Tusten Stone Arch Bridge: A Photographic Study

June 01, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

The Tusten Stone Arch Bridge was designed and constructed in 1896 by William H. 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.

 

The stone arch bridge was located at the heart of the former village of Tusten, adjacent to a mill located on the west bank of the Ten Mile River. It is believed that the Tusten Stone Arch Bridge replaced an earlier, less permanent timber structure. Tusten was sometimes referred to as Ten Mile River Village on historic maps.

 

Photograph of the Tusten Stone Arch Bridge, located at Tusten, New York in the southern Catskills.Tusten Stone Arch BridgeThe Tusten Stone Arch Bridge was constructed in 1896 by William H. 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. It is approximately 52 feet long and 15 feet wide and continues to operate as a single lane vehicle bridge for local traffic.

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 has 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 publicly accessible along the beginning section of the 3-mile Tusten Mountain Trail, an interesting hike with outstanding Upper Delaware Valley scenery. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photograph of the Tusten Stone Arch Bridge, located at Tusten, New York in the southern Catskills.Tusten Stone Arch Bridge, NYThe Tusten Stone Arch Bridge was constructed in 1896 by William H. 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. It is approximately 52 feet long and 15 feet wide and continues to operate as a single lane vehicle bridge for local traffic.

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 has 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 publicly accessible along the beginning section of the 3-mile Tusten Mountain Trail, an interesting hike with outstanding Upper Delaware Valley scenery. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photograph of the Tusten Stone Arch Bridge, located at Tusten, New York in the southern Catskills.Standing the Test of Time: The Tusten Ston Arch BridgeThe Tusten Stone Arch Bridge was constructed in 1896 by William H. 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. It is approximately 52 feet long and 15 feet wide and continues to operate as a single lane vehicle bridge for local traffic.

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 has 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 publicly accessible along the beginning section of the 3-mile Tusten Mountain Trail, an interesting hike with outstanding Upper Delaware Valley scenery. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

The first settlement on the Delaware River at the mouth of the Ten Mile River originated in the 1750s, about the year 1757, under the authority of the Connecticut-based Delaware Company. A sawmill was established at the site by Elijah Reeves before 1762. In October 1763, the settlement was wiped out during an Indian raid led by Captain Bull, the son of an elderly sachem named Teedyuscung. All 22 settlers were killed in the raid known as the Ten Mile River Massacre. “Not a person escaped. The houses, barns, etc. were burned, and everything valuable was destroyed, except the bare fields.” (Quinlan, 106.) Following the American Revolution, the community was re-established at the same location.

 

As the village of Tusten grew, a post office was established there in 1838, and operated intermittently until 1913. From 1838 to 1842, the post office operated under the name Ten Mile River, and was staffed by Samuel Hankins, the father of William H. Hankins. From 1849 to 1863, the post office operated under the name Delaware Bridge, and was operated at various times by Paul A. Tyler, Sylvester Mapes and William Hawks. From 1884 to 1913, the post office operated with the name Tusten. When the Tusten post office was not in service, residents would cross the Delaware River to pick up their mail at Mast Hope, Pennsylvania.

 

In addition to the Tusten Stone Arch Bridge, the Ten Mile River Baptist Church, also known as the Tusten Baptist Church, also still stands in remembrance of the former village of Tusten. The church is prominently located on a wooded hill north of the bridge and east of the Ten Mile River, and just off Route 97. The congregation was organized in the spring of 1840 by Reverend Henry Curtis, of the Damascus society, with the first meetings taking place in the homes of its congregants. The church was officially organized through the council of recognition on August 18, 1840. Sixteen years after the church’s founding, the church building was constructed in 1856 at a cost of $1,500. The first dedicated pastor of the church was Rev. Daniel F. Leach (1840-1845), who was then followed by Rev. James P. Stalbird (1845-1848), Rev. M. M. Everet (1848-1852) and Rev. J. R. Ross (1852-1854). Services continued at the church until around 1920. The church building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 “for its historical significance in representing the lost nineteenth century river community of Tusten.”

 

During the 1870s the village of Tusten was home to a sawmill, a gristmill, a blacksmith shop, a store, a church with an adjacent parsonage, a schoolhouse, a cable ferry across the Delaware River to Mast Hope, Pennsylvania, a “flag stop” railroad station on the Erie Railroad and a number of homes. In addition to Hankins, the names of other families that lived in the area in 1875 included W. Davis, J. Crawford, W. Robinson, H. Bross, W. D. Bross, W. Hawks and J. H. Barlow.

