Charles B. Knox Gelatine Co. Inc.
Edition of
The Old Mohawk-Turnpike Book

Riverside Park.
A beautiful municipal park development of the Mohawk
riverside.  In the distance is the New York Central
railroad bridge.  This level of the river runs from
Visscher's Ferry to above Scotia - 10 miles.

   

From Schenectady to Rome.

SCHENECTADY.
continued, part III

  

Schenectady, 1812-1920.

The War of 1812-15 was mostly fought on the St. Lawrence and Niagara river frontiers of New York State and the river was again largely used for military supplies and ordnance supplies transport, with Schenectady as the river embarkation point, while the soldiers marched westward over the Mohawk Turnpike. In 1814, after his great naval victory on Lake Erie, Commodore Perry journeyed eastward, his progress being a series of triumphant ovations. At Utica Perry embarked on a Mohawk packet, gaily decorated for the occasion, and sailed down the river to Schenectady. Here he was met by a patriotic committee of city burghers, one of whom made him an address of welcome in Holland Dutch, then largely the language of the city.

  

The campground at Scotia was used by Gen. Scott's army in the War of 1812.

In 1825, when Gov. Clinton's party sailed down the Erie canal on the flotilla celebrating the opening of this waterway, they were coldly received by the Schenectady burghers, because the canal's construction had ended the city's career as a terminal point for river trade, for 160 years. The Erie, however, eventually proved an advantage to Schenectady.

From 1783 until after 1840, a great tide of emigration went westward through Schenectady, by turnpike and river. The city's development, as well as that of other valley towns, was furthered by the improvement of highway and river transportation, by the building (in 1808) of the Schenectady bridge, by the construction (1817-1825) of the Erie canal, and the building of the Mohawk and Hudson railroad from Albany to Schenectady in 1831, the Utica and Schenectady railroad in 1836 and later railroad construction north to Saratoga Springs and southwest to the Susquehanna valley, Oneonta and Binghamton. The entire Mohawk valley, as well as Schenectady shared in the impetus given by these successive increases of transportation facilities, nation-wide in their scope and importance. A disastrous fire destroyed the city's business section in 1819 and cholera epidemics visited Schenectady and the Mohawk valley in 1831 and 1848.

  

The Col. Yates House, 1735.
at 26 Front street.  This was the home of Lt. Col.
Yates of the (Revolutionary) Second Albany County
Militia, and where Gov. Yates, his son, was born in
1768, a tablet marking the site.  The house was
built before 1735.

Governor Yates, 1823-5.

Joseph C. Yates (son of Col. Christopher Yates) was born in Schenectady in 1768 in the Col. Yates house, 26 Front street. He was a founder of Union college, the first mayor of Schenectady after it was made a city in 1798, and Governor of New York State, 1823-5. He died in 1837. A fine portrait of Gov. Yates (painted by Vanderlyn) shows the Governor in knee breeches. It can be seen in the Governor's room in the New York City Hall, illustrated on the opposite page.

  

Schenectady in 1840.

In 1840 (178 years after its founding) Schenectady is described as having "a city hall, jail, clerk's and surrogate's office, a market, lyceum, female academy, 3 banking houses, besides a savings bank, 9 churches- 1 Dutch reformed, 1 Presbyterian, 1Episcopal, 1 Baptist, 1 Methodist, 1 Cameronian, 1 Universalist, 1 Roman Catholic, 1 African, 100 stores, 1 cotton factory, 2 flouring mills, 2 iron foundries, 1 brewery, 1 tobacco factory, 1 steam flouring mill, 3 tanneries, 2 machine shops, 1 plough and wagon factory, 1,000 dwellings and 6,784 inhabitants. The buildings of Union college, 3 in number and spacious, are pleasantly situated on an eminence, half a mile east of the city. The institution was founded in 1795, contains a president and 11 professors and other instructors, has had 2,029 alumni of whom 308 have been ministers of the gospel, has 258 students and 13,000 volumes in its libraries. Its commencements are on the 4th Wednesday of July. Its philosophical and other apparatus is very complete. Attached to this college are about 250 acres of land, part of which is designed to be appropriated to groves and walks." (Sherman & Smith's "Gazeteer of the United States," N. Y. C., 1844).

