Before the Northway was built, travelers would gain access to Clifton Park from the south by crossing the Mohawk River at either the Route 9 bridge to Crescent, or the Route 146 bridge to Rexford. These bridges existed since the early nineteenth century. Between these two bridges there were three ferries: Dunsbach Ferry, Forts Ferry and Vischer Ferry. The most logical place for another bridge was at Vischer Ferry. This would provide direct access into the heart of Clifton Park. [Read more…] about A Bridge at Vischer Ferry: Some Clifton Park History
Exemplary History Museums: Informative & Entertaining
During the past couple of weeks, I visited the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs and the Empire State Aerosciences Museum in Glenville. They are both outstanding for several reasons including the fact that you can see (and sometimes touch) historical relics and artifacts of sorts; they show how many automobiles and aircraft companies started in New York State; and their personnel include docents who are very knowledgeable and eager to answer questions. [Read more…] about Exemplary History Museums: Informative & Entertaining
Recent Archaeology at the Joseph Yates House in Schenectady County
Daniel Mazeau and Aaron Gore, archaeologists with Beverwyck Archaeology, recently completed field investigations and research for the Yates house and property in Glenville, Schenectady County, NY, once home to the family of Joseph Yates (1707-1748). Yates was the grandfather of Joseph Christopher Yates (1768-1837), a lawyer, politician, statesman, founding trustee of Union College and longtime Schenectady Mayor who also served as the 7th Governor of New York in 1823-1824. [Read more…] about Recent Archaeology at the Joseph Yates House in Schenectady County
When Mommy Was a Commie
This week on The Historians Podcast, When Mommy Was a Commie (Troy Book Makers, 2022) is a comic historical novel set in Schenectady in the early 1950s, inspired by real-life episodes from America’s spy war with Russia. Author Jon Sorensen was a newspaper reporter for The Schenectady Gazette, Buffalo News and New York Daily News. [Read more…] about When Mommy Was a Commie
Mohawk River Basin Grants Available
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is offering $600k in Mohawk River Basin Grants to help municipalities, soil and water conservation districts, school districts, colleges and universities, and not-for-profit organizations to implement the goals and objectives of the Mohawk River Basin Action Agenda 2021-2026, a five-year plan advancing efforts to conserve, preserve, and restore the Mohawk River and its watershed. [Read more…] about Mohawk River Basin Grants Available
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in Schenectady
On the evening of January 11, 1917, the Schenectady Daily Union announced the passing of William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody, who died the day before in Denver, Colorado, at age 71.
The Union Star described Cody as a “remarkable man,” a “hero of thousands of exploits,” and published a photograph of Cody with an extensive survey of his life and career as a guide, trapper, Pony Express rider, stagecoach driver, Civil War veteran, Medal of Honor recipient for gallantry, buffalo hunter (thus the nickname “Buffalo Bill”) and master showman. [Read more…] about Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in Schenectady
The Albany Origins of the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop
The Capital District’s Dudley Observatory is considered “the oldest non-academic institution of astronomical research in America.” Originally, it was located north-east of downtown Albany, NY.
Construction there began in 1852 and the facility was dedicated in 1857. Albany’s Congressman Erastus Corning, the founder and first president of the New York Central Railroad, was instrumental in donating a high quality telescope and time-keeping system at the new Dudley Observatory in Albany. [Read more…] about The Albany Origins of the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop
John Isaac DeGraff: Schenectady’s First Elected Mayor
John Isaac De Graff (October 2, 1783 – July 26, 1848) was a U.S. Representative from New York. Born in Schenectady, De Graff attended the common schools and Union College and engaged in mercantile pursuits and the practice of law in that city.
He served in the War of 1812 and was elected as a Jacksonian Democrat to the Twentieth Congress (March 4, 1827 – March 3, 1829). [Read more…] about John Isaac DeGraff: Schenectady’s First Elected Mayor
Patent Medicine History: Schenectady’s Pink Pills for Pale People
Patent medicines, packaged drugs with incompletely disclosed contents, were plentiful and profitable in the United States from the period directly following the Civil War through the early twentieth century.
Before the first Pure Food and Drug Laws were passed, the manufacturers and promoters of patent medicines made millions of dollars from a credulous public eager for cures for a variety of ailments, and from many who were unable to afford the regular care of a doctor. [Read more…] about Patent Medicine History: Schenectady’s Pink Pills for Pale People
The Schenectady Fire of 1861
The City of Schenectady is no stranger to fires. Every school child learns of the destruction of the fledgling village in February 1690 at the hands of the French and their Native American allies. Many know the story of the Great Fire of 1819, which started in a currying shop (where the stretching and finishing of tanned leather was carried out) on Water Street, was spread by strong winds in a northeastern direction, and ultimately destroyed most of the buildings in city west of Church Street from Water Street to the Mohawk River.
The Schenectady Fire of 1861 started innocently enough: boaters on the Mohawk River noticed wisps of smoke emanating from a pile of brush near the southwest corner of a large frame warehouse along the north side of West Front Street (Cucumber Alley) around 4 pm on August 6, 1861. [Read more…] about The Schenectady Fire of 1861