New York's

Capital District

A History of its Industries, Railroads and Inventions

Albany ~ Troy ~ Schenectady ~ Saratoga Springs ~ Cohoes ~ Waterford ~ Ballston Spa ~ Corinth
South Glens Falls ~ Lansingburgh ~ Stillwater ~ Mechanicville ~ Watervliet ~ Clifton Park





Of New York’s

Capital District


Early Railroads of New York's Capital District covers what was perhaps the most exciting time in railroad history from 1826 to about 1900. The first railroad in the Capital Region was among the first in the country, and helped herald in a new age of transportation. After many had been built, capitalists such as Erastus Corning and Commodore Vanderbilt consolidated and expanded the railroads until they were part of a vital national network. The rise of the street railway lines (trolleys) capped the end of the century.

The book features many early photographs from the collection of the late Joseph Smith, provided by his grandson Kenneth Bradford.

Description: paperback perfect-bound, size 8.5 X 11 inches, 85 black & white photographs and maps, 125 pages, indexed, appendix (complete Capital District railroad listing), self-published March 2011, ISBN 978-0-578-08097-0, Library of Congress Control Number 2011903564. First Edition print run - 250 copies (as of December 2011, there are still about 75 First Edition copies available).

A companion book was written at the same time titled "The Golden Age of Railroading in New York's Capital District" that covers the years 1880 to 1950. This book will be released in January 2012.

Available at: The Brookside Museum (Ballston Spa), Open Door Bookstore (Schenectady), the Book House at Stuyvesant Plaza (Albany), the Saratoga Springs Railroad Station (Focus on Humanity gift shop), and on-line at Ron's Books, Karen's Books,,, and E-bay.


Table of Contents



The Pioneer Railroad


To The Tourist Mecca


Gateway to the West


Connecting to Canada and Boston


Railroad Wars


The New York Central


The Delaware and Hudson


Into the Wilderness


Rise of the Street Railway




Early Railroad Listing






About the Author



Excerpt From the Introduction
Copyright 2010-11 Timothy Starr

New York State was geographically well-suited to become the leading developer of new transportation networks in the early 1800s. It lay between the well-settled New England states and the unsettled west, making it a gateway through which hundreds of thousands of people passed on their way to better lives. Vast forests and mineral reserves convenient to the Hudson River allowed for industry to develop in the Capital District and points south. New York harbor served as an important hub for trade with the outside world and was linked directly to Albany and Troy. The accumulation of wealth in New York enabled several important projects to be funded, most notably the first canals and railroads.

The Mohawk and Hudson Railroad proved to be profitable from the first, and its success created a change in public sentiment concerning railroads. The funding and construction of the Saratoga and Schenectady and the Utica and Schenectady Railroads were carried out in direct consequence of the popularity of the Albany road.

These few railroads were quickly followed by many more as investors wanted to cash in on the new technology. Forty-nine applications were filed with the New York State legislature to build railroads in 1832, of which twenty-nine were granted and six were constructed (Brooklyn and Jamaica; Hudson and Berkshire; Erie; Rensselaer and Saratoga; the Tonawanda; and the Watertown and Rome). Within a decade almost every state in the country had at least one railroad.

The early railroads of the Capital District were among the most important in the country. The New York Central, born from the merging of the first railroads in the state, became the famous “Water Level Route” that was able to transport goods and people in the most economical manner to the west. The Delaware and Hudson, running roughly south to north, became the famous “Bridge Line” to the Adirondacks and Canada in addition to providing much of New York State with anthracite coal used in manufacturing. The Boston and Albany became the primary outlet for the city of Boston, then one of the country’s most important cities. By the end of the century, these systems were firmly established and served as vital transportation systems for the entire nation.



Perhaps the nation's first "union" station was built in Schenectady
for the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad in 1836 (Efner Collection).

New York Central locomotive "William H Vanderbilt" outside
 of the Delavan House in Albany (Joseph A. Smith collection).




