October 22, 2022 – Wurtsboro, NY
Size: Roughly 2 miles
Max elevation: 810 ft.– complete elevation achieve roughly 150 ft.
Route sort: Out and again
Free map: Shawangunk Ridge Path Map – 2016
Purchase Map (Paper & Avenza): Shawangunk Trails Map 106B – 2019
Trailhead parking: 26 VFW Highway, Wurtsboro, NY 12790
Grime parking space for about 10 automobiles – No restrooms on web site
Please Be aware: It isn’t protected to enter this tunnel as a result of it has not been maintained because the 1950’s, it’s flooded and there’s the hazard of falling particles together with different hazards when exploring deserted locations. It’s also rumored that folks have drowned within the tunnel.
The Excessive View Tunnel, also called the Shawangunk Tunnel or the Bloomingburg Tunnel, was accomplished in 1871 by the Shawangunk Mountains by the New York and Oswego Midland Railroad (NY&OM), predecessor of the New York, Ontario & Western Railway (NYO&W or O&W). At 3,855-foot in size, Excessive View is the longest among the many 4 tunnels on the O&W.
Though the tunnel is positioned on property owned by the Open House Institute (OSI), the Excessive View Tunnel is adjoining to Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest the place there’s trailhead parking for the Lengthy Path/SRT on VFW Highway. Because the the hike begins and ends in Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest, I named it as a part of the state forest in an effort to make it simpler to establish its location.
The New York, Ontario & Western Railway (O&W, NYO&W) was a regional railroad that related Oswego, New York to Weehawken Terminal in New Jersey. On the finish of the nineteenth century, the O&W Railway was the easiest way for New York Metropolis passengers to make their option to the Catskill Mountains. It’s the first notable railroad in America to have its mainline completely deserted.
In 1868, the New York and Oswego Midland Railroad (Midland), predecessor to the O&W, started constructing its mainline from Weehawken, New Jersey to Oswego, New York. The route chosen would cross by the Shawangunk Ridge by way of a tunnel between Wurtsboro on the west and Bloomingburg on the east. Building started in 1868 at each ends of the tunnel. Three years later, Midland accomplished the Excessive View Tunnel after excavating by 3855 toes of Shawangunk Grit. When the employees lastly met within the center, to everybody’s delight they had been just a few toes aside.
The Excessive View Tunnel operated from 1871 till 1957 however not with out its issues, primarily water and falling rock. Whereas Shawangunk Grit is impervious to water, the open seams working by the grit are excellent waterways. As soon as deserted, the tunnel continued to tackle water with nobody taking steps to dewater the tunnel. In the meantime, NYS Route 17 was constructed over the Excessive View Tunnel and, at one level, future plans referred to as for a ramp straight over the North Portal. These plans have since been scrapped.
In 1980, probably in response to rumors of a drowning within the Excessive View Tunnel, an try was made to seal the North Portal. Regardless of efforts, the portal wasn’t fully sealed and the ensuing giant particles pile within the entrance of the North Portal allowed much more water to gather within the tunnel (the crest of the tunnel is close to the South Portal which is personal property). An early 1970’s view of the masonry North Portal reveals already some deterioration had taken place. This offers a superb indication that maybe as a lot as twenty toes was collapsed and excavated within the try and shut off entry.
The New York Division of Transportation grew involved that the upper water ranges (estimated at 13 toes in some locations) might weaken the tunnel, posing a risk to Route 17 (I-86). The DOT cleared the particles from the North Portal in 2006, thereby decreasing the water stage to about 3 toes nearest the North Portal.
I visited the Excessive View Tunnel in 2016 and determined to pay it a return go to. Not a lot has modified since then, however the deserted railbed appears to have taken on extra water or at the least it appeared that method. On this go to, we couldn’t get as near the tunnel as final time because of the quantity of water close to the doorway of the north portal of the tunnel. A lot water that Gaia GPS has it listed as “Excessive View Tunnel Outflow Stream” on its on-line maps. Though I had on waterproof boots, the water was a lot deeper than the highest of my boots. Additionally the bottom was muddy sufficient in locations to suck the boots proper off your toes in the event you stepped within the improper spot.
