The railroad bridge was completed in 1889 and had two tracks, so rail traffic could easily go both ways. The bridge soared over 200 feet above the water, and was almost 7,000 feet long. There are approach viaducts on either side that add another 4,000 feet in length.
The railroad ties on the bridge caught fire in 1974. Burning debris rained down on the Poughkeepsie side of the bridge. After years of finger pointing, squabbling over insurance payments, and failure to pay taxes, the bridge was deeded over to a private group and the vision for a "Walkway Over the Hudson" was conceived in 1998. In 2009 conversion work was completed and the walkway was opened to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
The approach viaduct reaches almost a mile into the city of Poughkeepsie.