Friday, January 30, 2009

January 30, 1909 - Chamber Dinner

100 Years Ago Today: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

Chamber of Commerce Dinner Most Successful

Fifth Annual Affair Was Brilliant; Speeches Were Excellent--Prosperity of This City Was The Main Theme
During the five years our city has shown a steady and substantial growth. New industries have been established and additions to plants constructed; better car service has been inaugurated, larger and better cars placed on the lines, and transfers to all points in Albany obtained; the two railroad bridges have been virtually made free bridges; the fire department has been equipped with modern apparatus, and a post office has been established, thus placing Rensselaer upon the map.

A few years ago when an order was issued making West Albany the terminus of the Boston and Albany R. R., and the local round house and shops were closed, many persons believed we had sustained a blow from which we would not recover in many years. However, during the past year a new round house and shops have been erected, and Rensselaer was again made the eastern terminus of the road. In addition to this the New York Central round house has been enlarged by the addition of twenty stalls, a handsome new church was dedicated and many other buildings constructed; in fact, the building operations during the past year, notwithstanding the panic, exceeded those of any two previous years, in the history of our city. Many handsome residences have been constructed and many more will be constructed during the year 1909.
I believe there is a bright future in store for Rensselaer. Let each man do his duty toward the upbuilding of a better and greater city. Let us set aside our personal dislikes and the remembrance of hostility in business, political and social life and look for the good in our fellow townsman.
"All for Rensselaer and Rensselaer for All."

See the January 30, 1909 Front Page for more speeches from guys with elegant mustaches, and an article about the "Terrible Death of George C. Redden".

Sharing Services

Here is some discussion about sharing public services within Rensselaer County:

The Independent: Jimino: Towns must share
Shared services among municipalities in Rensselaer County carries a new sense of urgency given the struggling economic climate.
The Troy Record: Rensselaer County eyes sharing services
More than 50 officials from Rensselaer County municipalities, schools, and other organizations attended a recent event kicking off shared service efforts.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rail Patents 1890 - 1910

Here’s the last installment in old railroad-related patents by local inventors. This set is from 1800 - 1910, so these inventors were starting to be credited as from "Rensselaer, NY" now.

Joseph Robison, of Greenbush, Assignor to Robert J. Pratt, of. Greenbush Heights, New York.
MACHINE FOR SAWING METAL. Letters Patent No. 423,278, March 11, 1890. Witnesses: John S. Diack, Lewis F. Alrtjtz.

Aaron Fryer, of Bath-on-the-Hudson, New York, Assignor of One- Half to David Wiggins, of same place.
MEANS FOR MULTIPLEX TELEGRAPHING BETWEEN CARS OF RAILWAYS. Letters Patent No. 528,902, November 6,1894. Witnesses: Charles Selkirk, A. Selkirk,

Aaron Fryer, of Bath-On-Hudson, New York.
CAR-FENDER. Letters Patent No. 552,383, December 31, 1895. Witnesses: Percy T. Griffith, A. M. Cusack.

Willard Spencer, of Bath, New York, Assignor of One-Half to James A. Houck, of Albany, New York.
STREET-CAR FENDER. Letters Patent Mo. 557,161, March 31,1896. Witnesses: Frederick W. Cameron, Mary M. Flanagan.

Edwin Priest, of Bath-On-The-Hudson, New York.
TOOL FOR REDRESSING CRANK-PINS OF LOCOMOTIVE-WHEELS. Letters Patent No. 586,244, dated July 13, 1897. Witnesses: Charles Selkirk, A. Selkirk, Jr.

William A. Buckbee, Of Rensselaer, New York.
LOCOMOTIVE EXHAUST-PIPE. Letters Patent No. 633,566, dated September 26, 1899. Witnesses: Alex. Selkirk, Charles Selkirk.

John A. Kimber, of Rensselaer, New York.
CONTROLLING AND OPERATING MEANS FOR WATER-SCOOPS FOR LOCOMOTIVES. Letters Patent No. 675,223, dated May 28, 1901. Witnesses: E. J. Guilfoil, R. G. Stewart.

Edwin C. Van Nouhuys, of Rensselaer, New York, Assignor of One-Half to Emanuel B. Toedt, of Albany, New York.
COAL-CONVEYER. Letters Patent No. 833,141. Patented Oct. 9, 1906. Witnesses: Walter E. Ward, Lottie Prior.

Robert Burns, Of Rensselaer, New York.
VENTILATOR FOR LOCOMOTIVE-CABS. Letters Patent. No. 867,701. Patented Oct. 8, 1907. Witnesses: J. C. MacCulloch, A. A. Newton.

