THE GREATER ROCHESTER RAILFAN PAGE
ABANDONED ROADS - THE HOJACK LINE
Because of the large amount of interest and material about the Hojack Line, as well as the BeeBee line that branches off of it, I have created a seperate page for this line!
For starters, click here for a brief history of the Hojack Line from the Friends of the Hojack Trail webpage.
NEW!! US Army Corps of Engineers Documentation and Mitigation Planning for Historic Preservation - Hojack Swing Bridge
Large file - 2,700 kb in .PDF format (Adobe Acrobat Reader required - a free download from http://www.adobe.com )
Click here to download the report.
Includes photographs of the control room!
Alternate download site: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rochester_railfan/files/hojackmitigationplan11_27.pdf
Transportation Feasibility Study
Genesee / Finger Lakes Regional Planning Board Special Studies Series Report
Click here to download a formal study on the Hojack Line from 1971 (large file - 367 kb - ZIP'ed - need a word processor to view - can view in WordPad which comes with Windows 95/98/NT). Great reading with lots of good information on operations of this line in 1971.
For historical referenece, several library branches in Monroe County carry Mary Smith's "The Hojack Railroad" which was written as part of the 1976 Bicentennial celebration in Hamlin.
One of the more notable abandoned roads in the ares is the Hojack Line, running roughly parallel to Lake Ontario. Formerly the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg (then the NYC-HRR). A stretch of this line is now used by the Ontario Midland Railroad out of Sodus from Webster to Red Creek. The track from Dewey Avenue in Greece, west to Niagara Falls was torn up in the late 70's - now used as a rail-trail and power company right-of-way. In 1975, after years of decliing freight service and deteriorating track conditions, the state of NY, in an effort to save the line from total abandonment approved funds to allow the line from Hamlin to Webster to be restored to allow for a 25 MPH speed limit (FRA Class 2 standards), up from the 5-8 MPH speed limit imposed due to very poor track conditions. At the time, there were only two signigicant customers on the line - the Duffy-Mott plant in Hamlin and the RG&E Russell Station in Greece. Unfortunately, efforts to keep this line operating failed when the Duffy-Mott plant closed one week after this announcement. The last revenue train on the Hojack Line ran on March 31, 1978. The line was abandoned and torn up a year later from Dewey Avenue in Greece all the way to Niagara Falls. Remaining track from Dewey Ave. to the Genesee River is now the Charlotte Industrial Track to serve the RG&E Russell plant. East of the River, the remaining stub track was torn up in 1998. The line from Irondequoit to Webster was torn up around the same time as the rest of the line..
Most of the passenger and freight stations still stand, as well as some signalling equipment and concrete mileposts and markers. Some of the ROW has been turned into public roadway. In Hilton, approximately a mile of the ROW is now Old Hojack Lane. Milepost marker P 104 is still in place next to the road - a nice touch by the Hilton DPW helping to preserve some of the line's history.
Track paralleling the east side of the Genesee River (Rochester Running Track, a.k.a. State Street Branch, the BeeBee line, etc...) was salvaged in 1998. Service to this line was discontinued when RG&E announced plans to shut down their BeeBee Station in 1999. Around 1994, Conrail identified some problem areas on the line, including a high trestle over the Genesee River that was in need of rehabilitation. Since BeeBee was the only major cutstomer on the line, Conrail was hoping that RG&E would share in the cost of rehabilitating the line. But given the fact that the plant was closing anyway, it was decided to abandon the line instead. BeeBee shut down in the summer of 1999 - the plant burned natural gas, oil, and coal that wass delivered by truck after transloading at the Rochester & Southern's Brooks Avenue Yard.
Here's an excerpt from the Federal Register regarding the BeeBee line abandonment:
[Federal Register: June 20, 1996 (Volume 61, Number 120)]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
[STB Docket No. AB-167 (Sub-No. 1162X)]
Consolidated Rail Corporation--Abandonment Exemption--in Monroe County, NY
Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) filed a notice of exemption under 49 CFR 1152 Subpart F--Exempt Abandonments to abandon approximately 8.50 miles of its line of railroad from approximately milepost 0.10 to approximately milepost 7.20 (Rochester Running Track) and from approximately milepost 92.90 to approximately milepost 94.10 (Ontario Industrial Track) in Monroe County, NY.
NOTE: MP 94.10 on the Ontario Industrial Track commences at the switch to the bridge. MP 92.90 is at Rock Beach Road. Everything east of that was torn up years ago. MP 7.20 of the Rochester Running Track terminates at the RG&E BeeBee station.
The official word from Conrail regarding the swingbridge over the Genesee River is that they only know a contractor will be salvaging the rails and ties from the bridge. There are several rumors floating around about the disposition of the bridge including: sale to an unknown shortline to replace their bridge; use as a pedestrian walkway; demolition and scrapping of the bridge; or just plain nothing. Right now, neither the town of Irondequoit, city of Rochester, Monroe County, State of New York, or the US Army Corps of Engineers wants to foot the bill for the bride's eventual demise.
