Historic Herkimer Meth Encampment

road to historic Herkimer meth-making enampment
Dirt road from East State St., Herkimer, that passes both the historic Herkimer meth-making encampment and the road to the well-known Herkimer Meth bridge. (Opposite side of the cornfield, seen in the distance.)
Historic Herkimer meth making encampmen
Historic Herkimer meth-making encampment, just off East State Street in Herkimer.
Herkimer - Discarded child's clothing near historic Herkimer Meth Encampment
Herkimer – Discarded child’s clothing, entrance to dirt road (CSX access road). It’s just off of the south side NY RT 5, where RT 5 crosses West Canada Creek.
Historic Herkimer Meth Encampment
Map to historic meth encampment

Tips on your Historic Herkimer Meth Encampment adventure tour

While things are much quieter here in south Herkimer Village than they’ve probably been in the last decade, it’s not too late to see a historic Herkimer meth encampment. As you drive along Route 5 from the commercial center of Herkimer east towards Little Falls and just before you cross the bridge over West Canada Creek, you’ll see a dirt road on the right. After a hundred feet or so, it passes an earthen flood control barrier on the left. Walk along the top of the barrier in the direction of the old Herkimer Trolley Bridge for just a few yards, then head down the slope to the right continuing towards an area of ancient gnarled trees and brambles. Nestled within you’ll see a tarp, sleeping bag, child’s blanket, empty jar, part of a chair, and sheltered wood dry for a new fire.

Imagine what it was like camping here, and how visible it would have been from the main road to any folks driving between Herkimer and Lowe’s and glancing towards south, and of course from the score of windows of Herkimer’s high-rise Nathan Galinsky apartments, a few hundred yards the other side of the dirt road. 

don’t miss the herkimer meth bridge and herkimer’s historic crack house

After touring the old meth encampment, continue on down the dirt road about 1/4 of a mile, and turn left onto the cornfield road. At its end lies the eerie Herkimer Meth Bridge. And if your schedule permits, round out your Herkimer narcotics tour with a visit to the historic Herkimer Crack House, just a few minutes away at 318 Pleasant Avenue. Herkimer’s welcoming crack house keeper’s always happy to chat with passersby.

more photos of the historic herkimer meth encampment

Historic Herkimer Meth Encampment kid's clothing
Abandoned child’s pullover, near historic Herkimer Meth Encampment.
historic herkimer meth encampment
Looking south toward Herkimer Village cornfield. Historic Herkimer Meth encampment is in trees to the left. The Herkimer Meth Bridge is just the other side of the cornfield.
Historic Herkimer Meth Making Encampment
Historic Herkimer Meth Making Encampment lies between the trees.
Historic Herkimer Meth Making Encampment
Historic Herkimer Meth Making Encampment.
Historic Herkimer Meth Encampment kid's stuff
Abandoned child’s possessions at Historic Herkimer Meth Encampment

Historic Herkimer Meth Encampment Historic Herkimer Meth Making Encampment Historic Herkimer Meth Making Encampment Historic Herkimer Meth Making Encampment Historic Herkimer Meth Making Encampment

Herkimer’s Historic Crack House Keeper

by Stephen Ames Berry

Herkimer New York now proudly numbers among its historic gems a reputed former crack house, complete with a crack house keeper.

Fomer Herkimer crack house at 318 Pleasant Avenue. It has a crack house keeper
Reputed former crack house at 318 Pleasant Avenue Herkimer, NY, empty now except for its caretaker.

318’s a big dilapidated multifamily house, sold this past June and   emptied of all, or so we thought–until the crack house keeper emerged during one of our recent morning walks and belligerently tumbled into our camera lens. One of his roles is apparently to serve as a still-living example to visitors and passersby of the destruction caused by drug addiction. (Apologies for the video quality–I was holding an 84 lb Chow with my free hand. Bear’s always juiced by the scents around 318. It’s her favorite sniffing spot in the ‘hood since suddenly-vanished Douglas Barton’s garage at 333 Pleasant Avenue burned down.)