William E. McPherson, of Rensselaer, New York, Assignor of Seventy One- Hundredths to Himself, Fifteen One-Hundredths to J. M. Rodgers, and Fifteen One-Hundredths to J. Fletcher, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
DUPLEX RAILWAY-HOPPER. Letters Patent 965,400. Patented July 26, 1910. Witnesses: W. D. Walker, J. F. Felton.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Marina and Waterfront Still On Track

Here's a nice long article from the Independent ( describing the waterfront marina project:

Rensselaer projects still on

E. GREENBUSH--In recent months many businesses have slashed jobs and developers have scraped multi-million dollar projects, due to the global economic crisis. But the proposed East Greenbush Marina and the Rensselaer Waterfront Development projects are still on track, for now.

UPDATE: Troy Record: Marina, waterfront projects on track

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hope Fund Benefits Boys & Girls Club

From the Times-Union, which donated $8,500 to the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Rensselaer County, for after school program scholarships.

Hope Fund lifts program for kids

Donors help after-school activities at Boys & Girls Club in Rensselaer

RENSSELAER Thanks to generous Capital Region donors, kids get after-school cheese, crackers, apple juice and tutoring at the Boys & Girls Club.
''In the old days it was just a gym and swim after-school activities, but it has changed a lot since then,'' said Richard Van Vorst, executive director. ''These kids have no place to go after school and many are from single-parent homes or homes where both parents work.''
For more information, including how to contribute, go to: Gifts by mail: The Times Union Hope Fund, Times Union, Box 15270 Albany, NY 12212

Learn more about the Boys & Girls Club or donate directly to their programs online at

Monday, January 26, 2009

Village at Tempel Farm Stalled

The Nigro Company's plans for the Village at Tempel Farm have been shelved due to the economic downturn. The land is now up for sale.

Troy Record:
Poor economy stalls project; land is now on the market

EAST GREENBUSH — A 157-acre parcel slated for the Village at Tempel Farm project is now on the market for $4 million.
Trustco Bank placed the land on the Realty USA commercial real estate Web site.

Business Review:
Nigro Cos. East Greenbush project in limbo

A large, mixed-use development called The Village at Tempel Farm in East Greenbush, N.Y., that would have included a Lowe’s, Hampton Inn and hundreds of apartments is in limbo because of the recession.

With national and regional retailers unwilling to commit to leasing space because of the struggling economy, developer Nigro Cos. has let its purchase option expire for the 157-acre parcel, said Steven Powers, vice president.

(Note that this is not the site where development has already begun. There is nothing new online about the Van Rensselaer Square site, where only the parking lots have been constructed.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Firehouse Site

Photos of the Washington Ave. firehouse site in Rensselaer, NY, taken Jan. 24, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

January 23, 1909 - Lady Ring

100 Years Ago Today: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

I guess you couldn't say "pregnant" in print in 1909...

"Lady Ring" Will Take a Brief Rest

The handsome fire horse of the Ring Fire company known as "Lady Ring," will retire - temporarily - from active service in going to fires on the advice of her attending veterinary. "Lady Ring" has some other business to attend to other than going to fires. The doctor has advised that she refrain from all excitement; that she take good care of her appetite and get all the rest possible. Meanwhile the members of the company will make other arrangements for a horse and see that "Lady Ring" gets all the care possible.

William St. John

This little man is the mascot of the J. N. Ring Fire Co. Since the installation of the new apparatus. Willie is always on hand to assist Driver Griffin. Willie and "Lady Ring" are old chums, especially when Willie has any sweets to share with her ladyship.

See the January 23, 1909 Front Page (3.5Mb file) to learn about Sunday baseball, new telephone service in the city, and the New York Central's controversial ten cent bridge toll.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hudson Icebreaker

The Times-Union reports: Icebreaker clears path through Hudson River; Coast Guard crew keeps commerce flowing (includes photos and video).

Read more about the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter PENOBSCOT BAY (WTGB 107) at their site. (Click the picture on their main page to scroll through a number of cool photos.) Here's some technical detail:
The 140-foot icebreaking tugs are the most efficient icebreakers of their size in the world. They have a high horsepower-to-displacement ratio, which provides ample power to maneuver easily in ice. Two Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines provide 2,500 horsepower to a single shaft via a diesel-electric propulsion system. A unique hull design with a low length-to-beam ratio allows the cutter to break a wide track in the ice. The ship also generates a pronounced wake designed specifically for icebreaking. The combined hull design and horsepower enable the Bay class cutters to break up to 30 inches of solid freshwater ice without the need to “back and ram.” A hull air lubrication system, known as a “bubbler,” forces low pressure air from ports located along the lower hull and keel. Lubricating the hull with a mixture of air and water further reduces friction and improves icebreaking capacity.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

History on eBay

Rensselaer history currently for sale on eBay:

1842 - Print/Engraving - "Remains of the Barracks at Greenbush, NY" (see the Greenbush Cantonment for history)

1847 - Print/Engraving - "View of Albany from Greenbush Ferry"

1872 - Views of "Albany, From East Albany" and "Troy and Vicinity" also "Scenes in and Around Albany" includes a view of the Greenbush Ferry slip, engravings by Granville Perkins (Hudson River School)

1876 - Various maps of Greenbush & Bath On Hudson, NY reproduced from the original onto high quality antique color parchment.

