Moodna Viaduct

Posted: Thursday November 22, 2012

Spanning across a valley nestling the quaint Hudson River town of Salisbury Mills, New York, a massive, rusty, train trestle divides the landscape, standing tall and long like a life sized Erector Set, seemingly built by a foaming rail fanatic. Despite the trestle's oxidized and faded exterior, the structure remains quite active; a vital piece of railroad infrastructure, carrying both commuter and freight cars into Port Jervis, NY and Hoboken, NJ. The Moodna Viaduct, as the trestle has come to officially be known, opened to rail traffic in 1909, after its five year construction period was completed by the Erie Railroad. The exact specifications of the viaduct make it the longest and highest trestle east of the Mississippi River. Total length of iron comes in at 3,200 feet, while extending up to 193 feet above valley floor, at the bridge's highest point. The Moodna Viaduct's bare and exposed design makes it quite resistant to high winds. The structure is no doubt an architectural testament to time, as the hulk of metal still stands rigid and tall at over 100 years old, with only minor stabilization efforts completed over the last century.


The southern most end of the Moodna Viaduct is anchored within Schunnemunk Mountain, making access just a hike away. One can easily walk up to the edge of the viaduct to obtain a personal view of the fascinating infrastructure.


As every trestle should, the viaduct's underbelly is tattooed with various tags and graffiti. Much of the paint markings are faded, but a few new shiny tags can be found hidden about.


Two narrow iron grate catwalks encompass a single lane rail line.


Looking out into the distance while walking along one of grated walkways. A rural view paints the landscape green; trees and pastures extend all the way out to the horizon.


I have no idea as to the reasoning of why the right most walkway is lined with dual guard rails.


3,200 feet, yeah that's quite a way, a distance far enough to produce a fantastic vanishing point effect. It would be interesting to know just how many timbers stretch the length of the viaduct.



A simple cement foundation anchors the viaduct into the side of the Schunnemunk Mountain. One can shimmy down the cement and squeeze past the iron buttresses to get a cool underbelly view of the viaduct as well as see the massive bolts driven into the cement pilings over 100 years ago.


The amount of time I spent poking around the upper reaches of the viaduct turned out to be advantageous, as what began as a faint rumble, vibrating the bridge ever so slightly, was soon followed by the passing of an MTA Metro North passenger car. I managed to grab one snap of the train as it cruised on by.


I also was able to capture a short video of the passing train with my phone.


Hiking down to the base of the viaduct, I cut through some tall weeds within an overgrown field and made my way up to one of the many giant support bases, elevating the overhead rail line.



A narrow dirt access road runs along side the viaduct, used by railroad workers to service the bridge as well as those looking for a good place to take the ATV out for a spin.

Standing beside the massive trestle is quite an experience. This engineering marvel dwarfs in size anything else within radius of sight.


At its highest, the Moodna Viaduct rises 193 feet over the Moodna Creek. In the above picture the creek begins where the grass field meets the tree line.


A closer look at the infrastructure of the truss girder superstructure.




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