The Oak Ridge Reservoir was constructed in the 1890s to help supply Newark’s burgeoning populace with a supply of fresh water. It was one of several reservoirs in north NJ built at about the same time. (The others are Canistear, Charlotteburg, Clinton, and Echo Lake.)
The village of Oak Ridge was, unfortunately, right where the reservoir would go — so the village of Oak Ridge, and a smaller one known as Wallace Corner, had to go. Today, their locations are underwater. (If anyone knows of a map of the original villages, please let me know.)
But, as the article notes, an old stone bridge that once connected Oak Ridge to the main road — known then as the Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike — was spared, because it was useful in the construction of the dam. So, when they were finished, they just let it be; there was no point in wasting manpower to tear down a bridge that would soon be submerged forevermore.
But every so often, when a drought hits the area, the water level will drop enough for passers-by to see the bridge.
According to the article,
“You can locate this bridge (or at least, the spot of water it’s under) by travelling on Route 23 about a mile south of its intersection with Canistear Road. At this spot, southwest and right next to the highway, a narrow tongue of Oak Ridge Reservoir snakes its way up along the base of the mountain. This follows the original route of the Pequannock River.”
I’ve been there, and seen, the “ghost bridge” a couple of times. If you think you can find it, refer to the aerial photo.
Aerial view of Oak Ridge Reservoir showing the bridge.
Local historian Beth Willis has been there as well, and has more interesting details to share on her Facebook page.
I’ve recently uncovered even more cool stuff about the ghost bridge — see here.