1906 - View of the Convention Hall in Rensselaer New York decorated for the Hudson Valley Volunteer Firemen's Association meeting

1911 - Albany Rensselaer City Directory With Residents

1937 - Aerial View of "Port of Albany,...Cities of Albany and Rensselaer, Connected by Three Bridges. "

1952 - Troy and Greenbush Railroad Map, page from a book

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

9th Grade D.C. Trip

Ninth graders from the Rensselaer City School District should be arriving in Washington, D.C. by now. Their Inauguration 2009 bus trip was set to depart at 1am this morning, and they planned to connect to the D.C. Metro north of the city, and make a visit to the Smithsonian before the ceremony.

I suspect the transportation logistics will be a bit more challenging than anticipated. Here is the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority web site, with a page just for Inauguration (17 straight hours of rush hour service). Check out their Inauguration Day Ridership chart, updated hourly.

Troy Record: Students heading for inauguration
CBS06: Rensselaer Kids Heading to D.C.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Night of Comedy

Proceeds benefit Boys and Girls Club of Southern Rensselaer County.

Featuring: Mike Speirs and Bill Keller
Where: Casey's Banquet House, 301 Washington Ave., Rensselaer
When: Friday, January 23, 7:30 p.m.; doors open, 6 p.m.
Price: Dinner and show, $50; show only, $25
Prime rib or chicken corden bleu dinner.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Catholic Church Closings

Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, NY: Albany Diocese Announces Final Decisions of 2 ½-year Called to BE Church Process
Many of the multiple urban and ethnic parishes built in the early 20th century only a few blocks from each other in cities are now under-used because of population shifts.
St. Joseph’s/St. John’s (Rensselaer) will determine one worship site for parish by July 1, 2009, with other worship site to close by July 1, 2010.
Times-Union Special Report: A changing Catholic Church

History of St. Joseph Catholic Church

History of the Church of St.John the Evangelist

The web site of the Parish of St. John and St. Joseph in Rensselaer, NY is not currently being updated.

UPDATE: Bishop urges unity despite changes
In letter Howard Hubbard says there are no winners, losers; welcome new start

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Railroad to the Moon

From "A History of Old Kinderhook", quoting the June 27, 1827 Boston Courier:
... the project of a railroad from Boston to Albany is impracticable, as every one knows who knows the simplest rule of arithmetic, and the expenses would be little less than the market value of the whole territory of Massachusetts; and which, if practicable, every one of common sense knows would be as useless as a railroad from Boston to the moon.
This echoed a phrase in "Wedding of the Waters" quoting Erie Canal promoter Elkanah Watson:
The utmost stretch of our views, was to follow the track of Nature's canal [the rivers and lakes] and to remove natural or artificial obstructions; but we never entertained the most distant conception of a canal from Lake Erie to the Hudson. We should not have considered it much more extravagant to have suggested the possibility of a canal to the moon.
But it was the success of the Erie Canal that motivated the builders of the Western Railroad. From the Keystone Arches history pages:
So steep and remote it was said to be impossible... Yet not to try meant Boston would lose ever more traffic to New York as they had since the Erie Canal opened in 1823. The canal siphoned traffic down the Hudson River, but a railroad to Albany could recapture that trade... The Western Railroad was the longest (150 miles) the steepest (1458 ft.) and the first mountain climbing railroad in the world... When built, it was so steep no locomotives existed able to climb the grade.
Railroad to the Moon is a short, online documentary of the making of the Western Railroad. It also includes information by the "Friends of the Keystone Arches" about the preservation of the beautiful arched bridges, which were so well engineered that some still carry rail traffic today.

Railfans may want to attend the huge Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show at the Big-E in West Springfield, MA next weekend (January 24th and 25th, 2009, 9am-5pm). It fills four buildings at the fairgrounds, and has about 400 vendors, all rail related. (Friends of the Keystone Arches will be exhibiting.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

January 16, 1909 - Electric Light

100 Years Ago Today: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

Electricity For Lighting
is Economical, Safe, Convenient and Healthful.
No leakage to cause disagreeable odors, no matches, good or bad, no broken mantles or chimneys. In fact, none of the bad features common to other methods of lighting. Have your house wired at once. An estimate will cost you nothing.
W. F. Sanderson 1423 Broadway, Rensselaer

As you can see from this 1909 advertisement, the light bulb was about to replace gas lighting in local homes.

As the technology emerged in the late 1880's, a huge "War of the Currents" took place between the developers of Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC). Thomas Edison, whose business success was built on DC technology, went so far as to publicly electrocute animals and commission the invention of the electric chair, all to discourage the adoption of AC power.