The crack house keeper abuses one of us with “Dance for me granny!” He seems to be accusing us of photographing “us.”(?)  (We weren’t photographing that morning, but were delighted to do so. Our cameras are always thirsty.)

The keeper’s speech is rambling and sometimes slurred, his cognition and critical thinking skills seemingly impaired. He’s either a drug addict or superbly playing the role. With our next door neighbor Curtis Cool gone, Herkimer’s street harassment’s fallen to him.

Herkimer’s Crack House Keeper Brags of his Criminal history

The lad brags of his criminal history and having foiled the law. He appeared to blame us for the long overdue scrutiny Herkimer is receiving from federal and state counter-narcotics authorities and their surveillance drones. And for our having a video-centric, crime-focused Herkimer website. At first he says he doesn’t believe in drones. Then says you can buy them at Walmart. (Yeah, but not the type watching over Sparky here and his chums.) The source of whatever pathetic money he may have once made hustling drugs from Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue has been snuffed out by ongoing state and federal law enforcement operations. (He does shares my perception of the efficacy of the Herkimer Police. )

crack house keeper’s camera-shy Woman

Not shown in the clip is a stocky gray-hooded figure, who carefully kept off camera–she’s one of neighboring Melodie Schulze’s associates. She may have stiffened the lad’s desire to harass us. Melodie Schulze herself, strangely absent from the street she usually haunts, was our first Pleasant Avenue neighbor to greet us after we moved to Herkimer.

We wish 318 Pleasant Avenue better times under it’s new owner, whose name we’re unearthing. Under all that grime is a capacious 19th century house that could again serve as a home for Herkimer’s hardworking, law-abiding families.

Looking up

A few hours after we parted from the crack house keeper, I heard helicopters. Lots. Looking up, I saw 5 identical gray helicopters in close formation passing over Herkimer Village, headed quickly north. If you’re unfortunate enough not to live in our pastoral village, all that’s north of us are a few smaller villages and then the Great North Woods of the Southern Adirondacks. Some of our more prosperous local criminals relax at their “camps” up there: nice rural acreage with one or more permanent structures. (A camp with a babbling brook is preferred.)

Hard to believe, but none of the helicopters looked like this:

walmart-helicopter

“Some people have no chance.”

As for Herkimer’s crack house keeper, he reminds me a bit of Nick, after he’d become a drug addict, in and out of jail. One of my high school behavior students, Nick was a gifted artist and a fine poet from a horrific home who bested all of tony Sarasota’s entitled older teens to take first prize in the county’s annual poetry contest. Nick died of a fentanyl overdose a few years ago. He was 24.  As my old friend Crazy the Spy once said in a very different context, “Some people have no chance.”

Nightmare Along The Mohawk – The Herkimer Meth Bridge Part 3

by Stephen Ames Berry

The Herkimer Meth Bridge incident Part 3.  Part 1 tells how we stumbled upon a meth cook site beneath a major railway bridge in Herkimer NY and what we did about it. The bridge carries about 1,000 chemical tanker cars a day. Part 2 of the Herkimer Meth Bridge showed the initial massive state and federal response. In Part 3, you’ll see why there was such a massive response and what’s been done to safeguard the rails and lives and, as a wise man wrote, “Make Herkimer Safe Again.”

HARBINGER OF DEATH – THE DOT-111 CHEMICAL TANKER CAR

Surviving DOT-111 railway cars at Lac Megantic train explosion site
Surviving DOT-111 railway cars at Lac Megantic, Quebec train explosion site. Prior to the derailment they’d been detached from the other 63 DOT-111 cars that did explode .

The  2013 Lac-Mégantic, Quebec rail disaster was caused by the explosion of 63 derailed DOT-111 chemical cars carrying six million liters of petroleum crude oil. 47 people were killed and half the town destroyed. Lava-like streams of burning crude oil spread fire and more death through the town’s sewers.

lac_megantic-burning-day-after-dot111-chemical-cars-explosion
Police helicopter view of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec the day after the rail disaster.

