Fri, 28 Jan 2011

Garbutt, New York

The tiny village of Garbutt, New York had three railroads serving it: The Baltimore & Ohio, the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the Scottsville & Leroy.

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Best Day EVAR!

Wow. Best day chasing railroads evar. EVAR! Like totally EVAR!! Found the Genesee Junction turntable pit, then rode the Genesee Valley Greenway from Scottsville to Piffard!! 36 miles of grassy goodness. With not one, not two, but THREE crossing railroad abutments: the Lehigh, the New York Central, and the Erie's Attica Branch. Plus Lock 5 of the Genesee Canal. And the branch line to Retsof. And the branch line to Garbutt. (Yesterday was pretty good too; nine RR bridges, one Canalway ride, and both the Lehigh North and the Lehigh South). But today was FAR better. Oh, and I forgot to mention the former Genesee Canal aquaduct over the Black Creek, which became the Pennsy bridge, which is now the Genesee Valley Greenway bridge. Two arches; three bridges in one! Oh, and the Lehigh bridge over the Genesee River, which has been converted into a pedestrian/bicycle/horse bridge. See? Best day EVAR!

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Rochester Bridges

I've been looking at Rochester lately. I've found a GAZILLION (see the list below for the exact count -- I've given up announcing a count because I keep finding new) abandoned railroad bridges:
  1. The two-arch stone bridge which used to carry the Genesee Canal over Black Creek.
  2. The bridge over the Genesee just downstream of High Falls.
  3. The same line has a bridge over NY-104.
  4. Of course the famous Broad Street bridge which carried the Erie Canal and then later the Rochester Subway over the Genesee River.
  5. The equally famous Hojack Swing Bridge over the mouth of the Genesee.
  6. And the same line crossed a highway at what is now the western end of the Webster Hojack Trail.
  7. A trolley bridge near Trolley Blvd crossing the Erie Canal.
  8. A CSX bridge near Trolley Blvd crossing the Erie Canal.
  9. Another one just east of the airport also crossing the Erie.
  10. And another one right where the Erie Canal hits the Genesee River.
  11. The New York, Lake Erie & Western crossing the Erie Canal just east of the Genesee River, and next to it,
  12. The Lehigh Valley crossing the Erie Canal just east of the Genesee River, and two more to the south
  13. The New York, Lake Erie & Western crossing I-390 just south of the Erie Canal, and next to it,
  14. The Lehigh Valley crossing I-390.
  15. A NYLE&W bridge north of the U of R campus across the Genesee.
  16. A B&O bridge across the NYC just west of Holcroft Rd W near Turning Point Park.
  17. The trestle at the Genesee Brewing Company which carries the railroad alongside the river north to another part of their plant.
  18. A B&O bridge over the Subway south of Driving Park Ave. The bridge is still in use, but serves no purpose because the Subway is gone.
  19. Same for the New York Central (now CSX) bridge to the east of it.
  20. A culvert on the Glen Haven Railroad. Yeah, I know, I'm pushing it here.
  21. Update 12/12: Hojack bridge over St. Paul Boulevard south of Parkview Terrace.
  22. Update 12/12: Hojack (or is it Erie-Lackawanna) bridge over St. Paul Boulevard south of Pattonwood Drive.
  23. Update 12/12: A Lehigh Valley bridge now used as a pedestrian walk over Wilson Boulevard north of the UofR campus. You could also argue that the NYLE&W bridge over Wilson to the west is a separate bridge from the one over the river, but I won't.
  24. Update 12/12: Just west of Long Pond Road.

And that's not counting any of the bridges which are abandoned and structurally separate from a working bridge right next to them. See, for example, the bridge at Driving Park Ave on the former New York Central, or the bridge with no tracks north of the Can O' Worms, or this bridge for a branch line over Union Street North, or north of the Subway bridge or south of it.

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Mon, 22 Sep 2008

Ride starting Sun Sep 21 09:48:54 2008

140.20 km 459967.76 feet 87.12 mi 26691.00 seconds 444.85 minutes 7.41 hours 11.75 mi/hr

Went for a speeder run on the NYS&W, with members of the Volunteer Railroad Association. I don't own a speeder, so I flagged one day, and rode the other.

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Sat, 05 Apr 2008

NYS Railroads

I have a database of every railbed ever constructed in New York State. From that database, I've made a Google Mashup. I don't usually give the entire database to the mashup because it's a 2.7MB file. Takes a while to compute and a while to download. I did it today, though, and took a screenshot of it (below). The interesting part is that the entire state is covered with a mesh of railroads except for the southern and central Adirondacks, and a little bit of the Catskills.