Lavish lighting displays were tourist attractions at events like the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Expo's illuminated buildings were powered by George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla's AC system. (Their bid came in at half the cost of General Electric's DC technology.)

The low voltage of DC meant it couldn't be transmitted more than a mile or so. The multitude of transmission wires was the largest cost of the system when Edison's Pearl Street Station was established in Manhattan. (image of NYC wires from Great Blizzard of 1888).

The 1901 Pan American Exposition in Buffalo was powered by the new Tesla generators at the Niagara Falls Power Company, effectively demonstrating that AC could economically deliver electricity across many miles.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

1907 Postcard

View of Albany, N.Y. from Rensselaer, N.Y.
Postmarked Aug. 30, 1907 from Albany.

UPDATE: Can anyone comment on the large brick building in the foreground? I wonder if it was the freight warehouse (click to zoom in). The Historical Memoir of the Western Railroad (1863) By George Bliss says that in 1848, "...a large and commodious freight house was erected at Greenbush, - seven hundred and fifty-six feet by one hundred and thirty-three, costing, with land, tracks, bridges &c., $115,000." [This is about $3M in 2009 dollars, computed by the consumer price index.]

TU Site

As I knew they would, All Over Albany tried to get answers the burning question: What's going on with the Times Union site? Until the T-U gets their servers fixed, you can catch up on today's stories at:

UPDATE: Paper's Web site running again
The site went down about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday and remained down until mid-day Friday. Jeffrey H. Wilson, the Times Union's IT Standards and Compliance Manager, said the outage was caused by a hardware malfunction located in the Times Union's building on Albany Shaker Road.

T-U EDITORIAL (1/17/09): The Web we couldn't weave
It is not true, as one reader suggested in an e-mail Thursday (with tongue in cheek?), that the Times Union "turned off your Web site" this week in an "aggressive marketing ploy" for the print version of our product.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Network on LinkedIn

If you live or work in Rensselaer, NY, I'd like to invite you to join a new group on LinkedIn. The group is called "City of Rensselaer, NY", and you can find it by searching LinkedIn Groups for 12144. Our goal is to network, grow online visibility for the community, make referrals for services and fun stuff to do, and help new residents learn more about the area. (Please let me know your Rensselaer affiliation when you join the group.)

If you're not on LinkedIn yet, it's a little bit like Facebook, but tailored for working professionals. It's a free service (there are paid levels, but most people don't need those features). Here are a few suggestions if you're just joining:
  • * Don't link to anyone you don't know personally - it's a trust network, not a numbers game
  • * Review all your Account Settings to manage privacy levels and e-mail notifications
  • * Update your profile regularly, and work to create a great professional image
  • * Fill in past jobs and schools so that old friends, colleagues and clients can find you
  • * Spend the time to invite all your connections - even those you see daily
  • * Join groups to network (search for alumni groups, professional organizations, hobbies, etc.)
Former colleagues have asked what happens if you no longer have access to your old e-mail address. You can still access your LinkedIn account using the old e-mail address as your log-in, (even if it's no longer a functional address). Once you've logged in, you can change your e-mail under Accounts & Settings.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Megabus Parking Problem

It looks like the additional travelers attracted to the Amtrak station by the new Megabus to NYC are causing parking headaches in downtown Rensselaer, NY. Here's the press release by Rensselaer County Legislator Mike Stammel:

Stammel Concerned About Mega Bus Parking Issues
Stammel said he wants city officials and others to review issues created by the operation of Megabus, which provides service from Rensselaer to New York City.
Patrons of the service have created parking issues in the center of the city since the Megabus service started. Residents have contacted Stammel about parking problems on Broadway, East Street, upper Wendell Street, Elm Street, Fourth and Fifth avenues and the state-owned parking facility on Broadway.

Either the thrifty Megabus customers don't want to pay to park at Amtrak, or they can't find room in the lot. The problem is, few of those older downtown homes have their own off-street parking, and homeowners are getting displaced by travelers parking in front of their residences.

I suggest that the DeFreestville Park & Ride on Rt. 4 is a much better place to leave your car than the narrow streets surrounding the Amtrak station. You can take the CDTA #14 bus directly to and from the station (check the timetables carefully, to make sure you're expected back before their last run, especially on Sunday night). The station is served by other CDTA bus lines as well.