 DOT-111 SODA POP CAN CHEMICAL CARS

dot111 chemical car derailment rockford llinois 2009
Aftermath of the 2009 Rockford, Il train derailment and explosion. Of 119 DOT-111 cars, 18 derailed, 13 were breached and caught fire. All carried denatured fuel ethanol. The train was traveling at 38 mph. There were fatalities and injures and the town was evacuated. (NTSB photo)

The DOT-111 chemical tanker car is the fragile workhorse of the chemical refinery industry. There are 272,000 DOT-111’s in service in the United States, comprising 67% of the US rail tanker fleet. 171,000 of them transport hazardous materials. The DOT-111 is highly susceptible to corrosion and containment failure. All models are notoriously fragile–critics call them “soda pop cans.”

Each car can carry 20,000+ gallons (78,200 L). The newer DOT-11A100W1 can weigh as much as 263,000 pounds (119,000 kg) when full.  They transport a witch’s brew of poisonous and volatile chemicals over our neglected, rickety national railway infrastructure. The DOT-111 is always a disaster waiting to happen.

My conservative guess is that over a thousand chemical tanker cars a day, most of them DOT-111’s, cross the CSX railway bridge over Herkimer’s West Canada Creek. The trains are frequent, often several an hour, and long, sometimes with as many as 100 DOT-111’s or other chemical tankers per train, sometimes just a few buffered by regular freight cars. The CSX line that traverses the Herkimer Meth Bridge is the major east-west rail conduit to and from the Northeastern United States.

WHAT’S IN THE TANKer CARS?

According to Pollution Law Watch, besides crude oil, the DOT-111 transports radioactive material, explosives, and some of the most toxic chemicals on earth… among them methyl bromide, ethyl trichlorosilane, methanol, sodium chlorate, sulfuric acid, chlorine, toluene, diisocyanate. Several are fatal if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Many if spilled have a recommended evacuation radius of 5-10 miles.

(Assuming a derailment at the Herkimer Meth Bridge, that would be at least Herkimer, East Herkimer, Mohawk, Little Falls and a large stretch of the New York State Turnpike. and the Erie Canal.)

graniteville_derailment_aerial_overview
Cloud of deadly chlorine gas spreads from a single breached DOT-111 chemical tanker car across Graniteville, SC. 60,000 tons of gas were dispersed.

In a 2005 train wreck in Graniteville, SC, a single derailed DOT-111 tank car carrying 90 tons of chlorine released 60 tons of chlorine gas, killing 9 residents, injuring another 250 and forcing the evacuation of 5,400 people for two weeks:

graniteville-train-wreck-dot-111-gas-release
Breached DOT-111 chemical tanker car that spewed 60,000 tons of deadly chlorine gas across Graniteville, SC lies amid other derailed cars.

Amid the heap of derailed railway cars above lies the breached DOT-111 chemical tanker car that spewed 60,000 tons of deadly chlorine gas across Graniteville, SC.

Derailment of any chemical tanker car anywhere can wreak havoc, destroying lives, property and the environment. The degree of devastation is determined by the volume and type of chemicals released, which depends upon the number of chemical tanker cars involved. In the horrific Lac Megantic disaster, six million liters of crude petroleum oil from 63 DOT-111 cars killed 47 and destroyed half the town. In Granitesville, one DOT-111 tanker car breach gassed 9 residents to death and injured 250. Both incidents occurred on land with no direct impact on watercourses. Here in Central New York, though, our major east-west railway line often parallels the Erie Canal and the Mohawk River:

csx-rail-lines-central-new-york-state
CSX Rail Lines Central New York State

The Herkimer Meth Bridge and Tanker car CATASTROPHE

223 mile marker

Here’s a 82 car DOT-111 chemical tanker train carrying methanol as it approaches the CSX railway bridge over Herkimer’s West Canada Creek at the 223 mile marker. Note the red flammable gas warning placard on the lower right.

