This summer I had the wonderful blessing of exploring the middle section of the Hudson River Valley in New York State. I was in the region to attend a week-long Road Scholar program ( www.roadscholar.org ), and packed as much sightseeing as possible into the days preceding and following my program. In researching what to do in the area, a brochure that caught my attention was the one telling about the Walkway over the Hudson . Since I was spending the night in the town of Highland where it was located, and I have a habit of taking a daily morning walk, I determined I would check it out. I talked to the kind lady at the front desk of my hotel, who provided me directions to the entrance, and gave me the great news that it was FREE! At that point, I had not gone to their website ( www.walkway.org ), and did not know that all my questions were answered on their very user-friendly portal on the Internet. When I arrived in the parking lot, I was relieved to see that there were dozens of newer model cars parked in their lot, and plenty of "normal" looking people there, including families with young children, people walking their dogs, women my age taking their morning stroll, as well as a few who looked like serious athletes out for an extended bike ride, like the guys in this photo. (I was also relieved to see there were portable toilets available, as well as "real" restroom buildings with lavatories and running water! In addition, there was a water fountain at the entrance, and a few mobile food truck vendors, selling coffee, soda, juice, and snacks.)
In just a few minutes, I was standing in the center of the world's longest elevated pedestrian bridge (1.28 miles long), about 200 feet over the Hudson River. ( I had not seen such a magnificent sight from the center of a bridge, since I walked across the famous bridge in Sydney, Australia, and stood in awe of the design of the Sydney Opera House, and the bustling Sydney Harbor that surrounds it!) This photo shows the view as one is looking south, towards New York City, where the Hudson River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The motor vehicle bridge shown in the photo connects the cities of Poughkeepsie and Highland. On all the motor vehicle bridges that cross the Hudson River, there is a toll as you drive your vehicle going east, but no tolls when you cross going west.
Around the midway point, the pedestrian bridge extends on either side, and there are benches for resting, or, posing the family for a photograph! I had stopped here to take a "selfie" with my phone, when a lady about my age, kindly offered to take it for me. I found out later, there are volunteers that serve as "bridge ambassadors" to enhance the visitor's experience while traversing the span. Their duties include offering to take photos of individuals or groups, and answering questions about the area.
There are several tourist attractions that are in the immediate vicinity of the bridge entrances, such as this tour boat and park, on the Poughkeepsie side of the river. The nearby Marist College has partnered with the Walkway to develop a mobile phone app, that gives information and links to area restaurants, lodging, galleries, entertainment, bicycle/electric scooter rentals, etc. It also can be downloaded in several different foreign languages. Since the walkway attracts about 750,000 visitors per year--many of these from foreign countries---the mobile app is a great asset for your visitor experience. You can access the mobile app by using the QR scanner on your phone, to take a photo of the Mobile App image printed on the brochure, or on the placards at the bridge.
Seeing this cross on top of a church steeple, a symbol of my Christian faith, was a reminder to thank God for the beautiful country where I am a citizen, and to thank Him that I have the freedom and opportunity to explore this beauty through traveling! I believe the steeple is for the Catholic church called Our Lady of Mt. Carmel www.mtcarmelpok.org , and a look at their website made me think they maintained a very active congregation in this section of New York State.
It was the week of USA Independence Day celebrations when I did my walk across the bridge, so preparations were being made for a big fireworks display to be shot off above the river. Although the Pedestrian bridge usually closes at sunset, there are after-hours special events for people who pay an annual fee to become a "Walkway Partner". For example, the partners are allowed to be on the bridge to watch the fireworks, and they also have occasional "moon light" walks, and pre-dawn walks, available for "members only". This is a method to supplement the limited funding that is provided to the walkway, as a part of the New York State Park system.
This photo shows the Poughkeepsie end of the bridge, that is lined with shade trees and picnic tables.
This dad could be called the "Pied Piper" of the walkway, as he leads his family of bicyclists across the bridge!
Individuals and families who want to demonstrate a higher level of support to the walkway than the annual membership, can contribute at the level that will entitle them to have a special memorial marker on the bridge over the Hudson River. They can then tell their children how they helped make this linear pedestrian parkway over a deep and wide body of water, a reality! It reminded me of another "river memorial marker" written about in the Old Testament (Joshua 4:1-24) where Joshua had the Israelites erect a monument where they crossed the Jordan River into the Promise Land: "When your children ask their fathers in time to come, 'What do these stones mean?'... "...then you shall let your children know, 'Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.' For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan River for you, until you passed over.."
On the Highland side of the Walkway, there is a connection to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail ( www.HudsonValleyRailTrail.net ). This multi-use trail extends several miles westward, towards New Paltz, New York.
It is very fitting that this former railroad bed have a traditional red caboose train car as its Visitor Information Kiosk. I found a wealth of information when I went inside it, to look around!
Before I ever walked across the bridge, I did some exploring on the Highland side, in my car, to help me "get my bearings" on exactly what it was I would be traversing. I drove down a narrow, paved street called "River Road", hoping to get a photograph of the walkway from below. That brought me to a small marina, beside a restaurant (www.marinersonhudson.com ), where I was able to photograph both the pedestrian bridge (which has the distinctive design showing its railroad bridge origins ), as well as the newer motor vehicle suspension bridge further down the river.
If a bridge that was constructed in 1886 is still around and functioning in the 21st century, there is a good chance it will qualify as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. This plaque says, "The Poughkeepsie-Highland Bridge is the oldest surviving steal cantilever bridge in the world and, when built, had the longest truss and cantilever spans. The bridge provided the first, and only, all-rail route across the Hudson River south of Albany, and it facilitated the movement of coal eastward and manufactured goods westward for 85 years. Restored as the Walkway over the Hudson, the bridge provides an outstanding example of adaptive reuse. Its designers were Thomas C. Clarke and Charles Macdonald. Dedicated: 2009 (Note: The bridge had been closed after a fire in 1974, where friction sparks between a metal train wheel with the track, caught the wooden trestles on fire.)
The walkway website made the following statement, "The walkway bridges more than just two shores---it also demonstrates the power of ingenuity, collaboration, perseverance, and preservation. It is truly an American icon, preserving the best of our history, and culture, and our spirit." I say AMEN to that, and would encourage you to check out this and the many other icons that await you in the Hudson River Valley (www.HudsonRiverValley.com ). The walkway is a location that will give you "1.28 MILES OF SMILES"!! TriciaAuthor's Addendum: If you go to the "Search Box" at the very bottom of this blog, and type in "pedestrian bridge", you will see I have photographs of several different pedestrian bridges across the USA! Some of these include Little Rock, Arkansas (March, 2012); Michigan (August, 2012); Mt. Shasta, California (December, 2011); Quebec (November, 2010); Prim, Arkansas (April 2015) and Redding, California (March 2009)