UPDATE: Times-Union, 1/21/09 Parking issues arise over new bus service

Firehouse Preparation

Progress on the firehouse construction, Washington Ave. near I90, Rensselaer, NY

<- December 31, 2008

January 8, 2009 ->

<- January 10, 2009

The contractor, U.W. Marx, is a sponsor of the upcoming Northeast Green Building Conference 2009 (Feb. 12-13), and helped to bring the event to the Albany area. From yesterday's press release:
U.W. Marx, recognized by the Capital District Business Review as the 3rd largest construction firm in NY's Capital Region in 2008, recently completed design-build construction of a new 288,000 sf K-12 school campus for the City of Rensselaer (NY) School District. The NYSERDA NY Energy SmartSM New Construction Program (NCP) awarded the Rensselaer City School District the maximum project incentive of $165,000 based on a system evaluation by the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Burglars Busted

WRGB CBS 6: Rensselaer men busted in home burglary attempt; suspected of connection with 40 more
Two Rensselaer men suspected of burglarizing more than 40 homes across the Capital Region were caught in the middle of another home burglary in Albany County and are now facing charges.

Investigators were monitoring 27-year-old Jerry Tenney and 19-year-old Matthew Hallenbeck when they attempted to break into a Berne home Jan. 8th, according to the Albany County Sheriff's Office.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rensselaer High Musical

From The Independent ( School musical at stake due to budget cuts

RENSSELAER--It has been 10 years since the Rensselaer High School Drama Club was founded. A few years ago, drama club advisor and founder Deb Sklar's picture was posted on the wall of character, a very high honor. But will the show go on?
Ashley Salvinski, the editor in chief of the Rensselaer Rambler, is doing an internship with The Independent.

The Rensselaer Rambler has an issue available online (October 2008), which includes an interview with the Mayor: "DWYER’S PLANS FOR RECONSTUCTION ON HOMES DAMAGED IN THE FLOOD."

I-90 Shoot-Out

From the Times-Union: Chaos, gunfire on I-90

EAST GREENBUSH — A cab ride from Connecticut ended in chaos and gunfire on Interstate 90 Saturday afternoon as people abandoned their vehicles and ran for cover during a gunfight between police and a taxi passenger.
The Southern Rensselaer County SWAT team was training nearby when the shootout started and responded, McNally said. He said it was his understanding that one of the SWAT team members shot the man.
Officers from the State Police, East Greenbush, Schodack, Rensselaer and Rensselaer County sheriff's departments were at the scene.

From the Troy Record: Shots shock travelers, snag traffic

Officers from the Rensselaer Police Department were also called in to assist State Police and reportedly apprehended a separate individual around the same time in the woods behind a Home Depot off of Route 4, according to scanner reports.

UPDATE (Sunday Evening): Police identify man involved in shootout
EAST GREENBUSH -- The Connecticut man who turned I-90 into a gun battle was clinging to Life Sunday at an Albany hospital.

Darryl O. Brown, 22, of Hartford, was shot multiple times by police at about noon Saturday after he fired on a state trooper who stopped the cab in which he was riding, state police said Sunday.

UPDATE 2: CNN Video on YouTube

UPDATE 3: Troy Record: Motive Still a Mystery

Capital News 9: State Police release more details on I-90 shootout
Includes a video of the entire New York State Police press conference, but you can see the video clip from the trooper's dashboard camera more easily at the Times-Union.

UPDATE JAN. 19: I-90 gunman may have fled Conn. robbery

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Senior Center Dancing

From The Independent ( Belly dancers show no skin

RENSSELAER--Stop by the Rensselaer Area Senior Center any day of the week to find a bunch of senior citizens doing anything but acting their age. You're more likely to find a flurry of activity from Tai Chi and yoga, to line dancing or belly dancing. There's bowling and aqua aerobics, music and laughter everyday.
The senior center is at the corner of East St. and Herrick St.

Fire on 1st Street

From the Times-Union: Update: Rensselaer fire forces 10 from home

RENSSELAER - Two families - a family of four and another family of six - were forced from a two-family home at 1354 1st Street late Thursday night.

Assistant Fire Chief Stephen Mann said the department was called shortly before 11 p.m. and, on arrival, firefighters saw flames at the back of the first floor rising to the second floor.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Ten being housed by Red Cross after fire

About 30 firefighters, from fire departments, including East Greenbush, Rensselaer and Clinton Heights, braved below-freezing temperatures and icy conditions to extinguish the blaze. Some of those who helped put out the blaze said they were sliding around on the ice-covered ground and the water being used to douse the fire froze up a couple times due to the air temperature.

Friday, January 9, 2009

January 9, 1909 - Fire Horses

100 Years Ago Today: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].
Excellent Time Made On Quick Hitches


The New Horses Are Also Getting to Know Their Work - Citizens Are Proud of Record Made by Firemen

While no record has been kept of the "quick hitches" made in the houses, yet some of the companies do it in a little better than 10 seconds which according to our idea is going some.
Lady Ring, the handsome big horse of the Ring company is much admired by the residents of the South End. Under the careful guidance of Charles Griffin she is rapidly learning all the duties of a fire horse.

"Cap," the faithful and good natured horse of the Hart comp
any was very quick to learn the ropes, it not taking over a day in breaking him in.

Dick and Frank, the Hill Hooks team, are always ready to get under the harness. They haul the handsome truck to the fires with a speed that is surprising considering the heft of the truck.

