Our Questions About the Historical Burden Horseshoe Factory in South Troy

Now that the historical Burden factory is in jeopardy and appears to be poised to be demolished, the Friends of the Mahicantuck seek to provide some general information to the public.

We want to preface this by saying: The current City Council has a tough decision to make. The Burden factory is in bad shape. At the same time, an alternative site is needed for a property owner to allow for the construction of the Industrial Road in South Troy.

Our group is not a historical preservation advocacy group and we do not have the expertise to assess if this property is beyond saving or not. However, we do want to share the currently available information about the current proposal, and articulate some of our own questions as the future of this property is determined.

Our main concern is that the public did not learn about this proposal regarding one of the city’s most significant historical sites early-on — which is why we seek to share some information on the issue.

BACKGROUND: The Henry Burden built horseshoe factory

The 1861 Henry Burden built horseshoe steam-powered factory in South Troy is a crucial part of Troy’s history. Between 1861 and 1865 an estimated 70% of the horseshoes used by the Union Army were made here, right in Troy.

Michael Barrett is the Director of the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway. At a recent City Council meeting he described the building: “That property contains one of what I consider to be the most historically vital buildings in our industrial history”.

However, the site has seen significant neglect and is in a bad condition, including severe structural issues that are costly to reconcile. Remediation needs and potential liabilities make saving this site additionally costly.


The City of Troy proposes to transfer the city-owned National Register eligible property into private ownership as it seeks to construct an Industrial Road impacting a private property. The land trade, according to statements during the September City Council meeting, is ought to enable the construction of the South Troy Industrial Road by facilitating the relocation of an industrial business.

This proposal comes, as the Troy City Council claims that it has no way to save a National Register eligible landmark in North Troy — the Historical Sacred Forest — because it is on private property. Advocates have long pointed to the city-owned Leonard hospital as one of many potential alternative sites for the proposed development — a potential solution that could help save a National Register eligible landmark.

How come that the City of Troy can find creative solutions in advancing an infrastructure project, helping a company relocate their operations, but apparently cannot bring the same creativity to saving a nationally important landmark in North Troy?


The South Troy historical landmark appears all but set to be forever demolished. The reasons are complex: In city ownership since 1997, this building was left to wither in the elements of nature. Today it is structurally unstable, while also severely contaminated.

After decades of neglect — since 1997 under City oversight — remediation and restoration costs are estimated to be a substantial $55 Million USD.

The City of Troy has done an outstanding job in preserving some major parts of its history, particularly in downtown Troy. The hard work of Troy’s Historical Society cannot be understated.

Yet, many other historically significant sites have been lost to development over decades of at times highly controversial council decisions, or as properties were left abandoned for decades. The neglect of historical landmarks, and their loss to development in particular, is of course particularly true for the City’s Indigenous historical and cultural resources.

Diamond Rock is a prime example where a unique Indigenous cultural site and one of Troy’s historic recreational areas was lost to construct a large-scale development. Other examples are “Uncle Sam’s house”, the raill station, the Freihofer Building. Not all those losses of historical buildings are, of course, the direct consequence of City Council decisions, and rather a reflection of city budget limitations in combination with a reliance on private initiatives to save individual buildings. Others are, however, consequences of city decisions over the course of decades.

Often, historical landmarks were lost in the City of Troy despite the hard work of the Historical Society and other historical preservation groups.

The case of the Burden site in South Troy is yet another example of years of neglect of a historical gem. However, in this case, the property sat abandoned for decades while in city ownership.

The building was transferred into ownership of the City of Troy in 1997. In these three decades of City ownership the historical landmark was left to further deteriorate into what is not a potentially lost building — and the potential loss of a piece of Troy’s role in our nation’s history.


At the last general meeting of the City Council in September, this property unexpectedly (for the public) became subject of a major City Council decision.

The City pursues plans to construct a major Industrial Road in South Troy.

According to the City records, this road would directly impact a building that is currently owned a local gravel company. The firm uses that property to park their gravel trucks and conduct some of its operations out of it. In order to give way to the Industrial Road, the proposal was introduced to relocate that company to the historic Burden horseshoe factory in South Troy.

The idea in a nutshell is to relocate the gravel trucks and operation to the uniquely historical building — likely demolishing the historical structures — in order to allow construction of the Industrial Road in South Troy.

Granted, the current City Council finds itself confronted with a difficult decision. Remediation and restoration costs are substantial. $55 Million Dollars is not nothing. Also, it is not the current City Council’s fault that the property was left to the elements, making it a potential liability for the City in its current state.

However, important questions are still open and should be clarified before moving fowrad.

Importantly, we do not know based on the currently available information, what steps were taken to save this historical landmark since it is came into city ownership.

  • What steps were taken to preserve this building, if any? What responsibility has the City of Troy for the current state of the property?
  • What steps have the City Council and City administration undertaken to evaluate alternatives that do not lead to the demolition of this landmark, including public-private partnerships, grant-making, and partial or procedural building stabilization, restoration and contamination measures?
  • Will detailed information be made available to the public regarding past property management as well as the evaluation of restoration and preservation pathways, including the analysis that assesses current costs for stabilizing the building?

