Popolopen is the name of several related landmarks mainly within the Hudson Highlands of Orange County, New York. These include a mountain, Popolopen Torne—or simply "The Torne",[1][2] and a short and steep-sided nearby valley officially called Hell Hole, but often Popolopen Gorge. Popolopen Creek runs through this valley. The Popolopen Bridge spans its mouth at the Hudson River and is crossed by Route 9W. Popolopen Lake feeds the headwaters of its namesake creek. Despite local usage, the United States Board on Geographical Names recognizes only the lake, creek and bridge as bearing the name "Popolopen." [1]

Popolopen memorial
Summit of Popolopen Torne in 2006, facing northwest, with Cranberry Brook and the military reservation below.
Highest point
Elevation942 ft (287 m)
Coordinates41°19′37″N 74°00′37″W / 41.3269°N 74.0103°WCoordinates: 41°19′37″N 74°00′37″W / 41.3269°N 74.0103°W
Language of nameDutch
LocationHighlands, Orange County, New York, U.S.
Parent rangeHudson Highlands
Topo mapNew York New Jersey Trail Conference #119
Easiest routeHike

Popolopen Torne

Looking east from the Torne, with Bear Mountain Bridge across the Hudson River

Popolopen Torne (officially called "The Torne") is a small mountain with a relatively sharp and bald peak, part of the Hudson Highlands, with a summit 942 feet (287.12 meters) above sea level.[1] The blue-blazed, horseshoe-shaped Timp Torne trail makes a loop from Mine Torne Road to the summit and back again. Its short and steep ascent offers hikers 360° views of the Hudson River, West Point, Bear Mountain, and Harriman State Park. U.S. Route 6 passes through the valley formed between Popolopen Torne and Bear Mountain just before it reaches the Bear Mountain Bridge.

Lake Popolopen

West Point Cadet Walking on Water upon Lake Popolopen July 09
West Point cadet during summer military training on the lake

Lake Popolopen is a lake northwest of the mountain, on the West Point Military Reservation near New York State Route 293. Camp Buckner and Camp Natural Bridge are located at the lake, which is frequently used for training and recreation. The lake comprises the largest body of water at West Point, and is used for aquatic training such as scuba diving and amphibious assault.[3]

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, cadets from West Point traditionally had a three-day war game dubbed "the Battle of Popolopen" each August.[4] The lake was originally the site of a summer camp. Its waters were drawn to supply nearby mining operations.

During World War II, the Army purchased the land for exclusive military use. It adapted the remains of the summer retreat as Camp Popolopen, a POW camp for German prisoners.[5] After the war, the name was changed to Camp Buckner.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation began stocking tiger muskies in Lake Popolopen in 2011. 400 fish measuring 10.5" were stocked in 2011, and 800 fish measuring 10.5" were stocked in 2012.[6][7]

Popolopen Creek and "Hell Hole"

Pool on Popolopen Creek

Popolopen Creek—also called Popolopen Brook[3]—is a stream, fed mainly by Lake Popolopen, Mine Lake, Stillwell Lake, and Weyant's Pond, eventually draining into the Hudson River. It runs mainly through West Point and ends in a gorge between Bear Mountain and Popolopen Torne, officially called Hell Hole and popularly known, somewhat interchangeably, as Popolopen Gorge.

Local usage applies "Hell Hole" to a series of small plunge pools within this gorge, although the usage contradicts the U.S. Geological Survey maps and other widely used sources.[8][9][10][11][12]

The geologist K.E. Lowe wrote that the gorge known as Hell Hole is the result of a fault within a regional intrusion of crystalline rock called Storm King granite. He said, "Despite painstaking investigation, the writer found only one outcrop revealing direct evidence of faulting. A badly weathered, unhealed zone of crushed Storm King granite is exposed in the south wall of upper Hell Hole. Its continuation is unfortunately lost under debris from the construction of [highway] US 6 which mantles most of the Bear Mountain side of the valley." [13]

For most of its length through the gorge, the creek is narrow and extremely rocky, with fast moving rapids and several waterfalls. It can only be reached on foot and is not generally navigable by boat.

