Tag Archives: Troy

A Short History of Watervliet Water Works


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Watervliet Arsenal Fire PumperFire! Fire! The words still strike fear into people, but in the 19th Century, the alarm of a fire in a community sometimes brought disaster. Unfortunately, large fires were very commonplace.

Fires in the early 19th Century sometimes leveled blocks of homes in Albany, and in the mid-19th Century, a spark from a steam engine set the old wooden Green Island Bridge over the Hudson River on fire and westerly winds blew hot embers into Troy causing the great conflagration that destroyed much of the center portion of the city. Building codes changed due to fires like these. Continue reading

Albany History: John Pye and the Highwayman


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John Pye Possible Gravesite in Albany Rural CemeteryOn a cold and snowy 21st of December in 1808, about two in the afternoon, there alighted at the door of the old tavern in Green Street, Albany, then kept by Whitmore, a dark complexioned but elegant stranger, evidently of southern origin. He stepped to the hall of that ancient house of entertainment, and while shaking from a richly furred mantle, the snow which had profusely fallen that day; he desired the ostler to dismantle his remarkably elegant horse of its riding caparisons and to convey the horse to the warmest stall the stables afforded; when himself hastened to the ample bar-room of that well ordered establishment.

Once inside, the stranger asked the keeper of the inn, whether it was agreeable to entertain him a few days. On further acquaintance, the genteel stranger proved a gentleman of the first order, prepossessing in his manners, agreeable and diffuse in conversation, as he was extremely well informed in the lore of literature, as well of any and all parts of the globe, the governments of the different nations, the workings of universal politics and the balance of power between the different nations of Christendom. Continue reading

Genealogy in the Capital District


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The Historians LogoThis week’s topic on “The Historians” podcast is genealogy, three interviews recorded with members of the Capital District Genealogical Society.

The program features Eric Johnson on African American history; Terri Moran with a family history that stretches to Sweden; and Jim Richmond, whose family research inspired him to write a book, The Middleline, the story of the founding of a Saratoga County community. You can listen at “The Historians” online archiveContinue reading

New Leadership for Rensselaer County Historical Society


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Karin Krasevac Lenz 2015The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) has announced the appointment of Karin Krasevac-Lenz as its new executive director.

Krasevac-Lenz brings more than 30 years of experience in not-for-profit development, strategic planning, creative community engagement, constituent relations, agency communications and other areas to her role at RCHS according to an announcement sent to the press. Continue reading

A Short Biography of Engineer Benjamin Prescott


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Pipes of the Albany Water Works excavated by Wolfert Roost CC circa late 1980s002The 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