 

Tusten’s fortunes began to fade with the decline of the area’s leading industries such as rafting, lumbering and bluestone quarrying. In 1911, in an effort to revive the town, the Minisink Company, of New York City, sought to create “a nicely laid out community” at Tusten, and then sell the lots to city people who wanted to have a summer home along the Delaware River. The 4,000-acre community, set along two miles of river frontage on the Delaware River, would be complete with new roads, water works, electric lights and over 325 building lots for new homes. The lands around Davis Lake were to be sold as a single parcel for a club or hotel. However, these well-intentioned plans never materialized, and by the 1920s the company had dissolved. Most of Tusten’s remaining buildings were abandoned and left to deteriorate. All that now remains of the once thriving village of Tusten is the stone arch bridge and the Ten Mile River Baptist Church.

 

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 publicly accessible along the beginning section of the 3-mile Tusten Mountain Trail, an interesting hike with outstanding Upper Delaware Valley scenery. The bridge continues to operate as a single lane vehicle bridge for local traffic. The Tusten Stone Arch Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places “as a rare and intact example of traditional stone arch bridge construction within the context of Upper Delaware River transportation resources.”

 

Photograph of the Tusten Stone Arch Bridge, located at Tusten, New York in the southern Catskills.Tusten Stone Arch Bridge, Tusten, New YorkThe Tusten Stone Arch Bridge was constructed in 1896 by William H. 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. It is approximately 52 feet long and 15 feet wide and continues to operate as a single lane vehicle bridge for local traffic.

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 has 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 publicly accessible along the beginning section of the 3-mile Tusten Mountain Trail, an interesting hike with outstanding Upper Delaware Valley scenery. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photograph of the Tusten Stone Arch Bridge, located at Tusten, New York in the southern Catskills.Tusten Stone Arch Bridge, Tusten, NYThe Tusten Stone Arch Bridge was constructed in 1896 by William H. 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. It is approximately 52 feet long and 15 feet wide and continues to operate as a single lane vehicle bridge for local traffic.

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 has 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 publicly accessible along the beginning section of the 3-mile Tusten Mountain Trail, an interesting hike with outstanding Upper Delaware Valley scenery. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photograph of the Tusten Stone Arch Bridge, located at Tusten, New York in the southern Catskills.Ten Mile River at the Tusten Stone Arch BridgeThe Tusten Stone Arch Bridge was constructed in 1896 by William H. 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. It is approximately 52 feet long and 15 feet wide and continues to operate as a single lane vehicle bridge for local traffic.

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 has 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 publicly accessible along the beginning section of the 3-mile Tusten Mountain Trail, an interesting hike with outstanding Upper Delaware Valley scenery. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

William H. Hankins, the bridge builder, was born at Tusten, New York on March 12, 1846, the son of Samuel Hankins (1798-1877) and Catherine (Reeves) Hankins (1803-1882). Samuel Hankins was a farmer and a merchant, and served as postmaster from 1838 to 1842. The Hankins family were prominent members of the Tusten community, being associated with virtually every public office and business. William Hankins was “one of the last of the old Delaware River raftsmen who ran through the tidewater.” In 1883 it was reported that “many more rafts are offered to him every year than he can take under his charge.” In 1902, perhaps for old times’ sake, and for the first time in 15 years, Hankins started down the Delaware River from Narrowsburg, but noted that “he did not find many changes in the river.” In 1905, Hankins purchased a scow in order to accommodate those who wished to cross the Delaware River.

 

The William H. Hankins & Company worked three or four quarries in the region, employing approximately 30 men as quarrymen, stone cutters, teamsters and laborers. For a time, he was associated with Charles W. Martin and C. R. Underwood in the stone business. In the early 1900s, as the tourism business began to grow in the region, Hankins operated a boarding house.

 

Upon his passing, it was written that William H. Hankins “was devoted to his home and family and was held in high esteem in the community where he had always resided.” Hankins passed away at 76 years of age after a long illness on October 24, 1922 at Tusten. Funeral services, officiated by Reverend R. D. Minch, were held at Ten Mile River Baptist Church. Hankins is buried at Tusten Cemetery in Narrowsburg, New York.

 

The bridge, and the town of Tusten, New York, is named in honor of Dr. Benjamin Tusten (1743-1779), an American militia volunteer and physician who was killed as he ministered to the wounded at the Battle of Minisink on July 22, 1779.

 


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