By Richard Palmer
This line was opened as the Genesee Valley Canal Railroad in 1882 from Rochester to Hinsdale, near Olean, where it connected to the Buffalo, New York and Philadelphia Railway. Much of the right of way was on the old Genesee Valley Canal, abandoned in 1878. The canal right of way from Hinsdale to Olean was not used as it closely paralleled the BNY&P. The Genesee Valley Canal Railroad was immediately leased to the BNY&P.
Also, the old 12-mile branch of the canal from Mt. Morris to Dansville was not used by the railroad, as these places were already served by the Erie and Genesee Valley Railroad and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad.
Previously, the Rochester, Nunda and Pennsylvania Railroad had built a line roughly parallel to the canal between Mount Morris and Nunda, turning southeast to Swain's. In 1881 the part north of Nunda was abandoned, and on July 11 of that year, the company was consolidated into the Rochester, New York and Pennsylvania Railroad.
That company opened a new line in 1882 from Nunda northeast to the new Genesee Valley Canal Railroad at Nunda Junction, and the Buffalo, New York and Philadelphia Railway leased it that year.
At the north end, the Genesee Valley Terminal Railroad was incorporated August 14, 1882, and in 1883 opened a branch from the Genesee Valley Railroad southwest of Rochester north to a junction with the New York Central Railroad main line at Lincoln Park, near
the city limits.
On September 1887 the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railway acquired the Buffalo, New York and Philadelphia Railroad and with it the Genesee Valley Canal Railroad. In 1900 the Pennsylvania Railroad leased the WNY&P. A short branch from Scottsville west to Garbutt on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Rochester and State Line Railroad opened on September 16, 1907.
On November 15, 1912 the Genesee Valley Canal Railroad and Genesee Valley Terminal Railroad merged to form the Pennsylvania and Rochester Railroad. That company was absorbed on February 28, 1916 into the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railway, still leased by the Pennsylvania Railroad. Passenger service between Rochester and Olean was discontinued in 1941. The line between Wadsworth Junction, south of Rochester, to Hinsdale, a distance of 84 miles; and between Nunda and Nunda Junction, was abandoned in 1963, but it was some years before the rails were all removed. An earlier portion of the line which had been three-foot narrow gauge was abandoned between Nunda and Swains, a distance of 11 miles, in 1910. A three-mile branch from Scottsville to Garbut was abandoned in 1944.
Other abandonments on the connecting Allegany branch:
Olean-Allegany, 3 miles, 1972
Allegany - West Salamanca, 20 miles, 1975
West Salamanca - Struthers, Pa., 37 miles, 1962
Cuba Patriot, Friday, June 11, 1882
Genesee Valley Canal Railroad
From the Rochester Express we clip the following: "A construction train is now running on the Genesee Valley Canal. from this city to Fowlerville, or Spencer's Basin. within 10 miles of Mt. Morris. Between Mt. Morris and Fowlerville the grading is completed for the distance of six miles, and the iron will be laid as fast as possible.
" The remaining four miles is very heavy work, and will require a few weeks to grade. The ballasting is nearly finished between here and Fowlerville. The bridge at Ross crossing over the Erie road will be completed within about 10 days. Another postponement is necessary relative to running of trains to Swains and Mt. Morris, owing to some delay on the Allegany Central. There are now six construction trains on the line of the G.V.C. R.R., and eight new locomotives have been ordered by the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia road, which is to operate the line."
Cuba Evening Review, June 24, 1882
The people of Belfast were quite excited when the smoking engine on the Genesee Valley railroad arrived in their town for the first time. The Press says: "There was no little anxiety among our people as the tracklaying approached the Hughes street crossing followed closely by the engine.
"The weather was not favorable but the work went on . Norm. Holden took couple of kegs of lager to the track layers in order to counteract the moisture outside with internal moisture. People watched and counted the rails, and when the work was finally done, the men marched into Main street, where powder was burned, and three hearty cheers were given.
"The ladies had prepared a bountiful supper to be served in the park, but the rain prevented; and it was served in the large room of the Renwick store. It was well served and well relished by the goodly number who partook of it. Mr. Daily of the Exchange, also gave a dinner to a number of railroad friends and invited guests, which passed off pleasantly."
Cuba Evening Review, Tues., Oct. 31, 1882
Rochester Division, B., N.Y. & P.
According to announcement the Rochester Division of the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia road, heretofore known as the Genesee Valley Canal railroad, was opened yesterday. The time-table gives the schedule time for two trains, of the second class, which run northward Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and southward Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The trains are local freight and passenger.
The time of the northward train at the most important stations is as follows: Cuba 7:25 a.m.; Black Creek 8:01; Belfast 9:00; Fillmore 10:18; Nunda 12:40 p.m.; Mt. Morris 2:38; Rochester 7:05 p.m.
