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No Solitude

Engineered Ugliness, Abandonment and Decay

History on the Low Road in High Bridge

Solitude House (all photos March 19, 2016)

Solitude House (all photos March 19, 2016)

Sadly, it looks like what a 2012 NJ Spotlight story called THE BATTLE FOR SOLITUDE HOUSE has been lost.

I first learned of Solitude back in 2008, after reading a story about whether the town of High Bridge should breach what was called an unsafe dam or maintain it as an historic structure. Some were suggesting there was hydropower potential as well.

At the time, going against the grain of strong environmental opposition to dams, I thought it might be a good idea to retain the dam and generate zero carbon local energy, so I took a ride up to High Bridge to check it out.

I found not only a lovely trail to the dam, but a charming historic house serving as a museum (see the 2008 photos).

Out of the blue, last weekend, I thought I’d visit Solitude to see what transpired over the last 8 years.

I have no idea what went on, but from a quick Google it seems like the DEP dam safety engineers ordered the Town to breach or upgrade the dam. So the town spent a whopping $3.5 million to upgrade the dam.

When I arrived last Saturday, I was appalled by what I saw.

The lovely stream side trail was gone, the dam rehabilitation was an over-engineered nightmare, and the charming Solitude House -museum was abandoned and crumbling.

Had I known it was going to turn out like this, I would have supported breaching the dam – as it now stands, the result is the worst of all possible worlds: water resources impaired by a dam, historic resources abandoned and neglected, and visual & aesthetic appeal destroyed [and no hydropower]. Take a look:

 Here’s what that lovely stream side wooded trail leading to the dam looks like now:

(March 19, 2016)

Here’s what the old dam looks like now:

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Here is the visitor’s vehicular and visual entrance to Solitude House – doesn’t it just conjure up the 18th century?

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Here’s the visitor’s first views of Solitude – that engineered drainage and trickling stream in the foreground are just visually stunning,  eh?

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Saving the best for last, observe the closed and crumbling historic buildings and grounds – with the stunning visual backdrop of the new dam – could use a coat of paint and some masonry, no?

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love the traffic cone!

love the traffic cone!

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