"In the field" railroad history adventures...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Abandoned ROW - Burgoyne Road near Bryant Bridge

Topo with ROW marked
Well back in January this spot looked enticing to mountain bike (see pics >)  and I was excited to ride it today but… Too Bad!! - It was completely overgrown so I hiked it instead. It was a good thing I did because my hike didn’t last too long and I even had to cross someone’s back yard (not cool!).
I parked at Bryant Bridge and made my way eastward. Despite the plant growth everywhere and frequent downed trees, it was an interesting trek. An abandoned house, an abandoned vehicle (?) and a makeshift old railroad tie footbridge made it all worthwhile. The part that was not cool was the trek across someone's yard that stretched right to the banks of Fish Creek.

I had to turn around sooner than expected as it became impassable. This ROW was abandoned in 1957 and 50 plus years of nature really showed! Check out the Video below for an arm chair super-brief tour...


Abandoned House

Makeshift Footbridge

Oops - backyard :-(


I headed off to Luther Forest and got a good mountain bike ride in but boy was it hot and sunny! The woods after a long wet period are always steamier than the rest of the outdoors. The forest floor does a great job of holding the moisture, only "letting go" as it gets baked off in the heat.
I went out even later in the day to hit up the Colonie Shale Trail but it was still steamy at 4:30 PM.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Recumbent Ride - Quickie

A quickie around my parents neighborhood.... Historical interest? Just that the Pine Hill Development  is replacing the woods at the end of Crooked Street...

The car whizzing past me on Crooked Street must have thought I was  crazy - shooting a one-handed video on a weird bike!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Freemans Bridge Trail - Scotia NY

I went out for a quickie evening ride on a trail that lead from Freemans Bridge Road to Scotia.

 As I unloaded my bike, a train passed over the bridge nearby.

The first thing I see is this retarded sign - the destination is Scotia not Glenville ("New York State Tax dollars" being put to work - bah humbug!)

An active train line goes over the trail. It was a bummer riding thru the short underpass - fetid water splashed all over me and I got my feet soaked. Proper drainage for this trail was non-existent (New York State tax dollars NOT at work!!)

Once at the trail ends in Scotia, you come to where the old bridge crossed the river.  I believe, at one time, this was a railroad/trolley bridge for the Fulton, Johnstown and  & Gloverville Railroad. You can even see the old cobblestones  :-)

Historical Info - The Burr Bridge - After a troubled start, the 997-foot bridge was completed in 1808 and spanned the Mohawk River between Schenectady and Scotia, NY.  It was a covered wooden bridge until 1871, and then an iron bridge, which was condemned in 1926 and removed in 1936. More Info, Historical Photos and links to further Info here >

On the way back, I took a side trek off the trail - this verdant spot reminded me a bit of the Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve.

Probably a gas line inspection vehicle left these tracks - there were mini pipes here and there that looked like gas line valves.

But this embankment intrigued me... It looked like a railroad embankment but it lead to nowhere..
 The whole embankment was made from large chunks of broken cement pieces...

I climbed up to inspect closer...  As you can see, there are railroad ties tossed in with the large rocks and cement cast-offs.

I believe this was a dumping ground for an earlier version of the Freemans Bridge but there is so much heavy old tree growth, this rubble pile goes back quite a few years! 

Check out a Super Short Video of the Ride >

The ride was topped off with an unusual cloud formation which I photographed as I strapped my bike back on the car at the LightHouse/Boat ramp parking lot. I called this "Sinister Scotia Sky"

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Kaydeross Park Abandoned Trolley ROW

In February 2014, when researching abandoned rail and trolley lines in the Saratoga NY area, I found this ROW and was enticed to come back in warmer weather and try to ride it. See winter photos and mini map >

On Sunday morning May 18th--after riding Bog Meadow Brook--I ventured over here and parked in a lot nearby and rode in from Crescent Ave. It was a little soft and wet on the first part of the ascent but further on it was drier but still a little soft from a lot of leaf cover. Nevertheless, it was a fun and fascinating ride. Once I reached the first road (a private driveway), any sign of the ROW completely disappeared so I headed back down as I came.  Bing Bird's Eye View >

Watch a short video -  Riding Down the Hill

Drowned Trail! - Not today...

