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Saturday, June 15, 2024

The Footbridge Walks Off With $70k Grant 

Blairstown’s footbridge has stood tall through all kinds of weather Photo by Joe Phalon.

Plans are afoot for Blairstown to get started with the restoration of its historic footbridge over the Paulins Kill in Footbridge Park with a grant to fund the first step. 

The grant of $70,189 will pay for a professional restoration plan for the pedestrian bridge that links the park with Blairstown Village. The funding comes from the Municipal and Charitable Conservancy Trust Fund, which is financed by Warren County’s Open Space Trust.

Six grants totaling $500,477 were awarded to local nonprofits and municipalities for open space and historic preservation projects received unanimous approval from the Warren County Board of County Commissioners.

While structurally safe, the three overwater spans were deemed to be in poor condition by a professional engineer. Other bridge elements are also in need of repair. Restoration of the historic footbridge will ultimately be a multi-phase project as guided by the professional restoration plan.

The bridge, known simply as “The Footbridge,” has been a vital link between the Village neighborhood of Blairstown and the rest of the world. The bridge was installed in 1893 by John I. Blair, the town’s namesake, a 19th century railroad baron who lived most of his life in Blairstown. 

Its original purpose was to link the Village with the railroad station of Blairstown Railway, later the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad. Into the early part of the 20th century, it served as the primary means of communication and travel beyond Blairstown. The telegraph connected the town with the nation and most mail arrived by rail. 

By the early 1960s, as highways proliferated, the railroad was abandoned and torn up. The town bought the railroad property, and in 1976 Footbridge Park was created on the site of the old railroad yards. Today, The Footbridge again connects Blairstown with travelers, now cyclists and hikers visiting the Village from the Paulinskill Valley Trail on the old railroad grade. 

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.