"Dan," the Mink's old reliable horse has had a hard pull to haul the chemical up the hilly streets in his district, and he will soon be relieved of this burden by another partner.

The Bellinger company's horse, about the strongest in the department, gave some trouble at first breaking him in, but this is all over, and he gets to a fire now in jig time.

Check out this 1901 movie (by Thomas A. Edison), showing the Albany, NY fire department on parade. You can see how heavy this equipment was - those horses were working hard.

For more 1900's vintage movies visit's Old Firefighter Movies. Their history of Fire Apparatus Past and Present is helpful also. I learned that "the chemical" that the lone horse struggled to haul up the Rensselaer hillsides contained tanks of bicarbonate of soda and sulfuric acid, which were combined either to directly extinguish fires or to pressurize and push water through a hose.

See the January 9, 1909 Front Page for stories like "Proposition to Pave Hill Streets" and Mayor Wm. J. Rockefeller's annual message to the Common Council.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Commenting Is On

OK, here goes nothing - I've [supposedly] enabled Comments for new posts. We'll see how it works out. Comments will be moderated and require registration. Please be thoughtful, constructive, and add value to the discussion. (If you just want to complain, start your own blog!)

UPDATE: Comments are currently only available if you click the title of a new post and go into it's individual page. I'll try to troubleshoot over the weekend to get comments to be accessible from the post footer.

Just for fun, I created a Wordl word cloud from 2008's postings. I discovered that I use the word "new" quite a lot. (Too many years in Marketing, I guess.)

Red Cross Flickr Set

The American Red Cross of NorthEastern New York has started an ARCNENY Photostream on Flickr. They have uploaded a set of 40 photos from the Rensselaer Floods Aug. 2008. It's worth a look - there are some great shots (I'm partial to the kitten photo, but that's just me).

From their Flickr Profile:
ARCNENY helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. Last year, nearly 1,100 residents of the Capital Region and surrounding areas were provided free, emergency assistance by ARCNENY after disasters such as fires, floods, and power outages. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money and blood from the American people to do its work. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs.
You can donate online to the Northeastern NY Red Cross and target their Local Disaster fund.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Rail Patents 1870-1890

Here’s the second installment in 19th century railroad-related patents by local inventors. This set is from 1870 - 1890, so "Rensselaer, NY" doesn't exist yet.

Richard Greenalch, Of Greenbush, Assignor To Himself And William Buchanan, Of Yonkers, New York.
gust 31, 1875 Attorney: ?; Witnesses: T. B. Mosher, Alex. F. Roberts
[1880 Census: Richard Greenalch, 48]

John Loftus, of East Albany, Assignor of One-Half His Right to Richard Greenalch, of Greenbush, New York.
28, 1877. Attorney: Gilmore Smith?; Witnesses: Wm. Loftus, Arthur B. Murphy

Charles E. Austin, of Bath-on-the-Hudson, New York.
IMPROVEMENT IN JOURNAL-COOLING ATTACHMENTS FOR RAILWAY-CARS: Letters Patent No. 219,198, dated September 2, 1879
Attorney: Paul Goepel; Witnesses: Paul Gopel, Carl Karp
Charles S. Smith, of Bath-on-the-Hudson, New York:

RAILWAY-CAR; Letters Patent No. 266,322, dated October 24, 1882
. Attorney: T?. C?. Brecht?; Witnesses: L. F. Chamberlin, James Van Valkenburg
ADJUSTABLE HOOD FOR CAR-PLATFORMS; Letters Patent No. 266,323, dated October 24, 1882. Attorney: T?. C?. Brecht?; Witnesses: L. F. Chamberlin, James Van Valkenburg

William G. Mink and Eugene N. Alling, of Bath-on-the-Hudson, N. Y.
LANTERN; Letters Patent No. 264,956, dated September 26, 1882.
Attorney: William H. Low; Witnesses: William H. Low, C. J. Mattison
[1880 Census: probably William G. Mink, 36, a Clerk, and Eugene Alling, 24, a Dealer in Confectionary]

Thomas B. Purves and Thomas C. Craven, of
Greenbush, N.Y.
DRAW-BAR; Letters Patent No. 271,269, dated January 30, 1883. Attorney: Worth? Osgood; Witnesses: Oliver Herbert, Thos. B. Purves, Jr.
[1880 Census: probably Thomas C. Craven, 50, Engineer R. R.]

Thomas C. Craven, of Greenbush, Assignor of One-Half to Abraham Schell, Of Albany, New York.
MEANS FOR SUPPLYING AIR TO THE FURNACES OF LOCOMOTIVE-BOILERS; Letters Patent No. 311,475, dated February 3, 1885.
Attorney: Alex. Selkirk; Witnesses: Charles Selkirk, Alex. Selkirk, Jr.