Schenectady county's 1840 population was 17,387.

In 1845 the first telegraph line was run up the valley along the present Central line, thus being part of the Albany-Buffalo line.

The establishment of locomotive works here in 1845, the location of the General Electric Co. here, in 1886, and the beginning of construction work on the Erie section of the New York State Barge canal, in 1905, are the most important commercial events and dates to Schenectady in the past century.

In 1922 Thomas Edison visited the General Electric Co. Schenectady works. Edison and Steinmetz, the two electrical wizards of the day, together inspected the G. E.'s electrical wonders and developments. Edison was instrumental in the original removal of the works from New York to Schenectady in 1886. Edison's visit in 1922 was a historic occasion properly celebrated.

  

Charles Proteus Steinmetz.

Schenectady and the country at large suffered a great loss in the death of Charles Proteus Steinmetz at Schenectady, Oct. 26, 1923.

  

1831- Mohawk and Hudson R.R., and the New York Central Lines of Today.

This railroad between Albany and Schenectady is made famous by the fact that it was the first steam link of the New York Central and over it went its first steam propelled passenger train in 1831.

George W. Featherstonhaugh, a noted scientist and publicist (born in England in 1780), resident in Schenectady county, in 1812 began efforts to secure a charter for the Mohawk & Hudson railroad. His home was on Featherstonhaugh lake, where he had a blooded stock farm and an art gallery. He organized the State Board of Agriculture, and was the first United States Geologist (1833). In the Mohawk & Hudson charter, Stephen Van Rensselaer of Albany was the president and George W. Featherstonhaugh vice president of the railroad. He is one of the American pioneers of railroading.

The Mohawk & Hudson Railroad Co. was chartered by the Legislature April 17, 1826. Two locomotives were ordered, one from George Stephenson of England (the inventor of the locomotive) and the other (designed by the road's engineer, John B. Jervis) from the West Point foundry. The English engine was called the Robert Fulton, but the name was later changed to John Bull. It weighed 12,740 lbs. The American locomotive was named the DeWitt Clinton and weighed 6,758 lbs. It was 11 ft. 6 in. long, with two cylinders 5-1/2 in. by 16 in. In 1831, on trial trips, it attained a speed of 30 miles an hour. The first train consisted of an engine, tender and three coaches.

The formal opening of the road was on August 13, 1831. A grand excursion was run Sept. 24, 1831, when a great celebration was held at Schenectady. The Robert Fulton (English engine) started to haul the train but broke down. The DeWitt Clinton (American engine) hauled three coaches, followed by seven platform cars, each drawn by a horse. The three coaches were stage coaches mounted on trucks, holding ten passengers each. The rails were wooden stringers, with iron straps nailed on top. The engine burned wood and the sparks therefrom constantly set fire to the passengers' clothes on this historic journey.

Following this epoch-making trip a banquet was held at Schenectady. Governor Throop offered this toast: "The Mohawk & Hudson Railroad! Its successful execution has given us practical evidence of the foresight of those who embarked in this enterprise."

President Camberling, of the M. & H., responded with the following: "The Buffalo railroad!  May we soon Breakfast at Utica, dine at Rochester and sup with our friends on Lake Erie."

  

The DeWitt Clinton Train, Mohawk & Hudson R. R., 1831.
The DeWitt Clinton engine and train which made the trip over
the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad, between Albany and 
Schenectady, in 1831.

The DeWitt Clinton Train, 1831.

August 1, 1836, the DeWitt Clinton drew the first train over the Schenectady & Utica railway.

Fortunately the first DeWitt Clinton train has been preserved to us in its original form. It was exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial of 1876 and at the Chicago world's fair of 1893, the engine being largely rebuilt, on the original lines, for the latter exhibition. In 1920 this train was placed on free exhibition in the balcony of the Grand Concourse of the Grand Central Station.