The hike begins at VFW Put up 4947 which is the previous Mamakating Depot for O&W Predominant Line and is on the identical grade because the Excessive View Tunnel. Lengthy earlier than O&W trains stopped working in 1957, the corporate had closed the Mamakating Depot. The constructing was in disrepair when VFW Put up 4947 bought it for his or her base of operations.
There may be parking alongside the left facet of the constructing as you drive in. DO NOT block the gate or the doorway street. There’s a scrap yard close to the doorway to VFW Highway that has a number of barking canines of assorted sizes. We heard them barking as we started the hike, and as we had been returning to the parking space, two medium sized canines approached us barking, however retreated as soon as I yelled at them. Only a heads as much as be vigilant in the event you resolve to go to.
This can be a comparatively simple and easy out and again hike. When you so select, you’ll be able to stroll again down VFW Highway, bypassing the path and cross the street to succeed in the deserted railbed. I selected to make use of the SRT/Lengthy Path south to succeed in the street and a brief part of the railbed between the VFW and the street to return to the parking space, to eradicate the street stroll.
As you’ll be able to see from the elevation graph, it’s a comparatively stage hike.
Stroll to the again of the parking space in the direction of the gate. past the gate is the continuation of the deserted railbed heading north. To the fitting of that concrete block are three white blazes on a tree. That’s the begin of the Connector Path that results in the co-aligned Lengthy Path/SRT. The White Path climbs for about 400 toes till its terminus at a T-intersection with the Shawangunk Ridge Path (SRT). Flip proper on the junction and comply with the SRT south because it weaves its method by the woods.
In about 350 yards, the SRT reaches Sullivan County Route 171 (Mamakating Highway). Right here the Lengthy Path/SRT turns proper and begins a street stroll, however you must fastidiously cross the street. This can be a hairpin curve the place automobiles velocity by with a restricted sight distance so be alert when crossing right here.
Immediately throughout the street is a bridge abutment that supported the railroad bridge. To the left of the abutment is an entry street that results in the deserted railbed. Observe the street up the hill and switch left, heading south.
As soon as on the railbed, it’s a few 0.7-mile, principally flat stroll to the north portal of the Excessive View Tunnel.
In one other 350 yards or so, on the left, there’s a concrete phone sales space. The C.F. Massey Firm, primarily based in Chicago, manufactured these enclosures for any variety of functions, resembling phone cubicles, outhouses, watch shanties, and oil storage sheds.
Not removed from the concrete phone sales space, there are nonetheless some concrete footings that supported the sign towers.
A brief distance later, because the railbed approaches a rock lower, there are some leaning bushes and warning is suggested when strolling beneath them.
After passing by the rock lower, you’ll arrive on the Excessive View Tunnel Outflow Stream. This stream flows out of the north portal and programs downhill to your proper. Do your finest to maintain your toes dry on this space.
On the fitting facet of the railbed is an previous explosives journal, used for the “day storage” of explosives. The strong stone partitions, inward opening metal door, and flimsy wooden roof had been designed to comprise any unintended blast and direct it skyward. It was used in the course of the tunnel’s building, and probably in later years to assist clear the frequent cave-ins that occurred.
The water will get deeper and the grip of the mud will get stronger as you close to the tunnel.
That is about so far as we bought on today. I didn’t wish to threat dropping a boot or getting water excessive of my boots.
The picture under is from 2016. It was taken from about the identical spot because the picture above. Discover the row of rocks within the foreground lined throughout the railbed. These identical rocks at the moment are underwater within the picture above in 2022.
Since we didn’t get as shut as I’d have preferred, I included a picture from 2016 of the inside of the tunnel.
From right here it’s only a matter of retracing your steps again to CR 171 (Mamakating Highway) and punctiliously crossing the street. As a substitute of taking the Lengthy Path/SRT, we discovered the deserted railbed on the north facet of the street and adopted that again previous the VFW, to the parking space, the place the hike started.
A brief hike, nevertheless it might be made longer by taking the deserted railbed north from the VFW or for a more difficult hike, you’ll be able to take the SRT/Lengthy Path north in Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest. The tunnel itself makes for a superb focal point in addition to the remnants of the railroad that when handed by right here.
Excessive View Tunnel, railroad ruins, secluded space.
A whole lot of water close to the north portal of the tunnel.
Take a hike!