Herkimer’s methamphetamine cooks aren’t Walter White and Jesse. Assume a night’s meth cook beneath the Herkimer Meth Bridge had gone wrong. And an explosion beneath the bridge triggered a derailment of a similar chemical tanker train. How many cars could have tumbled into the creek?

There are no online specs of the West Canada Creek railway bridge’s span. But just upstream is the much loved and long abandoned Herkimer Trolley bridge, which is 1,023.5 feet long. The bridges appear to be approximately the same length.

The Herkimer Trolley Bridge and the West Canada Creek Railway Bridge

Herkimer Trolley Bridge (just below Rt. 5 highway bridge), and West Canada Creek railway bridge (bottom).

 

dot-111-chemical-tank-car
Unexploded DOT-111 chemical tanker car.

The average DOT-111A chemical tanker car is 45 ft long. Given the bridge’s span, 22 chemical tanker cars could be on it when a derailment occurred. Most would tumble into West Canada Creek.

Given the DOT-111’s horrific history, many if not all the cars would breach, potentially spewing 484,000 gallons, or 15,242 tons of toxic chemicals into Herkimer’s air and water. Other DOT-111 cars that fell onto the embankments would also breach. The immediate nature and extent of the disaster in the Herkimer area would depend upon the cars’ contents: explosion, fire, poison gas or all three are possible. Whatever the outcome, it wouldn’t be pretty. And the rest of the hellish stuff would quickly flow 1/2 mile down the fast-moving West Canada into the Mohawk River and from there on into the Hudson River. It wouldn’t be the BP Oil spill, but the Hudson’s not the Gulf of Mexico.

Hudson-River-from-the-Poughkeepsie
The Hudson River seen from the Poughkeepsie Bridge

The Hudson River Watershed

Of the 65 major tributaries of the Hudson River, the Mohawk River is the largest, entering the Hudson near Albany. The Hudson River Watershed is comprised of 11 major sub-watersheds that drain approximately 13,400 square miles. About 60% of the water in the watershed is used for commercial or industrial purposes and is home to about 5 million people. Such a massive toxic spill would destroy marine ecologies and impact the health and livelihoods of the 5 million people who live in the Hudson River Watershed for a very long time.
hudson-river-watersheds

the herkimer meth bridge today

1005160930

The good news: since last winter law enforcement action at the Herkimer Meth Bridge, the bridge h1005160931as seen a lot of much-needed rail bed improvement, and upgraded electronic safety features.

The bridge is also the benficiary of more boots on the ground and eyes in the skies over Herkimer. And Herkimer’s itself is the beneficiary of an expanded policy enabling the domestic use of drone surveillance.

Most nights you can see several drones on station over West Canada Creek near the railway bridge, with others patrolling through the sky in every-changing surveillance patterns. Sometimes they hover lower, as one did last night in the vicinity of  Herkimer’s Eureka Avenue. (They don’t have to leave their navigation lights on. And probably sometimes don’t. That’s just a friendly hello. )

why herkimer has surveillance drones

Quadcopter in dronebox
Quadcopter drone nested in a remote solar-powered recharging drone box. H3 Dynamics photo.

It’s not just the bridge incident. That was but symptomatic of the anarchy spawned by Herkimer’s lawlessness and its rich tradition of failed governance.

herkimer government inaction
The 3 Wise Monkeys of Herkimer

It’s made the Village of Herkimer a pirate haven harboring all sorts of criminals, notably narcotics and child traffickers. Then came the threat of mass destruction posed by a potential rail disaster, mindlessly touched off by Herkimer’s cop-coddled criminals. So Herkimer is now guarded by drones. Lots of them.

Depending on the type of drone, operators can track up to 65 different targets across a distance of 65 square miles. Drone cameras have infrared, complemented by heat sensors, motion detectors and automated license plate readers. Military and police drones integrated with facial recognition technology and multiple databases make it possible to remotely identify persons of interest.

the battle for herkimer

The battle for the Herkimer Meth Bridge was but part of the battle for Herkimer and the future of New York. From a broader perspective, New York appears to be aggregating resources to Central New York in anticipation of climate change driving industry and people inland and north. Worldwide, we’re facing the largest migration of populations since the collapse of the Roman Empire. Our region has a wealth of natural resources. Herkimer’s strategic location astride principal transportation routes with quick access to major metropolitan areas are what attracted the organized crime and now, the state and federal governments. The team with the biggest stick wins. Care to bet?

