"In the field" railroad history adventures...

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Closing the Gap

On the way to visit my Mother, I stopped for a short road bike ride on the last section of the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail that I never rode.

I started at North Chatham and rode to Nassau Lake. I was a nice day and a pleasant ride.

Nassau Village
Nassau Lake 
I turned around here
- Click to read historical info -
Back at North Chatham
Looking North

Super Short one-handed video

Friday, August 25, 2023

Wallkill Valley Rail Trail

After my wet ride on the Ashokan Rail Trail yesterday--today I traveled over to Rosendale and rode a bit of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. A 150 foot tall trestle, huge abandoned kiln ruins and a myriad of mining caves made it an interesting morning!

The Rosendale Trestle

Before riding the trail, I drove underneath it!

Parking Lot - Cement Kilns

You park at the site of former cement kilns - wow - this was cool!

The Bike Ride

At the "ColdSpot"
The video is a good quick summary of the ride.
Note: I did ride my bike across the trestle but decided NOT to do a one-handed video. The trestle was wet and I'd rather not be one-handed with a camera in front of my eyes... I simply stopped to take the photos.
Here's where I turned around...

On the way back...

I veered off the trail to ride by these granite cliffs - glad I was riding the mountain bike!
Ah... another rock cut!

Back Over the Trestle

The way back was just as fun!

Riding by the Kilns

The final circle back to the car :-)

The Rosendale Cement Industry 

Rosendale cement is a natural cement that was produced in and around Rosendale, New York, beginning in 1825. More than half of the 35 million tons of natural cement produced in the United States originated with cement rock mined in Ulster County, New York, in and around the Town of Rosendale.

The limestone deposits that were discovered in Rosendale were huge, being 22 feet deep, three miles wide and extending over seven miles towards Kingston. Eventually, there were 15 giant cement mills in the area producing millions of barrels of cement a year.

Rosendale cement was used in the construction of many of the United States' most important landmarks, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, Federal Hall National Memorial, and the west wing of the United States Capitol building.

The Process

Producing Natural Rosendale cement begins with the calcination of crushed dolomite in large brick kilns, fired initially by wood and then by coal. The resulting clinker is ground into progressively smaller particles. Unlike Portland cement, Rosendale cement does not require mixing of chemical additives. Historically, this natural cement product was packaged in paper-lined wooden barrels weighing 300 lbs, or in heavy canvas bags.

Bn 1871, Portland cement technology finally came to the United States. By 1900, the Hudson Valley also had two operating Portland plants. Portland cement set very rapidly and was soon preferred over Rosendale cement for mortar. By  the 20th century, the demand for Rosendale natural cement dropped precipitously, while Portland cement rapidly became the most popular building material. 

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Ashokan Rail Trail

Back in 2018 - I documented a visit to the then destroyed Boiceville Railroad Bridge. It was a wonderful trek and hopes among railroad fans at that time were that the railroad bridge would be  restored and the Catskill Mountain Railroad would continue its scenic rides.

It was a controversial issue--converting the railroad line to a rail trail--and although I am sad to know another railroad line no longer has rails, I think the conversion is very nice and the numerous kiosks do a good job of paying tribute to and educating the general public on this unique railroad line's history.

The Bike Ride

It was a very cloudy and overcast day and I was praying for no rain. I started at West Hurley (the Woodstock Dike Trailhead) and first rode east until the finished rail trail ended.

I then headed west to ride the entire trail to Boiceville (11.5 miles one way)
There were numerous informative kiosks along the way
It was great to see a section of the rails still on the ground by the kiosk that detailed the West Hurley station
Although it was sprinkling a bit (bummer), once I removed my glasses, the ride was fine...
A small stone foundation
A tie plate!
Details on the RR reroute after the reservoir was created
Even deep in the woods, stone walls were abundant
It was frustrating when the rain poured down for a bit and I got soaked but I kept on riding... determined to reach Boiceville!
At Ashokan Station
Another stone foundation
Finally... close along the reservoir - it was stunning!
I really couldn't see the former RR route's piers 
Perhaps they've crumbled
At the end...

On my return, I snapped this photos of the boardwalk over a marshy section.
It rained heavily again further on but I snapped a shot of the Glenford Dike...
By the time I got to the car it was a monsoon!!!

Short Video

Further Info