Dunderberg Spiral Railway
This is the Hike of the Week for 8/28/2008 as described on the NY-NJ Trail Conference website.

The hike follows (though not exclusively) several graded paths of what was to be the Dunderberg Spiral Railway (DSR), a sophisticated serpentine rollercoaster that was to take passengers on a thrilling pleasure ride along the ridge and river face of Dunderberg Mountain. Passengers were to board open cars near the trailhead on Route 9W, and then be dragged up by cables or pushed by a barney behind them. In this manner they would reach the summit via two inclinded planes perpendicular to each other. At the top the cars would be let go, left to the whims of gravity ... and a relatively sober engineer with a working hand brake, presumably. They would make their way downhill along an elaborate series of spirals on the eastern face. The passengers were to ooh and ah at the sites before them (the magnificent Hudson River, Bear Mountain, Anthony's Nose) before finally making it back to the beginning, nearly 10 miles later. The cost for the ride was predicted to be 50 cents, or about $12 in today's dollars.

Alas, while funding was raised to begin the project in 1890, after just a year's worth of work the project was abandoned in 1891, probably for lack of funds. But what those workers did in just one year was quite prodigious, as this hike demonstrates. The grading of many of the railway segments was so good that they are still in fine condition today, over 100 years later.

The hike described is about 4 miles. We added extra legs out and back on other graded portions of the DSR (many with fine views over the Hudson) and hiked about 6 miles in 4 hours. It was lots of fun exploring. Before doing this hike, take at least 15 minutes to acquaint yourself with the fascinating history of this abandonded project. Joseph's Brennan's website is a wonderful resource.

(Click on the thumbnail to bring up a bigger image in a pop-up window)

The gorgeous trailhead ...

... feels like a rain forest

First view of lower tunnel, the ride would finish just after this

Looking through tunnel SW

View NE [photo by Laura]

View of Hudson during climb

Plant on eastern side

Boat on the Hudson


On the Timp-Torne trail

Downy woodpecker

Indian Point energy plant across the Hudson

Lush vegetation

Following one of the segments of the DSR on Timp-Torne

DSR grade east of second tunnel (not part of hike)

View of Hudson from DSR segment

Barge on the Hudson

Photographing a rainy Hudson [photo by Laura]


Piles of rocks from DSR rock cuts

Second tunnel, near intersection with Jones Road

Tunnel was never completed

View from inside tunnel

Eft near tunnel

Same eft

DSR path just SW of tunnel

DSR passes through rock cut

Jones Road, built for DSR construction

View of sunny Hudson from Jones Road

View of Hudson looking south

Boats on the Hudson

View of factory and West Shore Railroad train

Mansions in the hills

View of quarry off Route 9W

DSR path east of intersection with Jones Road (not part of hike)

Wildflowers abound on this lovely segment

Multitude of rock tailing from DSR rock cuts


On Ramapo-Dunderberg trail, looking north

Perkins Memorial Tower on Bear Mountain

View of Bear Mountain Bridge from Dunderberg Mountain

Bear Mountain Bridge and Anthony's Nose

Ramapo-Dunderberg is very lush in places

And narrow

And filled with wildflowers

Cauliflower-like mushroom

Great view of Hudson from R-D trail

Amtrak bridge on east side

Resting at view point off R-D trail

View just off R-D trail

Laura comes with instructions

Huge spider feasting

Tourist boat Commander on Hudson

View from white-blazed trail

Indian Point energy plant

On short white-blazed trail [photo by Laura]


Extensive DSR tailings on R-D trail

Curious lizard

Look at those tailings!

Boats on Hudson

DSR stone abutment at inclined plane

Tailings litter the lower incline plane

Graffiti quintet

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