Robert J. Pratt, of Greenbush Heights, Assignor To The Electric Manufacturing Com
pany, Of Troy, New York.
REFLECTING-GALVANO METER. Letters Patent No. 323,203, dated July 28, 188
5. Attorney: John C. Pennie?; Witnesses: J. C. Pennie, J. R. Nottingham
[Robert J. Pratt, Electrician and Manager at the new works in Greenbush, The Electric
Manufacturing Company]

Samuel Hyman, of East Albany, Assignor of Three-Fourths to James W. Eaton and Charles Wetherwax, Both of Albany, N. Y.
RAILWAY-TRACK; Letters Patent No. 345,054, dated July 6, 1886. Witnesses: Geo. W. Kirchwey, Kartusoff N. Macfee

[1880 Census: Possibly Samuel Hyman, 34, Machinist, Albany]

William Lowe, of Greenbush, New York.
RAIL-JOINT UNION; Letters Patent No. 394,867, dated December 18, 1888. Attorney: Geo. A. Mo
sher; Witnesses: Geo. A. Mosher, Chas. L. Alden

Emery Van Decar, Of East Albany, Assignor Of One-Half To Aaron Fryer, Of Bath-On-The-Hudson, New York.
LUBRICATOR FOR JOURNALS OF RAILWAY-WH EEL AXLES. Letters Patent No. 398,556, dated February 26, 1889. Attorney: Alex. Selkirk; Witnesses: Frank E. Selkirk, Charles Selkirk
CAR-AXLE LUBRICATOR. Letters Patent No. 414,129, dated October 29, 1889. Attorney: Alex. Selkirk; Witnesses: Charles Selkirk, J. C. McFarland
[1880 Census: Possibly Emery Vandecar, 23, Works in Mach Shop, Half Moon; Aaron Fryer, 41, Works in Piano Manf.]

John Loftus, of Albany, Assignor of One-Half to John Greenalch, of East Albany, New York.
dated April 2, 1889. Attorney: William H. Low; Witnesses: Wm. H. Low, John Greenalch

Richard Groark, of Greenbush, New York, Assignor of One-Fourth to William H. Hepinstall, of Same Place.

OSCILLATING PIPE-JOINT. Letters Patent No. 403,883, dated May 21, 1889. Attorney: Frederick W. Cameron; Witnesses: William H. Hepinstall, Frederick W. Cameron
PIPE-COUPLING. Letters Patent No. 403,884, dated May 21, 1889. Attorney: Frederick W. Cameron; Witnesses: William H. Hepinstall, Frederick W. Cameron
[1880 Census, Probably Rich Groark, 26, Wood Turner, Greenbush]

Robert J. Pratt and Joseph Robison, Of Greenbush, N. Y.
VALVE. Letters Patent No. 416,948, dated December 10, 1889. Attorney: John C. Pennie?; Witnesses: Ed. K. Curtis, Benj. F. Allen

If anyone can add to the common knowledge about any of these inventors, please e-mail me at Where did they work? What did they do there? Why did they file a patent and what did they do with it? I’ll compile the results for the city historian.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fraudulent Checks

Renee C. Logan-Nordgren, a bookkeeper employed at Albany Office Interiors in Rensselaer, fraudulently wrote and cashed over $23,000 in company checks last year:

I'm sure I recently read an article about this problem in the Business Review, but it isn't available online. Here's a similar article from their sister publication in Baltimore, which gives tips on how to reduce the risk at your business: Tough economic times call for stiff safeguards against employee theft. Here's an older article from the Albany Business Review about the same problem at non-profit organizations: Nonprofits struggle to cope with worker fraud.

I-90 Connector P.R.

The North Greenbush Pipeline reports on a press release recommending the I-90 Connector Phase II as a federal economic stimulus project.

Read the blog post: Ashley Seeks Funds For I90 Connector

Monday, January 5, 2009

Rail Patents 1850-1870

Here’s the first installment in 19th century rail industry patents by local inventors. This set is from 1850 - 1870, so folks were listed as residing in Bath-on-the-Hudson, East Albany, and Greenbush, rather than Rensselaer, NY.

Thomas W. Allen and Charles W. Noyes, of Greenbush, New York:
STUFFING-BOX; Letters Patent No 5,357, November 6, 1847; Reissued January 10, 1854, No. 254. Witnesses: Rich. Varick De Witt, Richard Gansevoort
IMPROVEMENT IN MACHINERY FOR MAKING IRON WHEELS; Letters Patent No. 6,254, April 3, 1849. Witnesses: H. Q. Lansing, Gilbert L. Wilson
[Possibly Thomas W. Allen, Esq., at the ‘Greenbush shop of the Western Road’.] [Possibly Charles Whiting Noyes, census at Greenbush, Rensselaer: 1850, Age 40, Fireman; 1870, Age 60, Machinist]

J. C. Vaughn, Of Greenbush, and J. F. Winslow, of Troy, New York.
MACHINERY FOR WELDING IRON PIPES; Letters Patent No. 5,695, August 1, 1848. Witnesses: Archibald Bull, Geo. Day
[possibly John Flack Winslow, co-owner with Erastus Corning of the Rensselaer Iron Works and the Albany Iron Works, and fifth president of RPI.]

