The Dix Bridge - Spanning Saratoga and Washington Counties
The Dix Bridge formally joins Saratoga and Washington Counties within the Hudson Crossing Park. Once closed to all foot and vehicle traffic and flagged for demolition, it was rehabilitated thanks to a group of dedicated individuals and organizations. The Dix Bridge now serves as the keystone of Hudson Crossing Park, bridging communities and inviting bicyclists, pedestrians, snowmobilers, and skiers to cross the Hudson River. It also serves as the local crossing for the N.Y.S. Canalway Trail, a 546 mile-long shared-use trail following along the N.Y.S. Canal System and the Empire State Trail, which, when completed in 2020, will be a continuous 750-mile route spanning the state from New York City to Canada and Buffalo to Albany, creating the longest multi-use state trail in the nation.
The site itself has great historic significance. This was a well-traveled crossroad for the Native Americans. If you were to stand in the center of the bridge and look to the north you would see the cuts in the river-bank where General John Burgoyne's troops came to this place and crossed the Hudson on "Bateaux" 30' long flat-bottomed, flat-sided, double-ended crafts. More than 6000 people traversed this area in the fall of 1777 and the crossing came to be known as Burgoyne's "Bridge of Boats".
While looking into the origin of the bridge, we have found the following stories:
In the late 1800's if you had wanted to cross the Hudson River near Schuylerville N.Y. you would have paid a toll and likely crossed down-river near the current Route 29 Bridge or up-river near the current Route 4 Northumberland Bridge. A local resident named Clark owned property on the east side of the river. In 1888 he built a beautiful home for his daughter who was the wife of John Alden Dix. (John Dix later served as Governor of New York State from 1911-1913). A second house, a mirror image of the first, was built for his other daughter and no longer stands.
By 1895, Mr. Clark was annoyed with the crossing tolls and he used his personal funds to build a "free bridge". With much fanfare, the Sept. 11 1895 "Schuylerville Standard" announced the opening of the bridge. It had taken three months to complete and was wide enough to allow teams to pass each other without difficulty. Built by F. R. Hawkins Iron Works of Springfield, Mass. the Dix Bridge allowed folks to travel into town to trade without having to pay for the privilege.
READERS, PLEASE NOTE: Recently, we heard another version of how the bridge was built and share it here. Volunteers at the Park will continue to research this topic and share here what we turn up. Here is the latest version we have heard from a neighbor:
It has always been told to us that the bridge was initially to be constructed as a free bridge by the late Mr. Lemon Thomson (1822-1897) and work was completed in 1898 or 1899 and was in full use by 1900. The town of Thomson was named for him and he was a lumber merchant. He built two houses which were mirror images of each other for his daughters (one of which is our home). His daughter Gertrude Alden Thomson married his business partner John Alden Dix who later became Gov. of NY. They formed the Thomson-Dix partnership that sold lumber and then developed Paper Mills , most notably Wall-Paper Mills. Upon Mr. Thomson's death Dix purchased his estates equities. Other names Dix was involved with are Iroquois Paper Co., Blandy Paper Co., American Woodboard Co. and Moose River Lumber Co. He reportedly owned 17,000 acres of woodland and rigidly enforced reforestation practices. The other house Mr. Thomson built was for his daughter Nancy Sherman Thomson who married State Senator Curtis N. Douglas. That house just north of ours was lost in a fire.