As the City of Troy likely assessed these and other questions in preparation of the the current proposal to transfer the property, we think that this information should be provided to the public to better understand and support the decision-making surrounding the current proposal.

We reached out to the City of Troy about these questions and will share the information — that can hopefully bring clarity to the public — as we receive it.


The Friends of the Mahicantuck are still reviewing the currently public information. We do have questions, some of which we posted above. In our opinion, it is critical that the City Council provides the public with detailed information on the proposal, the involved parties, as well as the evaluation of alternative approaches regarding the potential preservation of this property ahead of any decision.

We are confident that the City Council has evaluated all options and simply think that this information should be made widely accessible to the public as well. Without this information, it is impossible for the public — including our group — to assess this proposal.


Details on Page 33: https://www.troyny.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/CCRegularAgenda090921A.pdf?fbclid=IwAR31qnqLWNtl4dSOxNSDYW1TlCGtOv0plWZwU03nS0a26aMeRaCMnlDJwTg

City Council to squander yet another piece of Troy history?

From the southern-most part to the northern-most part of the City of Troy — the Troy City Council is pursuing plans that threaten to destroy some of the most significant parts of our City’s history.
Yet another historic site — one of the most vital in our city’s industrial history — is under threat — this time in South Troy. The reason: to build an industrial road. This comes at a time as efforts to save one of the region’s most significant, National Register eligible pre-contact sites is also threatened to be forever lost to a construction project.
At last week’s City Council meeting Michael Barrett, Director of Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway, put it this way: “That property contains one of what I consider to be the most historically vital buildings in our industrial history”

See his statement on the historical significance of the building made at the last City Council meeting (start listening at 23:00):

The building in question is the 1861 Henry Burden built horseshoe steam-powered factory. Betwen 1861 and 1865 an estimated 70% of the horeshoes used by the union army were made.
As part of the proposed construction of the Industrial Road in South Troy, a deal is in the works to swap the land owned by R.J. Valente that part of the road would impact and give them one of the most HISTORIC Iron Works-related properties of the city for their trucks and operations instead — the Sperry Buildings.
While this building is in significantly deteriorated state and requires some significant work including remediation, its historic significance — and potential for reinvestment — cannot be understated.


Its current state is a reflection of a long history of disregard for historically significance property to let fall apart (as long as that history is not downtown Troy).


However, the current City Council is not at fault for the current state of the building. This presents the council with a difficult decision: Can the historic site be saved, at least in parts? Or is it too far gone — and why did the property fall in such disrepair?
In regards to our own advocacy to save the forest at 1011 it also raises the question:


How come that a land swap is possible for constructing an Industrial Road, likely causing the demolition of a historic building, pursuing a similar solution — e.g. offering city-owned land (such as the Leonard Hospital site) to save the historic land at 1011 2nd Avenue — is not possible?


Yet, we hear some on the Troy City Council says there is nothing they can do to save the private land that is the Sacred Forest.
Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011

Contact the City of Troy NOW


RIGHT NOW: The most important thing is to keep the pressure with the city!

SEND AN EMAIL NOW (opens draft email in your email browser)


  1. Use the text below to send it to the City of Troy (or click here – opens draft email in your email browser)
  2. Add your name/edit the information as indicated in the text.
  3. Send the emails to Mayor Patrick Madden, City Council President Carmella Mantello, the entire City Council and the Planning Commission.
Contact Information
Mayor Patrick Madden
Tel: (518) 279 – 7130

E-Mail: Patrick.Madden@troyny.gov

Council President Carmella Mantello
Tel: (518) 281 – 6582

E-Mail: Carmella.Mantello@troyny.gov

City Council

E-Mail: citycouncil@troyny.gov

Planning Commissioner Steven Strichman

Tel: (518) 279 – 7392

E-Mail: Steven.Strichman@troyny.gov

Planning Commission
Tel: (518) 279 – 7392

E-Mail: James.Rath@troyny.gov


TO: Patrick.Madden@troyny.gov; Carmella.Mantello@troyny.gov; citycouncil@troyny.gov; Steven.Strichman@troyny.gov; James.Rath@troyny.gov;

BCC (optional): FriendsOfTheMahicantuck@gmail.com



Mayor Patrick Madden, City Council President Carmella Mantello, Members of the Troy City Council, Planning Commissioner Steven Strichman, and Members of the Planning Commission

My name is [insert name]. I live in the  [insert city/town/village].

I am writing to you to oppose the requested zoning change for 1011 2nd Avenue (Tax Parcel 70.64-1-1).

The “Sacred Forest” at 1011 2nd Avenue is the city’s last untouched forest along the Hudson River as well as a nationally significant (National Register eligible) indigenous heritage site with artifacts dating back to 1500-3000 B.C. The indigenous peoples maintain ties to this land that grew over 5000 years. For them, this is sacred land. It is unique for its history and cultural heritage.