On Sunday, July 17, 1921, the DeWitt Clinton train was placed on the New York Central tracks and made several trips from 96th to 116th streets in New York city, one trip (that here illustrated) being made with New York Central employees dressed in the costume of 1831. A speed of 15 miles an hour was attained. The old train was then put aboard flat cars and taken to Chicago for exhibition. On the trip it was drawn by engine 999, the famous locomotive which, on May 10, 1893, set the world's record of 112 miles an hour speed for a loaded train, while drawing the Empire State Express. The DeWitt Clinton train was exhibited all along the New York Central line on the 1921 trip to Chicago.

In 1836 the Utica & Schenectady railroad was built and railroad connection between Albany and Utica opened, and later extended to Syracuse in 1839. In 1847 the name of the Mohawk & Hudson railroad was changed to the Albany & Schenectady railroad and the tracks were relocated on their present situation. In 1853 the various railroads, making a through line from Albany to Buffalo, were consolidated under the name of the New York Central railroad, this being the first railroad merger in the United States. In 1868 the New York Central railroad and the Hudson River railroad consolidated under the name of the New York Central & Hudson River railroad.

On Dec. 23, 1914, the N. Y. C. & H. R. R.R. consolidated with the Michigan Central R. R., Pittsburg & Lake Erie R.R., Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis R.R., Lake Erie & Western R.R., Toledo & Ohio Central R.R., all under the name of the New York Central Lines. The West Shore R.R. was absorbed by the Central Jan. 1, 1886.

The New York Central Lines form one of the world's largest and most important railroad systems. On Crane street, Mount Pleasant, stands the original power house of the Mohawk and Hudson railroad, a historic spot which should be marked with an appropriate monument. This power house operated a cable which pulled the trains up the first steep rise at Schenectady, during the road's early operation.

In 1923 the New York Central Lines hauled over one-tenth of the freight traffic of the United States.

  

Invention of Railroad Air Brake, 1869, and Threshing Machine, 1840 -
Westinghouse Company, 1856.

The Westinghouse Co. located in 1856 at Schenectady. Here George Westinghouse jr. created and perfected the Westinghouse airbrake, patenting it in 1869. George Westinghouse sr. had his first shop in the town of Florida, Montgomery county, and later removed to Central Bridge on the Schoharie branch of the Mohawk, where he perfected the threshing machine in 1840. He did a large business in threshers and agricultural machinery after removing to Schenectady. The shop was on the site of the (1921) office of the International General Electric Co.

The concern was still doing business in 1921 as a repair shop, furnishing thresher parts. The elder Westinghouse considered his son's airbrake impracticable and would not back it. Being unable to secure other aid, George Westinghouse jr. located his airbrake factory in Pittsburg.

George Westinghouse jr. also invented devices for high tension electrical transmission.

  

Schenectady - Civil War (1861-5).

The military history of Schenectady in the French-Indian, Revolutionary and War of 1812 periods has been herein briefly reviewed. In the Civil war (1861-1865) the chief Union military organizations in which Schenectady county patriots enlisted were the 134th Reg., N.Y. Vols., known as the Schoharie-Schenectady regiment, with 380 volunteers from Schenectady county; 18th Infantry, 141 men; 2d Cavalry, 110 men; 91st Infantry, 156 men.

The Clute works of Schenectady made most of the machinery which operated the "Monitor," the first Union turreted armorclad, which defeated the Confederate Merrimac in the famous river fight with the Merrimac, March 9, 1862, off Newport News.

  

State Armory, E, F, M. G. Cos., 105th N. G. S. N. Y.

At Schenectady is the State Armory at 700 State St., of Cos. E and F and the Machine Gun Co. of the 105th Inf., New York National Guard. These companies formed units of the 105th Infantry, 27th Division, U.S.A., in the Great War, and took part in smashing the Hindenberg line (1918) and in other actions in France; 105th Inf., N. Y. N. G., headquarters are at Troy.

  

The Holland Dutch in the Mohawk Valley.