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Wed, 13 Feb 2008

1974 NYSDOT abandoned railroad inventory

New York State Department of Transportation did an inventory in 1974 of all the abandoned railroad right of ways in New York State. They were published as typewritten documents, and so never existed as text on a computer. They're currently available as PDF files. But Google seems not to have found those files, which is no surprise, because they're hidden behind a search box. OOPS! I'm taking the liberty of turning them into HTML documents and reposting them on the web. They're a little rough right now, but you can take a look at them in their unfinished state.

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Mon, 16 Apr 2007


A quick google search shows some people with their own definition of "Ferromancy", but the way I heard it used this weekend was "an almost magical ability to detect the presence of a former railroad." I was down in the Beacon, NY area for a bus trip exploring the remains of a Central New England railroad, specifically the Newburg, Dutchess & Connecticut. There were some portions of the railroad which required Ferromancy to detect. It went through people's front yards and they mostly plowed it into nothingness. But next to a bank, we saw a culvert at 90 degrees to the bank's road, and parallel to the direction of the railroad.

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Sun, 11 Feb 2007

Unfinished Railroads of New York State

I've started a page for the Unfinished Railroads of New York State. These are railroads which got past the design state into the building stage, but not to the operational stage. In other words, a hump of dirt in the woods, or a set of abutments bracketing a stream which don't necessarily have a railroad on either side of them.

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Sun, 16 Apr 2006

Rutland Puddles

Been spending a few evenings this past week working on the Rutland Trail. There's a few sections which are perennially wet. Not just damp wet, or even soft wet. We're talking "standing water" wet. The worst puddle is about 30' long, and 12" deep. Threatens to overwhelm my boots.

The primary cause of these puddles is blocked drainage ditches. Sometimes the people who cleared the ties were careless, and allowed the tie to lie in the bottom of the ditch. Sometimes trees have grown up in the ditches, and their roots collect leaves, twigs, and dirt. Sometimes people have created farm crossings without regard of the need for drainage.

The problem with ATVs is the same problem that hikers face. Once a trail stays even a little bit wet, the soil gets soft and sticky. It sticks to the bottom of hiker's boots (or ATV tires) and gets carried away. As the wet soil is removed, a lower spot is created. This accumulates more water and the process goes around again. There are only two solutions: stay off the trails when they're wet, or dry out the trail.

Hiking trails tend to be sloped, and so removing water from the trail is a simple matter of inserting a water bar. This acts as a dam to channel the water off the trail. Where hiking trails are flat, it's hard to dry them out. There is no natural mechanism for removing the water. Not so on a railbed converted to a trail. A railroad also needed to keep the railbed dry, so they put ditches on the sides of the track, to remove water. Drying out a rail-trail is simply a matter of maintaining these existing ditches.

So I dug lots of leaves and sticks out of ditches this week. Found a tie in one, which I was able to pry out with a prybar (as one would expect a prybar to be used). Once I could get a hand-hold, I was able to shift it. Not so for another tie. It had been used as a farm crossing, and had gotten quite a covering of dirt. Even after I shoveled the dirt off, I couldn't shift it. Got the chain with a grab hook, and a slip hook, and the come-along, and moved that puppy out of the way. So now four puddles are draining into the ditch, instead of accumulating water and eroding the trail as one puddle drained into another.

Next puddle to go is the worst one. It'll be a supreme pleasure to dry that one out.

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Fri, 14 Apr 2006

Brooklyn Cooperage at Everton

Went for a hike exploring the Brooklyn Cooperage logging railroad line into Everton. They pulled the tracks up in the 1920's, so it hasn't been so very many years. I found the location of the curve at Everton. The railroad is drawn as crossing the St. Regis River and recrossing it a short distance thereafter. That's certainly possible. There's not too much room between the road and the river at that point. Neither, though, did I see any sign of bridge abutments. If it was a wooden trestle bridge, it may not have had abutments.

Also found evidence of a side track north from the curve. Tie impressions, and grading. If it existed at all, it was probably just for one year, while they were logging in the area. Some time in the late 1980's I saw evidence of ties.

Further out on the rail line, it crosses Mile Brook. You can still see some remains in the wetland here: line through wetland (Thumbnail) .

I hiked north along the railbed, and found another branch crossing Mile Brook. The line to the left continues northwards. The line to the right is still used as a path across the wetland: branch line (Thumbnail) .

The best part, though, is that I found rails!. I have no idea why a pair of rails would have been left behind: rails (Thumbnail) . This wasn't the last place that Brooklyn Cooperage had a logging railroad, so something must have prevented them from removing those rails.

Kept walking out on the railbed. Except for a few muddy places where some vehicle dug nasty holes at some time in the past, the railbed is still in reasonable condition. I think I found the end of the northwest branch, because there's no sign of the railbed past that point.

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