- Grant Recipient
Industry & Commerce
- 2219 NY-66, Ghent, NY 12075, USA
- 42.325348, -73.620498
Town of Ghent
An important element that helped spur growth of young communities was the railroad. In 1860 the small town of Ghent, New York was a bustling railroad community. Two railroad lines converged and passed through town: the Boston & Albany Railroad (Hudson Division) and the New York City & Hudson Railroad (Harlem Division). Along with the railroads came business, prosperity and means for area farmers to ship and sell their goods. By 1892 several hay barns, used to store hay, were erected between the two railroad lines. The hay barns included three horse powered hay presses which compressed hay into stackable units easier to transport.
Business flourished for several years until June 27, 1894, when disaster struck. Fire destroyed the barns and over 100 tons of hay and straw being stored for shipment. A June 28, 1894 edition of The Columbian Republican describes the event:
At noon yesterday the news reached this city that the most destructive fire that has visited Ghent village in many years had completely destroyed the large hay barns, coal sheds, and postoffice building near the railway station. Seven buildings in all were consumed. Three of the barns reduced to ashes belonged to Supervisor George Tremain…. Two other barns and the postoffice building belonged to the Tracey estate.
Aside from the obvious destruction caused by the flames, the newspaper article cites a more unexpected consequence:
The heat was so intense that the rails of the Harlem track were warped out of shape and trains on that road were unable to get through for several hours.
While the cause of the fire was unknown, the financial losses of the buildings were substantial and estimated to be over $5,000. A September 26, 1894 edition of The Columbia Republican announced:
Preparations are being made at Ghent to rebuild the hay barns recently destroyed by fire in that village. The burned district has a very desolate appearance at the present time, and the new buildings to be erected will add very much to the attractiveness of that section of the village.