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February 13, 1919: Dusty Roads in Ballston Spa

Here’s a peek into what was happening in Ballston Spa 98 years ago thanks to the newspaper archive found at In the “Of Local Interest” section, numerous parties, programs and theatrical shows were publicized. The addition of an electric coffee grinder to the equipment of the Hudson Store on Front Street created some buzz in the community as well.

2.13.19 Ballston Journal Street Sprinkler article
It appears that 98 years ago, Ballston Spa was in the midst of a mid-winter drought. The mention of a “street sprinkler” tells us that they needed to dampen the dirt streets to keep down the dust. This was typically a summer activity, but its use in February warranted comment by the newspaper.
91.259.12 Jesse Wooley Studio Monument Square dirt Front Street banner photographer

In this circa 1910 scene by Ballston Spa photographer Jesse Sumner Wooley, Front street has a dirt surface. SCHS Collection

Seneca Ray Stoddard Street Sprinkler Glens Falls
Wooley’s friend and colleague, Seneca Ray Stoddard, captured a street sprinkler at work in Glens Falls in the late nineteenth century. New York Public Library Collection

E Balf Street Sprinkler
This patent drawing shows a type of street sprinkler designed by Edward Balf of Connecticut. It would have been pulled by horses, though soon, other inventors introduced motorized versions. Eventually, paved roads became more common, making the street sprinklers less necessary.

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