The southward trains are as follows: Rochester 6:15 a.m.; Mt. Morris 11:05; Nunda 12:40 p.m.; Fillmore 2:55; Belfast 4:20; Black Creek 5:21; Cuba 6:00 p.m.
The time is necessarily slow at first, especially with local traffic. Fast trains will undoubtedly be put on soon. The telegraph line along the route is fast nearing completion.
Cuba Patriot, Feb.. 9, 1883
Along the Line.
The Livingston Republican of last week contained an interesting article on the Genesee Valley Canal Railroad, by a writer who signs himself "Robert Morris," of Mt. Morris, in which various towns along the route taken by the recent press excursion are taken note of. A few of the historical points of some of the towns named are copied, as follows:
Caneadea. - This town, in Allegany county, is famous as the spot where the Seneca Indians had their council house, now removed to Glen Iris. Here Mary Jemison settled after a journey of 600 miles on foot with her papoose on her way from Fort Duquesne, now Pittsburgh, to Little Beardstown.
This place, history says, was the spot where Captain Horatio Jones was taken prisoner by the Indians, and successfully ran the gauntlet. The town was first settled in 1803 by parties from Pennsylvania. Widow Brady kept the first inn in 1810. James Hoyt built the first saw mill in 1816.
Angelica. - This old township is widely known as the home of the Church family, so intimately connected with the early settlement of Allegany county. The ancestral residence of this family is about two miles from town.
The first settlement was made here in 1802 by Philip Church. He erected the first saw and grist mill in 1803. Joseph Taylor kept the pioneer inn in 1804. Angelica took its name from the wife of John B. Church and daughter of General Philip Schuyler.
Angelica was formed from the town of Leicester, then in Genesee county, in 1805. Before 1805 the residents of that town had to travel to old Leicester to attend town meeting, and at that early period Angelica had her mail from Bath, forty miles distant, and only once a month. At that time Angelica paid $2.50 bounty for every wolf caught in the town. This place has an ancient court house built in 1818.
Belfast - This town was formed in 1824, but there were early settlements on the river in 1803, by three brothers, Chamberlain, from Pennsylvania. Joseph and Raymond opened the first hotel, David Sanford the first saw and gristmill in 1809. The first religious meeting was held at the residence of N. Reynolds.
Friendship. - This is a flourishing lumber town. Its early settlers came in 1806 and 1807. The first child born in the town was Sherman Haskins, in a sugar camp; S. Gates had the first inn; James Sanford and Sally Harrison, the pioneer married couple, in 1809; Pelatiah Morgan, the pioneer schoolmaster, in 1810.
Cuba. - The Indian oil creek reservation is in this town. The Oil Creek Reservoir, built by the State for the Genesee Valley Canal, costing about $150,000 and covering 1,500 acres, is also in this town. Th first settlers in Cuba came i n 1817 from Connecticut, viz: Abbott, Hall, Frier, Bennett, Cole, Hawley. S. Cole was the pioneer inn keeper in 1814. David Row taught the early school in 1822.
Olean. - Around the town are about 200 oil tanks, and also some manufacturing interests, and has a population of about 6,000. The first settlers of this town came about 1804. The road to this place from Angelica was surveyed by Major Moses VanCampen, of Revolutionary War memory. The first lumber rafted down the Allegany river was by Dr. Bradley, Follett and Jedediah Strong in 1807. Sylvanus Russell kept the first tavern in 1808, Levi Gregory the pioneer store in 1814.
Belfast Blaze, May 22, 1952
If You Look Younger With Your Hat On, You May Remember Some of These Old-Timers
By J. L. Murphy
The Rochester Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad (old Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia Railroad) was built on the towpath of the Genesee Valley Canal wherever possible. Much of the ballast taken from the gravel pit on the old Doherty farm at the west end of the Erie Railroad's bridge north of Belfast and stone for culverts and bridges was obtained from the old canal locks; the canal was abandoned in 1878.
Main track was built through Belfast in the summer of 1882. First locomotive to reach Belfast was on the construction train No. 46, with diamond smokestack, red stripes on the drivers and shiny brass bands around the boiler - she sure was a beauty. Engineer had a
large St. Bernard dog that used to carry a big dinner pail to and from the job, for his master, passed where I lived, and the dog rode in the engine cab most of the time.
The steam shovel in the Doherty gravel pit was operated by John Fitzgibbons. his regular job was freight conductor on the River Division, Olean to Oil City.
Division offices were at Olean and the following are the names
of some of the old-timers -pioneers on the Rochester Branch:
J.W. Watson, Division Superintendent.
Frank J. Martin, chief dispatcher and trainmaster
A.D. Peck, chief dispatcher and trainmaster
M.A. Miller, dispatcher
George P. Jackson, dispatcher
J.F. Grant, dispatcher
W. A. Gessee, extra dispatcher
E. A. Fisher, division engineer, Rochester
Charles Ellis, master carpenter, Rochester
Robert Wright, yardmaster, Rochester
Bill Passmore, lineman, Olean
Matt Hart, yardmaster, Olean
Cooney Derx, fence gang foreman, Olean
Jim Lang, mason foreman, Belfast
Rob Lang, mason foreman, Belfast
Pat Bracker, division superintendent, Cuba
Passenger conductors - William Byers, - VanSickle, Pete Keefe,
Passenger engineers - John Hamilton, Ed Clark, Al Goold.
