Located in the eastern part of New York State on the Hudson River, Rensselaer County (population 152,538) was first settled in the early 1600s by the Dutch and has been the backdrop to a number of significant events in American history. The Battle of Bennington in 1777 took place in the Town of Hoosick, a Revolutionary victory that paved the way for the British surrender at Saratoga. Fort Crailo, located in the City of Rensselaer, was where "Yankee Doodle" was composed.
Because of its ideal geographic location and an abundant water supply, the area quickly became a leader in the industrial development of the Northeast. Rensselaer County played a crucial role in the Civil War, providing the Union Army with machine-made horseshoes manufactured at the Burden Iron Works, powered by the largest waterwheel in the world.
Iron plates for the Monitor, the iron-clad vessel instrumental in the Union Army victory, were rolled at the Albany Rolling and Slitting Mill. In 1865, the first steel plant in the United States was built at the mouth of the Wynantskill in Troy.
Today, Rensselaer County is becoming a leader in high technology and is home to the Rensselaer Technology Park in the Town of North Greenbush.
Among the town’s attractions is Crailo State Historic Site, the 18th century home of Hendrick Van Rensselaer, a fine museum of Dutch culture. The Rensselaer County Historical Society is housed in the Hart-Cluett House, an 1827 federal-style townhouse, and the adjoining Carr House, in Troy. The Society offers tours of historical sites throughout the county, highlighting architecture, the abolitionist movement, and war memorials.
Designated a Preserve America Community in November 2005.
For more information
Rensselaer County Historical Society
National Register Travel Itinerary: Places Where Women Made History