Amsterdam to study Mohasco Power House

Structure was built in 1903 to serve carpet mill
Ruins of the Mohasco Power House in Amsterdam in 2015.
Ruins of the Mohasco Power House in Amsterdam in 2015.

AMSTERDAM — The city recently secured an $8,900 grant to study the dilapidated Mohasco Power House with an eye toward preservation and incorporation into the North Chuctanunda Creek trail. 

The grant is part of the Preservation League of New York State’s Donald Stephen Gratz Preservation Services Fund, which supports regional preservation projects throughout the state. The grant announcement will be made at the powerhouse, adjacent to Forest Avenue, at 10 a.m. Friday.

City and county officials, with help from two statewide historical organizations, have been working on formalizing the North Chuctanunda Creek Trail for the past year and a half. At present, the trail is little more than a walking path from Riverfront Park to Shuttleworth Park, with about a dozen points of interest along the way aimed at helping visitors explore the city’s industrial past. 

One of those points of interest is the Mohasco Power House, which was built in 1903 and used water from the North Chuctanunda to provide steam power to at least three carpet mills that sprung up along the creek. The powerhouse is also of practical use, as the North Chuctanunda Creek Trail runs directly through the building, utilizing the structure’s bridge to cross the creek and access the northernmost part of the trail. 

Before the city can formalize the trail, however, it must ensure the structure is safe for pedestrian access. 

“Ideally in the future, it would be great to have the tour go through the building and see what it looks like,” said Danielle Whelly, assistant director of recreation for the city of Amsterdam. “For the first step, we just want to see what condition it is in.”

Whelly and other city and county officials worked on the powerhouse grant proposal that was awarded by the preservation league, as well as a $7,000 grant that was awarded by the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor to install signage along the North Chuctanunda Creek Trail. 

Whelly said a steering committee for the trail is gathering historical photos and narrative information for seven to nine points of interest along the trail that do not currently have signage. Other points of interest, such as City Hall and Green Hill Cemetery, do have signage relaying historical information. 

The hope is that the powerhouse can be restored and formally incorporated into the trail and official historic tour, as the trail itself is enhanced with signage that provides local and regional tourists a detailed glimpse into Amsterdam’s industrial roots, Whelly said.

Another overarching goal, she added, is to connect the 4-mile North Chuctanunda Creek Trail with the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook bridge and the Erie Canalway Trail. The steering committee is also looking to connect the trail with the city’s smaller 1.4-mile Greenway Trail, a pedestrian path through the city’s downtown. 

The grant from the preservation league will allow an engineering firm to assess the powerhouse’s condition, including the bridge, rooms between the south entrance and the bridge entrance, and the condition of the building’s southern and eastern exterior walls. According to a news release announcing the grant, the city has retained Albany-based Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture and Preservation LLP of Albany to complete the analysis.

Preservation league president Jay DiLorenzo said local preservation projects like the powerhouse initiative and the North Chuctanunda Creek Trail are vital in preserving regional history throughout the state. 

“It’s a great way for people to connect back to the river and to the water and the industrial history of Amsterdam and the region,” DiLorenzo said.

Categories: News, Schenectady County


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