When Schenectady was settled the Holland Dutch formed one of the most progressive and civilized peoples in the world. Up to the Revolution the descendants of the Holland Dutch pioneers formed the most numerous racial stock along the Mohawk and their influence was predominant in the eastern and most populous part of the valley, while it even extended into and influenced the later German-settled western section. Their churches of the Reformed Dutch denomination were located in practically every pre-Revolutionary Mohawk river community and thus spread the Holland-Dutch influence everywhere in our valley. Reformed Dutch missionaries worked assiduously among the Iroquois and Algonquin tribes. The dominies of Albany and Schenectady were notable for this service from 1642 onward. (See History of the Montgomery Classis, by Rev. W. N. P. Dailey.)

Thousands of Americans along the Mohawk today claim descent from these Holland Dutch pioneers, who have left a strong impress upon the history of America.

  

"Old Dorp."

Schenectady is notable as the place where Holland Dutch influence was dominant longer than in any other city of the Hudson valley (the Mohawk being part of the Hudson watershed). Holland Dutch was preached in the churches of the Dutch Reformed denomination until long after 1800 and it was spoken somewhat generally up to 1850 and even thereafter. Some years ago, two Schenectady men, who spoke the Dutch language of their fathers, paid a visit to Holland. They were surprised to find that the natives found difficulty in understanding their Schenectady Dutch because it was of an ancient form and much mixed with words of Indian origin. During its somewhat sleepy existence in the mid-nineteenth century, Schenectady was affectionately known as "Old Dorp" (Dutch for "old town"), a name frequently applied to it even today by the people of the Mohawk valley.

The old Colonial Holland Dutch section of the town still largely exists in the streets of the river section, formerly enclosed by the ancient stockade. Here still stand many houses, in the Schenectady Dutch style, built before or shortly after the Revolution. It is a section of Dutch Colonial Schenectady well worth careful preservation.

  

The "Westina" - South Shore Road to Rotterdam.

There are many pleasant side tours from Schenectady. The south shore highway from Schenectady to Rotterdam (5 m. west) is a pleasing route, particularly as it approaches Yantapucha, the mountain to the west of Schenectady on the south shore. On the southern slopes of the Yantapuchaberg, flows the Platterkill, with its picturesque upper and lower falls and having a trail running along it, making it accessible from the South Shore Road. Near Rotterdam is the Mabie farmhouse, built in 1670, and the oldest stricture in the Mohawk valley. A return amy be made to the Old Mohawk Turnpike by crossing the Rotterdam Barge canal bridge dam. The western part of Schenectady county was known in Colonial and Revolutionary times as the "Woestyne" or "Westina," meaning the "wilderness" or waste land.

  

Gateway to the Schoharie Valley.

This south shore turnpike is the shortest and easiest route to the Schoharie valley and its villages of Middleburg, Schoharie and Cobleskill, near which is Howe's Cave. At Schoharie is the old Schoharie Reformed Dutch church, built in 1770 and made into a Revolutionary American fort in 1776. It is controlled now by the Schoharie County Historical Society and houses an interesting historical collection. The picturesque Schoharie trip is well worth taking.

  

Route to the Great Western Turnpike.

At Duanesburg the Schoharie route crosses the Great Western Turnpike (running from Albany to Syracuse) about fifteen miles south of the Old Mohawk Turnpike.

This old Indian trail was so named and improved in 1800. It carried much of the traffic from Albany in the great days of emigration to the west. The Great Western Turnpike runs west from Albany through Sharon Springs, Cherry Valley, Richfield Springs, West Winfield, Bouckville, Cazenovia, Manlius and Fayetteville to Syracuse.

  

Great Western Gateway Bridge Crossing Mohawk at Schenectady.

At Schenectady the Central railroad, Schenectady Railway Co., D. & H. H. R. R. and highway cross (1921) the river by bridges.

