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Paulinskill Viaduct, Columbia NJ

Paulinskill Viaduct, Columbia NJ

The History:

Constructed in 1908, the Paulinskill Viaduct was considered to be one of the wonders of the world. It stands 1,100 feet long and towers 115 feet above the Paulinskill River. For a brief period of time, the reinforced concrete arched bridge was the largest structure of its kind in the entire world. The train line went out of service in 1979, the railroad tracks were torn up in 1985 and the Viaduct was abandoned. Since then, it has remained a true hidden treasure.


Back when the bridge was being constructed, there was a horrific, accidental murder that took place. A construction worker was buried alive in the cement walls. The spot is marked in one of the arches. The man's ghost is known to walk the tracks on top of the trestle, even during the day.

Bad Decisions:

When David (my boyfriend), Jevin (our friend), and I went, we were all sitting on the edge eating our PB&J sandwiches. Jevin proceeded to get up and out of nowhere grab on the the side of the 115 foot high bridge and let his body fall; he was free hanging off the side of the Paulinskill Viaduct. When I noticed I screamed and began to cry out of fear. David was yelling at Jevin to get back up, but he was struggling. He almost couldn't get back up, but thank God he managed to. When he got his feet back up on the top of the bridge, he said that it was fun. What a clown. 

I tell you this short story to convey how this location is the birth place of bad decisions. Many people have died at the bridge and or had to be rescued by law enforcement. 


Parking at this bridge really convenient, but it makes you an easy target for a parking ticket or the cops finding you and give you a fine for trespassing. I normally take the risk and park under the bridge, but you could find a good spot in a near by neighborhood and walk. 

Under Bridge Parking Location: 40°56'53.7"N 75°03'37.1"W

Bridge Location: 40°56'53.0"22N75°03'40.5"22W

Wall Location: 40°56'54.2"22N75°03'34.2"22W

paulinskill map.png

How to get up there:

Once you are standing under the colossal bridge, you will notice a sleep hill, be sure to find the trail a little ways down the road to the right and take that way up. I have made the mistake of taking the left side up, which is too scary for me. Once you go up the trail, you will be faced with a cement barricade/wall. Climb it and you're there. 

How get down there:

The last time I was there (fall 2017), the man hole was closed. The Paulinskill Viaduct underpasses are closed off to the world; never to be explored again. There is in fact a way in though. As I mentioned before the steep climb to the left of the bridge there may be some branches up to the bridge and if you are really daring and adventurous you can climb those branches and get into the underpasses and make your way up through the walk ways. 

Genuine Warnings:

The Paulinskill Viaduct is absolutely illegal and state property. If you get caught you will get caught by State Troopers, who are anything but forgiving and understanding.


P.S. All of the Paulinskill Viaduct locations are illegal to be on and considered trespassing because it is state property. 


1. Tunnels With No Purpose:

Under route 80 lay two metal tunnels, separated by the inlet to Columbia Lake. I am not too sure why the one tunnel (Idle Lake Road Tunnel) is there; it leads to no where while the other one (Columbia Lake Road Tunnel) leads down the road to a dam. These tunnels are kind of boring, but spooky to walk through alone without a light. They also make for a great blank canvas for creative photography. If you have a car with an exhaust it is a great place to get those revs up and hear the roar of your exhaust. 

Columbia Lake Rd Tunnel Location: 40°55'40.4"N 75°05'00.8"W

Idle Lake Rd Tunnel Location: 40°55'36.7"N 75°05'04.1"W


2. Abandoned Watermill: 

Up stream from the tunnels is an abandoned dam with a water mill. It is a fun place to explore, yet really hard to actually get in to. If you are down for some trespassing bring a bulk cutter for the lock on the door. 

Dam from Columbia Lake Rd Location: 40°55'26.4"N 75°05'11.5"W

Dam and Water mill from Idle Lake Rd Location: 40°55'36.9"N 75°05'04.1"W


P.S. I have found no information whether the tunnels and or dam are illegal, no trespassing areas. So, adventure at your own risk.

Neighboring Location(s):

Delaware River Viaduct, Columbia NJ

The Delaware River Viaduct is a railroad bridge across the Delaware River about 2 miles south of the Delaware Water Gap that was built in 1910 as part a rail line. The bridge is 1,452 feet long and 65 feet high from water level to the top of the rail. It is the sister to the line's larger Paulinskill Viaduct. The Delaware River Viaduct also crosses Interstate 80 on the east (New Jersey) side of the river. The viaduct was abandoned in 1983…

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