This 112 Year Old Trestle Bridge Isn’t Used By Trains Anymore, But It’s Anything But Abandoned

This slice of history offers plum views of the Delaware River and all the red elderberries you can forage

The view through the bushes, across the train tracks on the Pennsylvania side of this sweet relic

What do you like to do for fun? My husband, toddler and I love to scurry around the woods like a bunch of squirrels, finding things that have been forgotten about, buried under a century or brush, slowly rotting into oblivion. We also like to see the various animals and insects, too.

This bridge is out in the open, and we’ve driven past and under it many, many times. On a few occasions, we even tried to go find a way to access it, but were unsuccessful. We had hoped to try to drive across it, which was our first mistake. The bridge, a former train trestle, in fact, is very accessible, but only by foot. The tracks that used to cross it are long gone (though some wooden beams are still lying along the side of the trail in the woods), and only the coarse grey stones that used to pad the tracks are left in its place providing a sturdy trail any curious venturer can follow from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, or vice versa.

My son and husband pose in front of the ancient, picturesque water gap.

On the way across the bridge, the stunning views present in either direction up and down the Delaware River. The Delaware water gap (the visible indentation where the Delaware River churns and flows) looms large up the river. Down the river, the tree-covered cliffs hover over route 611 as it sways and snakes off toward Easton, PA and beyond.

Alongside this 112 year old bridge’s pathway, red elderberries are plentiful in thick patches.

I did my research in advance as I’ve been doing more lately now that my family and I have been collaborating on our twice weekly nature and science video series, Smith Family Folio. We have been taking explorative taking nature walks together for years, but only during the pandemic did we start recording and editing them to keep as a time capsule of our adventures.

Typically, we’d drive around until we found an area that looked interesting, then we’d park and go check it out. Lately, I’ve been accumulating a list of historic, quirky or fascinating places I must see. This bridge made its way onto my list.

My son’s train obsession has helped me to want to add more bridges and train type things to the list. (If you’re a train fan, you’ll love tomorrow’s video — in it we visit a decrepit, historic, gorgeous old double train tunnel that has been left in the woods to crumble.)

On our trip to visit the bridge, I had my husband drive by the structure a couple times. We noticed “No parking” signs all along the area by the bridge, so we drove to a nearby fast food restaurant to park. The idea was, we’d have to walk along the road and then find our way up and onto the bridge somehow. It wasn’t a terribly busy road, but it was located beside a noisy highway and with traffic coming off the exit, I wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about walking along the road to get back to the bridge with my toddler in tow. However, a few feet from where we parked, I noticed a trail. As we’ve been taking these adventures more and more, my motto has become, “If you see a trail, follow it. There’s probably something cool to see.”

A screenshot from the video of my son and I walking along the slightly overgrown trail.

It only made sense that the trail would lead to the bridge. It was close in proximity and curved towards the bridge, so we followed it. Within a minute of walking the slightly overgrown trail, we saw a pathway up a hill that led directly to a flat, rocky trail that would prove to open out onto the bridge.

I was surprised to see not even one “No trespassing” signs. I’m a stickler for following the rules, especially with a child in tow. Though it may be irksome to my husband, if I even see one “No trespassing” sign, I call the trip. Though I’m a rule breaker in my heart and spirit, I typically try to follow the actual legal laws to a T. No signs? Count me in on this adventure!

As we saw the highway below us and the tunnels leading down into the bridge, I understood that we had found our way on top. We opted not to explore the tunnels for various reasons, but it was wonderful to walk across the open, breezy trail. At first, the cars were loud and racing just underneath the bridge, but as the trail continues, there was nothing but water 115 feet below and blue green hillsides, swaying and shimmering brightly all around us.

A tunnel entrance leading down into the arched bridge
L to R: Red elderberries, a sampling of the graffiti, the train tracks running under the bridge on the Pennsylvania side

Shiny red elderberry bushes lined the bridge along the rails, some of which were partially missing and thoroughly graffiti’d. There is plenty of space to safely walk the bridge, though, and at no time did I feel like I was in danger of falling or of being forced to walk along a slim path that wasn’t safe. As we came to the other side of the bridge into Pennsylvania, I saw the railroad tracks passing underneath. I could imagine what it must have been like to have been on a passenger train, hustling over the old structure, thick black smoke shooting out overhead, seeing the gates of the water gap beckon, calling those onboard in from their long journey. Perhaps they were arriving for a Poconos vacation or just returning back home again after a trip, or their service defending our country.

A still from the video we shot — a train used to run along the top of this viaduct.

History is cool, isn’t it? These journeys have become infectious, and we have fallen in love with making this series.

My son loved the bridge. It was hard to coerce him off of it. Though I felt safe, I insisted on me or his dad holding his hand the whole time we were on the bridge, much to his chagrin. My husband considered going into the tunnels to take more photos and my son started chanting, “Go down, dada! Go! Go down, dada! Go!” He was very enthusiastic about daddy going down there, but he himself refused to even get close to the tunnel entrances, to my complete relief.

At the end of our walk, we got a little lost trying to find our way back to the trail, but we were able to eventually get out without too much trouble. I felt invigorated and excited once back at the car, if very thirsty. Our mission had been accomplished!

I’m now looking forward to having friends come visit so I can share this beautiful landmark with them.

Not our friend, per se? No worries. We are cautiously opening shoot dates to the public. Email SmithFamilyFolio at g mail for more information. And in the mean time, watch the video we made of this adventure. If you like it, we’d love a subscribe.

I write about life with 1 husband, 1 kid, 1 cat, at times funny. Bylines: New Yorker, The NY Times, The Atlantic, McSweeney’s.

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