Tuesday, September 16, 2014

August 24, 1889

Every once in a while I run across an old newspaper article that touches on a lot of historical things I have been thinking about lately.  South Bethlehem, quarries, railroads, baseball, churches.  The article below has them all.  Here are some excerpts and explanations.

In company with numerous friends of the South Bethlehem M. E. church Sunday School from the towns of Guilderland and New Scotland, we accompanied them on their excursion to Ionia Island…. The day was all that could be desired and the run of one hundred miles over the smooth tracks of the West Shore Road, with its delightful scenery, was made in about three hours.

I came across the article while looking for info about the South Bethlehem United Methodist Church - or South Bethlehem M.E. church.  There wasn't a United Methodist denomination until they united various branches of Methodists in 1968.

Iona Island in the Hudson River was a popular excursion destination from the late 1860s until 1899. The resort boasted a Ferris wheel, carousel, picnic grounds and a hotel. After a stint as a ammunition depot, it is now part of Bear Mountain State Park.

South Bethlehem's station on the West Shore Railroad was located west of South Street. Nothing remains today.
The concert over, some found their way to the ball ground to witness what proved a one-sided contest between the Unions of South Bethlehem and the Echoes of Slingerlands, in which the Union’s had decidedly the best of it.

Recently I wrote about Bethlehem and baseball - I had no idea that South Bethlehem had a team!

The return trip was made with but little delay… until we reached South Bethlehem when we were unmercifully backed off on a lonely side-track for nearly half an hour with nothing to cheer the monotony of the occasion but the bright electric lights and the occasional sonorous tones of the steam whistle from Callanan’s stone quarry.”

This past weekend I had the pleasure of tagging along with Bethlehem Senior Services when they toured the Peter K. Frueh quarry in Feura Bush - what fun that was!  With a gentle rain falling, Peter Frueh stepped aboard the van and talked about his family business.  Stone crushers and sorters rumbled in the background.  That large boulder of lime rock... broken up in about 5 seconds.  How often do you blast....twice so far this year.  Where does the stone go.... mostly for the family business - Frueh Excavating.  What is crush and run....lime rock with sharp edges that packs down... it comes in different sizes.  Who does the blasting.... we bring in professionals.

Loading stone at Callanans
Later that afternoon I gave a brief talk about the hamlet of South Bethlehem and especially Callanan's.  Callanan's stone quarry was established in 1883 by Peter Callanan and was for years a family run business.  Today, it is part of a much larger conglomerate. While I know the dump trucks full of stone still drive up South Street from the quarry - I don't know if the steam whistle still blows.

Oh and how about those electric lights?  I have read that South Bethlehem had street lights as early as 1907 - but this is 1889.  All I can say is, hmmmmm

Here's the complete article.

PS Browse back issues of the Altamont Enterprise and other newspapers at  http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/

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