It was during his senior year in high school that Tim wrote his first book, a novel called "The Meatloaf Incident and Other Adventures" that is based on his experiences growing up in a rural community. After receiving college degrees in History, Accounting, and Business Administration (MBA) he went to work in the nonprofit field, holding positions in accounting and senior management. In 1997 he moved to the Town of Milton and for many years served as the Treasurer of the Saratoga County Historical Society (Brookside) Board of Trustees, but in 2014 reluctantly moved to Glenville to be closer to work.
After noticing many ruins around the Town of Milton, he began researching the town's history. The discovery of an old trolley railroad bed behind his house motivated him to write a book about the line's history (the Ballston Terminal Railroad). That project naturally led to another one that detailed the industries served by the railroad. When it was discovered that several important inventions were developed to support these industries, other projects unfolded that resulted in books about Ballston Spa and Saratoga County inventions.
In early 2009 Tim began working on biographies of "Paper Bag King" George West and local edge tool manufacturer Isaiah Blood. In 2010 he submitted manuscript proposals to the History Press for "Great Inventors of New York's Capital District" and "Lost Industries of Saratoga County," both of which were accepted and published. A long-standing interest in local railroads resulted in the books "Early Railroads of New York's Capital District" (2011), "The Golden Age of Railroads in New York's Capital District" (2012), "Railroading in New York's Capital District: Hot Off The Presses" (2012), and his most popular book, "Railroad Wars of New York State" (2013, Arcadia). These four were all researched and written concurrently to ensure consistency among them.
After writing about the past industries of Ballston Spa and Saratoga, Tim noticed that no book had ever been published dedicated to the important and varied industries of Albany County, so a project was undertaken to publish "Lost Industries of Albany County, New York," which he self-published in 2013.
Arcadia Publishing contacted Tim in 2015 with a request to fill the gap left in their "Images" series within Saratoga County. This resulted in the book "Around Milton, New York," which includes Ballston Spa, Bloodville, Milton Center, Pioneer Woods, and Rock City Falls. Arcadia then requested he fill another gap in their "Images of Rail" series, which led to "Railroads of New York's Capital District" being published in 2020. To date the latter is Tim's second-best-selling book behind Railroad Wars.
A life-long interest in maps and railroads led to an idea to publish atlases of New York State railroads, so in 2020 Tim began organizing and researching the hundreds of maps in his collection. So far this effort has led to the self-published "Railroad Atlas: New York's Capital Region." As of 2022, another atlas that covers all of New York State railroads is close to completion, and depending upon its success, one that covers the New England States is contemplated.
Other subjects that are not well documented are railroad locomotive terminals, roundhouses, and back shops. A book about roundhouses was started in 2017 that was finally completed in 2022 called Stables of the Iron Horse: A Definitive History of the American Roundhouse." More than enough pictures and research material is left over from this effort for a follow-up book about roundhouses and a book about steam locomotive and car "back shops" that were vital to every railroad.
Although local history research is "just a hobby," the preservation of that history has been a focus for the past 25 years. He contributed to Ann Hauprich's book "Legacies Unlimited" with a chapter titled: "Timothy Starr: He (Literally) Wrote the Book on Village Inventors." In 2009 he contributed a piece about Saratoga County inventors for the Brookside Museum's book "In Our Own Words: The Story of Saratoga County." In 2015 he authored a chapter about industries for Field Horne's "Saratoga Springs: A Centennial History." He has also been published in Saratoga Living, Our Town Ballston Spa, Spotlight Milton, The Saratogian, the Troy Record, and was a frequent contributor to Ballston Spa Life's "History Lesson" series. On February 6, 2011, he appeared on WNYT News Channel 13's interview show called Forum 13 in which he discussed the book "Great Inventors of New York's Capital District." On February 17, 2016, he was interviewed by Bob Cudmore for "The Historians" podcast series. In 2021, the Saratoga County Historical Society (Brookside) released a book titled "Saratoga County Stories" that contains a series of historical essays, a few of which were written by Tim.
Also in 2021 Tim began a multi-book project that used some of the materials he collected over a 20 year period related to maps and rolling stock repair facilities. This will eventually result in three atlases (New York's Capital Region, New England, and New York State), two books about roundhouses, and three back shop books (one for each region of the US). This project is expected to last until 2025.
His collection of historical data includes 2,000 Capital Region patents, dozens of local history books, thousands of digital history articles, thousands of newspaper articles, and 21,000 photographs. About 85 percent of his written collection is digitized into PDF files, while all of his photographs have been painstakingly digitized for future use and distribution to nonprofit organizations.
Published: Sunday, June 7, 2009
By Joseph Rocha
Ballston Spa Life editor
In Beverly Moore, Hauprich writes about a village woman who may have done her one better. Moore, a retired nurse, waited until she was 80 years old before publishing and then reached back to give readers of her recently published first non-fiction a glimpse of life inside Ballston Spa’s former hospital. Speaking of historians, late-blooming writers and local history, I draw your attention to this week’s History Lesson on this page.
Ballston Spa resident, finance director and new father, Timothy Starr joins us for what we hope will be a regular contribution. Starr has in five years exemplified the discipline, perseverance and passion professional historians envy, becoming a familiar face in area archives. He has already published several books on local history, been coaxed onto the directors’ board of the Brookside Museum, home of Saratoga County’s Historical Society, and been inspirational in his creativity and doggedness to locate new resources or connect anew dusty ones. Starr and Moore are examples to us all of coming to a passion late in life. But in acting upon that, they enrich everyone around them.
The Back Shop Illustrated, Vol 1 (2022)
Stables of the Iron Horse (2022)
Railroad Atlas: New York State (2022)
Railroad Atlas: New York's Capital Region (2021)
Railroads of New York's Capital District (2020)
Lost Industries of Albany County, New York (2018)
The Golden Age of Railroads in New York's Capital District (2017)
Around Milton, Saratoga County (2015)
Railroad Wars of New York State (2012)
Early Railroads of New York's Capital District (2nd Ed., 2011)
Lost Industries of Saratoga County (2010)
Great Inventors of New York's Capital District (2010)
The Ballston Terminal Railroad (2nd Ed., 2008)
Titles not listed here have sold out with no plans for future print runs.