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SCHENECTADY DIGITAL HISTORY ARCHIVE

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ALCO Anniversary Celebration Calendar of Events
150 Years of Locomotive History in Schenectady

[Editorial note: this page of 2001 events has been kept for historical interest]

Recognizing the importance of the locomotive industry to Schenectady and the contributions Schenectadians have made over the years, the Schenectady Heritage Area is planning a celebration to honor the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) and its workers.

Schenectady's introduction to railroading was in 1832 with the Dewitt Clinton, the first passenger train in the United States. Stagecoach cars were attached to a locomotive engine for the 16-mile trek between Albany and Schenectady. The hills were steep, and the passengers were occasionally called upon to walk beside the train as it struggled to pull the cars up the most severe inclines.

Railroad traffic grew, and within a few years the line from Schenectady to Saratoga was completed. One of the biggest challenges was crossing the Mohawk River. The feat was accomplished by using the wooden bridge at the foot of Washington Avenue. Designed for horse-and-carriage and foot traffic, the trains had to be pulled by horses one car at a time. To compensate for the steep grade from Washington Avenue to State Street, the nation's first subway was dug from the bridge to State Street. Due to the annual flooding of the Mohawk and resulting instability, the subway was filled in just a few years later.

With increasing railroad activity, various individuals began to express interest in manufacturing locomotives in Schenectady. The first venture was the Schenectady Locomotive Manufactory, established in 1848. It fell on hard times, however, and in 1851 the physical plant was puchased by a group of investors including John Ellis. The new company was called Schenectady Locomotive Works.

The Works prospered, and in 1901 merged with sveral other companies around the country to form the American Locomotive Company, or ALCO. The company continued to thrive. Over the years it produced a variety of products, including automobiles and tanks and, of course, locomotives. In 1969 ALCO closed its doors, but the legacy continues today with Super Steel Schenectady, Inc., a metal fabricating and assembling facility where locomotives continue to be produced.

Calendar of Events

May 18
7 p.m.
Exhibit Opening Reception
Schenectady Museum, free
May 19
8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Battenkill Rambler Excursion
Motorcoach transportation from Ramada Inn Schenectady to Salem, NY. All aboard the train, powered by ALCO's RS-3, to Cambridge, NY with two photo stops. $35, includes transportation and boxed lunch. $25 without motorcoach transportation.
10-11:30 a.m.
Trolley Tour
Guided tour of sites significant to the locomotive industry in Schenectady. Passengers will disembark at various points to better view sites. Tours begin and end at the Schenectady Museum. $8.
Noon - 5 p.m.
Schenectady Museum Exhibit
8:30 p.m.
Commemorative Dinner
Guest speaker William Withuhn, Smithsonian Institution. Hors d'ouevres, cocktails, choice of sliced sirloin or chicken parmigiana, dessert. Ramada Inn Schenectady, $45 before May 1; $50 after.
May 20
11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Trolley Tour
Guided tour of sites significant to the locomotive industry in Schenectady. Passengers will disembark at various points to better view sites. Tours begin and end at the Schenectady Museum. $8.
Noon-5 p.m.
Schenectady Museum Exhibit
May 21
Noon - 5 p.m.
Schenectady Model Railroad Club
Open House. 243 State Street, 4th floor, donations accepted.
May 22
10 a.m. - Noon
Tour of Super Steel Schenectady
Transportation to the plant aboard the Electric City Trolley, $8.
2 - 4 p.m.
Tour of Rensselaer Amtrak Shop, $10.
May 24
Noon - 8 p.m.
Schenectady Model Railroad Club
Open House. 243 State Street, 4th floor, donations accepted.
May 26
10 a.m. - Noon
Birthday Party at former ALCO Plant
Includes tours and visits with former employees, free.

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http://www.schenectadyhistory.org/railroads/alcoprograms.html updated July 30, 2009

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