Matthew Jarnich Photography: The Catskills and Beyond | Stone Arch Bridges of Sullivan County, New York

Stone Arch Bridges of Sullivan County, New York

February 08, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Sullivan County is home to three beautiful and historic stone arch bridges, the Hankins Stone Arch Bridge, the Tusten Stone Arch Bridge and the simply named Stone Arch Bridge. All three bridges played an important role in the development of their respective communities and are therefore listed on the National Register of Historic Places as “rare and intact example(s) of traditional stone arch bridge construction.” For photographs of all three bridges, visit the Structures page within the Gallery. Regional visitors can easily visit all three in a ½ day tour (and leave time for other attractions along the way). 

 

The first of three stone arch bridges in Sullivan County is the charming Hankins Stone Arch Bridge which was constructed in 1905 by John B. Inman, a local mason and quarryman, in order to link the hamlet of Hankins to the river community of Long Eddy. The single arch bridge crosses Hankins Creek just north of its confluence with the Delaware River. It is approximately 40 feet long, 15 feet wide and is made of local bluestone and Rosendale cement. The bridge remained a vital creek crossing for local traffic until 1973 when it was abandoned. The bridge, now open to pedestrian traffic only, has been restored and is home to a small roadside park. The historic bridge and the creek it spans are likely named in honor of John Hankins (1803-1847), who established the first permanent settlement here in 1835 with a home, store, sawmill and blacksmith’s shop. The Hankins Stone Arch Bridge is probably the least visited of the three bridges. The Hankins Stone Arch Bridge is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

The second bridge is the Tusten Stone Arch Bridge which was constructed in 1896 by William H. (“Uncle Billy”) Hankins, a local timber raftsman, stone mason and occasional postmaster. The bridge crosses the Ten Mile River just northeast of its confluence with the Delaware River. The two arch bridge, constructed of native bluestone, is approximately 52 feet long and 15 feet wide and continues to operate as a single lane vehicle bridge for local traffic. As per the bridge’s application form for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge is named in honor of Dr. Benjamin Tusten, “an American militia volunteer and physician, who was killed as he ministered to the wounded at the Battle of Minisink on July 22, 1779 less than ten mile to the south of this settlement.” The bridge and the surrounding land have been owned by the Boy Scouts of America since 1927 for their use an educational camp. Fortunately, through an agreement with the National Park Service, the bridge is publically accessible along the beginning section of the 3-mile Tusten Mountain Trail, an interesting hike with outstanding Upper Delaware Valley scenery. The Tusten Stone Arch Bridge is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

The third bridge is the simply named Stone Arch Bridge, one of the most recognizable sites in Sullivan County. The Stone Arch Bridge was constructed in 1872 by Henry and Phillip Hembdt, brothers and recent German immigrants, in order to support the growing commercial needs of the county, particularly farming, timbering and tanning. The three arch bridge, constructed of hand-cut native stone, crosses the East Branch Callicoon Creek, a major tributary of the Delaware River. The bridge remained open to vehicular traffic until 1955, after which it has since been open to pedestrian traffic only. Today, the bridge serves as the focal point of an eight acre county park that features a woodland walk, fishing rights, and a kid’s playground. It is the most popular of the three stone bridges featured here. The Stone Arch Bridge is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

The Stone Arch Bridge is also locally famous for its role in one of the most prominent murder cases in Catskills history. According to Cindy Monahan-Herbert at the Jeffersonville township website, “One of the few hex murders on record was committed on the bridge in 1882. A hex is a curse, a form of witchcraft. A curse was placed on Adam Heidt which was said to have caused him much pain and suffering in his life. To end this torment he and his son, Joseph, decided that murdering George Markert, the man they claimed to have put the spell on Adam was the only way to break the curse. One night, while Markert was crossing the bridge, Joseph shot Markert five times in the head, clubbed him with his own old heavy chairleg he used as a cane and dumped him over the bridge into the icy waters below. Joseph was convicted of the murder and spent several years in prison. Adam claimed a sudden recovery of all that plagued him.” Since that infamous night there have many rumored ghostly sightings of the murdered George Markert.

 

Locations:

The Hankins Stone Arch Bridge is located in the hamlet of Hankins on Route 94, just north of its junction with Route 97.

The Tusten Stone Arch Bridge is located off of Route 97 in the former hamlet of Tusten, where Tusten Road crosses Ten Mile River.

The Stone Arch Bridge is located at the intersection of Route 52 and Route 52A, approximately 2 ½ miles south of Jeffersonville. 


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