Breakneck Mountain

Text from William Wade

Immediately above Cold Spring are Bull Hill, Breakneck Hill, and Beacon Hill. The second of these heights contains the rock known by the various names of the Turk's Head, Anthony's Face, and Upper Anthony's Nose. Beacon Hill is one of the highest summits of the Fishkill mountains, and to its top parties of pleasure frequently resort in the summer season, to view an extensive prospect, embracing a part of the territories of five different States. The name of this mountain appears to have been " The Grand Sachem," its less sonorous title being derived from the use to which it was put during the Revolutionary war.

In The Hudson River: From Ocean to Source Edgar Mayhew Bacon included a 1769 manuscript of a journey up the Hudson. That manuscript refers to the mountain as "Broken neck Hill" . Bacon suggests that both the old and current names refer to the treacherous nature of the steep incline and bare rock face of the hill.


When the railroad was built along the east shore of the Hudson beginning in 1847, the solid mass of Breakneck Mountain proved one of the most difficult sections. It took two companies and months of drilling before the tunnel was finally cleared. The track from New York to Poughkeepsie was completed in 1849.


Breakneck was one of several trap rock quarry sites in the Hudson Highlands. Rock was taken in the earlier part of the 1800's but stopped around the time that Turk's Head was blown apart in 1846. Then inthe early 1900's the aqueduct was built to bring water to New York City. The aqueduct cross the Hudson River between Cornwall and Breakneck. After its completion, authorities wouldn't allow any further mining near Breakneck because they were afraid it might damage the aqueduct.