The extension of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail through the Town of Rosendale and the Town of Ulster
In an exciting partnership, Wallkill Valley Land Trust and Open Space Conservatory acquired 11.5 miles (65 acres) of the former Wallkill Valley Railroad in Ulster County in August of 2009. This acquisition will almost doubled the length of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail which occupies the former railroad bed. The highlight of this purchase is the iconic 940-foot-long Rosendale Railroad Trestle, perched 150 feet over the Rondout Creek in Rosendale, originally constructed in 1895. The trestle, which is now closed to the public, is the most spectacular portions of the scenic rail trail.
This expansion will provide connections to more hamlets along the Wallkill River Valley, and trail users can take the scenic route to get to them as they pass by woodlands, open fields, and farmlands lands. Residents and tourist alike can bike, walk, run, bird watch, horseback ride and cross country ski while they discover a wide variety of birds, other wildlife and the panoramically beautiful views of the Shawangunk Ridge and the Wallkill River for a total of 24 miles!
The extension, what is invovled:
Track the Trestle! The largest need in this acquisition is the restoration of the 114 year old rail road bridge's steel infrastructure, installing wooden decks and railings. Now that the trestle is restored and opened to the public, upstate New Yorkers and the general public are be able to view the Shawangunk Ridge, the Binnewater Lakes region with its historic cement mines, and the hamlet of Rosendale from a lofty perch -- 150 feet in the air!
Some History of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in Rosendale
At the end of the Civil War trains were already running through a good portion of New York State. Especially, along the east side of the Hudson River from Orange County and points south. But in Ulster County, farmers were shipping their produce by horse and wagon to river ports along the Hudson River that would transit their produce down river on a barge to New York City.
Promoters of a railroad through the Wallkill Valley area stressed that a railroad would open the area to the world and stimulate the agricultural market. Floyd McKinstry, the first president of the Wallkill Valley Railway, espoused that the railroad would make the valley a "perfect garden".
In 1866, after much debate, the Wallkill Valley Railway Company was formed and built a railroad from Montgomery to New Paltz. The WVRC railroad route included the towns of Montgomery, Shawangunk, Gardiner, New Paltz, Kingston and Rosendale.
In 1868 construction of the WVRR began. The most sensational part of this construction was the building of the high bridge in Rosendale. From 1870 to 1872, one hundred men labored to build the 9 iron spans of the bridge. When completed, the bridge stood majestically over the Rondout at 150 feet in high and 988 feet long.
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