Tayor Steelworkers Historic Greenway
— A 7 Mile Greenway Trail Through the Borough of High Bridge Historic Properties —
The Union Forge Heritage Association welcomes you to Lake Solitude and Taylor Falls
With the depletion of natural resources that provided energy to power the adjacent Iron Works, Lake Solitude was constructed by the Taylor Iron and Steel Company in 1858 to provide hydro-electric power for the works. Lake Solitude is approximately 20 acres in size, and is on the South Branch of the Raritan River. The 500 foot long earthen portion of the dam structure is a gravity dam and had been expanded and increased in height over the years to its current size. The 175 foot long spillway, or fall structure, was originally constructed as a timber framed "crib" dam and named so after its specific type of construction. The original spillway structure was locally known as Taylor Falls, and named after Robert Taylor, the first of five generations of Taylors who came to live at Solitude and manage the Union Iron Works through the Taylor Wharton Iron and Steel Company until the 1920's.
From the time of its construction, Lake Solitude not only provided a functional use as a power source for the foundry, but a destination as a popular recreation area for the local residents and beyond. Various swim and recreation clubs were established at Lake Solitude along with the forgotten adjacent Camp Taylor. From the time of the lake's creation, boating, fishing, swimming and beach recreation were all part of Lake Solitude's various uses. In the early years, Lake Solitude was a destination of train excursions and the site of extravagant Independence Day celebrations by the Iron Works.
In 1909 the Crib Dam was replaced by the current 40 foot high spillway structure, and is a highly significant example of dam engineering known as the Butress Dam. The dam was designed and constructed by renowned master civil engineer Frank Stone Tainter. Tainter also built other significant dams in New Jersey including the Lake Carnegie Dam in Princeton, and the Ravine Lake Dam in Far Hills. The Lake Solitude Butress Dam is unique and historic due to its construction type. The substructure of the stone dam is constructed with concrete encased steel beams anchored into the bedrock and reinforced with the butress structures. This dam structure is the earliest example of this construction type, and the last remaining example of a butress dam in New Jersey. The structure is currently recognized by the state and nationally as a significant historic structure. Today, the spillway is once again called the Taylor Falls as a lasting legacy to the Taylor Family.
The Union Forge Heritage Association was actively involved with the preservation and adaptive re-use of Lake Solitude as a historically significant part of High Bridge's past, as well as a viable part of its future with the proposed re-introduction of hydro-power to the lake. Lake Solitude and Dam were listed on Preservation NJ's Most Endangered Sites in 2008.