Popolopen Creek, Gorge, & Torne, Highlands, NY
Popolopen Creek with the Torne in the distance, seen from US Rte 9W bridge

The red-blazed Popolopen Gorge Trail runs along the south side of the creek to a foot bridge just south of Popolopen Torne. Here, it joins the blue-blazed Timp-Torne, 1777 West and 1779 trails. These run along the north side of the creek from Hell Hole to the bridge, with the Timp-Torne detouring over the summit of Popolopen Torne. They cross the footbridge and join the Popolopen Gorge Trail to detour around West Point property, and the combined trails turn southwest and follow the valley of Queensboro Brook.

Popolopen Bridge

Popolopen Bridge on US Route 9W

During the American Revolution, the mouth of Popolopen Creek was spanned by a pontoon bridge [2]. Much later, the road north from Hessian Lake to Fort Montgomery once crossed the lower part of the gorge by an iron bridge. The steep descents into the gorge and sharp turns onto this bridge made it dangerous for auto traffic. In 1916 the road (then Route 3, renumbered U.S. Route 9W in 1930) was rerouted over a high steel viaduct further downstream, near the site of Fort Montgomery, in 1916. Another bridge was built immediately adjacent in 1936.[14]

Called Popolopen Bridge, the 1936 structure is of the deck truss design, more than 600 feet long, 48 feet wide. It rises about 150 feet above the mouth of Popolopen Creek. As of 2000, its average daily traffic was about 18,000 vehicles. Although rehabilitation was performed in 1992, additional repairs were completed in 2007. [3] [4]. The 1916 bridge was demolished in the 1950s, although its high stone abutments remain.[15]

Popolopen Creek 9W bridge and footbridge
Popolopen Bridge and the smaller pedestrian walkway as viewed from the Bear Mountain Bridge

The William J. Moreau Popolopen Hikers Bridge https://www.instagram.com/p/B2Pci1-l_l9/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

As noted above a new footbridge (built 2002) has been constructed across the Popolopen Creek's just downstream from this bridge. The concept design of this bridge was proposed by Bruce Ramsay & Jim Hume of Cleveland Bridge Pty. Ltd. of the U.K., Cleveland Bridge were also responsible for its construction. The footbridge was designed as a suspended rope truss, which results in a very stiff bridge due to its diagonal braces. Another special feature is the fiber composite deck in lieu of a traditional timber deck for this type of structure. The fiber composite deck adds lightness, long term durability and reduced maintenance requirements. The bridge is of similar design to the Wheeling Suspension Bridge in West Virginia.


Iron mining and smelting once took place along the upper reaches of Popolopen Creek. The Forest of Dean Mine produced iron ore from the Revolutionary era into the twentieth century, and operated a narrow gauge railroad along the creek as far as the eastern slopes of Popolopen Torne. The mine site has been submerged by Stilwell Lake. Queensboro Furnace, located just above the outlet of Queensboro Brook into the creek, smelted iron during the late eighteenth century. The remains of the furnace have been preserved, as part of the grounds of the West Point Military Reservation.

The ruins of the mill, 2007

A grist mill was built in 1799 by Eugene Lucet. The Route 9W highway crossing was later constructed downriver from this.[15] A dam was built upstream in 1901, just above the old Hell Hole bridge, to improve the water supply to the mill. The dam is still intact, and water pools behind it when the creek flow exceeds that of the outlet near the bottom. This intermittent body of water is marked "Roe Pond" on some maps; at least one other pond in the area has the same name. Later converted to a hydroelectric plant, the mill building was demolished in the 1950s.[15]

An aqueduct was built on the north side of the gorge in 1906 to bring water from Queensboro Brook and Popolopen Creek to West Point.[16] Another was built on the south side in 1929–30 to supply Bear Mountain State Park with water from Queensboro Lake.[17] Repairs to the latter required the closing of the combined Popolopen Gorge–1777 West–1779–Timp-Torne trails from the fall of 2008 to spring 2009.[18]

