A “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
The Erie Canal directed the course of New York and American history. When it opened in 1825, the “boldest and biggest American engineering project of its century” unlocked the Western interior for trade and settlement. New Yorkers in particular have played a critical role in the Erie Canal story.
The New York State Museum’s curators are currently seeking stories, objects, and images for an upcoming exhibition “New York’s Erie Canal: Gateway to the Nation”, planned for 2017. Continue reading
In the years between 1807 and 1971, the Hudson River was alive with boat traffic. The great Hudson River Day Liners were perhaps the best known of all the vessels – famous for their elegance and speed. New Yorkers and visitors alike experienced the river and magnificent landscapes from their decks and plush salons.
Now, a New York City nonprofit is planning to restore the S.S. Columbia, believed to be America’s oldest surviving excursion steamship, for service on the Hudson River between New York City and Albany, with stops at Bear Mountain State Park, Poughkeepsie, Kingston, and Hudson. Continue reading
Historian Craig Williams will present a program entitled “The Impact of the Erie Canal on Immigration to Schenectady” at Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction on Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 2 pm.
With the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, some Schenectadians falsely believed that users of the canal would bypass the city without stopping. Instead, the Erie Canal brought Schenectady and other cities across New York State waves of new settlers, immigrants, and workers. The Erie Canal attracted new communities from foreign lands to Schenectady, helping to establish its ethnically diverse heritage. Continue reading
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
AT&T has given a $20,000 contribution to support the conservation and digitization of documents burned in the 1911 New York Capitol Fire.
The documents are expected to be conserved and digitized are badly fire damaged and contain information about life in the Hudson Valley in the 1700s, primarily in Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange counties. They have been unavailable to the public since 1911; no timetable for online public access has been announced. Continue reading
This 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/
The Saratoga Automobile Museum’s (SAM) longstanding Spring Auto Show and Saratoga Invitational, the traditional kickoff of the region’s auto show season, have undergone a slight format change for 2015.
This year’s fundraiser for SAM’s Distracted Driving educational program, which has a primary focus of educating both teens and adults on the dangers of texting while driving, cell phone use and generally not focusing on safe driving, is set for Saturday, May 16 from 10 am-4 pm with a Sunday rain date. It will no longer include the Saratoga Invitational as a separate entity but will still feature world class automobiles. Continue reading
Barrels – 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
The history of North America is in many ways encapsulated in the history of her covered bridges. The early 1800s saw a tremendous boom in the construction of these bridges, and in the years that followed as many as 15,000 covered bridges were built. Today, fewer than a thousand remain.
Without covered bridges to span the rivers and provide access to vast swaths of the interior that had previously been difficult to access – America never would have developed the way she did. In America’s Covered Bridges (Tuttle Publishing, 2014), authors Terry E. Miller and Ronald G. Knapp tell the fascinating story of these bridges, how they were built, and the technological breakthroughs required to construct them. Continue reading
In the weeks and months following the amazing story of survival in the Adirondacks in January 1935, when the four-man crew of a downed Curtis Condor plane were rescued from the clutches of death, further details surfaced in the media. The two uninjured passengers had considered striking off to the south in search of help. Said one of their rescuers, Leonard Partello: “They would never have come out alive. They would have had to go fifteen miles through heavy snow without food. It couldn’t be done.” Continue reading
This December marks the seventy-ninth anniversary of perhaps the greatest Adirondack rescue story ever. With all the inherent dangers of hiking, rock climbing, and navigating treacherous river rapids by canoe or kayak, this incredible incident, ironically, was unrelated to the most popular mountain pursuits. But when accidents occur while enjoying those pastimes, one factor above all can turn any outing into a life-or-death drama: weather. Continue reading
The Saratoga Automobile Museum has instituted an ongoing series of educational programs of interest to both students and adults. Scheduled for the museum’s Orientation Theater at 11 am each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, “The Science of Speed” will consist of three programs showing how science is applied to real life. 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
Once upon a time America was known for its building projects, for its infrastructure, for its vision of a better tomorrow. New York was in the forefront of such optimism and achievement. Think of the Erie Canal which helped make us the Empire State, the Croton Aqueduct, the Brooklyn Bridge, the skyscrapers from the Woolworth Building to the Empire State Building to the Twin Towers, and, of course, Robert Moses. Now the new Tappan Zee Bridge bids to join this pantheon of larger than life achievements made in New York.
Besides all the other concerns related to the bridge, there is the issue of tourism. Back in June, Mary Kay Vrba, tourism director for Dutchess County and leader of the Hudson Valley Path region, spoke to 50 people at “Destination Rockland: Blazing New Trails in Tourism.” Visions of jingling cash registers filled the heads of the participants who envisioned tourists by foot, bike, and later a revitalized bus system bringing people from the east side of the river to Rockland County. Alden Wolfe, chairman of the Rockland County Legislature convened the conference as a “launching point” for future discussion on this subject. Continue reading
The National Park Service has announced that it has listed the New York State Barge Canal on the National Register of Historic Places. The designation recognizes the New York State Canal System as a nationally significant work of early twentieth century engineering and construction that affected transportation and maritime commerce for nearly half a century.
The New York State Barge Canal National Register Historic District spans 450 miles and includes the four branches of the state’s canal system: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca canals– all much enlarged versions of waterways that were initially constructed during the 1820s. The nomination evaluated 791 features and included 552 contributing structures and buildings. Continue reading
This week on “The Historians”, Craig Gravina discusses Albany ale, the Albany political machine’s favorite beer (Hedrick’s) and other sudsy topics. Gravina, from Albany, and Alan McLeod of Canada, are co-authors of Upper Hudson Valley Beer, published by History Press.
In the second half hour of the show, I talk with Earl Swift, author of Auto Biography: A Classic Car, An Outlaw Motorhead and 57 Years of the American Dream, the story of a 1957 Chevy.
Listen to the whole program at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
It’s been called one of the largest maritime festivals in New York State. For three days, September 5th through the 7th, the Waterford waterfront (just north of Albany) will host the 15th Annual Tugboat Roundup.
A gathering and show place of both working and historic tugs of the Hudson River and New York State Canal system, the Roundup has evolved into a festival of boating at the Gateway to the Canal System. More than 35 boats are expected to be along the wall in Waterford this year, according to Tom Beardsley, Marine Event Coordinator. Continue reading
SUNY Albany History Professor David Hochfelder will explore the 19th century economic and transportation innovations that positioned the U.S. as a power house on the world stage, with New York at the forefront in a talk presented this Saturday, September 6, 2014 at 2 pm at the Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Ave., Schenectady, NY. Continue reading
The New York State Museum is displaying two historical vehicles at the Great New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY, through September 1, 2014. The two vehicles, a 1932 Packard Phaeton and a 1967 Lincoln Executive Limousine, were used by New York Governors Franklin D. Roosevelt and Nelson A. Rockefeller, respectively.
“The Board of Regents and the New York State Museum are honored to exhibit two historical vehicles from the Museum’s collections at the Great New York State Fair,” said State Museum Director Mark Schaming. “For the first time at the State Fair, thousands of New Yorkers will have the opportunity to see these two historical cars that transported Governors Roosevelt and Rockefeller across New York State.” Continue reading