The deadly, immortal dot-111 chemical tanker car

Sadly, the DOT-111 chemical tanker cars that could wipe us all out in a few chaotic moments will continue rolling along as the oil industry and refiners fight proposed safety changes.  If you live near a major railway line as we do, you might want to buy a gas mask.

The Herkimer Post would like to thank the officers of the New York State Police and agents of the US Department of Homeland Security, without whose vigilance and dedication to duty this series would not have been written. Also a grand tip of the hat  to Night Court and Trapper Ron. 

 

Nightmare Along The Mohawk – The Herkimer Meth Bridge Part 2

by Stephen Ames Berry

Part 2 of a 3 part series, Nightmare Along the Mohawk – The Herkimer Meth Bridge. Part 1 tells of our discovery of a methamphetamine cook site beneath a major railway bridge spanning West Canada Creek in Herkimer NY. The bridge is about 1/2 mile from where West Canada Creek meets the Mohawk River, and 1/4 mile from Herkimer Village.

“Ice is nice and will suffice” Robert Frost, Fire and Ice

Despite Night Court’s warning to stay out of the woods, a few days after alerting the New York State Police to the danger, we set out to return to West Canada Creek and the Herkimer Meth Bridge. It’s a ten minute walk from our home in Herkimer Village’s Camera House.

Despite it being mid-winter, there was only a dusting of snow. Bear leading the way, we turned from the CSX access road and onto the cornfield road that goes to the bridge. And stopped, confronted by an alien landscape. Neither we nor anyone else was getting to that bridge until after the Spring thaw:

Herkimer Meth bridge access blocked
Freshly laid ice carpet block access to Herkimer Meth Bridge, seen at right

The ice was neatly sculpted, as became more apparent when a few months later it began to melt:

Neatly sculpted ice blocking the road to the Herkimer Meth Bridge.
Neatly sculpted ice blocking the road to the Herkimer Meth Bridge (Photo taken mid-Spring)

The other side of the bridge had been given the same treatment, preventing land access from the south:

Ice barrier applied to south side of Herkimer Meth Bridge
Ice barrier applied to south side of Herkimer Meth Bridge

Only a few days before, an unharvested field of corn had filled the huge cornfield. The corn was gone. The field looked as though it had hosted tank maneuvers:

Freshly harvested cornfield on access road to the Herkimer Meth Bridge
Freshly harvested cornfield on access road to the Herkimer Meth Bridge

Folks who hadn’t recently ventured over to the village’s cornfield road told us the ice was a natural occurrence–West Canada Creek was subject to flooding that would often lay swathes of ice along its banks.

If this was the river god in action, he’d perfectly laid out the ice along the road, paralleling the tree line and the flood control levee. And he’d used some truly impressive equipment.

Herkimer meth bridge giant tire tracks
Bear examines giant tire tracks along cornfield road
Herkimer meth bridge more giant tire tracks
Different giant tire tracks leading toward the Herkimer Meth Bridge. The walking stick is 5 feet long
turnaround-area-for-very-big-vehicles-clearnng-up-herkimer-meth-bridge
Turnaround point for very big vehicles at end of CSX access road from Herkimer’s East State Street.

Other areas of cover and concealment near the cornfield road had also been scrubbed:

undergrowth near Herkimer Meth Bridge scrubbed
Area of undergrowth removed by heavy equipment adjacent to CSX access road from East State Street and cornfield road leading to the Herkimer Meth Bridge.

“So what happens when the ice melts?” I asked Night Court when I sent him some of these pictures. He replied, “Bear looks perplexed.”

