New Paltz-Wawarsing Turnpike

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Illustration and Map by Jack Fagan

New Paltz-Wawarsing Turnpike

A 19th century toll road from the town of New Paltz in the Wallkill River Valley to the town of Wawarsing in the Rondout Valley.

After determining that there were enough tanneries, forges, glass factories, and sawmills on the west side of the Shawangunk Ridge to make a profitable connection to New Paltz and beyond, a route was surveyed in 1856 which ran from the covered bridge that crossed the Wallkill River in New Paltz through the pass between the Trapps and Near Trapps cliffs of the Shawangunk Ridge to an area south of what is now Kerhonkson.

It was built quickly with a dirt surface, supplemented with planking in wet areas, at a cost of about $1,000 per mile. Wagons like that shown were drawn by two horses, and would have had to pay 12.5 cents. 
 
Unfortunately for the original investors, the Turnpike was a money-losing proposition with not enough business over the mountain and saddled with taxes that the nearby Delaware & Hudson Canal was not. It was sold for a few hundred dollars at a sheriff’s sale in 1861, eventually became a public road and fell into disuse when it was surpassed by new roads over the ridge.