Picture: The Saratoga-Mt. McGregor-Lake George Railroad a ten mile narrow gauge railroad traveled over many trestles spanning gorges on the mountain. It took the builders only three months in 1882 to complete this engineering feat.
Originally Published: 9/17/2013
Prior to 1958, the D&H Railroad went through the city of Saratoga Springs. The railroad station was located on the city block where the Price Chopper currently exists and the new theater is planned. The tracks came from the station, ran behind the old Community Theater (the Roohan building) and then ran out of the City along Rt. 50. (On Saturday mornings, when we were watching westerns at the Community Theater, you could hear the trains going by behind the Theater.)
Many of us can remember being on Broadway headed home to Wilton and stopping for the train at a major railroad crossing at the intersection of Broadway, Van Dam St., Route 50, and Route 9. The tracks ran basically parallel to 50 which is now the arterial that starts by the City Center. The Track bed ran on the dam for Loughberry Lake, similar to the way the arterial does now.
It was not possible to find a good map showing all of this, but this 1947 map (courtesy of Larry Gordon) was pieced together and then blown up to show the original configuration of the railroad.
The change in the railroad impacted Daniels Rd which used to intersect Rt 9 just about where the Middle School is now.
You can see Lake Elizabeth and the Golf Club. Notice Carr Road was there in 1947, and it intersected with Smith Bridge Road, now Jones Rd. Smith Bridge Road started at Rt. 9, turned left at the Vincek farm and continued past Carr Rd all the way to Rt 50. Before the railroad was moved out of Saratoga, there was no train overpass as it currently exists on Jones Rd near Stewarts. Instead there was a train crossing near the end of Smith Bridge Rd. (The old train crossing would have been between the current Putnam Lane and Hosford Lane roads.) When the train tracks were moved, the new tracks blended in with the old tracks just past Smith Bridge Road or Hosford Lane.
On the 1947 map, you can see how the railroad tracks ran next to Rt 50 prior to 1958. Many of the current buildings near Exit 15 were built where the railroad originally ran, such as New Country and some of the stores in the Wilton Shoppes. The new clearing that is being done at the North end of the Wilton Shoppes is partially over the old railroad bed. As you go North on Rt 50, the location of the old railroad bed is still pretty obvious.
Notice Loughberry Lake on the map. Loughberry Rd went from Rt 9 (opposite Daniels) to Rt 50.
Many of us remember Rt 9 as a 3-lane highway, which is also depicted on the map. Numerous head-on collisions were on that road, because the center lane was the passing lane. With the creation of the Northway in the early sixties, Rt 9 was reconfigured to eliminate the three-lane concept. A future article will show how the creation of the Northway impacted many Wilton roads and homes.
Although the change in the railroad had a significant impact on some areas in Wilton, it was an important improvement to Saratoga. Eliminating all the railroad crossings and tracks from the center of the City helped to beautify the City and to reduce the congestion in traffic caused by the tracks and crossings.
My dad, Larry Lasselle, bought the old railroad bed in 1958 from the D&H Railroad. He had a small excavation company, and he used the cinders for driveways. The bed that he purchased went from near Hosford Lane to where the train tracks crossed Excelsior Avenue. (Tarrant Manufacturing is on the end of the section that he used to own.) Today, I often think about what a great bike path the old Railroad bed would have made.
Appreciation is extended to Larry Gordon who provided various maps to help to facilitate the research associated with this article. In 1958, when the railroad was reconfigured in Saratoga, Larry worked for Perrini Corporation as a construction worker. Perrini contracted to do the construction work for this project, and Larry worked on this railroad project.
This is the seventh of several columns by Dick Lasselle about various aspects of life in Wilton. Dick grew up on Putnam Lane in Wilton, just off Jones road, and now lives on property that was part of the Putnam farm originally owned by his great-grandparents. Dick’s sister, Linda Baker, and his mom, Doris Lasselle, are contributing toward the development of these articles.