"In the field" railroad history adventures...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Abandoned RRs near Newtown, CT

Yes, I wasn't on my bike (it was raining and too crappy and wet for that!) but this is railroad related so a short post with a link has merit for here :-)

Hawleyville Tunnel

Housatonic River

Hawleyville Tunnels, Retracing the Shepaug and NY&NE RRs near Newtown, CT

(maps, photos, history details…)

Details >

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail - Colonie to Albany

I got started at 10 AM, heading east on the Rail Trail from the Colonie Town Park Parking Lot. I brought both bikes as I planned to ride the mountain bike trails nearby as well.
Looking East at the Colonie Town Park Lot
I took an accidental selfie whilst getting the camera  while riding - it turned out kinda cool... :-)

Colonie to Schulyer Flatts

The first section is a pleasant ride thru woods...
- Short One-Handed Video -

The Trail is brimming with history. The historical sign detailed the High Street Railroad Station in Cohoes. See Historical Postcard >
 Further on, more info on the railroad was nicely displayed.

Once your leave the actual railroad ROW in Cohoes, you bomb down steep hill via a couple of small city streets and pass by an old Erie Canal Lock.

The next part of the ride was a long BORING ride thru Green Island on city streets. 
- Short One-Handed Video -

Near the Green Island bridge across the Hudson, you pass by the old freight house -- now a commercial establishment. Street View >  |  See Historical Photo Comparison >

The east-west Green Island Bridge originated as a railroad bridge
Finally at 4th Street, a trail sign lures you into the woods but it turns on it was the Schulyer Flatts trail, not the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail.
But it was a pleasant detour, especially with the groundhog scurrying ahead of me (see video)
Dead End
- Short One-Handed Video -

Along the Hudson

After reaching the dead end (pictured above), I returned and turned down the hill on 4th Street and got to the river's edge. The Hudson was a beautiful sight, glistening blue in the sunlight!
The ride south from here was gorgeous and... 
...interestingly brimming with history. This section of the trail ran south along what were former islands. Most of the west side channels were filled in when Interstate 787 was built.
- Short One-Handed Video -

The first historical sign indicated there was a huge iron mill at this spot. Troy, of course was renown for its iron industry. It's foundries built the Union-clad U.S. Monitor for the Civil War and the city's proximity to rail and barge shipping were a great plus.

As the next historical sign detailed, the islands were home to amusements parks, race tracks and heavy industry. Due to frequent flooding, over time most of these businesses did not survive. Sadly, except for the commemorative signs, no physical traces are left of their existence.
 This strange observatory-looking dome beckoned me from across the river. I believe it is part of a water treatment plant. See Google Aerial View >
This trail sign indicated there was a huge bustling amusement park at this location. Amazing!! Who knew? Further details on the links listed at the bottom of this post.

Albany Riverside

The trail leads right into downtown Albany and I had to stop and take of photo of this magnificent building. This was the Delaware and Hudson Railroad's headquarters. It is a iconic symbol of the prosperity and "good taste" of this local railroad's contribution to the local economy. [To learn more, be sure to check out the links at the bottom of this post]

My trek along the trail (now more like a wide urban sidewalk) took me past quite a few interesting things. 

- Short One-Handed Video -
Finally, when the "trail" seems to dissipate into nothing, I turned around here at this massive U-Haul building and headed back north.

Heading Back...

As I headed back, a colonial re-enactment was setting up along the trail. Folks were dressed in colonial garb and old boats, tools and tents were on display.
Once back in the woods area, I veered off the trail to take a photo this massive power line tower replete with solar panels. Google Aerial View >
I stopped for a snack at one of the many picnic benches conveniently placed along the trail near the river's edge.
At the north section of Green Island, There is a short section of the road where one can see the Mohawk River and the islands to the north. I stitched together three shots for a panorama view - it was quite beautiful 
PS -  You can see the Green Island railroad bridge (now part of a rail trail) on the right.

There was a fat groundhog who didn't seem to mind me getting close and taking his picture :-)
Back on the rail trail I stopped for a sec to snap this photo of the old Reepmyers Feed Warehouse in Crescent. The trail parallels the warehouse on the far right. Historical Photo Comparison >

Once back at the parking lot, I switched bikes and headed over to the mountain bike trails - I was in for a surprise (altho' forewarned - I was still shocked!) 

Colonie Shale Trail Surprise >

Further Info

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Glens Falls Feeder Canal Trail

The Ride
After a delicious beer and burger at the Cooper's Cave Ale Company nearby, I started my ride eastward from the parking lot at the bottom of Murray St.

It was early afternoon and the sun was blazing but the ride was super flat and easy. It was very scenic all along the way and I snapped a few photos and took a few one-handed videos compiled in the movie below.
At the start

An old road bridge abutment
Where I ended in Hudson Falls
Glens Falls and Cooper's Cave 
The highlight of the trip was crossing the bridge into South Glens Falls and photographing the dry rock outcroppings of the falls. They were massive!

A short jaunt under the bridge brought me to Copper's Cave...

Returning to the car back in Glens Falls, it was nice to see the Hudson River sparkling in the mid afternoon sun.

Short Video

Trail Info

Cooper's Cave Info 

Warren County Bikeway (Glens Falls to Lake George)

Glens Falls to Lake George on the Warren County Bikeway 

Our Ride
My son Greg recently moved to Glens Falls. For this ride, Greg agreed to join me but needed to be back to work at 12 noon so we rode in the morning, starting from his apartment.

We headed over to Dix Street and got on the rail trail right at the Cooper's Cave Ale Company []. The first mile or two was through the city and we had to cross quite a few streets.

Once out of the city, it was nicely wooded and Greg rode as much as he could with no hands on the handlebars as it was flat and easy riding.

We had to ride on a couple of slightly hilly country roads but the trail picked up again near Glen Lake. The bomb down the hill into the Glen Lake outlet was fun and captured on a one-handed video (see below). Next was a long slightly ascending section and then we entered a deeper wooded section that paralleled a meandering brook. It was quite beautiful.

From the Historical Railroad Maps I had researched, I knew that much of this section was parallel tracks of both the Delaware & Hudson Railroad and the Hudson Valley Trolley System (Interurban). I stopped to photograph a sign that detailed the Hudson Valley Trolley history and could see remnants of a parallel ROW on the side.

As you pass the Magic Forest statue (StreetView >) you ride a wide shoulder of Rt 9 that is safely guard-railed and then you veer off on a long downhill bomb into the Village of Lake George. It was a blast and surprisingly an easy climb on the return.

I had to snap a photo of the old Spanish-Styled RR depot (now a shop) but we didn’t linger in the Village and headed right back.

Short Video Summary

The weather was sunny and pleasant — not too hot and all in all it was a pleasant morning ride.

I stopped back at the Cooper's Cave Ale Company for lunch where I met up with a BHBL high school acquaintance. BTW - their Stout was fantastic!!!

After lunch, I headed over to ride the Feeder Canal Trail >

Trail Info

Warren County Bikeway

Railroad/Trolley History Info

Did you know that Lake George was first named Caldwell? ...

...and the Railroad ended in a loop in the Village?

At Glen Lake, the Trolley and the Railroad had separate right of ways (ROWs)

Even after both were abandoned, you can still discern the ROW on this Topo Map .
Historical Map Sources:

Did you know there were speakeasies on Glen Lake during Prohibition?

Be sure to visit Gino’s excellent website on the Caldwell Branch 
of the  Glens Falls Railroad. There are some amazing historical photographs