999 (locomotive), 81, 84
Adirondack Railway, 98-100

Air-brake, 43-45

Albany and Hudson Railway and Power Company, 109-110 
Albany and Hudson Railroad, 109
Albany Northern Railroad, 50-52, 54
Albany Railway, 108
Albany and Schenectady Railroad, 23
Albany and Schenectady Turnpike Company, 11, 14
Albany Southern Railroad, 109
Albany and Susquehanna Railroad, 63-65
Albany Union Station, 85
Albany, Vermont and Canada Railroad, 54
Albany and West Stockbridge Railroad, 54

American Locomotive Company, 42
Ballston Terminal Railroad, 111

Boston and Albany Railroad, 54

Boston, Hoosac Tunnel and Western Railway, 56-57

Boston and Maine Railroad, 57

Brown, William, 18
Cambreling, Churchill, 12, 17
Cattle mart, 74-75

Corning, Erastus, 37, 67-71, 74-76

Davy Crockett
(locomotive), 25
Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, 87-95
Delaware and Hudson Company, 95

DeWitt Clinton
(locomotive), 15, 17, 20
Dickson, Thomas, 87-89
Durant, Thomas, 98-100

State Express
, 84
(locomotive), 16
Fargo, William, 78

Fast Mail Express
(New York Central), 80-81
Featherstonhaugh, George, 9-12

(locomotive), 25
Fisk, James, 63-65

Fitchburg Railroad, 57

Free pass, 20
Gilbert and Eaton, 32-33
Goold, James, 20
Gould, Jay, 63-65
Grant, Ulysses, 101-103

Green Island shops, 90-91

Hoosac Tunnel, 54-56

Hudson River (bridges), 31-32, 47, 76-77
Hudson River Railroad, 59-61
Hudson River Water Power Company, 116
Hudson Valley Railway, 111
Inclined planes (Mohawk and Hudson), 15, 23
Jervis, John, 13, 16-17, 25-27, 30, 60-61
Jervis-type locomotives, 16-17, 23, 26
J.M. Jones’ Sons, 113, 114-116

John Bull
(locomotive), 18
Lake Ontario and Hudson River Railroad, 98
Lansingburgh and Cohoes Railroad, 106
(locomotive), 42
Lumber District (Albany), 108
McQueen, Walter, 23
Mohawk and Hudson Railroad Company, 9-23

Mohawk Valley Railroad, 45

Mount McGregor Railroad, 103

New York and Albany Railroad, 59
New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, 79
New York Central Railroad, 67-85, 94
New York and Harlem, 63
New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railway, 83
North Troy and Iron Works Line, 107

Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad, 31-35, 89

Richmond, Dean, 76-78
Rutland and Washington Railroad, 49-50
Sackets Harbor and Saratoga, 97
Saratoga Electric Railway, 110

Saratoga Limited
, 95
Saratoga, Mount McGregor and Lake George Railroad, 101-103
Saratoga Northern Railroad, 103
Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad, 25-31

Saratoga Traction Company, 111

Saratoga and Washington Railroad, 49
Schenectady and Duanesburg Railroad, 90
Schenectady Locomotive Works, 42
Schenectady Railway, 111-112
Schenectady (stations), 39-41
Schenectady Street
Railway, 111
Schenectady and Susquehanna Railroad, 90
Schenectady and Troy Railroad, 43-45

Steamboats, 61
Stevens, John, 9

Stillwater and Mechanicville Street Railway, 110

Strike (1877), 81-82
Subway (Schenectady), 29-30
Trolley, 105

Troy and Boston Railroad, 50
Troy City Railway, 112
Troy and Cohoes Railroad, 106
Troy and Greenbush Railroad, 60
Troy and Greenfield Railroad, 56
Troy and Lansingburgh Railroad, 106
Troy and New England Railway, 107
Troy and Rutland Railroad, 50, 52
Troy, Salem and Rutland Railroad, 56

Troy Union Railroad, 34-35, 46-47

Twentieth Century Limited
, 84
United Traction Company, 112-114
Union Electric Railway, 110-111

Utica and Schenectady Railroad, 37-39

Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 61-63, 78-82
Vanderbilt, William, 82
Van Rensselaer, Stephen, 9-13
Vibbard, Chauncey, 71-72

Waterford and Cohoes Railroad, 106

Water-Level Route, 82
Watervliet Turnpike and Railroad Company, 108

West Albany shops, 74

Westinghouse, George, 43-45

West Point Foundry, 16
West Shore Railroad, 84