100 and more years ago . . .
Before 1890, the main public transportation between Valatie and Niverville was a stage coach that ran to Niverville for connection with the Boston and Albany railroad. In 1890, a steam railroad opened for traffic with four trains per day between Hudson and Niverville. In 1899, this steam railroad was incorporated into the Hudson and Albany electric railway that ran trolley cars during the day and night until 11:00 pm. This trolley line also supplied electric power to the communities along its route. By the 1930s, the trolley line was abandoned as automobiles became more popular. But the power lines right-of way remained, currently under the authority of National Grid. This right-of-way forms the backbone of the proposed Kinderhook Trails, which aims to restore this vital and historic transportation link within our town.
10 to 20 years ago . . .
A town committee was formed and produced “A Report on the Encouragement and Improvement of Bicycling and Walking in the Town of Kinderhook” on May 11, 1998. This committee conducted research, surveys, and inquiries and made recommendations concerning a system of signed bicycle routes, safe walking routes, and an education program for cyclists and motorists throughout the town. Key outcomes included a 13-mile bicycle route through Kinderhook, Valatie, and Niverville; suggested sidewalk improvements along Route 9 from the village of Kinderhook to Ichabod Crane; and an off-road cycling and walking trail along the abandoned trolley line from North Chatham to Kinderhook. A citizen survey conducted by this committee found strong support for conversion of the trolley line into a usable trail and “a nearly unanimous wish for off-road facilities for both bicycling and walking.” The Town Recreation Committee conducted similar exploratory work for a hiking trail along the Niagara-Mohawk right-of-way around this same time.
5 to 10 years ago . . .
In August 2003, a “Recreational Trail Design & Feasibility Study” was produced by The Saratoga Associates for the Kinderhook Town & Village Trail Committee. This detailed, comprehensive 45-page report contained plans and recommendations for a “Town-wide trail system, which mostly follows the Niagara-Mohawk easement (former railroad bed) and existing road system . . .proposed for multi-use, non-motorized activities.” A key point of this report was its emphasis on adherence to the Village of Kinderhook Comprehensive Plan, prepared in November 1999, and the Town of Kinderhook Comprehensive Plan, prepared in August 2000, which outlined the creation of a comprehensive recreational trail system. The report covered design criteria, engineering specifications, key elements of the trail (uses, features), architectural drawings and maps, maintenance, funding – all of which informed the current Trail Committee’s work.
New trails and walking routes were also established in Kinderhook and Valatie during these years. In July 2001, the 43-acre Pachaquack Preserve was dedicated at the confluence of the Kinderhook Creek and Valatie Kill. It contains two miles of walking trails, benches, a gazebo, historical marker, and numerous vantage points. Around the same time, the River Street Park was also established across the creek from Pachaquack with a similar amount of acreage, trails, benches, and vantage points.
In 2005, the Town’s sidewalk project established a safe walkway along Route 9 from Ichabod Crane to the Val-Kin. The remaining stretch to the Stewart’s in Kinderhook is under design. When completed, a continuous walkway will exist along route 9 from State Farm Road to Gaffney Lane, near the southernmost boundary of the village.
Today and the future . . .
Kinderhook’s Trail Committee looks to make these previous efforts come to fruition in a multi-use, year-round recreational trail connecting key points in Valatie, Niverville, and Kinderhook. Ultimately, this trail could connect with additional walkways, bikeways, and trails throughout the town, county, and beyond creating a vital transportation route among the many historic, natural, and inviting destinations that showcase our area’s proud heritage. And to be used and enjoyed for generations to come.