Saratoga's Electric Railways

Branches to Geyser Park, Kaydeross Park, etc.

Growing up the the Saratoga region could be analogous to hovering on the edge of a black hole. It was nearly impossible not to be drawn in by the gravitational force of all its attractions: SPAC, Cafe Lena, The Race Track, its glamorous history still visible in Congress Park and the Gideon Putnam Hotel and of course, our family’s favorite, Geyser Park.

Although much has been published on Saratoga’s storied history and the myriad of rich folks who peppered its colorful past, little is told about its trolleys and how they helped nurture its fame as an amusement capital and tourist destination.

The Visitor Center

HVRR StationSmack in the center of Saratoga, across from the Canfield Casino and Congress Park, beckons the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center. Built in 1915 as a trolley station for the Hudson Valley Railway Company, it is a fitting welcoming gateway to the riches of Saratoga. Framed by Doric columns, this beautiful Beaux-Arts building serves as a stately reminder of how important and elegant traveling by rail once was.

The trolley system in Saratoga Springs had already reached its zenith when this station was built, offering thirty-five different trips daily from 1914-16. From its humble beginnings as a simple local excursion to the nearby geysers, the local trolley eventually expanded into an extensive interurban system branching from Lake George to Albany.

As trolleys and trains gave way to roads and cars, the elegant trolley station was bought by the State and converted into a “drink hall,” where after entering through a turnstile, visitors could buy bottled, state-owned mineral waters. Different waters were recommended at various times of the day. Historical Photo | Further Details About the Building

As with most trolleys and railroads, ownership changed hands through the years. The Delaware and Hudson Railroad gained controlling interest of the Hudson Valley Railway's electric system as the map below indicates. The increasing popularity of automobiles resulted in the abandonment of local routes after 1926 but service to Schenectady was maintained until 1941.

D&H Map

Hudson Valley Railway - Tidings to Trolley Travelers

As this excerpt from a company brochure illustrates, both the Saratoga geyser springs and the Kaydeross Park were promoted in their advertisements. Visit this archive found in the Internet Archive Library to see the full brochure (you can click a variety of viewing options).

Ballston Spa
This town is so clearly connected in many ways with the great summer resort of Saratoga that they are often spoken of as one. At both places are the famous mineral springs of America. Through cars arrive and depart from both points every hour, and local cars run between the two places every half hour in the winter, and every fifteen minutes in summer.

There are many points of interest along the line between these two places, such as the famous Geyser Spring, Adirondack Spring and the Florida Ostrich Farm...

During the summer a fifteen minute schedule to the race track and Kaydeross Park is maintained. Kaydeross Park is situated on Saratoga Lake and is owned and managed by the railroad company. A large, open air theatre is a feature, where refined vaudeville is given each afternoon and evening except Sunday, when a military band furnishes sacred concerts in the Casino, together with frequent concerts through the week. Bathing, boating and fishing supply amusement for all. Fare from Saratoga to the Lake 10¢, Ballston, 10¢

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Saratoga's Trolley Lines

xxIn the Saratoga area, according to Interurbans of the Empire State2, the 2.3 mile route to the Geysers was built in 1890 and the park’s popularity was a boon for the trolley company. Soon thereafter, streetcar lines were added eastward and southward to the racetrack and lake. As the animated map on the right indicates, a connection was built to Ballston Spa a few years later then a spur to reach the Kaydeross Amusement Park followed.

While researching the right-of way (ROW) of the Saratoga & Schuylerville, another abandoned railroad nearby, I happen to notice the ROW of the Kaydeross Park extension off Route 9P north of Lake Lonely and it sparked my curiosity...

That was how this project was born! [Research info on this line, look at aerials and maps and go out into the field to photograph any remnants you can find...]

The results have been organized into two scrollable pages linked below. At some point in the future, more of the HVRR ROW will be documented as well...


Also of Interest

Did you know in the 1840s Saratoga had a very curious railway amusement?

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