Pennsylvania & Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

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Re: Pennsylvania and Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby wldills » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:58 pm

Between 1977 and 1982 I lived in Trumansburg, NY, in a house once owned by the widow (Antoinette Pierson) of one of the P&SB RR bigwigs, William Pierson. I became interested in its history and had begun to document its remnants until I moved to a new job in Massachusetts. I previously submitted three of my surviving pictures to Russ's "Unfinished Railroads of NY" site. My recollections:
In Trumansburg at both creek crossings there are grades and at the Taughannock Creek crossing abutments. The section of grade from there to Trumansburg Creek through school property was gone, but there were high grades on both sides of Trumansburg Creek. I never got close enough to see if any stonework remained. The supposedly once deep cut across Cayuga Street was long gone, but north of that the grade curved around some friends' property forming the back side of a pond enclosure that they swam in until their daughter discovered a snapping turtle. A little farther the grade was visible in a cornfield near the Seneca Road Prospect Street intersection.
North of there in Seneca County the land flattens out somewhat and the grade was less defined, but I had photographed that long section visible through a wooded area and a piece of the grade in Covert. The former photo I lost lowever during my move here. There were other lest distinct remains, but I never got farther north than Interlaken.
South there are (or were anyway) lots of remnants in the more uneven terrain.
The locals in the DeWitt (Ithaca) and Trumansburg Historical Societies filled me in on other stuff. The general agreement was that the grading had been completed between Summit (on Ezra Cornell's Ithaca and Athens line) and Lake Ontario except for an unfinished cut at the very south end. No rails ever appeared in Tompkins County, but an old woman I spoke to recalled being shown a pile of rotting lumber as a little girl, that was described as the unused ties for the P&SB. Another person said his grandfather complained that all we got for our investment was bumps in the road with "Look Out for the Locomotive" signs. I believe that somewhere in the Cornell or Ithaca library systems I had once seen a grade map for the entire line, that I thought should have been saved on microfilm. But that was just before my move.
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Re: Pennsylvania and Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby RussNelson » Sat Feb 26, 2011 1:29 pm

wldills wrote:In Trumansburg at both creek crossings there are grades and at the Taughannock Creek crossing abutments. The section of grade from there to Trumansburg Creek through school property was gone, but there were high grades on both sides of Trumansburg Creek. I never got close enough to see if any stonework remained.


I'm planning to go back there this spring. Have a college roommate who lives in T'burg. Will definitely go looking at Trumansburg creek! I agree that the grade through the school property is gone. You can imagine where it went, but I didn't see any sign of it.

The supposedly once deep cut across Cayuga Street was long gone, but north of that the grade curved around some friends' property forming the back side of a pond enclosure that they swam in until their daughter discovered a snapping turtle. A little farther the grade was visible in a cornfield near the Seneca Road Prospect Street intersection.

Yes, that routing seems pretty clear even from modern aerial photos.
North of there in Seneca County the land flattens out somewhat and the grade was less defined, but I had photographed that long section visible through a wooded area and a piece of the grade in Covert. The former photo I lost lowever during my move here. There were other lest distinct remains, but I never got farther north than Interlaken.
South there are (or were anyway) lots of remnants in the more uneven terrain.

Still are lots of remnants. You can see cuts and fills pretty much everywhere the railbed crosses or runs near a highway. Would be interesting to walk the entire length, but that would be at least a week's worth of walking, given its length.

The locals in the DeWitt (Ithaca) and Trumansburg Historical Societies filled me in on other stuff. The general agreement was that the grading had been completed between Summit (on Ezra Cornell's Ithaca and Athens line) and Lake Ontario except for an unfinished cut at the very south end. No rails ever appeared in Tompkins County, but an old woman I spoke to recalled being shown a pile of rotting lumber as a little girl, that was described as the unused ties for the P&SB. Another person said his grandfather complained that all we got for our investment was bumps in the road with "Look Out for the Locomotive" signs. I believe that somewhere in the Cornell or Ithaca library systems I had once seen a grade map for the entire line, that I thought should have been saved on microfilm. But that was just before my move.

