Schenectady County, N.Y. — New signage that celebrates the history of the American Locomotive Company (Alco) is now in place along a two mile bike-hike trail on Schenectady’s rejuvenated waterfront.
Sponsored and funded by the Schenectady County Legislature, the new trail signs celebrate the history of Alco. From 1847 to 1969, the Alco plant in Schenectady built some of the biggest and best locomotives the world has ever known. Tanks manufactured by Alco played a major role in helping the United States win World War II.
The former Alco site is now home to the $500 million Mohawk Harbor development including the Rivers Casino & Resort. Mohawk Harbor is the largest waterfront development in Upstate New York.
“From Casey Jones to Big Boy, from the Golden Spike to the first passenger railroad in the country, Alco played a major role in American History. The new Alco Heritage Trail tells the story of how Schenectady became the city that lights and hauls the world,” said Gary Hughes, Majority Lead of the Schenectady County Legislature and Chairman of the Legislature’s Committee on Economic Development.
Mr. Hughes added, “Historical tourism is very popular and this trail ties together our new waterfront, including the Rivers Casino & Resort, and the first historic district in New York State, the Stockade neighborhood.”
The Schenectady County Department of Economic Development and Planning built the trail signage using $30,000 provided by the County Legislature. Paul Singer Design, based in Brooklyn, designed the eleven trail markers that tell the Alco story. Mr. Singer has almost 40 years’ experience in designing interpretative signs for the Bronx Zoo, National Parks Service, many state parks, the NYS Canal Corporation and others.
The Alco trail signs mark many milestones in the history of the company and Schenectady including:
- First passenger railroad in the United States from Albany to Schenectady.
- Establishment of the Schenectady Locomotive Works in 1847.
- The Golden Spike on the first transcontinental railroad in 1869 and the first locomotive to cross the tracks – the Jupiter built in Schenectady.
- Casey Jones, famed engineer, was driving an Alco locomotive in 1900 during his famous train ride later memorialized in song.
- Schenectady, City that Lights and Hauls the World.
- Alco Streamliners built in the 1920s.
- Big Boy, the biggest locomotive ever built anyplace in the world, built in Schenectady from 1941 to 1944.
- Alco’s role in World War II.
- Alco’s legacy.
The Alco Heritage Trail runs along the riverfront, from River Street, through Mohawk Harbor, and under Freeman’s Bridge where the trail runs up Maxon Road and connects with the NYS Canalway Trail.
The trail itself was built using funding provided by the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, the Galesi Group, Rivers Casino & Resort, and the NYS Department of State via a grant from the Governor’s Regional Economic Development Council.
In coming weeks, a new fence will be installed along sections of the trail and next year a special railroad crossing for bikes will be built where the Canadian Pacific Rail line crosses Maxon Road.
Director of Communications, Schenectady County