Troy Union Railroad Company and the City of Troy, New York

Picture at top: Hoffman’s Playland, an amusement park in the Albany, NY area announced it is closing at the end of the season.  That immediately led to some discussion about a new home for the Ferris Wheel which can be seen from Route 9 as you drive pass Hoffman’s. Some comments suggest Troy and it’s Riverfront Park. A wheel would have historic  ties to Troy. George Washington Gale Ferris a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, designed and built the first Ferris Wheel for the World’s Columbian Expostion in 1893 in Chicago, Ill.

This blog will be a collection of stories, mostly directly concerning the Troy Union Railroad Company, but also the city of Troy too.


Let’s start out with what the Troy Union Railroad looked  like on the New York Central balance sheet and income statement.

See some cool stuff in 1939 Annual Report and 1950 Annual Report

First of all investments:

The Annual Report showed as “Investments in Affiliated Companies” $80,000 for the Troy Union Railroad (TURR). There were 150 shares of stock with a par value of $15,000 ($100 / share). This had a ledger value of $185,000. THEN, there was an additional investment shown a couple of pages later of $114,377 with a ledger value of $1.00. Now, railroad accounting is difficult enough, but add in mergers, acquisitions, leases, and “agreements” like trackage rights; and it gets really complex. The fact that there were two separate “ownership” lines is because of the history of the TURR. It was owned equally by: (1) Troy & Schenectady Railroad which became a branch line of the New York Central; (2) Troy & Greenbush Railroad, which was always leased by the New York Central; Delaware & Hudson; and (4) Boston & Maine.

Now the mileage for the area.

Status Name Main Track: 1st Main Track: 2nd Passing Track Yard Track TOTAL
Branch Troy & Schenectady Branch 20.91 2.17 8.53 31.61
Leased Troy & Greenbush Railroad 5.56 5.51 0.71 11.09 22.87
Trackage Rights Troy Union RR 2.03 2.00 0.72 0.89 5.64
TOTAL 28.50 7.51 3.60 20.51 60.12


Historian Don Rittner wrote an article Visions for Troy and talked about South Troy.

He talked about a new transportation center that will bring thousands of people into Troy: Troy Union Square, located at four-corner intersection of River and Adams Streets.

At one time, Troy was the hub of several railroads meeting in downtown at Union Station between Fulton and Broadway. During the 1950’s, rail left Troy, Union Station was demolished, and most of the tracks were torn up.

Today, Troy needs a new train station and rail connections that can be used by our high tech businesses, RPI, Russell Sage, and others, but also as a historic steam excursion rail line that brings back the thrill of the old time steam locomotives of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

An historic 19th century steam train between Troy and Rensselaer would carry destination tourists from the Albany area to Troy and generate huge tourism dollars. It could also become an alternative for Albany workers living in Troy to commute to work each day. Perhaps one of the existing 8 historic railways already existing in NYS (Arcade & Attica RR, Delaware & Ulster Rail Ride, New York & Lake Erie RR, Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley RR, Catskill Mountain RR, Tioga Scenic RR, Batten Kill Rambler, & Adirondack Scenic RR), would agree to run such a route.

The new Union Station, classically designed, would be built at the site of the New York Central yards, running the length of Adams from River to the Jones Bell Foundry on the south side of Adams & First. Existing track bed exists at the site and is currently used by freight traffic. The tracks have been upgraded and are rated for passenger service. This track runs over the old Troy and Greenbush lines, originally completed in 1845, into Rensselaer, not far from the new railroad station. Union Station can be attached to a new building that will serve as a bus terminal, which in turn will be attached to the Jones Bell Foundry on the southwest corner of Adams and First. This bell foundry museum would be incorporated into the train station and become a permanent exhibit on the history of bell making in Troy. The bell museum can serve as an orientation point for tourism information about Troy and the Capital District. Behind the train station, the existing NY Central freight building can be restored and turned into small specialty shops or restaurants to serve the train traffic.


It may be added, in connection with the development of railways running out from Troy, that the city about this time was a prominent centre for the manufacture of passenger and freight cars, which were sent to all parts of the country. This industry was started in 1841 by the manufacture of railroad passenger cars at the works of Eaton & Gilbert. Eleven years before the works of Charles Veazie and Orsamus Eaton had turned out fifty post coaches, used on the various stage lines in and about Rensselaer county, in addition to which many vehicles of other kinds were made. The firm of Eaton & Gilbert built the first eight-wheel passenger cars used on the Schenectady & Troy railroad. In 1844 Edward O. Eaton was admitted to the firm, which was then known as Eaton, Gilbert & Co. In the year 1850 the output of this concern, which at that time was located on Sixth street, between Fulton and Albany streets, was thirty passenger cars and 158 freight cars, besides 100 stage coaches and fifty omnibuses. The stages and- cars built by that establishment were used, not only in all parts of the United States, but also in Canada, Mexico and South America.

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The year 1846 marked the introduction into Troy of the first Morse magnetic telegraph line. In June of that year the construction of a line between Troy and Whitehall was begun, and July 24 the first message was sent to Saratoga Springs from the Troy office, located in the basement of the Athenaeum building, on First street. August 6 the line from Troy to Buffalo was completed and the first message sent over those wires. October 6 the first message from New York to Troy was received by way of Boston. Moses Johnson was the first superintendent of the Troy station. The operations of the mysterious apparatus created a widespread interest in Troy and were even more inexplicable to the wondering masses than was the telephone, introduced thirty years later.


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