Representation in other media


  1. ^ a b "The Torne Summit".
  2. ^ "Popolopen Torne (The Torne)".
  3. ^ a b Prezant, Robert & Chapman, Eric (2004). "Freshwater Molluscs of the United States Military Academy Drainages". Northeastern Naturalist.
  4. ^ Rudolph, J.W. (October 18, 1930). "Cadets Devote Mornings in Camp To Tactics, Evenings to Romance". The Harvard Crimson.
  5. ^ Hudson, Andy (July 2008). "Popolopen Now" (PDF). Minisceongo Yacht Club. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-12-03.
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-08-06. Retrieved 2014-02-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/23241.html
  8. ^ Walsh, James (July 23, 2008). "Gorge's Hell Hole quiet after teen's fall". The Journal News.
  9. ^ Adams, Arthur G. (1981). The Hudson, a guidebook to the river. SUNY Press. pp. 175–176. ISBN 0-87395-406-8.
  10. ^ Champlain & Hudson River Valleys. Hunter Publishing. 2003. p. 281. ISBN 1-58843-345-5.
  11. ^ Edwards Clyne, Patricia (2006). Hudson Valley faces & places. Overlook Press. p. 215. ISBN 1-58567-662-4.
  12. ^ Harriman Bear Mtn. Trails, Trail Maps 3 & 4 (Map) (10 ed.). The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. 2005.
  13. ^ K. E. Lowe, "Hell Hole", Google Scholar
  14. ^ Myles, William J. (1999). Daniel D. Chazin (ed.). Harriman Trails, A Guide and History. New York, N.Y.: The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. p. 410. ISBN 1-880775-18-2.
  15. ^ a b c Myles, William J. (1999). Daniel D. Chazin (ed.). Harriman Trails, A Guide and History. New York, N.Y.: The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. pp. 154–155. ISBN 1-880775-18-2.
  16. ^ Myles, William J. (1999). Daniel D. Chazin (ed.). Harriman Trails, A Guide and History. New York, N.Y.: The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. p. 191. ISBN 1-880775-18-2.
  17. ^ Myles, William J. (1999). Daniel D. Chazin (ed.). Harriman Trails, A Guide and History. New York, N.Y.: The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. p. 100. ISBN 1-880775-18-2.
  18. ^ "Popolopen Gorge Trail Closure". New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. Archived from the original on 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2008-08-19.
  19. ^ Truscott, Lucian K. (1978). Dress Gray. ISBN 0-385-13475-4.

External links

Anthony's Nose (Westchester County, New York)

Anthony's Nose is a peak along the Hudson River at the north end of Westchester County, New York.

Battle of Forts Clinton and Montgomery

The Battle of Forts Clinton and Montgomery was an American Revolutionary War battle fought in the highlands of the Hudson River valley, not far from West Point, on October 6, 1777. British forces under the command of General Sir Henry Clinton captured Fort Clinton and Fort Montgomery, and then dismantled the Hudson River Chain. The purpose of the attack was to create a diversion to draw American troops from the army of General Horatio Gates, whose army was opposing British General John Burgoyne's attempt to gain control of the Hudson.

The forts were garrisoned by about 600 Continental Army troops under the command of two brothers, General (and Governor of New York) George Clinton, and General James Clinton, while General Israel Putnam led additional troops at nearby Peekskill, New York. (This battle is also sometimes called the "battle of the Clintons" due to the number of participants with that name. The brothers were probably not related to Sir Henry.) Using a series of feints, Henry Clinton fooled Putnam into withdrawing most of his troops to the east, and then he landed over 2,000 troops on the west side of the Hudson to assault the two forts.

After several hours of hiking through the hilly terrain, Clinton divided his troops to stage simultaneous assaults on the two forts. Although the approach to Fort Montgomery was contested by a company armed with a small field piece, they attacked the two forts at nearly the same time and captured them after a relatively short battle. More than half the defenders were killed, wounded, or captured. The British followed up this success with raids as far north as Kingston before being recalled to New York City. The action came too late to be of any assistance to Burgoyne, who surrendered his army on October 17. The only notable consequences of the action were the casualties suffered and the British destruction of the two forts on their departure.

Bear Mountain (Hudson Highlands)

Bear Mountain is one of the best-known peaks of New York's Hudson Highlands. Located partially in Orange County in the town of Highlands and partially in Rockland County in the town of Stony Point, it lends its name to the nearby Bear Mountain Bridge and Bear Mountain State Park that contains it.