Wow. So, all the way to Lake Ontario, eh? Obviously I have more staring at old aerials to do! Unfortunately, Cornell is publishing them in dribs and drabs, so they might not have coverage all the way up.
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Re: Pennsylvania and Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby RussNelson » Sun Feb 27, 2011 4:53 pm

lvrr 560 wrote:The P & SB did some gradeing in Wayne county.East of Alloway there is a cut in the woods that was the ROW..

Can you locate that on a map for me? Maybe using http://mapper.acme.com and pasting the link here? I'm not finding anything obvious, even on the 1938 aerials:
http://library24.library.cornell.edu:82 ... 588~100718
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Re: Pennsylvania and Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby lvrr325 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:50 am

Any details on where it would have crossed the NYC's various lines to get to the lake and where it was supposed to terminate exactly?
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Re: Pennsylvania and Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby RussNelson » Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:06 am

No, that's part of the problem. I have no clue whatsoever of its route north of Seneca Falls.
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Re: Pennsylvania and Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby MarcMeoff » Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:19 pm

Here is a photo of the roadbed of the P&SB just south of Newfield, NY along route 13. My aunt owned a house that was built partly on the property of the railroad, and that showed on her deed. There was a small creek behind the house, and she said that there was to have been a trestle over the creek at that location. The ROW was being used for a pipline of some sort. The grade was visible in quite a few locations along Rt. 13 south of Newfield, but I haven't been that way in many years, so it may be all overgrown and not so visible by now. The photo was taken in the '70s.
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Re: Pennsylvania and Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby RussNelson » Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:13 am

Sweet! May I put that up on my unfinished-railroads web page?

I went and looked at that area on the map. There's quite a valley they would have had to cross just east of Woodlawn Cemetery, where Main hits Van Kirk Road, and a smaller one along Shaffer Road. I should go looking there for abutments. Oh, and there's VanBuskirk Gulf, which also ought to have abutments, unless they eroded away and fell into the gulf. And yes, there's a pipeline marked in that area. It quickly heads down the hillside at a steep slope.
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Re: Pennsylvania and Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby MarcMeoff » Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:05 pm

RussNelson wrote:Sweet! May I put that up on my unfinished-railroads web page?

I went and looked at that area on the map. There's quite a valley they would have had to cross just east of Woodlawn Cemetery, where Main hits Van Kirk Road, and a smaller one along Shaffer Road. I should go looking there for abutments. Oh, and there's VanBuskirk Gulf, which also ought to have abutments, unless they eroded away and fell into the gulf. And yes, there's a pipeline marked in that area. It quickly heads down the hillside at a steep slope.


>Yes, that's exactly where my aunt's house was in a small development near the corner of Main and Van Buskirk. The creek was rather small, but the valley that it formed was rather deep, so the trestle would have had to have been rather large, had it ever been built. The bad news is that the pipe line obliterated any signs of any construction that might have gone on there. The good news is that since the pipe line follows the ROW and is kept cleared of trees and brush it is easy to see where the ROW went.
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Re: Pennsylvania and Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby IthacaRonD » Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:27 pm

Hi Russ,

Thanks for starting this thread a while back. My youngest son and I began a model railroading project this Christmas and it has gotten me (and my older sons) interested in the history of trains around here in Ithaca. I came across the Third edition of the Lee/Rossiter and Marcham book a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed the whole book. I work for Cornell right by the heating plant and have walked many times on the trail that used to be path of the rail that went to Cortland which was also used to deliver coal to Cornell. There is a building across from my office that for the longest time had a boulder in front of it that read "Coal Office". It turns out that the scale was still in the ground and some of the scale mechanism still in the building (it was converted to a coffee shop a few years back but is now vacant).

