Skip to main content

Storm King Highway


The Hudson Valley of New York State has some amazing and beautiful roads that dot the landscape, from parkways that transcend from grand suburban and urban landscapes to acres of bountiful parkland, along with roads built right on the edge of mountains that drop into the depths of the Hudson River. The Storm King Highway, stretching roughly three miles on NY 218 from around West Point along the slope of Storm King Mountain up to the riverside burg of Cornwall-on-Hudson, is one of the latter. Blasted out of solid rock in the 1920s, the twisty Storm King Highway is built upon the sheer cliffs that jut up high above the Hudson River, making the road quite technical to navigate. But the trade-off is that the views along the highway are simply first rate.

Plans to build the road were approved in 1914, but highway construction did not start until 1919 due to World War I. Construction of the Storm King Highway was expensive, totaling roughly $1.5 million dollars when it was all said and done. Just to lay out the route for the highway, surveyors had to rappel down the mountain’s cliffs in places in order to mark the future routing of the highway. The first contractor chosen to build the highway went into bankruptcy while the second contractor ran into labor troubles when all the available workmen went off into World War I. But when the highway was finally opened to traffic in September 1922 to scores of automobilists, it dramatically shortened the driving distances for residents of the area. The same year, Dr. Ernest G. Stillman gave about 800 acres of land around Storm King Mountain to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission to preserve the scenic surroundings of the Storm King Highway, now part of Storm King State Park. This was an act that put the Storm King Highway entirely within park lands.

This engineering marvel does not get the fanfare it once had, but it is still a beloved stretch of highway. In 1940, the four lane Storm King Bypass opened to the west of Storm King Mountain, taking US 9W with it. It is still a state touring route, carrying the NY 218 designation. But preserving the land and scenic vistas around the Storm King Highway remained a priority. In 1962, the Consolidated Edison Company of New York (Con Edison) announced a proposal to build a pumped storage generating plant at Storm King. This proposal launched one of the major environmental battles of this century, which in turn contributed to a rebirth of interest in the Hudson and the formation of the Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference (today known as Scenic Hudson) to oppose Con Edison and had protested against construction of a pumped storage facility at Storm King Mountain. The generating plant was abandoned in 1979. In 1982, the Storm King Highway was added to the National Register of Historic Places due to its engineering significance.

Today, the Storm King Highway is a scenic way to enjoy the Hudson Highlands, a place where the tides of the Atlantic cut through the Appalachians. After all, the Hudson River is a tidal estuary as far north as Troy. In winter and in times of bad weather, the road is gated off as the highway is susceptible to avalanches and other debris eroding off of Storm King Mountain. But it is an epic way to enjoy a wonderful place. Enjoy the twists and turns of the highway!


Driving from south to north, we start to see the famous and scenic part of Storm King Highway come into view.

Already, it's a long way up the mountain from here.

Twisting, turning.

The mountains on the east side of the Hudson River, such as Mount Taurus and Breakneck Ridge start coming into view.

Approaching the first scenic overlook of the Storm King Highway.

Looking across the Hudson River.

Looking towards the south.

Back on the road, there's not much separating the cliff from the river, just this road.

The Storm King Highway gets to be about 420 feet above the river, and when it does, there's another scenic overlook. Here's looking south at the mighty Hudson, with a rail line that follows the river shore and even goes across the Hudson River at one point.

The scenic Hudson River.

The scenic Storm King Highway.

Looking to the north towards Newburgh and Beacon. The island in the Hudson River that you see is Pollepel Island, home to Bannerman's Castle.

Breakneck Ridge, and in the distance, Mount Beacon. You can even make out a tunnel or two here.

Starting our descent into Cornwall-on-Hudson.
Gates at the north end of Storm King Highway. The gates are used to close off the highway when necessary.
I've also hiked up Storm King Mountain, where you can spot the contours of Storm King Highway, especially when the tree leaves are down.



Sources and Links:
The Storm King - The Legal Genealogist
Storm King Highway and Orange County - Hudson Valley Magazine
State Celebrates New Traffic Aid - New York Times (09/27/1940)
Storm King - NY-NJ-CT Botany Online
NY 218 - Alps' Roads
NY 218 - East Coast Roads
Storm King Highway Not Too Storm Friendly - Times Herald-Record (02/06/2008)
Now & Then Storm King Highway - Times Herald-Record (12/10/2020)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Bayshore Freeway (US Route 101)

The Bayshore Freeway is a 56.4-mile component of US Route 101 located in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The Bayshore Freeway connects the southern extent of San Jose to the Central Freeway in the city of San Francisco.  The corridor was originally developed as the Bayshore Highway between 1923 and 1937.  The Bayshore Highway would serve briefly as mainline US Route 101 before being reassigned as US Route 101 Bypass in 1938.  Conceptually the designs for the Bayshore Freeway originated in 1940 but construction would be delayed until 1947.  The Bayshore Freeway was completed by 1962 and became mainline US Route 101 during June 1963.   Part 1; the history of the Bayshore Freeway Prior the creation of the Bayshore Highway corridor the most commonly used highway between San Jose and San Francisco was El Camino Real (alternatively known as Peninsula Highway).  The  American El Camino Real  began as an early example of a signed as an Auto Trail starting in 1906.  The era of State Highway Mainte

The Central Freeway of San Francisco (US Route 101)

The Central Freeway is a 1.2-mile elevated limited access corridor in the city of San Francisco.  As presently configured the Central Freeway connects from the end of the Bayshore Freeway to Market Street.  The Central Freeway carries the mainline of northbound US Route 101 from the Bayshore Freeway to Mission Street. The Central Freeway has origins with the establishment of Legislative Route Number 223 and is heavily tied to the history of the once proposed Panhandle Freeway.  The Central Freeway between the Bayshore Freeway and Mission Street was completed during 1955.  The corridor was extended to a one-way couplet located at Turk Street and Golden Gate Avenue in 1959 which served to connect US Route 101 to Van Ness Avenue.  The Central Freeway was damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and has since been truncated to Market Street.   The Central Freeway as pictured on the blog cover was featured in the May/June 1959 California Highways & Public Works.  The scan below is fro

Former US Route 101 and California State Route 41 through Paso Robles

Paso Robles is a city located on the Salinas River of San Luis Obispo County, California.  As originally configured the surface alignments of US Route 101 and California State Route 41 converged in downtown Paso Robles.  US Route 101 originally was aligned through Paso Robles via Spring Street.  California State Route 41 entered the City of Paso Robles via Union Road and 13th Street where it intersected US Route 101 at Spring Street.  US Route 101 and California State Route 41 departed Paso Robles southbound via a multiplex which split near Templeton.   Pictured above is the cover of the September/October 1957 California Highways & Public Works which features construction of the Paso Robles Bypass.  Pictured below is the 1935 Division of Highways Map of San Luis Obispo County which depicts US Route 101 and California State Route 41 intersecting in downtown Paso Robles.   Part 1; the history of US Route 101 and California State Route 41 in Paso Robles Paso Robles ("Pass of the