The Mohawk was crossed by ferry at Schenectady for 150 years after the city's settlement. In 1808 the first bridge was built here. It was a picturesque wooden suspension bridge and was considered a marvel of bridge-building skill and its stone piers formed the supports of the later iron (1874) highway bridge. A bridge built in 1798 blew down before completion. The wooden suspension bridge was covered about 1820. In 1874 the Remington Ilion Bridge Works built the iron highway bridge here. This was a toll bridge up to March 11, 1920, when it became free. The toll franchise brought in $25,000 annually to the town of Glenville. In the old turnpike days here was the first Mohawk Turnpike toll gate, going west.

In 1916 initial steps were taken by the State toward the construction of the new highway bridge over the Mohawk at Schenectady. It is of concrete, handsome in detail and mass, nearly a mile in length and costing $2,000,000. It is known as the Great Western Gateway Bridge, to commemorate the fact that the Mohawk was the great western gateway for the early pioneers, who, at Schenectady, entered the valley highways and waterways and journeyed over them to the Great West. The people of the city of Little Falls (58 m. west) dispute Schenectady's assumption of the title of Great Western Gateway. As a matter of fact the entire valley is the gateway. The Gateway bridge has one of the longest concrete spans existing - 212 feet over the Barge canal channel. It is one of the longest concrete bridges in the country.

  

Gateway to Saratoga and the North.

After crossing the Great Western Gateway bridge and automobile main line runs north to Ballston Spa, Saratoga, Lake George, Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. At Ballston Spa was born Major Gen. Abner Doubleday, a distinguished Union general who invented baseball at Cooperstown in 1840.

  

The Mohawk River and Early River Traffic.

Crossing the highway bridge you get a fine view of the beautiful river region at Schenectady.

The Mohawk was used as a river route from Rome to Schenectady by the Indians in canoes and later by the first white settlers in skiffs and batteaux. After it was improved by locks and canals in 1796 "Schenectady" and "Durham" boats of ten tons and over navigated the stream. The trip upstream was most difficult because of rapids or "riffs" (Dutch for "reef"). Setting poles, oars, sails and tow ropes were used. Both passengers and freight were carried. The building of the Erie canal, along the south shore of the Mohawk and westward to Buffalo, and its completion in 1825 supplanted the traffic of the Mohawk river. The Erie canal made New York State and city great. It has since been supplanted in the Mohawk valley by water traffic over the river which is utilized by the New York State Barge canal. The deepening and damming of the Mohawk channel have, of course, eliminated the riffs or rapids. West of Frankfort the Barge canal follows a land line, 25 m. to Rome, while the Mohawk runs in its original channel.

  

Erie (1825) and Barge Canal (1918).

The Mohawk now forms the canalized channel of the New York State Barge canal, which connects the tidewater of the Hudson at Troy, with Lake Erie at Buffalo. This is known as the Erie section, 353 miles long with 35 locks. It supplanted (1918) the picturesque old Erie canal which lay on the south shore of the river from Schenectady westward to Rome (95 miles west). The Barge canal passes by canal, above the Cohoes falls, and enters the Hudson at Waterford, on the north side of the mouth of the Mohawk. It course from Waterford westward to Rome is 116 miles and this is its Mohawk river section, vitally important because it forms a waterway through the Appalachian mountains and because of the importance of its water supply stored in the two great reservoirs at Hinckley and Delta. The tourist can more closely observe the commerce of this national waterway along the Mohawk Turnpike (from Schenectady to Rome, 95 miles) than in any other part of its course. This is due to the narrow lower levels of the valley which bring its highways close to the river throughout its main route. The dimensions of the present enlargement, or Barge canal improvement, are the same for all four branches of the system, including the canalization of the Mohawk river channel. Briefly it may be stated that the law requires a channel at least 75 feet wide at the bottom and having 12 feet of water. In rivers and lakes the width is 200 feet, and 72 per cent of the length of the whole system is in river or lake channel. The locks are 328 feet long between gates, 45 feet wide, with 12 feet of water over the sills. Its construction involved great difficulties. It is one of the most important water routes in the world.

