Albany and Schenectady Rail Road Company (1848)
Beautifully engraved antique bond certificate from the Albany and Schenectady Rail Road Company dating back to the 1840's. This document, which has been signed by the company President and Secretary, was printed by the Wm. Van Norden and measures approximately 12 1/2" (w) by 10" (h).
This certificate features a vignette of a locomotive and two cars.
You will receive the exact certificate pictured. Please note edge faults particularly along right and top margins. Chip out of upper right corner. An excellent example given the document's age!
On December 28, 1825, Schenectady County resident (Duanesburg) George William Featherstonhaugh (pronounced Fenshaw) ran a newspaper notice announcing the formation of the Mohawk & Hudson Rail Road Company. The intention was to bypass the Erie Canal between Albany and Schenectady, cutting time for the trip from a whole day to under one hour. The Mohawk & Hudson became the first chartered railroad in New York State on April 17, 1826.
Construction began four years later and the railroad opened September 24, 1831, on a 16-mile route between Albany and Schenectady through the Pine Bush region that separates both cities. The civil engineer Peter Fleming surveyed the right-of-way and provided the cost estimates. The tracks were made of strap rail resting on stone blocks rather than crossties that later became standard. Initially the line ended outside the two cities to avoid steep grades — in Albany the line ended near the current intersection of Madison and Western Avenues — and the passengers covered the remaining distance in stagecoaches. Later at each end an inclined plane with a fixed steam engine was used to raise and lower the train.
The DeWitt Clinton locomotive, built by the West Point Foundry in New York, made its first test run on July 2, 1831. After some hesitation it was decided that the engine would burn wood rather than coal. The official opening took place on September 24, 1831, with approximately eighty politicians and dignitaries. The DeWitt Clinton, pulling three cars, covered the route in forty-seven minutes. Another eight cars had to be pulled by horses.
In 1832, a rider wrote in his journal:
"June 28, arrive in Schenectady. Among the astonishing inventions of man, surely that of the locomotive steam engine hath no secondary rank. By this matchless exercise of skill, we fly with a smooth and even course along once impassible barriers, the valleys are filled, the mountains laid low, and distance seems annihilated. I took my seat as near as possible to the car containing the engine, in order to examine more minutely the operation of this, to me, novel and stupendous specimen of human skill. Having thus, as if by some invisible agency flown the distance of 16 miles in 40 minutes, at Schenectady I took passage on the Hudson and Erie Canal for Buffalo."
On April 19, 1847, the company name was changed to the Albany & Schenectady Railroad. The railroad was consolidated into the New York Central Railroad on May 17, 1853.