Revisiting The Herkimer Meth Bridge: A Walk to The Point

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Stephen Ames Berry and Linda J. Kaidan

Fog shrouded Herkimer meth bridge 2016
The Herkimer Meth Bridge 2016- Fog shrouds methamphetamine site under Herkimer railway bridge. West Canada Creek, Herkimer Village 9/16/16

Section 1 – by Stephen Ames Berry

It’s been almost four years since our Herkimer Meth Bridge series.  In it we reported our discovery of a methamphetamine production and distribution  encampment lying along a public path in Herkimer Village, beneath the CSX railway bridge on the west bank of West Canada Creek. It was open, brazen and a danger to rail traffic, the village and waterways. We reported it to the state police in Albany. In part two of the series, we covered the vigorous law enforcement response to interdict drug trafficking from West Canada Creek. In part three, we speculated on the disaster that could happen if a tanker train derailed into West Canada Creek. It wasn’t pretty.

The Point – In Herkimer Village, where the Mohawk River meets West Canada Creek. CSX railway bridge spans the creek.

And there we left it, swept up by our exposure of Herkimer’s longtime bustling child trafficking industry and the resulting years of street attacks and poison gas campaigns launched on us by area drug and child traffickers.

Herkimer Meth Bridge, Herkimer Village May 2020
The Herkimer Meth Bridge – 5/25/20 – Seen from the west side of West Canada Creek, the bridge spans the waterway, about one-half a mile from The Point–the confluence of West Canada Creek and the Mohawk River. A public pathway has long run past the bridge to The Point.

The DEA Bypass

Only recently did we return to the meth bridge and The Point. The area is much improved, as Linda notes below. I was impressed by the effort that’s gone into easing access to The Point: the old approach to the peninsula was intersected by numerous trenches, berms and log barriers obviously meant to restrict easy access to area.  It looked like trench warfare in places. You had to clamber over the defenses to reach the bridge and the path to The Point.

Earthworks restricting approach to Herkimer Meth Bridge
Earthworks restricting approach to area of the Herkimer Meth Bridge. 2016 & 2020
Herkimer trench warfare
“It looked like trench warfare in places.” Entry point to original path to The Point, just after your pass the meth bridge. May 2020

All that has now been bypassed by a fresh, wide ATV accessible path that swings around the old entrance to the peninsula and knives through the woods, emerging about a hundred yards or so onto the original path. It makes for easy access and fast responses. I dubbed it the DEA Bypass. The gangs didn’t built it. Whomever did was meticulous, even planting orange lilies along the borders.  Not our local criminals, who believe all work demeans and hard work demeans the most. (And they hate flowers.)

DEA Bypass enroute to The Point, Herkimer
The DEA Bypass, expediting access to The Point. 5/25/20
DEA Bypass joining trail to The Point
Where the DEA Bypass (left) joins the original trail to The Point.

Historically, before the Canal was built, The Point was where goods were  transferred from water to land. Back then it would have been furs from up north, coming down the West Canada. Now it’s narcotics and possibly some human trafficking. We’ve been watching the surveillance drones congregate above that isolated part of the village for months.

Section 2 – by Linda J. Kaidan

The Point, Herkimer - Where West Canada Creek Meets the Mohawk

The Point, Herkimer - Where West Canada Creek Meets the Mohawk

It’s been several years since we dared venture back to The Point,  where West Canada Creek Flows into the Mohawk River. We had many adventures there as we unearthed numerous campsites, jimsonweed weed farms, remnants of discarded belongings and a meth cooking and distribution site.
This week we finally revisited this place, which had been the source of so much natural wonder and mystery. Things have truly changed. The tangled jungle of narrow trails and brambles has been very much cleared out. It’s easy to see West Canada Creek flowing under the railroad tracks and into the Mohawk River.

Begin your walk to The Point Herkimer

You can begin your river walk at 500 E State St at H&R Block.  Take a right down the dirt road which has been cleared of much undergrowth to bring you an open vista of a huge cornfield. You will see a warning to keep clear of the flood control area to the left of the trail.  Heading on you can take the dirt track towards West Canada Creek. 

Herkimer Abandoned Campsite
Abandoned (?) Campsite at the Cornfield, Enroute to the Point

View the abandoned  big tree campsite, explore the leavings amid the campfire ashes and head on towards the blue jacket hanging in the tree near the river bank.

Herkimer Meth Bridge, sans Meth Encampment 5.20
Beneath the Herkimer Meth Bridge 5.20 Site of the meth making and distribution encampment we stumbled upon in 2016.
Train passes over the Herkimer Meth bridge at West Canada Creek 5.20
Train passing over Historic Herkimer Meth Bridge West Canada Creek NY on 5.20

Head on under the the train bridge and enjoy the artwork! The trail opens into a field at the edge of a wood. A pile of fallen trees blocks your entry to the old old trail along the bank. To the right you will find a new, very well cleared trail which is more direct giving you easy access to The Point.

Copse sheltering abandoned encampment, cornfield to the left, path to the point and the bridge to the right.

There are magnificent ferns and wild flowers. The lilies will bloom soon. NYDEC in addition to many volunteers has moved mountains to make this woodland paradise clean and safe allowing drones a clear views of traffic in this area. There are also wildlife cameras. Perhaps you can spot them!

West Canada Creek meeting the Mohawk. Herkimer, 5/20
Reaching our goal: West Canada Creek flowing into the Mohawk River. At The Point, Herkimer 5.20

Conclusion

A lovely and sometimes dramatic walk, our stroll to The Point–the timeless beauty of the area interwoven with the detritus of the silent long war between law enforcement and the gangs–a war now in its final stages, as the gangs’ dregs are drained off. It reminded us of why we moved here and helped renew our faith in the future of Herkimer and Upstate New York. 

Author:

This blog is my perspective on dwelling in our small village nestled among beautiful forests, farms and open landscapes. Educated in Israel and the US, I have an MS in Computer Science. My viewpoint has been shaped by world travel, friends and benefactors both strangers and people I know. Linda Kaidan