Albany-Hudson Electric Trail Exhibition and Talk at the Library (Thursday, May 26)

The Hudson Area Library, in partnership with Columbia Friends of the Electric Trail, presents an exhibit of the interpretative panels along the Electric Trail in Columbia and Rensselaer counties. The exhibition runs through June 30. On Thursday, May 26, 6-7:30pm Matt Kierstead, who provided the documentation and interpretive services for the Electric Trail panels, will discuss the history and conversion of this train line in his talk Trolleys, Trails and Tales: Interpreting the Empire State Trail’s Albany-Hudson Electric Trail. This program is also in person at the Community Room of the library. 

The May 26 illustrated talk presents the corporate, social, and technological history of the “Albany-Hudson Fast Line” electrified high-speed interurban railway in Columbia and Rensselaer counties. It also tells the story of Hudson River Valley Greenway’s conversion of the surviving trolley line right-of-way into the Empire State Trail’s “Albany-Hudson Electric Trail” segment. Finally, Matt discusses the process of developing the trailside interpretive signage that explains the history of the railway, the communities it passed through, and historical features visible from the trail to the trail’s users.  

Columbia Friends of the Electric Trail (CFET) is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization formed in 2018 to support the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail, part of the statewide 750 mile Empire State Trail. CFET has loaned Hudson Area Library the Electric Trail panels for this exhibition and will be displaying these panels at other libraries and public spaces as a means of exposing the public to the fascinating history and beauty of this portion of the Empire State Trail.

In addition to the interpretative panels, this exhibition also features images from Larry Gobrecht’s collection on the Electric Park in Kinderhook. The Electric Park was an attraction on Kinderhook Lake that was along the trolley line that ran from Albany to Hudson from 1901 to 1920. Mr. Gobrecht retired as historian in the Recreation and Historic preservation office of the New York State Office of Parks and currently serves on the board of the Friends of Taconic State Park. The Gobrecht family has generously donated the rights to the digital images of this unique collection for use by the library.

Matt Kierstead is owner/proprietor of Milestone Heritage Consulting, a Hudson Valley business providing documentation and interpretation services for historic engineering, industrial, and transportation resources for clients including government agencies, private developers, and the heritage tourism industry. His focus areas include the history and technology of bridges, mining and quarrying, metallurgy, mineral processing, power generation, canal and rail transportation, and public utilities. Mr. Kierstead has completed over three hundred projects throughout the northeastern United States including historical resource surveys, National Register of Historic Places determinations of eligibility and nominations, Historic American Buildings Survey/Engineering Record (HABS/HAER) and state-level documentations, Superfund site cleanup consultation, and public history interpretation projects.

Columbia Friends of the Electric Trail’s mission is to maintain the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail in Columbia County; promote the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail as a recreational and economic development resource, support historic and heritage education, and foster conservation values; and collaborate with other organizations to develop ancillary trails linking the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail to significant sites and other trails.