Tag Archives: Industrial History

Hanford Mills Museum Kicks Off 42nd Season


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mill with steamHanford Mills Museum, in Delaware County, NY, will be open Wednesdays-Sundays, plus holiday Mondays, 10 am – 5 pm through October 15th. Guided tours are offered of the Mill complex, where visitors can watch the 1926 Fitz overshot waterwheel start up and provide the power for the sawmill and woodworking shop. Historic water-powered machines are operated each day, just as they were a century ago. Continue reading

The Historic Apples of New York


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adirondack appleEvery two years I gather together some friends to make hard cider. None of us have apple orchards. From the time the buds break throughout the summer, until after the first couple hard frosts, we scan the roads and fields of the Adirondacks. We look for abandoned orchards and clumps of neglected trees in yards and inquire with their owners.

Right up until the last gallon goes into the fermenter we have endless debates about the best way to pick our finds. We prattle on about the best timing, their sugar content, texture, and flavors. Inevitably the question is raised: “well, what do you think it is?” Now, a new book has been published that we can turn to in trying to figure that out. Continue reading

Building the Erie Canal


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ben_franklins_worldA “little short of madness.” That is how Thomas Jefferson responded when two delegates from New York approached him with the idea to build the Erie Canal in January 1809.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Janice Fontanella, site manager of Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site in Fort Hunter, New York, joins us to discuss the Erie Canal, its construction, and the impact that this waterway made on New York and the United States. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/028

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Women Workers In Amsterdam’s Carpet Mills


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Amersterdam Mill WorkerModestly but eloquently, Sue Fraczek described her life as an Amsterdam mill worker, “When I went to work, I was scared to death. It was my first time in a carpet mill. It was hot. It was noisy.”

Fraczek was surprised to see herself as a young mill worker in a still picture prominently featured in “Historic Views of the Carpet City,” the WMHT-TV documentary on Amsterdam first shown in 2000. Co-producer Steve Dunn chose the picture of the young woman at a yarn twisting machine to symbolize the documentary that he and I produced. Continue reading

Albany History Fair To Feature Brews, Spirits


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History Fair 304“Something’s Brewing: A Historical Look at Albany Brews & Spirits” is the theme of the 16th Annual Albany History Fair to be held at Historic Cherry Hill on Sunday, May 3, from 1 to 4 pm.

This free event will include an 18th century brewing demonstration by Harvey Alexander, music by Friends Union, house tours, exhibits, and a brewing and agricultural scavenger hunt for families, throughout the afternoon. Continue reading

Walking Tours of New Croton Dam Planned


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New_Croton_Dam_from_below wikipedia user Matthiasb“Breathtaking”, “awe inspiring”, “feel the power!” These are just a few of the comments on Trip- Advisor’s entry for the New Croton Dam, yet many who live nearby have never visited one of the Hudson Valley’s signature engineering feats.

Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct and Teaching the Hudson Valley want to change that and invite the public to visit the dam for special walking tours Thursday, April 23, at 4 pm and Saturday, April 25, at 11 am. Laura Compagni-Sabella will lead both tours, highlighting the stories of the hundreds of immigrant workers who risked life and limb to build the dam between 1892-1905. Continue reading

Computer Punch Cards And Amsterdam Carpets


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mohawkmillsMark Thomann, who has spent much of his working life on restorations of classic carpets, is skeptical of the idea that paper cards used to control carpet weaving in Amsterdam and other places directly foreshadowed development of the computer.

Thomann said, “I have heard that but always thought it a stretch. There is the similarity of the use of punch cards, with a binary system, no hole or hole which would determine position of a strand of yarn. But I have never seen evidence that someone familiar with that industrial technology was at all involved in making computers.” Continue reading

Society for Industrial Archaeology Conference In Albany


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SIAAlbany2015cover380-470x260The 44th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial Archaeology will be held at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Albany May 28th through May 30th, 2015.

Established as a Dutch fur trading post in 1614, and chartered in 1688, Albany is the oldest continuously chartered city in the county and capital of New York State since 1879. Transportation – river navigation, canals, railroads and highways – has always been one of its defining characteristics. Continue reading

Rise and Fall of NY’s Taylor Wine Company


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NY Taylor wineDrawing on archival research as well as interviews with many of the principal players, Thomas Pellechia’s Over a Barrel: The Rise and Fall of New York’s Taylor Wine Company (SUNY Press, 2015) traces the economic dynamism of the Finger Lakes wine region, the passion and ingenuity of the Taylor family, and the shortsighted corporate takeover scenario that took down a once-proud American family company.

