The new book Finger Lakes Wine Country (2015 Arcadia Publishing), by Finger Lakes local author Sarah S. Thompson, is a photographic journey covering 150 years of viticulture and winemaking in New York’s Finger Lakes region, and its pivotal role in American wine history.
The book is a regional history of the wine industry, told through more than 200 vintage images from collections of area wineries, museums, historical societies, archives and passionate residents. Continue reading
The Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center presents the last of their Winter Lecture Series on Tuesday, March 8th from 7 pm – 8 pm. The featured speaker is Craig Gravina, co-author of the book Upper Hudson Valley Beer and co-founder of the Albany Ale Project.
Brewing in the Hudson Valley has a long and rich history dating back to the first Dutch settlers of 17th century Beverwyck – now present day Albany. An integral part of society, brewing was a major trade in Dutch New York. Since brewery equipment was expensive, many of the brewers were wealthy and many were appointed to positions of authority, becoming the city’s founding fathers. Many of the original Dutch brewer’s families continued beer making well into the 18th Century. Gravina will also be signing and selling his book Upper Hudson Valley Beer. Continue reading
Antique tractors, Model A Fords, outboard motors, a 1956 Chevy Belair and a variety of gas and steam-powered engines will be featured at the 32nd Annual Dan Rion Memorial Antique Engine Jamboree and Powerfest at Hanford Mills Museum on Saturday, September 12 from 10 am until 5 pm.
The Museum’s wood-fired steam boiler plant will power horizontal and vertical steam engines. The event also will feature Mill tours, renewable energy exhibits, children’s activities, and live music with the Stoddard Hollow String Band. Continue reading
The Schenectady County Historical Society will host walking tours of the Historic Stockade District to examine the history of brewing in the area from the colonial era to today’s craft brew revival.
Each tour begins with a look at the SCHS exhibit Hops & Hogsheads: Beer from Colonial to Craft Brew, and concludes with a tasting and tour at Mad Jack Brewery at the Van Dyck Restaurant and Lounge. Continue reading
In 1798, Robert R. Livingston, Jr. (1746-1813) requested and obtained a monopoly from the New York State Legislature granting him the exclusive right to operate passenger steamboats on the Hudson River.
The Livingston family was very wealthy and owned the large estate, Clermont, just south of Albany. They ran an iron foundry and machine shop for many years where they had installed a steam engine to power the equipment. Continue reading
A walking tour of The Rondout-West Strand National Historic District in Kingston, sponsored monthly by Friends of Historic Kingston, contrasts the results of a heartbreaking 1960’s urban renewal project with the gentrification that followed in an area that escaped the wrecking ball.
After the entire east side of Lower Broadway was demolished in 1967 vintage 19th century buildings on the opposite side stood empty, awaiting what seemed their inevitable fate. Luckily, federal funding ran out and what is today the Rondout – West Strand National Historic District was spared. New structures were built part-way up the east side of the hill. The restored neighborhood brings to my mind the painful image of a one-winged bird. Continue reading
The Wolfert’s Roost Country Club in Albany maintains a small dam, pond, and pump house to provide water for their golf course. In the 1980s workers excavating the pond, which is fed by the Maezlandtkill, discovered several sections of ancient wooden and very early cast iron pipe along with iron bands. The pipe and other artifacts were placed in the woods near the club’s tennis courts and forgotten.
Benjamin Prescott, engineer of Albany’s first municipal water system and the man responsible for those pipes, is all but equally forgotten, despite an illustrious career in engineering. Prescott served as an Engineer in the American Revolution, Superintendent of the Springfield Armory, and was the designer of several notable projects, including one of this nation’s first inclined planes (on the Connecticut River). He also conducted a 1790s survey of Niagara Falls, consulted on the Erie Canal, designed the Troy Sloop Lock (the Federal Dam) and more. Continue reading
Born of necessity in the colonies, fine-tuned and perfected over the centuries – witnessing civil war, Prohibition, and the marketing genius of Madison Avenue – bourbon continues to this day to be one of the most popular and iconic spirits of America.
In Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey (Viking, 2015), Reid Mitenbuler provides a popularly accessible history of this unique industry and a personal commentary on how to taste and choose your bourbon. Continue reading
Grain Dust Dreams (SUNY Press, 2015) tells the story of terminal grain elevators – concrete colossi that stand in the middle of a deep river of grain that they lift, sort, and send on.
From their invention in Buffalo through a present-day operation in Thunder Bay, Ontario, David W. Tarbet examines the difficulties and dangers of working in a grain elevator – showing how they operate and describing the effects that the grain trade has on the lives of individuals and cities. Continue reading
A foundation named for a Fort Plain inventor and his wife, both born in the 19th century, continues to support local charitable organizations. William Yerdon was born in the town of Minden, NY in 1843. He married Sylvina “Vina” Barker in 1881.
Born in Canada, Vina Barker had studied telegraphy and came to Fort Plain in 1876 as a telegraph operator for the New York Central Railroad. She kept her job for about a year after marrying Yerdon, a businessman and Fort Plain postmaster who patented the Yerdon Double Hose Band in 1890. Continue reading