1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Hudson Highland Bridge and Railway Company Records

 Railroad investment company, Peekskill, N.Y.

 Records, 1869-1942. Bulk, 1895-1916.

 Size: 2 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 483 sg 24

 Processed by: Steve Dalpe and Rick Stattler, March 1996

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            The Hudson Highland Suspension Bridge Company was incorporated in 1868. It had an exclusive charter from the State of New York to build a train bridge spanning the Hudson River, which held the promise of great profits to the stockholders. At that time, there were no rail links across the Hudson below Albany. Coal being shipped from the mines of Pennsylvania to the textile mills of New England had to be ferried across the Hudson in barges. Edward W. Serrell (1826-1902), who had served as a military engineer officer in the Civil War, was hired as chief engineer, and developed a plan to build a bridge to alleviate this problem. One of the narrowest and most practical points in the river for a hundred miles north of New York City was between the towns of Brewster on the west and Peekskill on the east. High bluffs on both sides allowed the possibility for a suspension bridge that would not interfere with river navigation. Land was purchased on both sides, and complex negotiations with local, state and federal bodies were begun.

            The name of the company was changed in 1870 to the Hudson Suspension Bridge and New England Railway Company. Rowland G. Hazard (1801-1888) of Rhode Island had been a prominent investor in the company since 1881, on the advice of young railroad surveyor Nathaniel T. Bacon (1857-1926). Rowland Hazard II (1829-1898) purchased a controlling interest in the company in a foreclosure sale in 1893; Rowland's brother John N. Hazard (1836-1900) became a minority stockholder. In 1895 the name was changed again to the Highland Bridge and New England Railway Company. The company was reorganized in 1896 as the Hudson Highland Bridge and Railway Company, with John N. Hazard as president. Nathaniel T. Bacon remained involved as an engineer, as secretary-treasurer, as a stockholder and as Rowland Hazard II's son-in-law.

            Rowland G. Hazard II (1855-1918) inherited the controlling stock from his father Rowland II, and was elected president in 1902. The company's charter allowed through 1915 for completion of the its work, and was allowed to lapse when it became clear the bridge would never be constructed. In 1916, all remaining assets of the company were deeded to the estate of Rowland Hazard II (later the R. Hazard Estate Co.), as the company had remained in debt to Hazard since the foreclosure purchase. The company ceased to be active, though existed formally for at least eight more years.

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists mostly of records dated from 1895 through 1916, when the company was essentially owned by the Hazard family. It includes meeting minutes, stock records, land records, and a variety of reports and memoranda explaining the history of the company. There are very few general financial records.

            The collection also includes the correspondence files of Rowland G. Hazard, Rowland Hazard II, Rowland G. Hazard II and others from 1873 through 1942, with the bulk between 1888 and 1916. Much of this is not official company correspondence, and some is completely unrelated. Much of the early correspondence, in particular, deals with the family's other railroad investments; it was all filed together with the Hudson material, and no effort was made to separate it. The Oregon Pacific Railroad Company in particular appears prominently, and there are a few other records from that firm which are kept with this collection as a separate series.

            The correspondence files include several letters to and from Secretary of War William H. Taft regarding the possible obstruction of the Hudson to military traffic, dated 1906.

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            Most of these papers were donated by the Hazard family as part of the Hazard Family Papers in 1985. They had been deposited in 1975. Nathaniel T. Bacon's office files, which comprise a substantial portion of the collection, were donated by Mr. and Mrs. John C. Davies in 1974, as part of the Bacon Family Papers.

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Processing note:

            This collection is part of the Hazard Family Papers, which were processed with support from the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities, the Beinecke Foundation, and the extended Hazard Family.

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Series 1: Correspondence

Series 1, subseries 1: Hazard family files.

Mostly letters addressed to Rowland Hazard II and Rowland G. Hazard II. Also includes copies of some outgoing letters, and letters addressed to Rowland G. Hazard I, John N. Hazard and office manager Ozias C. Goodwin.

