Retracing the Path of the Schenectady Railway

History Sleuthing

SRWOn Nov 28th and 29th 2013, while visiting my family for Thanksgiving, I ventured out to document any still visible traces of the Schenectady Railway’s branch to Saratoga. Equipped with the 1930 Historical Map on my iPhone, it was surprisingly quite easy to locate and photograph the Schenectady Railway's Right of Way (ROW) wherever it crossed a road.

At a later date, I discovered how glaringly obvious sections are from online map satellite views (especially the section between Ballston Lake and Ballston Spa!)

The map on the right illustrates the approximate ROW of the Interurban. Moving north from Alplaus to just north of Ballston Spa, the following photos clearly demonstrate that the Interurban’s ROW has not yet succumbed to the forces of nature and has been leveraged by roadways, skimobilers and utility companies.

--Another Era--
It is hard to imagine now, when walking the streets of Alplaus or visiting the quiet hamlet of Rexford, that this once had a bustling amusement park from 1901 to 1933 and the trolley bridge across the Mohawk held the record as the longest in North America.

Little is left of the trolley line but the piers and embankment and nothing is left of the spectacular amusement park. Worse yet, there is nothing to commemorate these past unique historical achievements—not a single sign or plaque could be found. [Only online research and a train/history buff's curiosity and desire to compile and share this knowledge... ]

--Why?--
One can wonder... is America's callous disregard for railroads and it's unending love affair with the automobile perhaps the subconscious reason for the lack of pride in this area's interurban legacy? Are folks embarrassed that they once had a trolley track running through their town?

One can hope—with a new focus on reducing transportation costs (due to ever-rising gasoline prices) and the information revolution exploding into everyone's home via the Internet—that a fresh renewed look back on the neighborhood streetcar line will take place soon and the Schenectady Railway's history will be given the respect it deserves...

Until then, enjoy this website :-) ...


Alplaus / Rexford

Alplaus/Rexford Historical MapIt's a wonder (and a shame) considering the Schenectady Railway's prominent role in Alplaus' growth why there isn't at least a plaque at the start of the embankment at Bruce Road explaining the significance of both the interurban's embankment and bridge piers still clearly spanning the Mohawk River.

The interurban ROW is clearly visible as a embankment with a walkable trail on top. Bruce Drive continues north directly on the Schenectady Railway's ROW. The bridge abutment and piers still stand resolutely - a proud reminder of the trolley’s glory days.

alplaus

alplaus

alplaus

alplaus

alplaus

I returned in the Spring and shot this photo at Dusk
Alplaus Trolley Bridge

The spur to Rexford's Luna Park is distinguishable by the shape of the landscape and the property allotments.alplaus

alplaus

Rexford (Luna Park Spur)

A small cement foundation is visible just off the street, probably a Luna Park remnant (?).

Rexford Ruin

Glenridge Road

Glenridge Road Historical MapClimbing up on the Railroad bridge gives a clear overview northward, The interurban ROW is clearly visible from this higher vantage point. Beneath me, a few feet to the south, are the now buried tunnels.

Glenridge Road

Ballston Lake

Rustic Bridge Road Historical MapThe interurban ROW continues north as a gravel road. The old ROW is probably a popular snowmobile trail in wintertime for locals.

Rustic Bridge Crossing

Ballston Lake Road Historical MapThe interurban ROW south of Main Street is a gravel road called Firemens Lane. North of Main Street is the paved bike trail.

Ballston Lake

Ballston Lake

Route 50 - Brookline Road

Route 50/Brookline Road Historical MapPower lines have taken advantage of the cleared interurban ROW both at the Brookline Road and Route 50 crossing.

Directly south of Ollari Landscaping (on the west side of the highway) is the where interurban ROW crosses Route 50.

Brookline Road

Brookline Road

Route 50

Route %0 - Ollari Landscaping

Ballston Spa

Ballston Spa Historical MapOnce again, power lines have taken advantage of the cleared interurban ROW.

Ballston Spa South

Ballston Spa South

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