After the ice melted the bridge sprouted earthworks, blocking vehicular access:

earthworks-herkimer-meth-bridge
Earthworks defending the Herkimer Meth Bridge

the hammer of god quickly falls

The response to the threat was on the order of the Hammer of God. We were astounded by its scope and speed and the resources it must have required. It may have been drawn from a contingency plan, but there’s many a slip between plan and execution. It was a rapid, meticulous and flawlessly executed, multi-agency effort, probably involving the State of New York, the Federal government and possibly the Army Corp of Engineers.

The law enforcement agencies responsible knew what was traveling across that bridge day and night: the angel of death of the rails, the DOT-111 chemical tanker car. Hundreds of them roll across the Herkimer Meth Bridge every day. No wonder the Big Red Button was pushed.

dot111 chemical car derailment rockford llinois 2009the Series concludes with:

Nightmare Along The Mohawk – The Herkimer Meth Bridge Part 3

 

Nightmare Along The Mohawk – The Herkimer Meth Bridge Part 1

by Stephen Ames Berry

Late January of this year in Central New York was unusually mild. Linda, dog Bear and I were happy to continue our morning walks in and around historic Herkimer Village.

On one of those winter walks, we discovered Herkimer’s abundant drug traffickers and manufacturers had also taken advantage of the nice weather to cook and distribute meth from beneath the safety of a major CSX railway bridge. The bridge passes over West Canada Creek, about 1/4 mile from its confluence with the Mohawk River. It carries about a thousand chemical tanker cars a day. The criminals had no idea and even less concern for the catastrophe they could have unleashed.

CSX Railway Tracks Crossing Bridge Over West Canada Creek Herkimer
CSX Railway Tracks Crossing Bridge Over West Canada Creek Herkimer

Drug traffickers had been largely absent from Pleasant Avenue, Herkimer’s principal drug street, since mid-November, after we published a series of videos documenting and analyzing one night’s drug trafficking along Pleasant Avenue, and shared it with the New York State Police. (With the drug traffickers mostly gone, Pleasant Avenue is again looking pleasant.)

Herkimer Meth Bridge area

The area around the railway bridge is not the Great North Wood. It lies within the boundaries of the Village of Herkimer and within the jurisdiction of the Herkimer Police.

West Canada Creek Herkimer approaching confluence with Mohawk River after passing beneath the Herkimer Meth Bridge
West Canada Creek approaching confluence with the Mohawk River after passing beneath the Herkimer Meth Bridge

A well-traveled public path runs beneath the bridge, paralleling West Canada Creek and a few hundred yards later, both it and the Mohawk River, moving down a narrowing spit of land between the two to their confluence, known locally as The Point. (West Canada Creek at the bridge is wider than many rivers.)

Meeting point of West Canada Creek and Mohawk River Herkimer NY
West Canada Creek (left) meets the Mohawk River at The Point, Herkimer, NY

herkimer meth makers move – a bit

Driven from Herkimer Village by the state and the feds, Herkimer’s meth makers had brazenly set up a semi-permanent encampment in plain sight of the public path, hidden from aerial observation by the CSX railroad bridge. As the Herkimer Police had never troubled them in the village itself, their only concern would have been the New York State Police and the DEA, who probably relied heavily on aerial observation for activities outside the village.

The path under the bridge gets a lot of foot traffic–it’s the remains of an old road predating the Erie Canal, and a pleasant walk or easy ATV drive  to The Point. Herkimites have long known to mind their own business when signs of drug and child trafficking appear, or risk an intimidating visit from the Herkimer Police or nighttime visits from neighbors.  And despite its closeness to the village proper, no one goes to the CSX railway bridge area after dark.

