THE GREATER ROCHESTER RAILFAN PAGE
The Rochester area boats a large amount of abandoned railbeds due to the decline of rail business in the last century, and the consolidation of routes from the never ending procession of mergers. Many are now either "rails-to-trails" and or power company right-of-ways. Others have been paved over, built upon, or still in the ownership of the railroads for possible future use. In many cases, bridges and other structures still remain, despite years of abandonment. Part of the original Rochester Subway still exists in downtown under Broad Street, and until this past June, part of the tunnel was used for newsprint delivery to the Gannett building on Exchange Street by the Rochester and Southern Railroad. Some of the long abandoned roads, marked by tree-lines and overgrowth, are visible from the air - something to look out for when flying to/from Rochester on a clear day.
A separate page for the Hojack Line, as well as the BeeBee line has been created and can be found by clicking here.
Abandoned right-of-ways for the Lehigh Valley and Erie railroads still exist, including some bridges that cross the highways and canal. An old Erie bridge over I-390 near the airport was removed last year as a part of the highway project there (the bridge over the canal a short distance away still stands), and the Lehigh Valley bridge south of that near West Henrietta Road is still in place. Another Erie bridge was right next to it, which has since been torn down and replaced with a pedestrian bridge.
In 1995, 12 miles of the Falls Road line was torn up by Conrail from Owens Road in Brockport to Lee Road in Rochester. The remainder of this line is in operation by the Falls Road Railroad from Brockport to Lockport, where it meets with Conrail Had this section been maintained and still in place, it would have been a great help when a Conrail train derailed in Churchville in July, 1997. Rail service through Rochester was suspended for a good part of a day - when it could have been rerouted (at least one way) over the Falls Road, also giving the FRR another access point to Conrail should access through Lockport become impossible for whatever reason.
The Rochester area has had it's share of trolleys and interurbans until the early part of this century. Some stations still stand - the Rochester, Eastern & Syracuse station in Fairport is in splendid condition. Those who frequent the Mall at Greece Ridge Center have seen the numerous murals of the Maintou Beach - Charlotte Railway -- a trolley service that ran from the turn of the century from Charlotte to what is now Braddocks Beach in Greece. The increased popularity of the automobile and deterioration of the railway's tracks (including a wooden trestle that spanned Braddocks Bay) led to the demise of this once popular trolley. Another trolley long gone is the Rochester, Lockport & Buffalo, which paralleled the Falls Road line, serving communities west of Rochester.
Here's some information on local junctions that have been abandoned, or no longer used as junctions, but with active service running though. This information was gleaned from the newsgroups, with credit given when possible.
- MACHIAS JUNCTION
Machias NY is located on Conrail's Buffalo Line at MP 44.5 (CP Machias) and is a connection with the Buffalo & Pittsburgh RR (Rochester & Southern originally). There is no longer a diamond, but rather a power switch connecting the two railroads. Future plans call for the B&P to operate over their line to Machias and then northward on the Buffalo Line to Buffalo NY, resulting in the abandonment of their present right of way between Ashford NY, and Orchard Park NY. They would like to purchase the Conrail trackage, but talks have been ongoing for quite some time with no aggreement reached as of yet. When the R&S first started running the BR&P from Rochester NY to Salamanca NY, they crossed Conrail at grade here. This operation has since been terminated, and the right of way between Machias and Silver Springs NY has been torn up. In BR&P days this line was signaled with semaphores, and the distant signal to Machias lasted long into R&S days before it to was taken down.
Bob Racer, 9/18/96
- Just to update... the B&P is now running manifest freight from Buffalo Creek yard, over the Buffalo Line to Salamanca via Olean using trackage rights granted by Conrail. The B&P will keep their mainline in Erie and Cattaraugus Counties for local runs and as a back-up to the Buffalo Line.
- P&L JUNCTION
At P&L Junction, which stood for Pittsburgh & Lehigh Junction (Pittsburgh from the BR&P and Lehigh from the Lehigh Valley), the LV crossed the Buffalo Rochester & Pittsburgh. The BR&P running NE/SW and the LV running NW/SE and then curving back up E/NE. The LV was the LV's mainline. The BR&P was the Rochester line and the New York Central was the Peanut Line. The BR&P internchaged with the NYC and Erie just east of LeRoy at NYC-Erie Junction. At LeRoy, the NYC headed northwest, the BR&P headed southwest and the Erie headed west. The LV mainline between P&L Junction and LeRoy was north of the BR&P/NYC/Erie by a good distance ranging from 1/2 mile to 2 miles. At Limerock, bewteen P&L and LeRoy, the tracks were north to south, the BR&P, the Erie Lackawanna and the NYC. At P&L Junction was also the interchange of the BR&P and LV with the Genesee & Wyoming. These two railroads were the principle interchange railroads with the G&W. The Erie crossed the G&W just south of the Rt 5 and had a small interchange track. Theoretically, all the railroads could have reached each other at P&L Junction.
The NYC line does pre-date the LV but the NYC and LV had seperate lines and as I said above, seperated by quite a distance west of P&L Junction. After the formation of Conrail, Conrail accessed this isolated section of NYC trackage (from Caledonia to east of LeRoy) by trackage rights over the B&O from Rochester. No trackage was shared. Conrail benefitted from the G&W interchange and also serviced a couple industries along the remaining trackage.
Most of it may be gone but you can still make out where everything was. The NYC line is still in around the area, the BR&P is the Rochester & Southern now. The LV main can be made out as well as the Erie's. The only thing I'd lie to find was the short N/S running interchange track between the BR&P and LV inthe middle of the quarry area at Limerock.
Charles P. Woolever, 10/1/96
UPDATE: Les, yet another addition to the page. You may want to add that east of P&L Junction, the Lehigh main, BOTH TRACKS, is still in place east of the yard until where the Church St. Overpass in Caledonia was. I was there in November, and it was amazing to see the tracks there, in remarkably good shape at that. Looks like R&S or someone might be using them to back trains in and turn them?? Jered A. Slusser 1/21/99 (I think they are also used to service Agway in Caledonia as well - Les).
This page has only begun to scratch the surface of Rochester's abandoned railroads. I'll keep adding to this page over time - please e-mail me with any corrections/additions. The Rundell Memorial Library in Downtown Rochester has some excellent resources for studying abandoned lines in their Local History section - particularly old maps in excellent condition.
Hits since 2/27/00
UPDATED: February 20, 2005