Building the Mohansic trailway
A spur of the Putnam Division of New York Central ran from the train station in Railroad Park to what is now Franklin Delano Roosevelt State Park and the Mohansic Golf Course. Trains ran on the line briefly in 1917 and then the tracks were removed. Cinders on the railbed just west of the entrance on Baldwin Road in FDR State Park are still there.
Building a connection on Town owned land from Downing Drive to the Baldwin Road entrance to FDR State Park had been a dream for many years. But attempts failed because of costs associated with constructing a paved path through wetlands. The Town of Yorktown and Yorktown Trail Town Committee received trail grants from the Hudson River Valley Greenway for $7,500 and $12,500 respectively. Both entities had to match the funds. The Yorktown Trailtown Committee was responsible for clearing the route and building the boardwalk and bridges. The Town of Yorktown’s grant covered removing a berm west of Route 118, and distributing item 4 along the 900 feet to the dual bridge.
Spearheaded by first Mark Linehan and then veteran volunteer trail builders Jane and Walt Daniels from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, Trail Town spent the better part of 2 years trying to get permission to move the project forward. Permission to start was finally granted in 2018. Some nearby residents were opposed to the project, but several later became big fans because they could walk to the business district along Downing Drive. The Town required engineered drawings for the bridges and boardwalks. Thanks to Joe Riina, the drawings were done pro bono. The 0.4 mile trailway was finally completed in 2019, built by volunteers and help from the Town of Yorktown’s Highway Department. Additional enhancements were done in 2021.
During the spring of 2018, volunteers from Trail Town and the Trail Conference cut back vegetation to clear the path. They used a 2″x2″x10′ board to measure how wide the path needed to be.
Construction of the 8 foot wide, 564 feet long boardwalk started at Baldwin Road in anticipation of moving lumber along it.
To minimize carrying a generator which was needed for power the drills and saws, it was left in a job box which locked to the framing after every work trip.
The frame of the boardwalk was built on 10-long sections resting on a sleeper with stringers attached which would support the decking. Each section required different footings and some places were extremely muddy.
Lumber had to be moved along the boardwalk. It soon became apparent that walking the lumber along the boardwalk was not a task people liked doing especially in hot weather. A suggestion of moving the lumber on furniture dollies proved to be not only efficient, but also made the task more fun.
Working two mornings a week, one part of the volunteer crews concentrated on building the framework and the other followed behind moving lumber and nailing decking in place. If you came on site, you helped in some way. But one visitor just stood and watched for about 15 minutes and then disappeared.
The cost of lumber increased dramatically from the time the grant was awarded. Lakeland Lumber gave a discount on lumber, and they delivered the lumber at no cost to Trail Town. Over 50,000 pounds of lumber were used as part of the project. Donations provided the additional funds and the funds for all the bridges.
Once the boardwalk was complete in October of 2018, the boardwalk was officially opened.
When it was time to build the single bridge, volunteers from the Trail Conference’s Trail Tramps crew came in to help. At one point it snowed, but the colder weather did not deter volunteers any more than the hot weather did.
As people began using the boardwalk, it soon became apparent that the area between the eastern end of the boardwalk and the bridge was going to be muddy. When Austin Fritz needed an Eagle Scout project, he took on the task of building two additional small sections of boardwalk. The weather did not cooperate on several of his trips and a tarp was set up to provide some protection from the rain.
During April 2019, volunteers from the Trail Tramps crew joined Trail Town volunteers to build the dual bridge.
Not only was the dual bridge longer, it turned a corner twice! The turn between the two bridges on the southern side of the Trailway was carefully engineered to be a fan. The first attempt at constructing the decking failed, but those pieces were used on the ramp on the north side of the bridge rather than discarding it.
By the summer of 2019, the connection from Route 118 to Baldwin Road was complete. In September, Town officials cut the ribbon officially opening the connection to FDR State Park.
By 2020, it was observed that the path along the north bank was becoming muddy after it rained. So, Gavin Patane used his 2021 Eagle Scout Project to solve this problem by spreading gravel between the two bridges. The Highway Department supplied the gravel and dumped it close to the eastern end of the dual bridge. Then his “crew” of adults and boys did a lot of heavy lifting. It was such hard work, they were limited to working only two hours at a stretch.
- 130 different volunteers, ranging in age from 12 to 80.
- 1,525 hours spent building at $20.19/hour or $31,949 worth of labor
- 103 hours managing the project at $20.19/hour or $2,019.57
- Materials cost $21.888.50