Freight conductors - Dan Shafer, Pat Savage, Pat Devitt, Tom Devitt,
Mike McGannon, Bill Troan, *Frank Ingram, Pete Hotchkiss, Jack
Kingman, Charle Coilegrove, L.M. "Lett" Forrest, Big Joh Andrews,
Firemen- Archie Battles, Gus Marth*, Bill Collopy.
Sectionforemen - John McGraw, Cuba; Tom McCarthy, Black Creek; Jack
Williams, Belfast; Martin McMahon, Belfast; Bill Sherman, Caneadea;
John Burgie, Fillmore; Tom McNulty, floating gang; John O'Leary, Mt.
Freight engineers - *Jim Warner, *W.D. Penny, Ed Simmons,
JohnStimlinger, Fred Battles, Billy Breckle, *Johnnie Stout, Pat
O'Brien, Charlie Anderson, Charlie Miller, Charlie Quinlan, *Lee
Ingram, Frank "Pie" Steels, Gus Frey, Billy Gannon, Bill Jacquett.
*Mr. Fisher was made division superintendent at Oil City in
1892, and about two years later returned to Rochester and was city
engineer there until he died a few years ago at the age of 100 years.
Passenger brakemen- Bernie May, Fred Dempsey
Freight brakemen - Ed Lapp, Billy Weldy, bob Milliken, Tom Milliken
Jr., *John Murphy, *Pete Murphy, John Loftus, Clarence Gilman and
W. A. Rapp, Olean
W.G. Conschafter, Hinsdale
P.N. Mallison, Cuba
W.A. Gere, Black Creek
C.M. Stedwell, Belfast
T. F. "Tom" Downs, Belfast
Mort Brooks, Oramel,
Mont Bartlett, Caneadea
Flatch Thompson, Houghton
Jim Waldorf, Fillmore
Charley Keenan, Portageville
L.P. Higgins, West Nunda
W. A. Gessee, Scottsville
W. B. Tracey, Genesee Junction
*R,E. Wright, Olean
Shorty Prior, Olean
Pete Small, Olean
Billy Bowen, Hinsdale
John M. Lynch, Hinsdale
Mike Conners, Cuba
"Kern" Conners, L&P Jct.
Tom O'Neil, L&P Jct.
"Yank" Stewart, L&PJct.
'Sandy" Bremer, Belfast
Wesley Hauenstein, Balfast
Will Murphy, Belfast
Dell Dye, Belfast
Martin Dwyer, Belfast
Jim Lane, Belfast
Pat O'Gorman, Genesee Jct.
Bill Metcalf, Terminal
Jay Eastland, Rochester freighthouse
*Charles N. Poulson, Rossburg
*Charles "Pickey" Poulson became nationally known as a cornet player
and in the early 1900s he played both the 65th and 74th Regiment
bands in Buffalo at their summer concerts as soloist.
*Operator R. E. Enright became police commissioner in New York City.
*Brakeman John Murphy was killed in a wreck at Scottsville in 1887,
and his brother Pete was killed in Belfast, switching cars on the local freight in 1894. William, who worked as operator at Belfast for a short time, was killed in 18th Street yard in Pittsburgh in February, 1889 while dropping cars.
*L & P Junction was located one mile south of Belfast; rails taken up for scrap about 1891.
*Engineer Jim Warner often gave me a lecture about the use of tobacco and its evil effects, one of which was:
"Tobacco is a filthy weed,
And from the devil it doth proceed.
It lightens your pocketbook,
burdens your clothes,
And makes a chimney
out of your nose."
However I failed to heed his good advice, for I still smoke and
fear I will - hereafter.
*Hogeye W. D. Penney (on local freight) southbound, chased a
bunch of Jim Fox's horses up the track from Oramel one day, trying to get by them, but he caught them all at the bottleneck on the town line crossing killing four of the five.
Penney layed off about 60 days - afraid to go through Oramel.
Fox was looking for him with a gun.
*Johnnie Stout and Fireman Gun Marth were killed in a
derailment at Tuscarora.
* Conductor Frank Ingram, a brother Engineer Lee Ingram, was killed in a rear-end collision here, just about in front of the present steel mill office.
The first section of No. 288 had stopped to take water at the tank across the canal from the Chet Greene bungalow. The flagman failed in his duty and Engineer Pat O'Brien of the second section said he "saw him jump off, wade the canal, and take to the tall timbers just before he hit the rear end." He never was heard from since. Probably he joined up with the BR&P under another name.
Unadilla House, Unadilla, New York
4 weeks ago