Dunderberg Spiral Railway

The Dunderberg Spiral Railway was a pleasure railroad partially constructed in 1890-1891 on a mountain near Jones Point, Rockland County, New York. It was never finished. The first part of the ride would have taken the cars up two inclined planes to the summit 900 feet above the Hudson River, where visitors could disembark to enjoy the scenery. Then the cars would have coasted by gravity down a nine-mile scenic railway, making two spirals and three switchbacks. It would have been to this day the biggest roller coaster ever constructed.

The mountain is now inside Palisades Interstate Park, and hikers today can combine a walk through beautiful wooded hillsides with a search for the remains of the Spiral Railway. About two-thirds of the line was graded before work stopped. Even though the route was laid out along natural contours, every part of it required grading to provide a roadbed for the track. There are cuts through solid rock, and high fills of rock and earth. A tunnel was begun at one location and a cut stone arch bridge was almost finished at another. The inclined planes are nearly complete. There is even a well-graded construction road up the mountain.

In October and November of 1996, I hiked along many sections of the Spiral Railway, taking over a hundred photographs and locating some of the more interesting sights. The results follow. There are still some sections I have not seen at all, and I hope to get back up the mountain next season. One writer in the early years of this century wrote that you can hike Dunderberg many times and still not know the mountain at all.

Begin the Tour

All photographs and original maps by Joseph Brennan

Copyright 1997 by Joseph Brennan. All rights reserved.

Mail is welcome at brennan@columbia.edu.

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Copyright © 1997 Joseph Brennan
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