Stone Arch Bridge on Callicoon Creek
Callicoon, New York
It snowed very lightly overnight so I drove northwest in the direction of upstate New York to take pictures. My destination was the Stone Arch Bridge at Kenoza Lake, a hamlet in the town of Callicoon, about an hour’s drive away through mountaintop highways and farmlands.

The Stone Arch Bridge at Kenoza Lake was built by Swiss German immigrants in 1880. In 1892, a man was murdered there.

One night while a farmer was crossing the Stone Arch Bridge on Callicoon Creek, a pair of men shot him five times in the head. The men then clubbed him with the wooden chair leg the farmer was using for a cane. His body was thrown into the icy waters below the bridge. (source:

The men were arrested by police. They denied committing the murder. But everyone in town knew the truth. The men believed the farmer was a sorcerer who put a hex on their cattle and crops and the only way to lift the hex was to kill the farmer. (source:

A “hex” is a curse cast by a witch or sorcerer. The word’s origin is sketchy but may date back to the time of Moses who, in addition to being a prophet, was also believed to be a magician. The Torah that Moses authored appears as the first five books of the Bible. But some believe there are others. A sixth -- hence the term “hex” -- a seventh, and possibly more texts are in circulation up to the present day. These secret texts are called grimoires.

A grimoire is a textbook for magic. It contains secret knowledge on casting spells, invoking the supernatural, and summoning demons. Whoever possesses such book may gain mastery in the dark arts and -- for a fee -- cast spells for the removal of unsuspecting victims. Grimoires were brought from Germany to early America by the Pennsylvania Dutch (source: Cabinet of Wonders), and it may well just be the farmer’s dumb luck that he happened to be a German immigrant.

Stone arch bridges were common when steel and iron weren’t yet introduced in construction. They’re easy enough to build -- simply fashion wooden scaffolding in the shape of an arc and lay bricks on top of it. Because the bricks push down on one another along the arc, with the placement of a “keystone” -- a wedge or inverted trapezoidal stone at the top of the arc -- the formation stays in place even when the scaffolding underneath is eventually removed. (source:

Stone arch bridges by their grace and strength are pleasing to look at. One might imagine a horse drawn carriage crossing on top or a woman leisurely strolling as in Monet’s “Woman on Bridge”. Indeed, parks are created at stone arch bridge sites nowadays. They are places where one might view in wonder one of man’s lasting creations.

But the Stone Arch Bridge at Callicoon Creek begs to differ. The farmer’s spirit, the townsfolk believe, never crossed over. Whereas by day the bridge is filled with fun and laughter as families gather to picnic, fish, and swim, by night, it takes an ominous turn for the darker side of its history. It is said that if you visit at night, do not be surprised when you see the farmer’s ghost endeavoring to complete the crossing on Callicoon Creek.

Click on a picture to enlarge.
Stone Arch Bridge at Callicoon Creek in the Hamlet of Kenoza Lake, Town of Callicoon, NY.
Callicoon Creek.
From the far side of the bridge NY Route 52A can be seen in the distance. Although the bridge leads there, barrier fencing prevents traffic into the bridge. The bridge is only for pedestrians, not vehicles.
Looking up the park from Callicoon Creek.
Small dam at Callicoon Creek.
A modern bridge on NY Route 52 runs parallel to the Stone Arch Bridge.
Stone Arch Bridge seen from bridge on NY Route 52.
The sun peeks from the clouds to shine on this tree.
Children's playground by the Stone Arch Bridge.
Historical marker at the bridge (where children may read, too) reads:
Stone Arch Bridge

This three arched stone arch bridge was built around 1880 by Swiss German immigrants Henry and Philip Hembt. It is located on a road which was important in the settlement of central Sullivan County. This route served as a major means of transport between the Old Newburgh Cochecton Turnpike and the Callicoon Valley.

One of the few hex murders on record in the Upper Delaware Valley was committed on this bridge in 1882.

This bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
By day, the bridge invites to frolic or simply admire...
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