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Fred Abele and his Transportation History Collection

Fred Abele spent a lifetime collecting material related to railroads and trolley cars, especially items documenting transportation in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, New York area. He was the author of The Mohawk and Hudson Rail Road Company, 1826-1853, and at the time of his death, he was working on a history of the United Traction Company, a predecessor of the Capital District Transportation Authority, the area's provider of bus service. He left his collection of photographs, memorabilia and notes to the New York State Library, which in turn makes the collection available to researchers.

Photo of a scrapbook in the collection, open to show a page with postcards of trains.

The print collection includes thousands of photographs and slides of trains, trolleys, buses, and steamboats, as well as many, if not most, of the negatives from which they were made. Especially important to researchers is the fact that Mr. Abele meticulously labeled and indexed large portions of the collection and the indexes were part of the donation.

Also included are ticket stubs, postcards, timetables and even a few blueprints for railroad stations, stock certificates as well as some illustrations drawn by Mr. Abele. Another important part of the collection are Mr. Abele's research notes.

The collection included a number of artifacts:

  • signs that would have been posted in trolleys or buses,
  • destination signs,
  • a couple calendars,
  • red and green signal flags and
  • a box of tools that probably were used to repair trolleys or buses.

These items have been housed in the New York State Museum.

Last Updated: February 14, 2022