Abraham Van Santvoord, a descendent of one of the earliest Dutch settlers in Albany, was born in Schenectady on December 18, 1784. At the age of 14, he worked with his granduncle John Post who owned a shipping business in Utica. Since, at the time, there were few roadways, and the ones they had were snow covered in the winter and mud bogs in the spring, most shipping was done by water.
Van Santvoord successfully ran a shipping business on the Mohawk River. During the War of 1812, he contracted with agents of General Stephen Van Rensselaer of Albany to store and ship provisions westward on the Mohawk to support Van Rensselaer’s troops planning to invade Canada. 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
When the night train to Montreal set out from Utica on April 29, 1931, James E. Smith had already been toiling over the needs and wants of his passengers for many hours. At 29 years old, Smith had been a Pullman porter for about three years. He had done a stint in Pennsylvania and now was employed on the New York Central line of the Pullman Company.
The experience of the Pullman porter was both uncommon yet ordinary. The Pullman Palace Car company hired black men almost exclusively as porters. This practice began under the direction of the founder of the company, George Pullman, after the Civil War. On board a luxurious and comfortable Pullman Car, Pullman porters were expected to be the ideal servants to their well off white passengers. Continue reading
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) announced today that they will hold four public meetings in September about the management of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor, a 119-mile nineteenth-century rail line in the western Adirondacks.
A bitter debate has raged in the Adirondacks over the past several years after rail-trail advocates began pushing to have the historic railroad tracks torn-up. In 2011, an organization calling themselves Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates began calling for the outser of the tourist railroad operation and for conversion of the rail bed to a multi-use trail. More than 10,000 people have signed-on to a petition calling for the removal of the tracks. The trail advocates’ call for a reassessment of the corridor’s management plan has resulted in this round of public hearings. Continue reading
Although Albany remains a vital railroad junction, New York’s capital city was once a major hub of the railway industry. Can it become one again? On Sunday, October 24, at 2:00 p.m., the Albany Institute of History & Art welcomes Harvard University Professor John Stilgoe, who will give a lecture entitled, Albany’s Railroads: A Once and Future Hub.
Professor Stilgoe recalls the bustling railroad lines that once converged on Albany, examines how curtailment of passenger and freight service has affected our region, and imagines a visionary railway revitalization that transcends the now-dominant interstate highway network. He holds joint appointments to the Harvard faculties of Design and Arts and Sciences. He is the winner of the Francis Parkman, George Hilton, and Bradford Williams medals, the AIA award for collaborative research, and the Charles C. Eldredge prize for art history research.
This lecture is free and open to the public, and is made possible by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Admission to the lecture does not include museum admission.
Henry John Steiner’s new book, Historic Photos of The Hudson Line showcases more than 200 striking black-and-white images that take you on a journey up the Hudson River between the years 1850 and 1970 when the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad came to dominate transportation along this important American travel corridor. In the process the colonial-era river towns and landings were transformed in commercial, manufacturing, and political centers in their own rights.
Stiener, a local author and the municipal historian of Sleepy Hollow, captures the events from parades to politics, celebrations to sporting events, steamboats to airplanes – the people and places that contributed to the growth of this historic region. He uses fact-filled captions and chapter introductions to highlight the large format photographs culled from the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, and the New York State Archives.
The book is published by Turner Publishing.
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