When reading the "History of Railroads in Tompkins County" I was particularly interested in the abandoned P&SB line. I came across some of your posts and others that were pointing out where the grade was/is. My kids go to school in Enfield and the grade runs right behind the school... When the snow melts I will make a point to walk back there just to take it in. It sounds like you've done a lot of "digging" on this subject, thanks for sharing with everyone what you've learned! And if you ever need me to look into stuff at the Cornell libraries, let me know. I might not get right to it, but since I'm interested I'm sure I would eventually!

Thanks again,
--Ron D.
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Re: Pennsylvania and Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby RussNelson » Sat Mar 05, 2011 2:48 pm

IthacaRonD wrote:HAnd if you ever need me to look into stuff at the Cornell libraries, let me know. I might not get right to it, but since I'm interested I'm sure I would eventually!


Oh definitely! I'm flying out of Rochester this weekend, and I'm going to stop into the Wayne County Clerk's office to see if they have a P&SB map registered. Will definitely share it here. I found a map of the unfinished Brookfield Railroad that way. Gave a copy to someone on whose property the railroad ran, and he was tickled pink.
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Re: Pennsylvania & Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby IthacaRonD » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:49 pm

Hey Russ--

Just for kicks I queried "Pennsylvania & Sodus Bay Railroad" in Cornell's library search system and found a few things in the "Rare Documents and Manuscripts" section. They were listed as "books" but turned out to be (1) a six person committee's proposal to the town of Trumansburg urging them to support the PS&B project and (2) what looks like a "letter to the editor" of some publication where someone with the initials M.L.W. writes to "the People of Seneca County" advising them against investing in the P&SB. Neither of these have any maps or anything like that, but if you are interested in the images of these (I took pictures with my phone, they aren't perfect but you can certainly read the publications), email me at rd29@cornell.edu and I'll send them along to you!

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Re: Pennsylvania & Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby RussNelson » Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:53 pm

Haven't had a lick of time the past two weeks, but I got a map from the Wayne County Clerk's office showing the route from Clyde to Nicholas Point. I see some plausible matches in the 1990's aerials. Will have to look at the 1935 aerials.
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Re: Pennsylvania and Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby dj_paige » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:06 pm

lvrr 560 wrote:The P & SB did some gradeing in Wayne county.East of Alloway there is a cut in the woods that was

the ROW. My guess is that they were heading north to Lyons and close the route 14 highway alignment

to Sodus Point.


On the east side of Route 14, south of the Toganenwood B&B, is something that looks like a raised berm, possibly a railroad grading. It is visible from the road, unobscured. In at least two places, there is a cut perpendicular to the grading or berm, that looks similar to me to other perpendicular cuts in railroad grading that I have seen. Sorry, I didn't stop for a picture. Here is a link to what I saw.
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Re: Pennsylvania & Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby SenecaFallsHistSoc » Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:24 pm

While researching the death of a young boy in 1874 the newspaper said he was swimming in the river in Seneca Falls near the bridge of the P&SB RR
Does anyone know where that might have been in Seneca Falls - could it have been just to the west of the village? I know where the roads crossed the river but not the railroads.
Thanks
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Re: Pennsylvania & Sodus Bay unfinished railroad

Postby RussNelson » Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:29 pm

SenecaFallsHistSoc wrote:While researching the death of a young boy in 1874 the newspaper said he was swimming in the river in Seneca Falls near the bridge of the P&SB RR
Does anyone know where that might have been in Seneca Falls - could it have been just to the west of the village? I know where the roads crossed the river but not the railroads.
Thanks

The Rumsey Street Bridge, before being reconstructed some decades ago, was a one-lane bridge. Not because anybody chose to make a highway bridge that width, but because it was the single-track P&SB railroad bridge. Here's the routing of the P&SB RR: http://www.openstreetmap.org/browse/relation/1438830 -- see the gap north of Seneca Falls? That's where the county clerk's office couldn't locate the map that covered that section. :( Gonna have to do some field work to reliably locate it.
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