For ease of transport, the bridge could be quickly reached by vehicle from Herkimer’s East State Street via a dirt road running past an adjacent cornfield and flood control levee. We’d noticed the tent shown in the below photo for about a month, but hadn’t given it much mind. It was just another feature of the desolation zone near the railway bridge, a bleak and eerie place scattered with the derbies of stunted lives and failed hopes.

herkimer’s eerie desolation zone

Early Morning Fog Near West Canada Creek at Herkimer Meth Bridge
Early morning fog near West Canada Creek at the Herkimer Meth Bridge
Headless Horseman Tree near the Herkimer Meth Bridge Herkimer NY
“Headless Horseman Tree” near the Herkimer Meth Bridge
One of several abandoned piles of clothes near the Herkimer NY Meth Bridge
One of several abandoned piles of clothes near the Herkimer Meth Bridge
Abandoned shelter Herkimer along path between Herkimer Meth Bridge and meeting point of West Canada Creek and the Mohawk River Herkimer
Abandoned shelter along path between the Herkimer Meth Bridge and meeting point of West Canada Creek and the Mohawk River

Herkimer meth bridge encampment

When we’d last noticed the tent, there’d been no large plastic tarp, no translucent storage box filled with what appeared to small plastic envelopes of some crystalline substance, nor discards typically used in methamphetamine production. bridge-13Whatever heat source was used for a night’s meth cook could have easily been removed by pickup truck.

meth-tent-and-box

We didn’t look to see if there was anyone in the tent, but thought if we opened the plastic box, we might find out. We’d seen identical boxes confiscated by the New York State Police during an early morning drug raid on Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue.  Also, it seemed likely someone might soon be by to pick up the box of valuable goods. So we left.

Exchange with the New York State Police

I emailed a narrative and a raft of photos of the encampment to the New York State Police command center in Albany. I noted that one of the photos indicated possible scorching of an adjacent concrete bridge abutment, adding:

The bridge is well-built and itself probably impervious to a typical meth explosion, IMO.  But any explosion under the bridge could trigger catastrophic consequences: e.g., a panicked train operator jamming on the brakes at an explosion and the sight of [fire] erupting from beneath the bridge could trigger a derailment. As you’re aware, hundreds of tanker cars filled with deadly, highly volatile chemicals cross that bridge daily. Were one or more of them to fall into West Canada Creek so near its confluence with the Mohawk, it could cause an environmental cataclysm from here down to NYC. Our village leaders often speak of “putting Herkimer on the map.” That would do it. 

hudson-river-watershed

The state police quickly replied, asking me not to say anything until they could deploy resources. Which they did. I’ve kept silent till now, but if you look up at night sky you’ll see a solution is in place, providing comprehensive surveillance of the bridge, local waterways and Herkimer.

Night Court

I sent a  copy of my email to the state police and the photos to an old friend from Army Intelligence, Night Court. (“Some justice is best meted out in the dark.”)

Night Court has a key role in US counter-terrorism. I thought he should know that while all eyes are elsewhere, meth heads in Herkimer New York

old army friends
Old Army photo. Berry and Night Court. NC still has his goose feathers. My ex tossed mine.

had put a major railway bridge and the Hudson River watershed at risk of an ecological 9/11. What damage, I asked, could people who knew what they were doing cause? “It’s the Wild West here. Deadwood had more law and order than Herkimer. And it’s the backdoor to NYC and the rest of America.”

I was confident that the New York State Police and DEA would deal with immediate threat with their usual efficiency, but release of counter-terrorism funds–a bottomless treasure chest–to expand their operations might help provide the resources necessary for a permanent solution. Not that they’d be shy to ask, but if anyone could help catalyze that, it would be Night Court. The US takes any threat to its rail and waterways very seriously, especially since 9/11, and the Herkimer Meth Bridge represented both.

Night Court wrote back:
You might want to invest in a MAC 10. That’s dangerous work for someone of our age. [He has long enjoyed pushing my buttons.]
Speak for yourself, Night Court! I’m not entirely convinced you’re always in that nice office.
There seems to be a notion that we dodder about in the woods, looking for stuff. We don’t. Those pictures were taken along a popular trail from the village to the point of land where West Canada Creek and the Mohawk meet. It’s about a ½ mile from our home and Herkimer Village proper.

I added that we would be going back along that public trail to the bridge in a few days. And nothing, as our neighbors can attest, stops us from asserting our right of way.

Only later did I wonder if Night Court had known what we’d be walking into.

Nightmare Along The Mohawk – The Herkimer Meth Bridge Part 2