On the 12th of August, 1830, the first railroad in this State was commenced* for the purpose of connecting the Hudson with the Mohawk waters, between Albany and Schenec-tady. The distance was 15 miles, and it took twelve months to finish the job—not bad work, however, considering the inexperience of our people in such matters then. It was an expensive and unscientifically constructed road, tor it cost about $1,000,000, and had two inclined planes on it, one at Schenectady arid the other at Albany, by which the cars were drawn up partly with horses and partly with stationary steam engines. The object of this road was to cut off the long canal passage by the " Cohoes Falls," which took the packet-boats so long to accomplish. The Engineer who surveyed and planned it was Peter Fleming, a good mathematician and well-known in this city, of which he surveyed and laid out much ot the upper portion. He was sent over to England by the projectors ofthe road prior to the time it was commenced, to obtain all the information possible on the subject; but railroads were but in their infancy there as jglLaa_hEreJ_JTB-jnute--a('l'('tpr1, ami the-manner decided upon for operating it, were very rude but not bad for that period, especially as it was the pioneer railroad ot this State. Au English locomotive, named the '? John Bull," was purchased abroad, and was the first one used. With some alterations (although it was very clumsy) it did good service, at the cautious rate of drawing trains from Albany to Schenectady, in about two hours. Over that short road we have travelled before a single rail was laid down in any other part of this State, and have been detained as long upon it, in 1836, as in going from Albany to Utica in 1846. This pioneer railroad has undergone many changes in construction and locality. The inclines have been abandoned, and with them the horses and stationary engines. Before this change it never paid expenses, but short, ly afterwards it commenced to pay good dividends, and is now valuable stock. What a change has taken place in New York Railroads since 1830: instead of a poorly constructed railroad, only 15 miles long, there are now 2,013 miles of good railroads in successful operation, being at the rate of nearly 88 miles, which have been constructed during every year since 1830, or nearly six times more, every twelve months, than was constructed during the first twelve months of our railroad history. When we take a view of the improvements which have been made in the construction of our railroads, engines, and cars since 1830, we feel grateful and proud ot the progress which has been made in railroad invention and improvement in twenty-three years. Then the rails were all the miserable flat kind, laid down upon very inefficient ways.' Now all the rails are of the heavy T or the compound kind. Then the locomotives, in comparison with those which we now have, were like donkeys to blood-racers. Then the cars were like pigeon coups—short, dumpy, and dingy; now they are long saloons, beautiful in design, and comfortable in all the,ir arrangements ; in short, the railroads of 1833 (twenty years ago), in comparison with the railroads of 1853, appear to us more like relics of a barbaric age than works of modern times. It is not by taking the improvements of a day, week, month, or year, that we are able to see what progress we have made, but by looking down the long avenue to the end of the journey. In taking such a look down the avenue of railroad improvement, we feel as if we could give three hearty cheers for the progress which has been made in useful improvements. Will the next twenty years witness as many improvements in railroads as have been made during the past ? We have no doubt of it,—we are not at the end of improvements yet. Engineers and mechanics ! look to the past, and let it stimulate you to renewed effort : there are many prizes yet to win.
This article was originally published with the title "Improvements and New York Railroads"