Box 1, folder 1. 1880-1887

Box 1, folder 2. 1888

Box 1, folder 3. 1888

Box 1, folder 4. 1889

Box 1, folder 5. 1889

Box 1, folder 6. 1889

Oversized box 4, folder 2. 1889 (1 letter)

Box 1, folder 7. 1890

Box 1, folder 8. 1890

Box 1, folder 9. 1890

Box 1, folder 10. 1891-1892

Box 1, folder 11. 1893-1895

Box 1, folder 12. 1896-1897

Box 1, folder 13. 1898-1899

Box 1, folder 14. 1900-1904

Box 1, folder 15. 1905-1908

Oversized box 4, folder 3. 1905-1906, with War Department (William H. Taft)

Box 1, folder 16. 1909-1910

Oversized box 4, folder 2. 1910, 1913

Box 1, folder 17. 1911-1912

Box 1, folder 18. 1913-1914

Box 1, folder 19. 1915

Box 1, folder 20. 1916

Box 1, folder 21. 1917-1918

Box 1, folder 22. 1922-1942

Series 1, subseries 2: Nathaniel T. Bacon files

Box 1, folder 23. 1888-1897

Box 1, folder 24. 1904-1909

Box 1, folder 25. 1910-1915

Box 1, folder 26. 1916-1923

Series 1, subseries 3: Edward W. Serrell files

Box 1, folder 27. 1883, 1887-1888

Box 1, folder 28. 1889-1890

Box 1, folder 29. Memoranda, 1887-1890

Series 2. Administrative

Series 2, subseries 1: Minutes.

Generally, the stockholder and director minutes are recorded in the same volumes.

Box 2, folder 1. 1888-1895. Scattered loose copies.

Box 2, folder 2. 1895-1896. Volume.

Box 2, folder 3. 1896-1916. Volume.

Series 2, subseries 2: Legal documents

Box 2, folder 4. Charters, by-laws, acts, etc., 1869-1910

Includes printed charter, 1896, containing incorporation history back to 1869.

Box 2, folder 5. Agreements with Edward Serrell, 1876-1891

Box 2, folder 6. Agreements with rail companies, 1885-1887

Box 2, folder 7. Contracts and agreements, 1888-1897.

Box 2, folder 8. Draft legislation, 1907-1909

Box 2, folder 9. Land records, 1888-1889

Box 2, folder 10. Land records, 1890-1905

Box 2, folder 11. Land records, 1910-1923

Series 2, subseries 3: Stock records

Box 2, folder 12. Stock accounts, 1882-1926. Volume.

Box 2, folder 13. Stock certificates, issued 1891. Apparently not valid.

Box 2, folder 14. Stock certificates, issued 1896-1905. Complete.

Box 2, folder 15. Stock issue notes, 1881-1916.

Box 2, folder 16. Stocks, miscellaneous, 1906-1915. Proxies, notices, etc.

Box 2, folder 17. Bondholder memoranda, 1888-1894

Series 2, subseries 4. Miscellaneous:

Box 2, folder 18. News clippings (archival copies), 1905-1910

Box 2, folder 19. "History of the Hudson Suspension Bridge", covering 1856 to 1888

Box 2, folder 20. History, press releases, etc., undated

Box 2, folder 21. Reports and proposals, 1896-1905

Series 3: Financial

Box 2, folder 22. Banking, 1911-1914. Scattered.

Box 2, folder 23. Tax returns and statistical reports, 1909-1917.

Oversized box 4, folder 4. Account, J.N. Hazard and estate of Rowland Hazard, 1896-1908.

Box 2, folder 24. Loose accounts, 1888-1899

Box 2, folder 25. Financial memoranda, 1888-1896

Series 4: Engineering records.

This series contains records actually relating to the proposed construction of the bridge over the Hudson, including estimates, sketches, memoranda and notes.

Box 2, folder 26. Cost and earnings estimates, 1888-1892

Box 2, folder 27. Engineering memoranda, misc.

Box 2, folder 28. Engineering notes, 1888-1890

Box 2, folder 29. Engineering notes, undated

Box 2, folder 30. Maps

Box 2, folder 31. Minutes of the Board of Engineers, 1889-1890

Box 2, folder 32. New York Belt Railroad reports, 1918

Box 2, folder 33. Specifications, 1891

Box 2, folder 34. Specifications, undated

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Bacon, Nathaniel T. (1857-1926)

Hazard, John N. (1836-1900)

Hazard, Rowland II (1829-1898)

Hazard, Rowland G. (1801-1888)

Hazard, Rowland G. II (1855-1918)

Highland Bridge and New England Railway Company

Railroad bridges - New York (state)

Railroads - Finance

Serrell, Edward W. (1826-1902)

Taft, William H. (1857-1930)

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