Scenery on the Erie Railroad

Harper's New Monthly Magazine, July 1850

The construction of the Erie railroad through the hitherto secluded valleys of the Delaware and Susquehanna rivers, and reaching now almost to the Allegany, has opened to access new fields for the tourist, abounding with the loveliest and the grandest works of Nature. From the Hudson to the Lakes, the scenery is constantly changing from the romantic and beautiful to the bold and rugged; and again from the sublime and fearfully grand to the sweetest pictures of gentle beauty. There is probably no road in the world that passes through such a variety of scenery as does the Erie, and there is certainly none that can present to the traveler such a succession of triumphs of art over the formidable obstacles which nature has, at almost every step, raised against the iron-clad intruders into her loveliest recesses. The enchanting magnificence of the scenery keeps the attention alive, while its varying character at every turn, continually opens new sources of enjoyment. Immense rocky excavations salute you upon every side. Miles of mountain acclivities of solid rock have been borne away by the Herculean arm of persevering industry. You see where the lofty cliff has been beaten down; the huge mountain-barrier leveled ; rough and rugged precipices overcome; chasms spanned, and wide valleys and rivers crossed.

The scenery in the valley of the Delaware is grand beyond description, and in the valley of the Susquehanna, after passing out of a wilderness, where every portion is stamped with the impress of grandeur, a truly agricultural region, in a high state of cultivation, and smiling with abundance, meets the eye. At the point where the road first strikes the Susquehanna, that noble river is seen in the plenitude of its magnificent beauty.

It is not our purpose to point out the particular objects most worthy of examination, or to describe any one of the numerous landscapes which lie all along the track; but we will venture to assert, that nowhere between sun and sun can such a combination and variety of the wonderful in nature and art, with the beautiful be seen, as in a day's ride on the Erie railroad. Sketches of some of these views accompany this articles, and we may, from time to time, give such others as we think will prove interesting to our readers.

The reader is familiar with the geography of the road: commencing at Piermont, on the Hudson, twenty-four miles from New York, on the long pier that projects a mile into the river, it winds its way westward, among the hills along the course of the Sparkill. Just before leaving the pier, looking north, the view on the preceding page is presented.

From the Sparkill the road leads over to the Ramapo, where the first lovely scenery commences, in a wild and broken, but picturesque region; thence through Orange county, beautiful mostly from its fertility and high cultivation. Passing on, the road approaches the Shawangunk mountains, which are seen stretching away to the northeast, where the eye catches a misty glimpse of the distant Catskills. The appearance of these mountains from the east is truly sublime; and ascending toward the summit the country is as rugged as the wildest steeps of the Appenines or Styrian Alps. After passing the summit of the mountain through a rock-cutting, half a mile in length, the road winds by a gentle slope of a dozen miles along the mountain side to the valley below. About half way down, another deep cutting through the rock is passed, on emerging from which, a view of remarkable loveliness meets the eye. At this point the traveler has an unbroken view of the enchanting valley of the Neversink in all its cultivated beauty. The accompanying view represents the scene from the spot where the road boldly sweeps toward the south, and shows the western verge of the valley bordered by a chain of mountains, at the foot of which gleams the village of Port Jervis and its level fields, losing themselves far in the south where rolls the Delaware, beyond which again the distant town of Milford may be seen in the misty light. Running south through this beautiful area is a winding grove of trees, marking the course of the Neversink to where it unites with the Delaware.

We will present only one other view, which represents one of the imposing structures which characterize the Erie road. This is the viaduct over the valley of the Starrucca, built of stone. It is elevated one hundred feet above the valley; is over twelve hundred feet long, and twenty five wide, and is composed of eighteen heavy piers, with arches of fifty feet span. It is simple in its design, but symmetrical and beautiful, and is altogether the noblest piece of work upon the whole line of the road. It is one of the most interesting objects which invite the notice of the traveler, and gives dignity and grandeur, as well as a picturesque character to the work. In this immediate neighborhood is some of the finest scenery to be found on the whole line of the road, and will tempt many a traveler to repeat his visit, and linger to explore new beauties, which the eye in the rolling car does not detect.

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