by Chris Clemens
The Mohawk Valley Region of Upstate NY is beautiful to drive through, particularly during the fall season when the leaves are changing. While you could take the fast lane all the way through on Interstate 90 and pay tolls, you could also add a few extra minutes to your trip by way of Route 5 which runs parallel to the highway and in some places just a few hundred feet away from it. One of those places is right near Amsterdam, which is located in Montgomery County.
Asterdam was given its name by early Dutch settlers wanting to pay tribute to their Netherlands homeland. With the Mohawk River slicing it down the center, it later would celebrate increased commerce and industry because of the Erie Canal. While in the area, I had only a few minutes to spare but I knew it’d be worth it to checkout the location of Dudka’s Garage/Junkyard to see the Volkswagen on a Smokestack.
Calls to Dudka’s Garage and their Junkyard on Rt. 30 all were met with operators telling me that the number was no longer in service. When you can’t get the information straight from the original person you’re seeking, the next best place is always the local history buffs. I contacted the Walter Elwood Museum in Amsterdam and talked with the director Ann. She told me that that the bug went up about forty years ago or so and was a way for auto repair shop owner Gary Dudka to attract a little bit of extra attention to his business. While the roadside attraction has always been met by locals with open arms and strained necks, there are a few who recently have begun the talks about whether or not it proves to be a safety issue and should come down. A favorite with the murder of crows that descends on Amsterdam each fall, the birds may just have to find another place to perch in the future if safety concerns ultimately outweigh the preservation of a cool little roadside attraction.
Chris Clemens is the Founder/Publisher of Exploring Upstate. From his hometown in Rochester, he spends as much time as possible connecting with the history, culture, and places that make Upstate New York a land of discovery. Follow him on Twitter at @cpclemens