The Common Council recently approved zoning amendments that extend the Core Riverfront District the length of the "causeway," an action requested by Holcim/O&G in its "public comments," to protect their right to use and develop this path through South Bay as a route for moving gravel from the quarry to the river. Since July, O&G has been using this route to haul gravel to the river, but empty trucks leaving the dock continue to travel on city streets. According to Common Council President Don Moore, the Common Council will soon take up again the local law that would require O&G to use the causeway in both directions and prohibit gravel trucks on Columbia Street below Third and on Front Street.
Our 21st-century Common Council is dealing with the same problem a 19th-century Common Council faced 140 years ago--and making virtually the same decisions. This timetable, created a decade ago by Don Christensen for the exhibition Seeing South Bay, reminds us how the railroad that became the berm that became the "causeway" came to be in the first place and poignantly demonstrates how history repeats itself.
--Frederick W. Jones forms a company to quarry stone and marble from Becraft Mountain. Mule-pulled wagons begin transporting stone and marble from the mountain down Worth Avenue to Union Street to West Court Street to Allen Street to the river for shipment.
August 6, 1872--Samuel T. B. Heermance, owner of a tract of land on the east shore of South Bay, receives a "grant of land under water" from the State of New York to develop underwater lands through South Bay to the river for "beneficial use."
October 1873--Heermance sells Jones a right of way through his property and through the "land under water" to the river's edge the width of one rod (about 16 feet) to build a railroad. No public announcement is made of this plan at the time.
January 29, 1874--Application made to Hudson Common Council to build a horse-drawn railroad from the quarry on Becraft Mountain through Green Street to State Street, down the center of State Street to Front Street and to the river.
February 23, 1874--Residents and business owners along Green and State streets submit a petition to the Common Council against the railroad application, claiming, "such a track would seriously lessen the value of real estate along its line."
February 29, 1874--Common Council rejects application for State Street railroad.
March 19, 1874--Public announcement of plan by Frederick Jones to build an alternative railroad from the quarry through South Bay.
March 26, 1874--Common Council approves right of way across Bay Road for the Jones railroad.
May 4, 1874--Groundbreaking ceremonies for railroad construction. Engineering contractors promise to have road "constructed, fully equipped with locomotive and cars, and in perfect running order by July 15." Construction is halted shortly afterward.
April 16, 1884--Heermance sells Jones the one-rod wide strip of land through South Bay to be used as a railroad from the river to the mountain.
March 1887--After a delay of 11 years due to "vicissitudes of fortune," work on the railroad resumes.
March 14, 1889--Final rail line to river completed.