Walkway Over the Hudson

View of the Mid Hudson Bridge in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

View of the Mid-Hudson Bridge (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

The first train crossed what was considered an engineering marvel of its day, the Poughkeepsie Bridge, on December 29, 1888.  At a length of 6,768 feet and height of 212 feet, this multispanned cantilever truss bridge was constructed of steel, with the two approach viaducts made from iron; together forming one of the most direct rail routes between the northern and mid-western states. The Poughkeepsie Bridge remained the only Hudson River crossing between Albany and New York City until 1924, and was a vital link for World War II war freight traffic, diligently guarded 24 hours a day.  Due to the competitiveness of other railways such as Erie and Penn, by the late 60’s Poughkeepsie Bridge became a far less important access way, and a severe fire in the spring of 1974 signaled the bridge’s final demise.  Abandoned and left to deteriorate, Conrail sold the bridge for $1.00 to a private party in 1984, and with years of back taxes left unpaid, the bridge was finally deeded to a nonprofit organization called Walkway Over the Hudson (www.walkway.org) in 1998.

The View Up River in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

The view up river (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

When the iron and steel bridge was originally constructed, it took less than three years at a cost of 3.5 million.  Designed when “Built to last” actually meant exactly that, engineers hired for the 21st century restoration were surprised to find that most of the bridge’s original structure was in excellent condition, and that its four supporting legs were installed so deep into the river bed that they had never moved an inch.  With this information and the knowledge that it was more cost effective to refurbish the original structure than to tear it down, restoration efforts began in earnest in 2007.  The combination of highly skilled engineers, steel workers, crane operators and cement layers, working together with dedicated volunteers and donors, produced a pedestrian bridge in two years at a cost of 35 million dollars. The Walkway Over the Hudson hosted it’s opening ceremony on October 3, 2009 in coordination with the 400th anniversary celebration of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River.  With an attendance of over 400,000 visitors the first year, it is estimated that almost twice that number now visit annually.

*If you’re interested in walking other bridges, visit The Brooklyn Bridge

The view down river in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

The view down river (photo: by Kathy Diemer)

Yet, what would this spectacular walkway be without a watercourse flowing below?  Originally known as Muhheakantuck, “River that flows two ways” by the Lenape tribe who inhabited the lower banks of the river, it was later named after 17th century English explorer Henry Hudson.  This glorious river flows over 300 miles, with a far reaching tidal influence 150 miles north in Troy, New York.  When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, the connection between the Hudson River and Lake Erie enabled shipping between cities from the Great Lakes to distant Europe via the Atlantic Ocean.  In addition to the shipping benefits, the bountiful Hudson River Estuary and its tributaries are also home to over 200 types of fish, 19 kinds of rare birds and 140 rare plants such as oyster (making a comeback), sturgeon (in small numbers), seahorse, peregrine falcon and the Hudson River water nymph (aquatic plant that grows nowhere else on earth).  Great measures are being taken to assure the future of this most wonderful New England asset, as a diverse array of plants and animals depend on the Hudson River’s productive waters for essential activities such as spawning and overwintering.

** Here are other GREAT DESTINATIONS in the area worth visiting!

A Train winding along the Hudson River in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

A train winding along the Hudson River(photo by: Kathy Diemer)

On a clear day such as the one I was so fortunate to experience, you could scan along the banks up and down river, enjoying the rolling mountains lush with colorful foliage, while imagining what it was like when Henry Hudson first set eyes upon it.  The Mid Hudson Bridge is within easy view, its flags proudly waving in the breeze and various sized boats and barges slowly passing underneath.  Hawks soar overhead while ducks swim below, and trains wind slowly along the natural curves and bends of the landscape just feet from the water’s edge.  The water ripples in lines across the Hudson’s surface, making stripe patterns that shimmer in the late morning sunlight.  And as my husband and I walk quietly along enjoying this time, the fresh autumn air, warm sun on our faces and a gentle breeze at our backs; we can’t help but feel gratitude for the engineers and workers that originally created this magnificent bridge, and for the craftsmen, volunteers and donors of the Walkway Over the Hudson that realized this was a treasure well worth preserving.


  1. gary recht says:

    The first train passed over the bridge December 29,1888,not December 28. Please make a note of this and correct.Thank you.

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