WHEN WAS THE HOJACK ABANDONED? by Richard Palmer
I have been asked on numerous occasions about when certain segments of the so-called "Hojack" or St. Lawrence Division of the former New York Central were abandoned. The best way to do this is in format so readers will understand it.
- Oswego to Hannibal abandoned 1978
- Hannibal to Red Creek (Conrail) 1980 (OMID had been designated operator) Hannibal to Webster sold to Ontario Midland, Oct. 15, 1979
- Webster to Windsor Beach abandoned 1978
- Charlotte to Barker abandoned 1978
- Barker to Suspension Bridge 1979
- (Portion from Suspension Bridge at Niagara Falls to Riverview north of Niagara University campus dismantled in the late 1960's by Penn-Central. Had not been used since construction of Niagara Power Project)
- Rochester to Windsor Beach abandoned 1996
- Through passenger service, Oswego to Rochester and Suspension Bridge, discontinued Feb. 2, 1935
- Passenger service discontinued, Oswego to Pulaski, Sept. 25, 1947
Ontario Secondary Track from MP 23.0 to 175.4 redesignated as follows by 1979:
- Ontario Secondary Track from MP 23.0 to MP 25.6 redesignated Ontario Industrial Track
- Ontario Secondary Track from MP 25.6 to MP 34.2 abandoned (5 or 8 mph speed limit in 1974)
- Ontario Secondary Track from MP 34.2 to 84.8 transferred to the Ontario Midland Railroad
- Ontario Secondary Track from MP 84.8 to 94.0 redesignated Ontario Industrial Track (MP 84.8 to MP 92.90 abandoned in the 1980's; MP 92.90 to approximately milepost 94.10 abandoned in 1996)
- Ontario Secondary Track from MP 94.0 to 96.1 redesignated Charlotte Industrial Track
- Ontario Secondary Track from MP 96.1 to 174.3 abandoned by 1979
- Ontario Secondary Track from MP 174.3 to 175.4 redesignated Country Industrial Track
Ontario Secondary, Mileposts from Buffalo
Buffalo (NYC terminal) 0
Niagara Falls 25.07
Suspension Bridge 26.90
Model City 34.29
Slash Road 47.05
Beebe Road 49.04
West Somerset 57.13
West Kendall 83.82
Mileposts from Rochester terminal
Windsor Beach 10.59
Sea Breeze 13.36
Forest Lawn 15.49
Union Hill 22.86
East Williamson 34.49
North Rose 48.54
Red Creek 58.92
I received this e-mail from Ken Distefano recently, which pretty much sums it all up. It's letter like this that make the web page worth all the time and effort I've put forth into it!
I would like to thank you for such a wonderful web page. Let me share with you part of my life along the Hojack Line, which is what started my life-long love of trains.
I was born in 1960 and lived on Norcrest Drive in Irondequoit. Our yard backed up to the tracks, between the crossings at Rock Beach Road and Washington Ave.
I would stand by the window everyday watching the New York Central RS-2's or 3's, connected hood-to-hood, manuevring and switching for the trip up to Bee Bee station. (Of course at the time I had no idea where they were going). I remember how they would uncouple the engines, return on the passing track, and recouple so the caboose was behind the engines, and would disappear around the curve and head up toward Thomas Ave. I can still smell the diesel exhaust as if it were yesterday.
My dad was a home builder, so when it was time to move he wanted to make sure that I was still near the railroad. So he bought a lot in Greece, just west of the Dewey Ave crossing, and built us a house right along the tracks! And from the the fall of 1966, until it's demise in the late 70's, I waited daily for the run to Niagara Falls and the return trip later that evening. (Of course it did not compare to the switching that I was used to on Norcrest Drive, but none-the-less it was still a thrill). We would flash our porch light as the train passed, and were always excited to get either a blast from the horn, or a lantern wave from the caboose. As a matter of fact, many years later I met a retired NY Central/Penn Central engineer, and he remembered my house and the flashing porch light every night he went by!
I was thrilled!
After reading your page, I was so filled with nostalga that I had to return to Norcrest Drive. So I parked at the Irondequoit Resource Center, (which in those days was an IGA grocery store that me, my brother, and my mother walked to regularly along the tracks), and retraced our steps back to our house on Norcrest. From the abandoned tracks, overgrown with weeds and debris, I could see the picture window that I gazed out of for those first years of my life. I could still smell the diesel exhaust and see the fallen coal that we would gather from the roadbed as kids. Needless to say, I found myself wiping away a few tears as I pictured my family and our neighbors and all those good times we had there.
Thanks again for putting together this page. I only wish I had photos to share but unfortunately my dad says he never took any of the trains. But even without the photos, I can still picture it as if it were yesterday. I asure you that I will be a regular visitor to your web page! Thanks again.
He also sent a picture of NYC Alco S2 #8582 working behind his childhood home in 1959:
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