rehabilitated in 2007 by Somerset County.Visit Somerset County

Neshanic Station Bridge, Branchburg Township, Somerset County, New Jersey — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/10, ISO200), Copyright 2019-01-26 Khürt L. Williams

Constructed in 1873, the South Branch School House in Branchburg Township is a one-room building in the Victorian-Italianate style of architecture. From 1873 to 1950 it educated children in grades 1 through 8.

In 1848, Henry Barnard published School Architecture, which offered designs and ideas for model schoolhouses. Following his advice, schools were built with rectangular plans on raised foundations, with the gable end would serving as the front. The longer side walls featured multiple double-sash windows, and the classrooms offered high ceilings. Up until shortly after the Civil War, their style and manner of construction mirrored churches and meetinghouses.

South Branch School House, Branchburg, Somerset County, New Jersey — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/8.0, ISO200), Copyright 2019-02-02 Khürt L. Williams

Students faced a windowless wall at the back. The school also incorporated a raised platform at one end for when the classroom was used for assemblies. The South Branch School House was one of the first in the area built expressly as a tuition-free public school following the New Jersey Free School Act of 1871. With a room size of about 24 or 25 feet square the school was designed to accommodate 50 students.

Writing in the 1874 Annual Report of the New Jersey Department of Education, State Superintendent of Education Ellis Apgar wrote:

Every school should be well furnished. Everything added to make the schoolroom comfortable, convenient, and attractive, facilitates the work of education. A teacher cannot be expected to do good work without the proper tools. The desks furnished the children should be of the most approved style; they should have folding seats, so as to allow of freedom of motion in marching, callisthenics, and general exercises. Settees placed in front of the teacher’s desk are convenient for recitation purposes. The teacher’s desk should be neat and substantial, having at least six drawers in it. There should be three or four chairs, a thermometer, an eight-day clock, a small globe, a call bell, and other conveniences for teaching.

South Branch School House, Branchburg, Somerset County, New Jersey — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/8.0, ISO200), Copyright 2019-02-02 Khürt L. Williams

Peak attendance at the school hit 95 in 1875. Due to declining enrollment, in 1950 Branchburg Township built a new built a consolidated elementary school and use of the Little Red School House dropped even further.

In 1963, the Branchburg Board of Education sold the schoolhouse to Branchburg Township, and work was begun on a restoration project to coincide with the township’s tercentenary. Closing in 1965, the South Branch Schoolhouse was the last one-room school in use in Somerset County. Restoration worked continued into 2005, when the school was placed on the state and national registers of historic places.

The famous opera singer, Anna Case, attended the school in the late 1890s.

South Branch School House, Branchburg, Somerset County, New Jersey — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/8.0, ISO200), Copyright 2019-02-02 Khürt L. Williams

I shot from a tripod and bracketed my shots. The Classic Chome Fujifilm Film Simulation preset was applied to each image and the images combined in Photomatix Pro. The Natural filter was applied in Photomatix Pro and the resulting image was imported back into Adobe Lightroom for further adjustment.

Sources

South Branch School House, VisitSomeresetNJ.org, Somerset County, https://visitsomersetnj.org/fun-somerset-nj/south-branch-school-house/
Greg Gillette, South Branch Schoolhouse, My Central Jersey, 7:00 a.m. ET May 25, 2017, https://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/local/view-from-hillsborough/2017/05/25/south-branch-schoolhouse-2/102137624/
Kelly, Somerset County’s Last One-Room Schoolhouse: South Branch, The History Girl, Kelly, 2015/02, https://www.thehistorygirl.com/2015/02/south-branch-schoolhouse-nj.html