Maria Vaughn, Administratrix of Joseph C. Vaughn, Deceased, of Greenbush, New York, Assignor to James C. Bell and Robert Chrystie, Jr.
MACHINERY FOR MAKING WROUGHT-IRON CAR- WHEELS; Letters Patent No. 8,173, June 24, 1851. Witnesses: H. Goodrich, James Deerstyne
MACHINE FOR MAKING WHEEL-TIRES; Letters Patent No. 8,395, September 30, 1851. Witnesses: C. V. Witbeck, John E. Van Alen
[possibly Robert Christie Jr., an 1856 director of the Belleview and Illinoistown Railroad]

James E. Hallett, of Greenbush, New York, Assignor to Edward H. Jones and Charles W. Noyes, of Same Place.
IMPROVEMENT IN OSCILLATING PUMPS; Letters Patent No. 53,373, March 20, 1866. Witnesses: I. W. Latcher, Alfred Harley

Thomas B. Purves, of Greenbush, New York.
IMPROVED RAILROAD-SWITCH; Letters Patent No. 54,770, May 15, 1866. Witnesses: Richd. Varick De Witt, A. V. De Witt.
[Possibly T. B. Purves, American Railway Master Mechanics’ Association, Western Division of Boston & Albany; or “… T.B. Purves, Sr. for many years Foreman and Master Mechanic on the B. & A. R. R., ”]

Joseph Anthony, of Greenbush, New York
IMPROVEMENT IN RAILROADS; Letters Patent No. 38,274, April 28, 1863. Witnesses: Richd. Varick De Witt, E. J. Miller
67,626, August 13, 1867. Witnesses: Rich. Varick De Witt, D. W. De Witt.
IMPROVED CAR-AXLE; Patent No. 72,584, December 24, 1867. Witnesses: Rich. Varick De Witt, D. W. De Witt.
[possibly Joseph Anthony, “Forms of railroad car-axles”, 1868]
Richard Varick De Witt Sr., involved in the Ithaca and Oswego Railroad, or his son, Richard Varick DeWitt, identified with the insurance business of Albany]

If anyone can add to the common knowledge about any of these inventors, please e-mail me at Where did they work? What did they do there? Why did they file a patent and what did they do with it? I’ll compile the results for the city historian.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Daytrip: The Hyde Collection

The Hyde Collection [161 Warren St., Glens Falls, NY] is currently running a beautiful art exhibit with enough warm, sunny landscapes to help you forget the snow, ice, and cold (for a little while...)

California Impressionism: Paintings from The Irvine Museum will include nearly sixty stunning paintings of California Impressionist art. Impressionism found fertile ground in California in the early twentieth century. Known as the "The Land of Sunshine" with its temperate climate and remarkable landscape, California was a popular locale for painters who worked en plein air, or out of doors, seeking to infuse their work with intense light and color.
“Rarely are paintings of early twentieth-century California scenery exhibited at museums in the Northeast. This exhibition is an unparalleled opportunity for our region to view a selection of the finest examples of California Impressionist art from the largest collection of these works in the world,” said Erin B. Coe, chief curator at The Hyde.
There are fields of wildflowers, scenes of trees, gardens and mission yards, vivid ocean views. We arrived so snow-dazzled that we couldn't appreciate the colors, and had to wander around the historic house museum until our eyes adjusted.

This exhibit is well worth the one-hour drive. It's running through January 18th.

While you're in Glens Falls, I highly recommend Davidson Brothers Brewpub [184 Glen St.]. But be aware that they'll be closed from Jan. 4-11.

Friday, January 2, 2009

January 2, 1909 - Round House

100 Years Ago Today: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

Large Force of Men Were Put to Work

About one hundred men, mostly residents of this city, were given employment by the opening of the new round house. About that number were turned away on the opening day, with promise of a job if an increase in business warranted it. The forces at the round house will remain as they are for the present.

Business men welcome the opening of the house, as it will mean more business for them. The engine firemen are compelled to get off the locomotive to throw the switches on the island and a formal protest has been registered with the officials and the Brotherhood. Pending a settlement of the matter the firemen will throw the switches.
See the January 2, 1909 Front Page.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Spread the Word

This blog has been running for almost 3 months now - but still flying mostly below the radar. Please help spread the word!

Like a story? Please e-mail it to someone. You can use the little envelope icons in the post footers - no info is revealed to me.

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Why not start your own blog - for your club, your business, your team, your neighborhood, etc. Let me know the link when you do!