Its barges have a maximum capacity of about 2,500 tons, whereas that of the old Erie canal boats never exceeded 250 tons. Its lockage capacity is six times that of the old waterway. Its great locks and dams are in sight of your car the entire 95 miles from Schenectady to Rome. The State appropriated $20,000,000 for terminal locks and they have been built at all important points from New York to Buffalo (the Hudson river being considered a part of this New York-Buffalo waterway system and route).

There are 35 locks on the main Erie Barge canal from Waterford to Buffalo, 14 of them along your route from Schenectady to Rome.

The Barge canal was authorized by the N.Y. Legislature in 1903 and work was begun on the Erie and Champlain sections in 1905. The original appropriations amounted to $101,000.,000. Its cost is about one-third that of the Panama canal and about five-sevenths that of the new (1914) Catskill water supply system for New York city. The Barge canal, it is prophesied, will surpass the Panama canal in commercial value. The opening and closing of navigation on the State canals coincides closely with that of the Great Lakes. The earliest opening date of the Erie was, in recent years, April 24 and the latest opening May 15. The earliest recent closing date has been Nov. 15 and the latest Dec. 10. About seven months of navigation are assured. In 1913 the Erie canal carried a freight tonnage of 1,788,453, a large decrease from the days of its heaviest traffic (about 1880). For canal history and information read "History of the Canal System of the State of New York," published by the office of the State Engineer and Surveyor.

The length of the sections of the Barge canal are as follows: Erie (Waterford to Buffalo), 353 m.; Champlain (Troy to Lake Champlain), 63 m.; Oswego (Syracuse to Lake Ontario), 24m.; Cayuga-Seneca (connecting Erie section with Cayuga and Seneca lakes), 27 m.; navigable connecting rivers and lakes, 347 m.; total, 801 m. The New York to Buffalo waterway, by way of the Hudson river and Erie section, Barge canal, is 507 miles long, as compared with the New York-Buffalo highway distance of 448 miles, and the New York Central railroad distance of 439 miles.

The natural New York Lakes to Sea deep waterway or ship canal route is by way of the St. Lawrence river to the Sorel river, down that stream to Lake Champlain, thence following the present 23-mile land cut of the Champlain branch of the Barge canal from Whitehall to Fort Edward on the Hudson. It is probable that this deep waterway will eventually be built, to work in conjunction with the present Erie Barge canal. This century will be one of waterway development just as the last century was one of railroad construction.

It is not improbable that the Barge canal will carry a passenger service, as this route affords the best way of seeing the Mohawk valley in a leisurely fashion. In 1921a hydroplane passenger service over the Barge canal was projected similar to the New York-Albany Hudson river airway and those between other points. A trial hydroplane trip, up the Mohawk valley over the Barge canal, was made in May, 1921.

Before Barge canal work began the Mohawk's banks were beautiful with trees - largely elms and willows. As the canalization destroyed much of this it should now be restored, both for beauty and utility - the protection and holding of the river's banks.

  

The Old Mohawk Turnpike and the New York-Buffalo Highway.

As you leave the Gateway bridge, going west from Schenectady, you run along the first stretch of the Old Mohawk Turnpike part of the New York to Buffalo Highway, a development of an old trail. After the Revolution and until after the construction of the Utica-Schenectady railroad in 1836 it was the scene of busy freight and passenger traffic. Great broad-tired "Pennsylvania wagons," drawn by from four to eight horses and holding loads of 100 bushels of wheat (and every variety of produce and merchandise) occupied this road together with the lively stage coach. It was said there was an inn every mile on this route from Schenectady to Utica. Over this road went the wagons and prairie schooners of a great part of the hundreds of thousands who peopled the west before and after the building of the Erie canal and the railroads. Stages were discontinued on the Mohawk turnpike about 1845 and this marks the end of its prominence as an important line of horse travel. This Old Mohawk Turnpike represents the gradual development of the old north shore Mohawk Indian trail. It has also been called the Iroquois Trail (Albany to Buffalo, 305 miles), of which it forms one-third of its mileage. In the early days it was known somewhat, it is said, as the Albany road and the Albany turnpike, as this like nearly all valley roads, led eventually to Albany in the early days of the colony and State.

