Walkway Salutes Firefighters and Police on 40th Anniversary of Bridge Fire

On May 8, Walkway Over the Hudson marks the 40th anniversary of the railroad bridge’s historic fire by honoring local emergency response teams



Photograph by John Fasulo

May 8, 1974: A giant blaze engulfed the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge and stunned citizens. The bridge had been a Valley staple since 1889. It was the main rail route across the Hudson and, in fact, the only bridge to cross the waterway at the time of its construction. The massive conflagration destroyed close to 700 feet of rail and effectively ended all travel over the bridge.

But the span refused to die completely. Though it sat an idle eyesore for 35 years, on October 3, 2009 its reconstructed carcass officially reopened as the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, the world’s highest and longest pedestrian bridge. The 1.28-mile span rises 212 feet above the water and attracts thousands of visitors (canines, too!) each year.

At noon on May 8, the Walkway hosts a commemorative event to mark the fire’s 40-year anniversary. Taking place on the eastern (Poughkeepsie) side of the bridge, the remembrance honors the Highland Fire District, the City of Poughkeepsie Fire Department, Mobile Life Support Services, Inc., and the New York State Park Police to thank them for their service to the community. Some of the responders who battled the 1974 blaze are expected to be in attendance.

For more information on the event, visit www.walkway.org or click here for the official announcement.

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