In addition to providing important lessons for business innovators, Over a Barrel is a cautionary tale for a wine region that is repeating its formative history. Continue reading

Amsterdam: Short History of People’s Silk Store


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Peolple's Silk Store Amsterdam NYSamuel L. Kupferberg’s ancestors were in the fabric trade so it was only logical that he pursued that line of work. Born in Romania in 1893, Sam had 17 siblings. Two of his older brothers had started fabric businesses in New York City. Getting to America from Codaesti, Romania was an issue for Sam. During World War I Romanian Jews were confined to their villages. After the war Sam left the old country in 1920 for New York City where he worked with his oldest brother, Jacob.

In 1926 Amsterdam’s People’s Silk Store, which sold fabrics and draperies, was for sale. Sam took the train upstate, bought the business and kept the name. Continue reading

Robert Fulton Lecture At Adirondack Museum


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AdirondackMuseum-CabinFeverSundays_Feb22_SteamboatFulton(OldForge)In the fourth installment of the Adirondack Museum’s Cabin Fever Sundays series, New York Council for the Humanities speaker Robert Arnold III will explore the legacy of Robert Fulton, the creator of the first commercially successful steamboat.

Arnold will address the ways Fulton’s steamboat helped to catalyze the expansion of steam power into the energy source that propelled America’s Industrial Revolution.  Fulton was a talented artist and inventor who also devised canal locks used in Britain, and the first workable submarine (for Napoleon Bonaparte). Continue reading

Delaware & Hudson History On The Historians Podcast


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features an interview with Jim Bachorz, publisher of the Bridge Line Historical Society Bulletin, an extensive monthly newsletter that focuses on Delaware & Hudson Railroad (D&H) history and other rail topics. The D&H called itself the Bridge Line linking New York, New England and Canada. Today the railroad is a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific Railway. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
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New Book: Wood, Whiskey and Wine


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Wood Whiskey WineBarrels – we rarely acknowledge their importance, but without them we would be missing out on some of the world’s finest beverages – most notably whiskies and wines – and of course for over two thousand years they’ve been used to store, transport, and age an incredibly diverse array of provisions around the globe.

In the new wide-ranging book Wood, Whiskey and Wine (Reaktion, 2014), Henry Work tells the intriguing story of the significant and ever-evolving role wooden barrels have played during the last two millennia, revealing how the history of the barrel parallels that of technology at large. Continue reading

Ingenious Machinists of the Industrial Revolution


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Ingenious MachinistsAnthony J. Connors’ Ingenious Machinists: Two Inventive Lives from the American Industrial Revolution (SUNY Press, 2014) recounts the early development of industrialization in New England and New York through the lives of two prominent innovators whose work advanced the transformation to factory work and corporations, the rise of the middle class, and other momentous changes in nineteenth-century America.

Paul Moody chose a secure path as a corporate engineer in the Waltham-Lowell system that both rewarded and constrained his career. David Wilkinson was a risk-taking entrepreneur from Rhode Island who went bankrupt and relocated to Cohoes, New York, where he was instrumental in that city’s early industrial development. Continue reading

Villa Balsamo: A Saratoga County Landmark


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Villa BalsamoA man who started in the knitting business in Amsterdam built the lavish structure now known as Villa Balsamo restaurant off Route 50 between Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs.

According to historian David Fiske, Floyd J. Shutts was stymied by Amsterdam officials in 1918 when he tried to add on to his factory on Wall Street. Turned down in Amsterdam, Shutts bought property on Saratoga Avenue in Ballston Spa and opened the Ballston Knitting Company in 1920. Continue reading

Photos of Copake Iron Works Area Sought


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Postcard The Fish Pond Copake Iron WorksFriends of Taconic State Park, the organization working to preserve and stabilize the 19th century Copake Iron Works, are seeking historic photos for its interpretative signage project.

Anyone with access to, or possession of, images of the site (especially the centerpiece blast furnace and any houses or other buildings located nearby) is encouraged to contact them at info@FriendsofTSP.org. Continue reading

Can You Identify These Photos?


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Fairview home album photo 5 uknown mill complex009An old photo album of the Fairview Home For Friendless Children was recently rediscovered while beginning an inventory process of materials in the Collection of the Town of Colonie Historian’s Office and Historical Society.

In the album were these three photos depicting a deep gorge with either a train or trolley trestle in the background, and a view of a very interesting mill complex that may have existed in the Capital District area.  Continue reading

Electric City: General Electric in Schenectady


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians”, retired history professor and Schenectady County native Julia Kirk Blackwelder discusses her most recent book Electric City: General Electric in Schenectady. Blackwelder is an emerita professor at Texas A&M University, where she previously served as head of the history department. She currently lives in Ballston, New York.

Listen to the interview at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
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