A History of Its Industries, Railroads and Inventions



Site of Hamlet's Fire Station Was A Stone Quarry

Ballston Spa Life


At first blush it would appear that someone went through a lot of trouble to build a fire station in the hamlet of Rock City Falls. The Milton Eagles Volunteer Fire Station near the Cottrell Paper Company is situated where a large hill made entirely of rock once stood, making it seem as though the hill was blasted away to make room for the firefighters. But like most things in history, there is more to the story. 

The land was once owned by Chauncey Kilmer, who erected the paper mill now occupied by Cottrell. In the mid-1800s, a quantity of rare limestone was discovered that he mixed with rye straw to manufacture paper. Whether the paper mill came first or the paper mill was built because of the discovery is difficult to ascertain. 

After Kilmer retired and sold his paper mill in 1901, the quarry seems to have sat idled for a time, since the new owners did not use lime to manufacture paper. Then in June 1905, several unnamed local and out-of-town investors decided that the quarry’s limestone could be used for other purposes and organized a business under the name Big Falls Stone Company.  

The limestone, which contained a large percentage of cement, was used for building and concrete work. Modern stone crushing machinery was installed next to where the old Commodity Hall once stood. The first contract was to furnish 350 yards of crushed stone for the concrete foundations at the Island Mill bridge of the Schenectady Railway in Ballston Spa. Bids were also being made to furnish the village of Ballston Spa with crushed stone for road work.  

Frederick Beach and Sarsfield Egan (long-time officers of the electric railroad that ran past the site) purchased the stone quarry from John Dower in May 1913. They installed a 30 horsepower boiler and engine with the capacity to crush 150 yards of rock per day. Once the operation was up and running, it employed 15 men who lived in a bunkhouse just west of the quarry.  

In the accompanying picture, it is plain to see that this was a bustling part of town at that time. The Rock City Falls Hotel stood directly opposite the quarry on the left. The Kaydeross Railway (successor to the Ballston Terminal Railroad) ran between the hotel and quarry, and had a spur track to serve the quarry directly.  

The hotel was torn down to make way for a school that served students until the 1970s. The quarry went out of business and the rock crusher and other machinery were removed. The firehouse was built close to where the railroad tracks once stood, while the rear parking lot stretches to the limit of the former rock quarry.


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