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Green Island Bridge (1835)


Library of Congress


View this photo at catalog.loc.gov

BH Photo #419991


The Rensselaer & Saratoga Railroad was chartered by the New York State legislature in an act passed on April 14, 1832. The company initially proposed to build its route from Troy to Ballston Spa via Lansingburgh and Waterford crossing the Hudson River over the Union Bridge which had been built under the supervision of Theodore Burr in 1804.

The Rensselaer & Saratoga’s proposed route was opposed by citizens of Lansingburgh who objected to the noise and smoke it would bring to their village. The railway also faced the exorbitant demands of the Union Bridge Company which held the exclusive right to maintain a Hudson River crossing within two miles of its existing span. A revised route which crossed the Hudson from Troy to Green Island and then ran north along the west bank to Cohoes where it crossed the mouth of the Mohawk via three bridges that leapfrogged the islands in the estuary to Waterford was adopted.

Isaac Damon of Northampton, Massachusetts and Joseph Hayward of West Troy (now Watervliet), New York were award the contract of build a ten span, eight pier, Town lattice structure across the Hudson from a site just north of Federal Street in Troy, passing over Center (now Starbuck) Island and, terminating in Green Island. Construction began in 1834. The completed bridge was 1,616 feet long, roofed and included 60 foot swing draw span at its eastern end which permitted ships to pass. Its width was sufficient for a railroad track, a carriage road and a foot way. The first train of cars passed over it on October 6, 1835.

Rail cars were drawn by horses from Green Island across the bridge and through River Street to the office of the company at No. 10 First Street until 1853 when the first of Troy’s three Union Stations was completed at Sixth and Fulton Streets. That same year, the bridge was widened by an addition to its north side and divided into two parts by filling in earth on Centre Island. This permitted access to the Starbuck Brothers’ Iron Works on the Island. On Saturday, February 7, 1857, another Rensselaer & Saratoga covered bridge, this one across the second branch of the Mohawk River between Cohoes and Waterford, was swept from its piers by fast rising water released following the breaking up of ice on the river. It was carried over the state dam and came to rest at the north side of the bridge between Troy and Green Island. On Saturday noon, May 10, 1862, sparks from a passing locomotive lodged in the shingle roof of the eastern end of the eastern section of the bridge and set it on fire. Gale force winds blowing from the northwest soon carried the flames to the rest of the structure. Firemen found it to extinguish them. Great tongues of flame leaped high above the blazing bridge, which soon fell into the river, and parts of the burning structure, floating with the current, imperiled the steamboats and the smaller craft cabled along the wharves. The burning embers ignited roof tops between Federal and Congress streets from the river east to Eighth Street. When the inferno was brought under control, Troy was in ruins, some 500 buildings, with an appraised value of $2,677,892 had been destroyed and at least eight people were dead. Immediately thereafter the construction of a new section of the bridge was begun. While the structure was building a ferry was established between Troy and Centre Island for the transfer of freight and passengers. On Saturday, September 23, 1865, a crew from the Albany & Vermont Railroad failed to notice that the draw span was open and backed the locomotive Jay Gould out of the bridge and into the Hudson. The western section of the present iron bridge was built in 1876 and the eastern in 1884.


Lost Town lattice truss bridge over Hudson River on Rensselaer & Saratoga Railroad
Troy, Rensselaer County, New York, and Albany County, New York
Replaced by a new bridge
Built 1835; Eastern side of the bridge burned due to sparks from a train in May 1862 and was replaced; Replaced 1884
- Isaac Damon
- Joseph Hayward
- Delaware & Hudson Railway (DH)
- Rensselaer & Saratoga Railroad (R&S)
Town lattice through truss with swing span drawbridge at east end
Total length: 1,616.0 ft.
Deck width: 34.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 17.0 ft.
Also called
Rensselaer & Saratoga Railroad Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.73574, -73.69023   (decimal degrees)
42°44'09" N, 73°41'25" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/607214/4732301 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Troy South
Inventory numbers
WGCB NY/32-01-12x (World Guide to Covered Bridges number)
WGCB NY-42-37x (World Guide to Covered Bridges number)
BH 67040 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • April 18, 2021: Updated by Richard Doody: Updated and added historical information
  • March 28, 2018: New photo from Luke
  • April 16, 2015: Added by Luke

Related Bridges 



Green Island Bridge (Original)
Posted March 28, 2018, by Richard Doody (rpdoody3 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Attached detail from Beck & Pauli's 1881 Birdseye View of Troy,NY. The Rennselaer & Saratoga was the second oldest railroad in America. The bridge crossed the Hudson from Troy to Green Island passing over Starbuck Island. The Starbuck Ironworks where the towers for California's Bidwell's Bar Suspension Bridge were fabricated is clearly visible in the lower portion of the lithograph. Sparks from a locomotive passing through the covered portion of the bridge set off the Great Troy Fire of May 10, 1862 which consumed over 500 buildings in downtown Troy. The destruction extended from the river as far east as 8th Street.

Full view can be seen @