Its summit, accessible by a paved road, has several roadside viewpoints, a picnic area and an observatory, the Perkins Memorial Tower. It is crossed by several hiking trails as well, including the oldest section of the Appalachian Trail (AT). As of 2015, the AT across Bear Mountain is continuing to be improved by the New York–New Jersey Trail Conference to minimize erosion and improve accessibility and sustainability as part of a project to rebuild and realign the trail that began in 2006.The steep eastern face of the mountain overlooks the Hudson River. The eastern side of the mountain consists of a pile of massive boulders, often the size of houses, that culminate in a 50-foot (15 m) cliff face at approximately the 1,000-foot (300 m) level. A direct scramble from the shore of Hessian Lake to Perkins Memorial Drive on the summit requires a gain of about 1,000 feet (300 m) in roughly 0.8 miles (1.3 km). From the summit, one can see as far as Manhattan, and the monument on High Point in New Jersey.

Bear Mountain Bridge

The Bear Mountain Bridge, ceremonially named the Purple Heart Veterans Memorial Bridge, is a toll suspension bridge in New York State. It carries US 6/US 202 across the Hudson River between Rockland/Orange Counties and Westchester/Putnam Counties. From the time of its completion in 1924 it held the record for the longest suspension bridge in the world for 19 months, until it was surpassed by the Benjamin Franklin Bridge between Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. The Bear Mountain Bridge has an unconventional structure among suspension bridges; though the main span hangs from cables in the usual manner, the side spans leading to the approaches are supported by trusswork, drawing no support from the cables above, similar to the Williamsburg Bridge.

The span enables connections to the Palisades Interstate Parkway and US 9W on the west bank near Bear Mountain Inn to New York State Route 9D (NY 9D) on the east. It also carries the Appalachian Trail and New York State Bicycle Route 9 across the Hudson.

The bridge has two lanes, separated by a dividing double yellow line. Pedestrian walkways flank each lane. Bicycling is permitted on the roadway; cyclists may walk their bikes on the pedestrian walkway.

Cornish Hill

Cornish Hill is a small mountain chain, made of two main elevations the tallest being 2,231 feet (680 m). Cornish Hill is located in the Central New York region of New York southeast Cooperstown, New York.

Dunderberg Mountain

Dunderberg Mountain is a 1,086 feet (331 m) mountain on the west bank of the Hudson River at the southern end of the Hudson Highlands. It lies just above Jones Point, New York, within Bear Mountain State Park and the town of Stony Point in Rockland County, New York.

Dunderberg (also historically Donderberg) is a Dutch word, meaning "thunder mountain," so called by the early Dutch settlers because of the frequent thunderstorms in the vicinity.

Fort Clinton

Fort Clinton was an American Revolutionary War fort erected by the Continental Army on the west bank of the Hudson River in 1776.

Fort Montgomery (Hudson River)

Fort Montgomery is a fortification built on the west bank of the Hudson River in Highlands, New York by the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Erected in 1776, Fort Montgomery was one of the first major investments by the Americans in strategic construction projects.

Declared a National Historic Landmark, it is part of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, owned and operated by the state of New York as the Fort Montgomery State Historic Site.

Hal Moore

Harold Gregory "Hal" Moore Jr. (February 13, 1922 – February 10, 2017) was a United States Army lieutenant general and author. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. military's second-highest decoration for valor, and was the first of his West Point class (1945) to be promoted to brigadier general, major general, and lieutenant general.

Moore is remembered as the lieutenant colonel in command of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, at the Battle of Ia Drang in 1965, during the Vietnam War. The battle was detailed in the 1992 bestseller We Were Soldiers Once… and Young co-authored by Moore and made into the film We Were Soldiers in 2002, which starred Mel Gibson as Moore; Moore was the "honorary colonel" of the regiment.

In 2007, Moore's volunteer driver wrote a book on Moore's personal religious journey titled A General's Spiritual Journey. In 2013, author Mike Guardia published the first full-length biography of Moore's life and career titled Hal Moore: A Soldier Once...and Always.

In 2017, Moore's family and author Mike Guardia published, Hal Moore on Leadership: Winning When Outgunned and Outmanned, a book wherein Moore chronicles his leadership principles and strategies for success.

