This blog highlights some of my adventures with the focus on railroad history. Originally intended as a blog of my rail trail rides, it now also includes hikes, railroad trips and even stop-and-go car trips if they are railroad history related...

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Black Bridge Bust

I drove over to Waterford NY - sans bike (it was overcast and snowing a bit outside) - but with snowshoes in car with plans to check out the Black Bridge Trail.

Waterford is--surprisingly--a pleasant little city (although the numerous tattoo parlors on Main Street felt a little weird). I parked at the Waterford Harbor Visitor Center which was closed.

Did You Know?
  • The village of Waterford is the oldest incorporated village in the U.S., having been incorporated in 1794.
  • Waterford is home to the largest annual tugboat festival in the Northeast U.S.
  • The Waterford Flight series of locks is one of the steepest in the world.
It's hard to believe now but the relatively calm area was once hustling and bustling and the centerpiece of economic activity during the old Erie Canal days...

The Trail

The trail was completed in 2011 and its main scenic attraction is the rehabilitation of the former Delaware & Hudson Railroad Bridge that spans the Mohawk River. The Black Bridge to Green Island was built in the 1890s and the rail line was still used into the 1960s.

The trail starts at Waterford Harbor Visitor Center but the weather was extremely crappy so I decided to drive the trail instead of hike it. Leaving the Waterford Harbor Visitor Center you drive thru a narrow bridge and enter Peebles Island.

Its a super short drive until the next narrow bridge which takes you to Van Schaick Island. There were deer on the iced-over river!

At the end of the drivable part, the old rail bed continues and crosses the last bridge that takes you to Green Island. (I turned around here and thought to save this section for a sunny day)
(close up)
Upon the return north, I took a photo of the trail (the old railbed), as it paralleled the street.
Who knew? Van Schaick Island was a major encampment area prior to the Saratoga battle!
Well the crappy weather and the gray overcast made the photos look dreary and gloomy. All in all the trek was a bust... :-( I imagine the trail would be much more fun on a bike on a sunny summer day so I'll be back at some point in the warmer months.

Post "Trail Trek"

I drove across the Hudson into Lansingburgh (north Troy) and drove down south for a few blocks and found this view of the 3rd Bridge.
Finally feelin' the urge for a quick beer, I stopped at the Stewart's before recrossing the Hudson and picked up their 75 cent special. The photo was taken in front of Caputo's Pizzeria - a great spot for serious Italian food! (Rt 9 -  CliftonPark)

Curious as to the condition of the Mohawk-Hudson Rail trail, I drove to Colonie Town Park and confirmed it was NOT rideable. Snowshoes or XC skiis only...

History Tidbits

The "Black Bridge" Branch of the Delaware & Hudson railroad was built in the 1890s and the rail line was still used into the 1960s.  Green Island was a major industrial hub. From railroad repair shops to Ford Motor Company's plant (manufacturing radiators and spring) the branch line was busy in its hey day.

Further Info

Black Bridge Trail

Van Schaick Island

Peebles Island State Park

Cohoes, New York

Delaware and Hudson Railway


  1. Replies
    1. “Well the crappy weather and the gray overcast made the photos look dreary and gloomy. All in all the trek was a bust…”

      It might be fun to bike but the long stretches of road made it a bore for hiking (snowshoeing or whatever). Good photos often redeem a lackluster trek but even that didn’t happen - ah… at least I gleaned some rr history :-)