After I finished the Bog Meadow Brook ride, I went up to the Saratoga Golf Course to ride the trail behind Longfellow’s Restaurant but it was underwater!! Bummer!

Bog Meadow Brook Trail

Early Sunday morning May 18th, I ventured up to the big bog east of Saratoga to ride the Nature Trail. Even though it was a rail trail, I had read that it was full of railroad ties and a rough ride so I wisely opted for the mountain bike.

The weather was simply gorgeous and everything looked stunning in the bright morning sunlight. There were a few bird lovers already out on the trail but I was the only biker.

The ride was fascinating not only because of the verdant and unusual bog plant growth all around me but the signage detailed the railroad’s history as well. Back in the late 19th century, this railway was built to transport tourists from Saratoga Springs to Saratoga lake where they could ride a steamship named “The Lady of The Lake” around the lake!

I rode all the way to the end. At about two-thirds of the way in, there’s a wide boardwalk over a  really wet area. I stopped to enjoy the incredible silence—only broken by the occasional deep sound of bullfrogs croaking.

Some sections of the trail—as mentioned—were still full of ties and man my butt hurt from all the bouncing!

Nevertheless it was a great ride and a wonderful taste of a side of nature most folks normally don’t get to see up close.

NOTE: Further details on the entire abandoned railroad line can be found here >

Photo Tour

North Entrance
North Entrance
The trek eastward
A lovely little spot (benches, etc.)
The profusion of railroad ties made it a very bumpy ride :-(
Deep in the bog the forest begins
The Beautiful Boardwalk

Trail's End 
The ride back - the section was magically surreal!
(Gandalf where are you?)
So picturesque!! - the morning sunlight was perfect :-)
Super Short Video of the Ride 
(Boardwalk featured)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Riding the little-known Trolley Line north of Round Lake

Saturday - May 17th, 2014
I was up in the Burnt Hills - Saratoga area and determined to explore the old, little-known Trolley Line north of Round Lake.

Back at the beginning of April 2014,  I  had been on the section southeast of the Northway and the recently renovated section going southeast of Ruhle Road but the section in between those two still eluded me and I was intrigued.
Where I rode...

 -Topographic Map - 
note the steep banks of the Ballston Creek along here

Saturday was a gorgeous day - sunny and bright and still a bit cool - perfect weather for riding. I parked at Shenantaha Creek Park and rode south on the Zim Smith Rail Trail. Knowing I was going to hit some rougher undeveloped trails, I rode the mountain bike.
Shenantaha Creek Park
Before I stepped out of the house, I browsed  the usual internet map tools and knew from Google aerial views that there was a visible trail that hugs the west side of the Northway as it crosses over the Kaydeross. I knew this was my ticket to get to the Trolley ROW.
The Trail by the Northway
Sure enough, bombing down the rutted ATV trail got me to the other side. Right before I connected to the Trolley ROW, there was a small shale strewn gully to cross butas the video indicates—the Trolley ROW was still clear and an easy ride North.

NOTE: I took a few short one-handed videos with my iPhone while riding and merged them together (YouTube link below). 

When I emerged at the clearing, I  stopped to take photos  where the Power and Gas Lines converged. This location can be seen on the satellite map. Clearing on satellite map >

The next section was very “developed” and soon I wound up on the section of the trail I hiked in April riding by the stream, etc.

When I got to the gate on Ruhle Road, I turned south to check out the historic bridge.

Lastly, I reconnected with the Zim Smith trail and returned to the car.

Short Video Summation

Still having more time (and energy) to bike, I drove over to Luther Forest and had a great time there as well.  See Post >