Moore was awarded the Order of Saint Maurice by the National Infantry Association as well as the Distinguished Graduate Award by the West Point Association of Graduates.

Hell Hole

Hell Hole or Hellhole may refer to:

Gates of hell

Hudson Highlands

The Hudson Highlands are mountains on both sides of the Hudson River in New York state lying primarily in Putnam County on its east bank and Orange County on its west. They continue somewhat to the south in Westchester County and Rockland County, respectively.

North to south they fall between Newburgh Bay and Haverstraw Bay, the latter forming the northern region of the New York - New Jersey Highlands.

The Hudson River enters this region in the south at Dunderberg Mountain near Stony Point, and from the north in the vicinity of Breakneck Ridge and Storm King Mountain near Cornwall, New York. These highlands played a significant role in America's military, cultural and environmental history.

Hudson River Chain

The Hudson River Chain was two chain booms and two chevaux de frise constructed from 1776 to 1778 during the American Revolutionary War across the Hudson River as defenses to prevent British naval vessels from sailing upriver. These defenses along the Hudson River were overseen by the Highlands Department of the Continental Army. The most significant and successful was the Great Chain, constructed from West Point in 1778, and used through 1782 after the war's end. The huge links for the chains were forged at iron works in Orange County, New York.

Jackass Hill

Jackass Hill is a mountain located in Central New York Region of New York east of Erieville, New York. Tuscarora Lake is located to the northwest of Jackass Hill.

Lake Tiorati

Lake Tiorati is one of the seven main lakes in Harriman State Park, located in Orange County, New York. It is a man-made lake, created by dredging swampland and constructing a concrete dam. The name Tiorati means "Blue like Sky".Its name is the Algonquin word for "sky-like".

List of monuments at the United States Military Academy

The United States Military Academy (USMA) is a federal service academy located at West Point, New York that educates and commissions officers for the United States Army. The Academy was formally founded in 1802 and graduated its first class in October of the same year. It is the oldest of the five American service academies. Due to the academy's age and its unique purpose of producing Army officers, it is home to many monuments and memorials, the oldest dating back to the early 19th century, shortly after the academy's founding. The oldest monument is the Cadet Monument, dedicated in 1818 and located in the West Point Cemetery, while the newest is the Flight Memorial, located just north of Lusk Reservoir and dedicated in 1992.

List of mountains of New York (state)

There are three major mountain ranges in New York: the Adirondack Mountains, the Catskill Mountains, and part of the Appalachian Mountains.

Mid Atlantic water resource region

The Mid Atlantic water resource region is one of 21 major geographic areas, or regions, in the first level of classification used by the United States Geological Survey to divide and sub-divide the United States into successively smaller hydrologic units. These geographic areas contain either the drainage area of a major river, or the combined drainage areas of a series of rivers.The Mid Atlantic region, which is listed with a 2-digit hydrologic unit code (HUC) of 02, has an approximate size of 106,334 square miles (275,400 square kilometers), and consists of 8 subregions, which are listed with the 4-digit HUCs 0201 through 0208.

This region includes the drainage within the United States that ultimately discharges into: (a) the Atlantic Ocean within and between the states of New York and Virginia; (b) Long Island Sound south of the New York-Connecticut State Line; and (c) the Riviere Richelieu, a tributary of the St. Lawrence River. It includes all of Delaware and New Jersey and

the District of Columbia, and parts of Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Reading Prong

The Reading Prong is a physiographic subprovince of the New England Uplands section of the New England province of the Appalachian Highlands. The prong consists of mountains made up of crystalline metamorphic rock.

St. Mark's Episcopal Church (Fort Montgomery, New York)

St. Mark's Episcopal Church is located on US 9W in the hamlet of Fort Montgomery, New York, United States. It is a small building in the Tudorbethan architectural style, with random stone and lancet stained glass windows on either side.It was built in 1923 in anticipation of the completion of the Bear Mountain Bridge and the bridge over Popolopen Creek to the south. It served the many weekend travelers and vacationers who came into the area once it became more accessible when those bridges opened the next year. In 1982 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Hudson Highlands Multiple Resource Area multiple property submission.

Adirondack Mountains
Catskill Mountains
Hudson Highlands
Taconic Mountains
Hudson River watershed

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