New York's

Capital District

A History of its Industries, Railroads and Inventions

Albany ~ Troy ~ Schenectady ~ Saratoga Springs ~ Cohoes ~ Waterford ~ Ballston Spa ~ Rensselaer
Corinth ~ South Glens Falls ~  Stillwater ~ Mechanicville ~ Watervliet ~ Clifton Park ~ Whitehall
Altamont ~ Delmar ~ Hoosick Falls ~ Eagle Bridge ~ Delanson ~ Rotterdam ~ Colonie ~ Ravena

Featuring the research of Timothy Starr, author of 20 local history books



The Capitol, Albany


ALCO, Schenectady


Hotels in Saratoga


Union Station, Albany


City Savings, Albany


Saratoga station


GE, Schenectady


Union Station, Troy


Cohoes Falls


Canal aqueduct, Rexford


Today the Capital District is heavily dependent upon the government, education, and health care sectors for employment. However, during the 1800s it was one of the country’s main transportation hubs and industrial centers. The completion of the Erie and Champlain canals in the 1820s brought unprecedented trade traffic from the west and the north. The canals terminated at the Hudson River near Albany and Troy and provided easy access to New York City and its international harbor. Railroad building that commenced in the 1830s generated even more traffic, linking the region directly to the rest of the country.

In the years following the completion of the canals and railroads, large-scale industrial development took place in the cities of Albany, Watervliet, Cohoes, Schenectady, and Troy. America’s greatest inventor Thomas Edison decided to relocate his company’s headquarters to Schenectady. Later renamed General Electric, it employed thirty thousand people at its height and supported many famous scientists. Cohoes became the center of the country’s cotton and knitting industry after inventor Timothy Bailey installed his famous knitting machine at the Cohoes Falls. Troy became a major iron and steel manufacturer, and pioneered the collar and cuff industry. Albany developed a wide range of industries, many of which were established or supported by inventors, such as the manufacture of stoves, agricultural machines, billiard balls, and perforated paper.

Saratoga County is one of the fastest-growing areas in the state, with a population of 200,000 people. Its location just north of the state capital, abundant rivers, and first-class transportation routes made it ideal for industry to flourish. Huge paper mills, tanneries, and foundries made good use the of available water power and seemingly inexhaustible supply of timber. During this period, Saratoga Springs drew thousands of visitors each year to its rare mineral springs, world-class racetrack, and popular gambling houses.

This website is dedicated to the research and publication of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries history of the Capital District and New York State. All of the books listed below (many of which are self-published and limited in quantity) are available for sale at the Brookside Museum in Ballston Spa in Ballston Spa and the Schenectady Trading Company and Mohawk Valley Railroad in Schenectady. Those who live outside the Capital Region should check eBay and Amazon (look for the listings selling new books). You can also order a book by mail.

Book Listing:

Great Inventors of New York's Capital District

Invented In Saratoga County, New York

Invented In Ballston Spa, New York

Around Milton (Saratoga County)

Lost Industries of Saratoga County

Lost Industries of Albany County

Lost Industries of the Kaydeross Valley

Railroad Atlas: New York's Capital Region (new)

Railroad Atlas: New York State (coming in late 2021)

Railroads of New York's Capital District (new)

Early Railroads of New York's Capital District

The Golden Age of Railroads in New York's Capital District

Railroading in New York's Capital District: Hot Off The Presses!

Railroad Wars of New York State

Lost Railroads of the Kaydeross Valley

The Ballston Terminal Railroad And Its Successors

Leading Industrial Pursuits of Ballston Spa, Glens Falls, Sandy Hill & Fort Edward

The Paper Bag King: A Biography of George West

Isaiah Blood: Scythe and Axe Maker of Ballston Spa, New York

The Meatloaf Incident (novel)

The Quest for Redstone: Minecraft Book 1

Journey to the Cursed Mines: Minecraft Book 2

Click here to purchase a book by mail

Links to history articles and books

Local history articles published by magazines and newspapers

History of the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad

A History of Saratoga County (provided by Saratoga NYGenWeb)

Albany Pictorial Album (1900)

Geography of Saratoga County (1905)

An Analysis of the Mineral Waters of Saratoga and Ballston

Inventory of Abandoned Railroads (Northeast New York)

A "Los Angeles Times" reporter's perspective of "taking the waters" at Saratoga

Saratoga Springs picture album (1883)

Map of Saratoga County, New York (1866)

Links to Other Websites

Thanks to the following people and organizations for their important contributions: the Brookside Museum, the late Maurice "Chris" Morley, the late Paul Pastore, John Nehrich, Ann Hauprich, Ken Bradford (Joseph Smith collection), the Corinth Museum, Town of Milton Historian, Saratoga County Historian, the Waterford Museum, and the Saratoga Springs Public Library, among many others.

Last updated on 02/06/2021. Copyright 2008-2021. No part of this website may be copied or reproduced without permission from the author, except for short passages used for reviews. All rights reserved.



Ballston Spa springs


Battle of Saratoga

Burden wheel, Troy


Saratoga Racetrack


Cluett-Peabody, Troy


Livingston Avenue Bridge


Harmony Mills, Cohoes


Hudson River, Albany


Nott Memorial, Schenectady


West Albany Shops

Website Hit Counter
Web Site Hit Counters