In 1800 the Mohawk Turnpike Co. was incorporated by the New York Legislature, with the object of constructing a highway from Schenectady to Utica, and further west if desired. The roadway was built of broken stone, sixty feet wide with a center raised eighteen inches, thence rounded to the edge. There were twelve toll gates between Schenectady and Utica, and the turnpike proper never extended west of Utica.

It connected at Schenectady with the Albany turnpike (built 1798 and connecting by ferry with the Albany Post Road at Rensselaer for New York). On the west it connected at Utica with the Seneca Road (chartered 1800), running west to Buffalo, by way of Canandaigua and Avon on the Genesee river. This was sometimes called the Genesee road.

The stage coach period began in 1790 when a stage line made trips from Albany to Schenectady to Johnstown to Canajoharie. This bumpy ride cost three cents a mile. In 1792 this line was extended westward to Utica and Whitesboro. It was further extended to Canandaigua in 1794 and the fare became, on an average, about four cents a mile. In 1811 a fast line ran day and night, from Albany to Buffalo, in three days. The horses were continuously trotted and changed about every ten miles. Four coaches went west and four east daily. The building of the Erie canal (1825) and the Schenectady-Utica railroad (1836) and its extension to Syracuse (1838) dwarfed this valley highway traffic and, in 1845, stages were discontinued over the Mohawk Turnpike and the traffic over it became negligible, until the beginning of motor tourist travel about 1900.

The length of the sections of the New York -Buffalo highway are as follows, with relation to the old turnpikes: New York to Albany (Albany Post Road), 149 m.; Albany to Schenectady (Mohawk and Hudson Turnpike), 15 m.; Schenectady to Utica (Old Mohawk Turnpike), 80 m.; Utica to Buffalo (Seneca Road), 204m.; total New York-Buffalo highway 448 m. The Albany-Buffalo route is generally divided as follows: Albany to Syracuse, 145 m.; Syracuse to Buffalo, 154 m.; total Albany-Buffalo highway, 299 m.

Many of the old Turnpike inns, now used as farmhouses, are still standing all along this old highway. There are six of them between Schenectady and Amsterdam.

Several of these old taverns have largely reverted to their original mission as wayside inns, together with later Turnpike farmhouses which give board or furnish meals a refreshments and provide parking places for motorists as well as tenting and camping grounds.

As on other main American highways, farmers along the Old Mohawk Turnpike have created a considerable trade in farm produce, poultry, etc., with the great motoring public constantly passing their doors.

The present Mohawk Turnpike is an important link of the greatest national automobile road - the New York-Buffalo Highway. It carries an increasing amount of freight traffic as well as passenger motor car travel which comes from every part of the United States. Plans were formulated in 1920, by State Highway Commissioner Greene to increase the width of the Turnpike from 18 to 24 feet, with a six-foot strip of bitumen and a nine-foot strip of concrete on each side.

It will eventually be necessary to improve both the north and south shore turnpikes to carry the great load of automobile travel through the Mohawk valley. The roads are "twins" and both are largely covered in this book.

State Engineer Williams in 1922 proposed making the old Erie canal towpath on the south river shore into a state highway, extending from Schenectady to Buffalo. This would give a much needed third highway through the Mohawk valley- an eventual necessity.

In the 95-mile run from Schenectady to Rome there are many interesting side trips available over main automobile roads running north into the Adirondack country and south into the Schoharie and Susquehanna valleys. These are noted at the points of junction of these roads with the Mohawk Turnpike.

It is intended eventually to mark the Old Mohawk Turnpike with distinctive pole signs. This particular link of the Albany-Buffalo highway has been frequently misnamed on automobile touring maps. The historic sites along the Old Mohawk Turnpike will also eventually be marked with suitable and informing signs and directions.

The Turnpike runs westward, from Schenectady to Amsterdam (16 m.), in a northwesterly direction through a picturesque river, farming and dairying country.

  

Return to Schenectady, part I

  

  

      

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