The first bridge at Cranberry Lake was a wooden structure built in 1902 by the Lackawanna Railroad. It allowed passengers to cross the lake from the Cranberry Lake station and gain access to the miniature railroad and amusement park at Frenche’s Grove. The railroad did not renew the amusement park lease after 1911, and the bridge was chained to a locomotive and pulled down.
In the 1920’s the Cranberry Lake Development Company began planning the lake community, and a means was needed to allow pedestrian access from the train station to the cabins at Frenche’s Grove and beyond. This resulted in a second wooden bridge being built in 1925 by the Development Company. In 1929, a concrete, steel and wooden structure was begun by the New Jersey state government, and in December of 1930, the historic Cranberry Lake footbridge was completed. Measuring greater than 350 feet in overall length, it was considered an engineering marvel for its time. Constructed at the heart of the Great Depression, it is one of the longest and oldest pedestrian suspension bridges in New Jersey.
After nearly 88 years of brutal Sussex County weather – ranging from sweltering summer heat, to damp autumnal nights, to the freezing rains and snows of winter – the footbridge is currently in dire need of immediate repair and rehabilitation.
A 2016 engineering report from Genesis Engineering found that the bridge is in need of over $295,000 to fund immediate repairs, plus additional funds will be required to repair the bridge’s concrete piers. A routine maintenance plan will also need to be developed that would include – but not be limited to – annual tightening of the bridge’s suspension cables, safety inspections every three years with an engineer’s estimate of upcoming required repairs, and completion of recommended annual preventative maintenance items.
Once these items are completed, we would like to fund an endowment that over time will reach a minimum if $250,000, with sustainable income of 3.5% to fund future maintenance plans.
Save Our Bridge was formed in the Spring of 2018 as a 501(c)(3) corporation, with its mission to work in collaboration with state and local officials to identify resources and secure funding to be used specifically for the restoration and continued sustainability of the historic Cranberry Lake footbridge. The Cranberry Lake footbridge is a link to Byram Township’s past heritage and traditions, and a testament to the rugged, rustic quality of life in Sussex County. We also intend to see that the iconic structure, once repaired and restored, is listed on both the New Jersey Register of Historic Places.