Under the Bridge

Posted: Monday May 14, 2012

I've driven over this length of Interstate 287 hundreds of times, most often while on the way to less than desirable places. However a particular stretch of bridge spanning over a gorge separating the town of Wanaque New Jersey from Oakland New Jersey has been a wonder of my curiosity for sometime. As a young child I recall reading articles printed in the local papers about suicide jumpers parking their vehicles on the shoulder of the bridge, climbing up to the roofs of their cars and walking off. In recent years a fence has been erected along side the bridge boundaries to control how one might choose to end their life. While driving over the bridge the fence line obscures the view of awesome mounting ridges scraping the horizon in the distance. Fortunately it was never the mountains which truly piqued my interest, but rather the thought of what remains under the bridge. I'd been told skeletal frames of cars dating back to the 1970's rot along side the bank of the meandering Wanaque river below. Supposedly brick foundation ruins from the original DuPont Ammunitions Factory are scattered about the valley floor as well. But most alluring is just experiencing the infrastructure and architecture in relation to the massive bridge, from the underside. The graffiti indicative of such a space was certainly a draw as well. Together all of these possibilities unfolded as a perfectly appealing way to squander an early spring day investigating.

A dusty ATV trail cuts through the woods leading directly up to and under the massive cement pillars balancing the six lane highway towering above. Many of the structural support beams are anchored into the natural rock cliff face of the valley walls. Hiking up to the top provides an interesting close up look at the steel girders holding the highway in place just feet above your head.

The overpass is somewhat unique because it was designed to accommodate uneven topography. Rather than extend straight across the valley, the bridge hooks slightly to the right before reaching the adjacent side of the valley.

The angled cement trusses made for some interesting repetition.

The bridge as it first appears rising high above the forest canopy. The suicide fence can be seen adoring the perimeter.

Standing directly beneath the bridge. Vehicle traffic passing by above created a muffled sound, as tires tread over the expansion gaps installed within the asphalt highway; the occasional blare of a truck's air horn broke the monotony.

A reflection created as the overpass stretches over the dinky Wanaque River. Looking up I noticed what appears to be a very faded white tag along one of the horizontal beams. Enlarging the image the tag almost looks to read "Ted Gasp". Perhaps the name of a construction worker who got hold of some white paint?

Hiking up to the top of a mountain ridge provided an aerial overview of the entire span of bridge.

The wooded landscape of the background is part of the Ramapo Mountain State Forest.

The remains from one of the abandoned cars which can be found under the bridge. I would assume the vehicle was abandoned back when the Dupont Ammunitions Plant closed.

Long before Interstate 287 crossed this valley, the Dupont Powder Plant operated off of the land. The Plant manufactured and tested various explosive powders. Because of the volatile nature of the powder residues, many small fortified brick buildings were constructed all throughout the woods in order to store the explosives. A private railroad was constructed on the property allowing trolley cars to transport the powders from building to building, including across the Wanaque River. The above photo is all the remains from the rail system. Additional photos detailing the brick storage ruins can be seen here.

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