A Brief History of the Mount Ida Neighborhood - Water

 In 1835 the city’s geographic potential was further tapped when Troy’s first railroad connection linked it with Ballston Spa—a major restorative health resort of the period.  Although the span was of no great distance (about twenty-six miles), these first iron rails were the nascent sinew that would link Troy with the rest of the nation and would eventually help to send its products around the globe.  By 1842 Troy was linked with the rest of the northeast via railroad.  Growth along the Poesten Kill accordingly exploded.

Between 1825 and 1840 Benjamin Marshall—an immigrant born in Manchester, England—had built a number of textile mills along the stream.*  In 1840 he constructed a six-hundred foot long water tunnel near the foot of Ida Falls to power these mills.  Other mills and factories appeared almost instantly to take advantage of this unequaled source of power, and Marshall sold his energy rights to many different mills and factories. 

Figure 4

Although the area along what would become Upper Congress Street was mostly undeveloped, down in the gorge at the foot of Ida Falls the Industrial Revolution was about to take hold.  Mount Ida in 1845 may have been nearly isolated at its summit, but along the water it already employed 320 factory and mill workers—more than three times the number of such laborers in Troy’s seven other wards combined (99).**  In 1846 Day Otis Kellogg estimated that the water power available on the Poesten Kill had been barely tapped, and that the stream could support in excess of twelve mills and twenty-four factories.***

* John G. Waite and Diana S. Waite, Industrial Archeology in Troy, Waterford, Cohoes, Green Island, and Watervliet (Troy, N.Y.: Hudson-Mohawk Industrial Gateway, second printing, 1983), 17.

** Census of the State of New York for 1845.

 

 

 

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