The “Sacred Forest” is also unique for its ecology.  There are several county-rare plant species present on this land, some of which are habitat indicators that make the presence of globally rare species likely (the scrub oak as an indicator for the globally rare buck moth, for example).

As the last natural forest of its kind it provides critical ecosystem services to a community located in a DEC designated “Potential Environmental Justice Area” (requiring amongst other a full EAF as part of SEQRA, as established in DEC CP 29 — Section E). Its destruction would be an incredible loss for us all. The loss of critical ecosystem services would disproportionately harm the local community of the Potential Environmental Justice Area.

Changing the zoning to accommodate a known project prior to the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process is segmentation ( Kirk-Astor Drive Neighborhood Ass’n. v. Town Board of Town of Pittsford, 106 A.D.2d 868, 869, 483 N.Y.S.2d 526, 528 (4th Dep’t 1984)).

A zoning change should be included as a consideration in the project’s Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) if it moves forward with its environmental review. Additionally, a change in the zoning to allow a different use than what is stated in the 2018 “Realize Troy” Comprehensive Plan would require an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan, and should be indicated as a “discretionary action” alongside the rezoning in the full EAF.

During three public hearings the public provided more than eight hours of testimony in opposition to the rezoning, alongside numerous written submissions, expert testimonies and reports. The public is united in its opposition to approve the rezoning of this property to make way for a 240 unit housing development.

As public officials it is your responsibility to listen to your constituents.  Considering our  clear position across party lines alongside the historical, archeological, cultural and ecological significance of this sacred  land, and its being  located in a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) “Potential Environmental Justice Area”, the planning commission and the city must make the protection and preservation of this land its highest priority.

Considering the issues of segmentation, inconsistencies with the comprehensive plan and process requirements established in SEQR, the Planning Commission must recommend against rezoning at this time for all of the reasons stated.

[Optional: Personal paragraph of relationship to the land and why you think it is important that this land is protected]

Thank you.




Finding Rare Species at 1011

This past week, following a snow storm that dropped nearly 3ft of snow on the Capital Region, The Friends of the Mahicantuck met up with Systems Ecologist Dr. David Hunt and former archeologist and local historian extraordinaire Don Rittner at 1011 to explore the ecology of the land. Dr. Hunt has done extensive work in the past in this area – extending up to Pleasantdale, and had advised us before meeting, of unique ecosystems here. Sure enough, despite the deep snow – Dr. Hunt found about 17 rare Scrub Oak plants strewn along the property – indicating that there could be more buried under snow along with rare regional specific flora of this Rocky Summit Pitch Pine community. Additionally, Scrub Oak is a habitat indicator of the globally rare Buck Moth which could be nesting on this site as well. He also found Dogbane and Shadbush during out walk, stating that in the Spring and Summer more research should be done on the site to better catalog the rare species that call this land home. 

Exploring 1011 in deep snow with Systems Ecologist Dr.David Hunt and his son.
Dr.Hunt examining some Prairie Grasses at the highest point on 1011. He also found additional species and samples closer to the waters edge along the shale cliffside.
The newly frozen Hudson River from the highest point at 1011
Historian Don Rittner joined us as well and shared many stories of this land and of Lansingburgh during our visit.

As we descended from the highest point on the property that offers a beautiful view of the currently frozen Hudson River, down closer to the waters edge, Don and Dr.Hunt discovered a small rock outcrop poking out from the snow along the shoreline. This rock is Chert – the material that the Indigenous people that lived on and used this land, utilized in the creation of arrowheads.  As we walk and learn more about the land’s history – the discovery of settlements and Indigenous burial sites discovered just a few hundred feet away on this side of the river and additional settlements across the river – we can’t help but think that the land at 1011 served as more than just a factory for arrowheads. The topography of the land, the proximity to other sites nearby, its access to the Hudson and nearby Mohawk River and it’s lookout point suggests that this area served a larger purpose for it’s Indigenous stewards. 

Dr.Hunt and Don examining the Chert found along the waters edge.
Areas around these root systems were covered in animals tracks. We believe we spotted several fox dens here along the waters edge.
A close up of the Scrub Oak that Dr. Hunt found in several locations on 1011
Entering the forest at 1011 - the snow was quite deep 🙂

Despite the deep snow blanketing 1011, the land revealed to us some of her many secrets.  We can only imagine what else we can learn once the Spring arrives and the plants return to their Summer glory. We do know – given the discoveries we made this week – that more extensive identification and cataloging of this unique ecosystem needs to be done and that to destroy it with a rezoning, that would allow for it to be built upon and decimated, would lend to an unrecoverable loss for this neighborhood, for the environment and for future generations to discover, explore and learn from. The land at 1011 can provide year round opportunities for exploration, education and and mind/body connections to our natural resources. Please help us #Save1011 for our community now, and for generations to come.