Fri, 28 Jan 2011

Unfinished Railroads 2

Was off to the Finger Lakes chasing unfinished railroads this weekend. Here's what I did:

Found traces of the Brookfield Railroad. They had big plans, but only graded parts between Brookfield and North Brookfield, connecting to the DL&W. Never laid tracks, but there's miles of grading. Got a personal tour from Doug Keith, landowner of one section, plus a photo of their BR stock certificate.

Went up to Oneida Castle and found a few abandoned railroad bridges and abutments. Chased their railbeds a bit. Went to Madison County Clerk's Office and located a map of the Brookfield Railroad.

Then I went for a bike ride on the New York Central, which turns into the Canalway trail. Wanted to find an old trolley line which takes off up the hill from Canandaigua. Found it.

Found a bridge left over from the DL&W (I think) which has had its approach completely plowed away, so the bridge is standing proud next to a stream.

Found some of the Ontario Midland Auburn Branch (which has been gone for like 130 years, so there's not much left to see).

All of that was Friday. On Saturday I went over to Ithaca, and found a few bridges from the trolley line from Auburn. Found a cut from the Inclined Plane which operated for about twenty years as the only railroad entrance into Ithaca. Then found the southernmost point of the unfinished Pennsylvania and Sodus Bay. Met up with an old college roommate and his family. Looked at the Lehigh Valley bridge over the Tunkhannock Gorge. Building THAT must have been scary (100' to the bottom). Then the LV bridge on the east side of Trumansburg.

Then some remains of the P&SB. A trestle, a small bit of fill and culvert, then a slight cut through the woods and a couple more culverts. A formerly-deep cut still actively being filled by the farmer.

Then, the piece' de resistance: a matching pair of 30' tall abutments in extremely good condition, particularly for a railroad that was never finished. Called it a day and visited with friends in the area. Still might be more remains to the north.

That was Saturday. Sunday I got up early, drove down to Watkins Glen and rode the Catherine Valley Trail, formerly New York Central. Watkins Glen is still served from the north by FGLK, and Horseheads in the south by NS. A very nice stone dust trail very nearly connects the two (they're a few miles short on the south).

Then went hunting the Sodus Bay, Corning, and New York. This one was a bonus. I don't know much about how much of it exists, apart from something a Bob Scharf had photographed, which I have on my website. I did "Research by Knocking" on people's doors until I found somebody who knew somebody who knew something. Eventually, I got sent to Bob Scharf himself! He told me exactly where to find what I was looking for, which was great.

Then (no, I'm still not finished) I went up to Penn Yan and bicycled the Outlet Trail to Dresden. Bunches of railroad relics there, including whistle posts, mile markers, some forgotten tracks, an abandoned bridge.

In the waning sunlight, I found the Rochester and Syracuse Interurban line (which is now a power line -- practically all the trolley lines became power lines, because they were the pioneers of long distance power transmission -- they had to be!) Found the Cayuga Trail starting next to an abutment which had its fill cut down, so it stands in mute testimony to its former glory. The village of Jordan has on its main street a very railroady-looking building facing onto the main street which not-so-coincidentally had a trolley running down it!

And finally, I found where the trolley line crossed the Erie Canal right next to the highway and the Canalway Trail. Took a photo showing canal, highway, railroad, and bike trail, all in one!

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