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




(Saratoga County, New York)
"Images of America" series




Book Description:

The town of Milton, New York, lies near the center of Saratoga County. It is crisscrossed by a series of rivers, which have played an important role in the town’s development—most notably, the Kayaderosseras. Milton’s only village, Ballston Spa, with the attraction of its rare mineral springs, was once among the country’s most popular tourist destinations. One of the largest and most elegant hotels in the world, the Sans Souci, vied with a host of others for the patronage of thousands of travelers who made the pilgrimage each summer to partake in the “healing waters.” When the tourist trade faded, it was replaced by a massive expansion of industry that was situated along the town’s waterways. Among the most significant of these concerns were the mills of the “Paper Bag King” George West, Isaiah Blood’s ax and scythe works, and the mammoth tannery of Samuel Haight. Today, its proximity to the state capital and other cities makes the town an increasingly popular residential area, complemented by a quaint and bustling business district in Ballston Spa.

Published by Arcadia Publishing, September 2015


The Sans Souci Hotel, one of the largest in the world when it was built in the early 1800s. It was located at the
present day corner of Front Street and Milton Avenue, but was torn down in 1879.

Milton was known for its thriving industry, especially along the banks of the Kayaderosseras Creek. Shown is the
Empire Mill in Rock City Falls, part of George West's huge paper bag operation.


Excerpt from the introduction:

The town of Milton has derived much of its past fame, wealth, and probably its name (a contraction of Mill-town) from the vast array of industries that developed and flourished from before its establishment to the 1950s. Because these industries were so important to the town itself and Saratoga County as a whole, they are a featured component of this book. The almost complete loss of industry in the late twentieth century is another reason for preserving its history within these pages.

Land now comprising the Town of Milton was part of the Kayaderosseras Patent granted by the English Crown in 1708. Settlement could not begin until claims of the Mohawks were settled in 1767 and the track surveyed and divided among its owners. Originally part of the Ball’s Town district of Albany County, Milton was not set out as a town by the state legislature until 1792. It is centrally located within Saratoga County bounded principally by the towns of Greenfield, Ballston, Galway, and the City of Saratoga Springs. It contains 22,000 acres of moderately fertile farm land and forests in the southwest, gravelly hill country to the west and extreme north, and a giant sand plain on the remaining eastern portion.

Perhaps the most important factor in the initial settlement and subsequent growth of the town was the Kayaderosseras Creek, a Native American name meaning “land of the crooked stream.” The Mohawks of the Iroquois Nation considered the Kayaderosseras valley an important hunting ground. The rapid fall in elevation of the creek within the town’s borders created the perfect conditions for situating water wheels to power machinery. Other suitable streams for water power included the Gordon, Glowegee, and Rowland’s Hollow Creeks.

The earliest settlers arrived in 1772 and purchased land along the Middle Line of Ballston’s “Five Mile Square” (present day Middle Line Road). However, local conflict with the British and their Native American allies prevented the growth of substantial communities until the Revolutionary War ended.

The town’s only incorporated village, Ballston Spa, was first settled around 1787. One of the land speculators selling farm lots from his holdings retained 100 acres, including a rare mineral spring. Nicholas Low, a wealthy merchant from New York City, invested some of his fortune to develop a spa located near the Iron Railing Spring. His most prominent venture was the Sans Souci Hotel, considered one of the grandest of the era when it was built in 1804. Others erected hotels and boarding houses, and for about 20 years the village was a popular tourist destination. Some of the most prominent people of the day traveled to Ballston to “take the waters” and be entertained.

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Official book description from the Arcadia Publishing website.

Radio interview by Bob Cudmore ("The Historians") on 02/17/2016.