This is the seventh book in my series about the railroads of New York State and the second in which I have departed from strictly electric railroads.* The book started out a few years ago as a short history of the former electrified section of the Erie Railroad between Mount Morris and Rochester, N. Y. In the course of research and editing, however, it became clear that the story of the Erie electrified line was only a portion of the history of a fascinating group of railroads, many of them now but memories, a few a part of the Erie-Lackawanna system, and two now operating as independent railroads. Therefore, the whole story needed telling. I hope this book will do that for its readers.
The Rochester Division of the Erie Railroad (now the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad) was hung with catenary in 1907 from Rochester to Mt. Morris. Until 1934 a group of heavy, pantographed cars ran over its 34 miles of rails from the village of Mount Morris northeastward to a terminal on Court Street in the heart of Rochester. Built in 1854 as the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad, the southern terminal was initially at Avon where a connection was made for Buffalo via the Buffalo, Corning & New York Railroad. (This company later became the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad and still later the Erie Railroad.) East from Avon, the BC & NY's wide-gauge tracks wound through the hills and river valleys to Painted Post, Corning, Elmira and the east. By 1859 the Genesee Valley had built to Mount Morris, but its capital had been exhausted and the line was reformed under the name of the Avon, Geneseo & Mount Morris Railroad. (Note the three-rail system at Avon in the photograph on page 66.) The AG & MM was leased to the Erie until the Avon-Mount Morris section was torn out in 1940.
The Dansville & Mount Morris Railroad, which connected until 1940 with the Erie at Mount Morris, was formed under its present name at the time of the failure of the Erie and Genesee Valley Railroad. Active today, the D & MM provides the only rail service to the town of Dansville, 15 miles southeast of Mount Morris, since the scrapping of the main line of the Lackawanna between Wayland and Groveland Station where the D & MM connects.
In 1951 the Erie abandoned its 13 mile line between Livonia and Wayland and by 1964 has asked for abandonment of the entire remaining 13 miles from Avon to Livonia. A group of businessmen in Livonia, however, raised sufficient capital to purchase a 45-ton diesel, refurbish buildings, and buy the trackage from the Erie. Thus was born the newest shortline in the nation, the Livonia, Avon & Lakeville Railroad. Plans of the company include passenger excursions behind steam.
Today, then, the scene at Avon and other agencies along the Rochester Division, the Dansville line, and the new LA & L is quite distinct from that of seventy years ago when passengers at Avon were measured in the hundreds daily. However, some well-established freight business, especially for the E-L and the D & MM, keeps the rails free of rust, and it appears that these branch lines are still far from the hiss and sputter of the scrapper's torch.
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