Paulinskill Viaduct – Columbia, New Jersey - Atlas Obscura

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Paulinskill Viaduct

Columbia, New Jersey

Once the world's largest reinforced concrete structure, this abandoned bridge now beckons urban explorers. 


The Paulinskill Viaduct, which was completed in 1910, was once the world’s largest reinforced concrete structure. At a total length of 1,100 feet and with a clearance of 115 feet, the New Jersey structure still a worthy feat of engineering to behold, even though it has since lost its record-holding title.

Trains traveled atop the railway up until the late 20th century, then traffic gradually diminished as the years passed. The last train crossed the bridge in 1979. After the viaduct officially closed in 1982, the railroad tracks were ripped apart and the impressive piece of infrastructure was deemed abandoned.

Despite being officially closed, the bridge still receives its fair share of pedestrian traffic (even though those who do go are technically trespassing). The site caters to an assortment of urban explorers willing to risk the occasional trespassing ticket, like hikers, partiers, graffiti artists, and even the occasional bungee jumper. The viaduct’s internal chambers, which were once used to inspect its structural integrity, became hidden galleries of street art.

For years, graffiti-covered many of the structure’s walls. Some visitors found the illegal artwork mesmerizing; others were repulsed by the profanity scattered throughout the images. However, as of December 2017, a large portion of the graffiti has been painted over.

Know Before You Go

Exploring the viaduct is considered trespassing, and can be dangerous. In January of 2016, two women had to be rescued after one became trapped within the old railroad bridge because of an ankle injury. Police sometimes patrol the area, and parking nearby is illegal.

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