Amsterdam, NY (AMS)
Situated on the Mohawk River, Amsterdam prospered in the 19th century as new mills produced goods including textiles, pearl buttons, carpets, paper and shoes.
466 West Main Street
Route 5 West
Amsterdam, NY 12010
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 10,410
- Facility Ownership: Amtrak
- Parking Lot Ownership: Amtrak
- Platform Ownership: CSXT
- Track Ownership: CSXT
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The Amsterdam station, sited on the north bank of the Mohawk River, provides a small, permanent red-brick shelter with a gabled roof. The rectangular building has secure doors, windows, air conditioning and room for 15 waiting passengers. The old New York Central Railroad station was torn down in the early 1970s to make way for the northern abutment and ramps of the new Route 30 bridge over the river. The current passenger structure, which is opened and closed by a caretaker daily, dates from approximately 1973.
The Mohawk River, upon which Amsterdam lies, had been an important passage though the Appalachian Mountains to Lake Erie long before the Dutch came to the area in 1710. The falls of the creeks in that portion of New York’s Montgomery County provided ample power for mills, and thus provided a living for Sir William Johnson and his extensive family and dependents when they arrived in 1742, about three miles to the east of what became Amsterdam. That original settlement was fortified and mills built; today it survives as Fort Johnson.
One of Sir William’s relatives, Guy Johnson, built a stone residence on the bank of the Mohawk a couple of miles east of Fort Johnson in 1773; being a loyalist, he fled to Canada during the American Revolution, but his home, Guy Park, was spared. This historical building is still standing today, housing a museum, and is within a mile or so of the Amsterdam station.
After the Revolution’s conflicts concluded, new settlers arrived and the township (as distinguished from a village) of Caughnawaga was formed on March 12, 1788 in this area. Originally called Veedersburgh for the Veeders who had settled and built mills there near Guy Park, Amsterdam’s name was officially changed when it was incorporated as a village on April 20, 1830.
Aside from the Mohawk at Amsterdam, there were three other fast-running creeks nearby that provided industrial power for factories which were soon developed there. In 1825, the Erie Canal was completed, following along the Mohawk through Amsterdam, and thus providing a means to bring their products to market, spurring the local economy onward. While the site of the canal is today a recreational trail on the south side of the river in the Amsterdam area, the city is still connected directly with the port of Albany and westward by a water route now known as the New York Barge Canal.
The first railroad along the Mohawk through Amsterdam ran along the Water Level Route, so called because it followed the river valleys through the state, from the Hudson up to Lake Erie and into Canada, toward Chicago. The Utica and Schenectady railroad began running parallel to the Erie canal on the north shore of the Mohawk in 1836, carrying passengers first and later freight: New York State at first prohibited the railroads from competing with the canal, although this exclusion was lifted by 1844.
Throughout the 19th century Amsterdam was known for its mills, and the city produced a wealth of industrial goods including many textiles, pearl buttons, carpets, vegetable oils, paper, and shoes. To this day, there are local reminders that Amsterdam was once “Rug City.” As was reported to the Amsterdam Board of Trade in 1906, “The output of the Amsterdam carpet mills is 10,200,000 yards a year, equal to 5,800 miles. This would carpet a stretch from Amsterdam to St. Petersburg, via London, with a small strip left over long enough to reach from Amsterdam to Buffalo.” Steven Sanford of Amsterdam turned his business into one of the world’s largest carpet manufacturers, Sanford Bigelow. His home, purchased in 1869, is now used as the Amsterdam City Hall.
By the 1920s, Amsterdam had become a major commercial and industrial center, remarked in one census as have the greatest number of millionaires per capita of any city in the U.S. Yet, following World War II, tariffs and policies prodded manufacturers all along the Erie Canal to move to locations with more and less expensive labor. Mills in the city which had employed 10,000 people closed, and the supporting economy likewise suffered. By the late 20th century, Coleco (makers of Cabbage Patch Kids dolls), glove makers, and fiberglass makers remained, but an industrial renaissance did not appear to be coming.
Amsterdam has thus in the past decades turned to reclaiming former industrial sites as a way of revitalizing the city. By 2006 Mohasco Mills, a 23-acre site, was remediated. Potential redevelopments there include converting a former factory into a professional and light industrial building. On the south side of the Mohawk, there are plans that the former Chalmers Knitting Factory site be reclaimed. This redevelopment project is intended to stimulate economic renewal of the city’s southern shore by reconnecting the community with its waterfront. New pedestrian trails and bridges along with open festival spaces have already begun to enliven the cityscape.
Amsterdam is also remembered for several notable inhabitants, including a number of Congressmen from New York State and Lieutenant Governors, as well as screen legend Kirk Douglas.
The unstaffed Amsterdam station provides neither ticketing nor baggage services, and is served by four daily trains.
Empire Service trains are supported by funds made available by the New York State Department of Transportation.
- 3 Short Term Parking Spaces
- 13 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Platform
- Accessible Restrooms
- Dedicated Parking
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Wheelchair Lift