Bethlehem trolley tour a trip back in time

Mathusa said there were once several hotels along the Delaware Turnpike, which were used to house the crews of workers who would deliver stone from quarries in the Helderbergs to the city of Albany.

"Everybody was driving on horse and wagon, and the trips were so long sometimes they had to stay overnight," Mathusa said.

One of the hotels located at the corner of Adams Street and Delaware Avenue, owned by the Adams Family, was also the former Bethlehem Town Hall.

The tour continued along Feura Bush, covering an area that was once a plank road that led to Becker's Corners. Other old homes along Wemple Road were viewed, including the private burial grounds of some of Bethlehem's founding families, including Clapper, Westervelt, Snyder and Myers.

The trolley stopped for a brief period at the Bethlehem Historical Museum, a former one-room schoolhouse. Mathusa walked people through the museum as they snacked on coffee and doughnuts, courtesy of Perfect Blend CafE in Delmar.

"I came here in 1937, and now I live in Slingerlands, and the history here is amazing," said tour guest Virginia Remington Rich.

Tim Beebe, who works for the Bethlehem Police Department and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, said he has been inside many of the old homes featured on the tour.

"A lot of these homes along the river are spectacular," said Beebe.

The second part of the tour featured the Nicoll-Sill House on Dinmore Road, built in 1735 and considered one of the oldest homes in Bethlehem.

"This home entertained famous people, such as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, and was later a station for the Underground Railroad," said Mathusa. The home that most people know as the Bethlehem House is currently occupied and on the National Register of Historic Places.

As the tour came to a close, Mathusa took his own trip down memory lane, remembering some of his old haunts along Cedar Hill, where he grew up with his family. He recalled swimming in the Vlomans Kill and fishing nearby after delivering papers on his paper route. Members of the Mathusa family, including his grandchildren, were also on the tour.

"Bethlehem is one of the most unique places in the world, and I hope you enjoyed the tour," Mathusa said at the conclusion of the tour to a round of applause.

"I love history, and I think it is valuable for people living here to have more knowledge of the town," said Margaret Reed, who took the morning off from her law practice to take the tour.


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