Sunday, November 8, 2009

ALBANY-SCHOHARIE PLANK ROAD

  • Altamont Enterprise, May 2, 1998; Laura Westfall, Wright town historian:
''The Albany-Schoharie Plank Road company was incorporated [in 1849] with $70,000 in capital stock. Stocks were sold for $25 each. Road work was started in 1850. The road ran from Schoharie; east through the town of Wright and the town of Knox and Guilderland, reaching the Western Turnpike. The two mile branch running to Central Bridge made a total of 26 miles. The original cost was about $1,800 per mile.

''To construct the road, six 4 x 4 hemlock sills were laid end to end and planks were lain crosswise. No nails were used. The edges of the road were left uneven to enable the wagons to pull to pass. The road was ten foot wide with an improved dirt road along the side. With no wood preservatives in use, the wood soon became rotten and had to be replaced about every five years, each time at a higher price. Timber was readily available from landowners along the way, thus cutting down on the cost of transporting lumber. Toll gates were located every five miles. There were five toll gates on this road.

''The Albany-Schoharie Plank Road was extended through Warnerville, Richmondville, Summit and on to Charlotteville. The plank roads faded from the scene when Albany to Central Bridge Railroad became operational in 1863, providing much faster service than horse-powered vehicles. In May, 1866 the road lying east of Gallupville was abandoned. In April, 1867, the corporation was dissolved and the roadway was given to the towns.
  •  The Old Albany and Schoharie Plank Road
    The Old Albany and Schoharie Plank Road is a detailed history of the road written by Miss Mary Gregg of Altamont in 1932 for her graduation essay topic. Thoroughly researched, it has fascinating facts as well as many reminiscences by then elderly folk who remembered the road in its hay day. Especially riveting is the story of the night the 134th Reg. of N. Y. S. Volunteers camped over night near the Keenholts Hotel in Knoweresville, (now Altamont) when they marched down the plank road from Schoharie enroute to Albany and Gettysburg. Here is a brief excerpt from her essay as printed in the Altamont Enterprise, August 12, 1932:

    "Webb" Whipple, who as a little boy lived in old Knowersville, states, "that on the 22nd day of Sept. 1862 I was down at Cold Spring near the Bozenkill gathering butternuts where you kids do today. Suddenly I heard a sound of music and hurrying up to the old plank road saw the soldiers from Schoharie coming over the hill. There were about 80 less than their full 1000 for a regiment. With them were their ambulance and commissary trains. Behind followed riding in every conceivable conveyance their women folks and children. In the fields about Knowersville they camped for the night. Everyone in the neighborhood depleted his larder to feed the Schoharie soldiers. As dark came on they simply rolled up in blankets all over the fields as the weather was quite warm. I can remember how my mother's heart went out to the women and children who had come thus far to be with their loved ones and now were crying and sobbing. Some of the men were stoic. Quite a few got drunk and eight men deserted. In the morning they marched down the plank road to Albany and from there by boat to New York. The tears of the women at old Knowersville were indeed prophetic and the fields of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Missionary Ridge ran red with the blood of their husbands and fathers."

    And now for the rest of the story, click on The Old Albany and Schoharie Plank Road.

1 comment:

  1. That is a really great story. I will have to make a point of getting that book. Some time ago I recall finding a reference that my 3G Grandfather, Jacob P. Hane, was involved as a road superidentant or administrator for road near Knox in the mid 19th Century. Thank you for sharing, Hal, keep up the great work.

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