TROY – Michael P. Barrett can answer that question: How do you move a 120,000 pound piece of industrial history?
Ingenuity, patience and a source of money are the ingredients to disassemble, transport and reassemble a historic Corliss steam generator installed more than a century ago in its future home at the Burden Iron Works more than half a mile away Museum.
“Slowly but surely we worked towards it. With the extreme generosity of a Sugar Father, which I am not yet allowed to disclose, we now have a very large sum of money to move the rest of this steam-powered generator, “said Barrett, general manager of the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway, headquartered at the museum.
The generator is believed to date back to the Troy and Albany Iron & Steel Company when it would have operated its manufacturing facilities between Madison Street and Poesten Kill on the banks of the Hudson River. The company manufactured rails for railroad tracks in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is where the rails for the eastern half of the first transcontinental railroad would have been built. Later the Ludlow Valve Company would have used it to drive the production of a wide variety of valves of various sizes.
The generator is now surrounded by a chain link fence on the north side of the so-called Scolite site, just a few meters from the Poesten Kill. It is an orphaned device long after the buildings it served were demolished.
“The remains of that generator are still very neat to us industrial history freaks,” said Barrett.
Even though scrappers stole as much metal as they could get off the generator, it’s still massive. The generator weighs an estimated 40 to 60 tons, or about 80,000 to 120,000 pounds, said Allen Cluett, who has studied the machine for years. There was a General Electric badge in one place, but it was also stolen.
Cluett is familiar with Troy’s story. He is related to the Cluetts of Cluett Peabody, who were famous for Arrow shirts, and to Cluett and Sons, a music company famous for instruments and sheet music.
Buying the generator is easy. The Hudson Mohawk Gateway pays the city $ 1 for the machines. The city council states that it is surplus property so it can be relocated.
After years of studying the generator, Cluett said it will be broken down into about five pieces to make the tonnage easier to handle. Barrett said the gateway has asked three crane and rigging companies for offers to lift the generator onto trucks and transport it down the road to the Burden Iron Works Museum, where it will be reassembled and installed on an outdoor platform, on which visitors have the opportunity to inspect it.
“In keeping with the heritage preservation traditions that continue to shape the future of our city, we are pleased to transfer ownership of this important historical artifact to the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway for permanent exhibition,” said Mayor Patrick Madden.
Troy was one of the richest cities in the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries due to its large industrial base. The richness of that time can still be seen in much of the Victorian architecture in the downtown area.