The Turntable at Genesee Junction

Genesee Junction was once the junction of three Railroads,
just south of Rochester, NY.
The New York Central. (originally the New York,Westshore & Buffalo)
The Baltimore & Ohio. (originally the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh)
and the Pennsylvania railroad. (whose ROW here was originally the Genesee Canal towpath!)

Today, it is STILL the junction of three railroads!
CSX - running on the original NYC westshore.
Livonia, Avon, & Lakeville, also using former westshore tracks.
and the Rochester Southern railroad, using the former B&O.
the PRR line is abandoned, tracks are gone, and today the roadbed is
The Genesee Valley Greenway trail.

Only the LAL and CSX interchange directly at the Genesee Junction yard,
LAL has trackage rights (from CSX) to run through the yard to access the R&S mainline,
and they then run north into Brooks ave yard and interchange with R&S there.
R&S has trackage rights (from CSX) to run through the yard to access the small bit
of PRR north of the yard, to access a few R&S customers on that spur.

R&S and CSX do not interchange cars at Genesee Junction however, they interchange
at Lincoln Park further north.

Years ago, while reading the "New York" forum on,
I came across several threads about a mystery turntable
pit lost in the woods near Genesee Junction.
no one seemed to know much about it,
or even exactly where it was.
I looked for it a few summers ago,
but couldnt find it in the dense forest.
So I thought I would look during the winter,
when the vegetation is less of a hinderance.

So on April 20, 2002, I went in search of it again.
I walked out the Greenway trail toward the tracks,
turned west and walked down alongside the small
LAL interchange yard, then just turned into the woods.
it was all downhill! definately not enough flat land
for a turntable, I came across a dirt trail, wide and easy to follow,
with many recent motorcycle tracks in the mud.
I turned right (west) and started following the trail.
swamps/ponds/wetlands are to the left,
definately not land that once supported railroad tracks!
after walking down the trail a short ways,
suddenly there it was! right along the trail.
the abandoned turntble pit!
it was much Larger than I expected it to be!
and much Newer! it was built in 1910!
its really in excellent shape,
Im assuming it was used from 1910 up until the end of steam,
probably late 40' it has been abandoned approx. 50 years.




It's hard to tell from a photo, but in the photo above the concrete chunk in the right foreground
is the remains of the "center pivot" for the turntable bridge.





Here is a very cool panoramic photo by Bob Melville.
Bob took several photos, then used a computer program to seamlessly
stitch them together into one panoramic image.
thanks Bob!


Map and Aerial photograph:



Here is a map from 1924.
sent to me by Les Wilson.
Map discovered at Rochester Public Library by Charles Woolever.

It shows the turntable with only one lead track, nothing else.

And a modern map of the Junction area:

Click the thumbnail for the full-size map.

And the final map, showing how the junction fits into Rochester railroading as a whole,
map from "A History of Rochester Railroads"



The Railroads

CSX trains through the area are typical of CSX trains anywhere else..typical CSX Road Power of the early
21st century..lots of GE dash-9 widecabs! CSX uses the "Westshore" (as it is still called through Rochester)
as a bypass route through Rochester..Today's "Westshore" is a single-track line running from Fairport to Chili,
connecting with the "mainline" (the CSX Rochester sub, originally the New York Central mainline) at both ends.
CSX took over these routes from Conrail in 1999. (CSX-CR-PC nee NYC)

The second railroad at the junction, the Rochester & Southern, maintains a fleet of older EMD 4-axle power,
GP's and switchers. See the R&S page for more detail. R&S arrived on the scene in 1986, taking over
the line from Chessie system. (R&S-Chessie-B&O nee BR&P)

And the third modern railroad in the area, the Livonia Avon & Lakeville.
LAL runs on the former Erie Rochester branch from their base of operations in Lakeville,
north to Henrietta, then runs on a portion of the Westshore (alongside the CSX westshore) from
Jefferson road over to Genesee Junction. (The LAL also operates a portion of the
LVRR Rochester branch, but that route is not related to Genesee Junction.)

LAL 420 and 425 have been the primary "road power" for many years now,
running north up to Rochester from Lakeville.

420 and 425 approach the yard from the East, and cross the Genesee River,
today they left their train behind south of Jefferson road, and ran light to the yard
pick up cars:


Almost a year later, the same pair are sitting at the East end of the yard, about to depart
with their train and head back south:


The Livonia, Avon & Lakeville is famous for its well maintained Alco fleet, check the
Alcos of New York State page and the LAL Railfan Network for more info on this very interesting shortline.


To find the turntable pit:

Park where the Greenway trail crosses Ballantyne road, just west of RIT and the river.
Walk north up the Greenway trail, (notice the Genesee Canal to your left!..yes, that is the actual canal!)
but don't go all the way to the tracks, instead, as you get near the end of the greenway trail,
after crossing over Black Creek but before the barricade at the end of the trail, look for a dirt trail heading off to your left.(west)
Follow this trail, you will be walking between the ponds/swamps on your left, and trees to your right.
down the trail a little ways the turntable pit will suddenly loom on your right. (immediately north of the trail)
Its buried in the forest between the trail and the tracks.

It appears there was never a roundhouse to go along with this turntable,
and perhaps no radial tracks at all!
it seems this turntable was used to turn engines only!

Charles Woolever has been doing much "digging for info"
while researching his upcoming book on the PRR Rochester Branch.
(which crossed the west shore at Genesee Junction)

Charles says:

"I interviewed an employee who worked the Genesee Junction tower.
He was an NYC employee.
The turntable was installed in 1911. There was a need to turn the small
to mid-sized steam engines being used by the NYC on the Syracuse to
Rochester turn. This turn basically came from Syracuse to Rochester and picked up
the freight from the BR&P and PRR left at the junction there. It returned
to Syracuse. He didn't mention if the turn performed any other work along
the line. The turn would come in, make it's train in the yard at the BR&P
interchange and add cars from the PRR interchange tracks. Then they
would turn the engine and head back to Syracuse.

The turntable stopped being used by WWII, he thought 1944 but couldn't
remember. He didn't remember the reason but it was mainly due to larger
steam engines being used and they no longer fit the table. I'm sure
traffic patterns played a role too."

-Charles Woolever

Thanks Charles!

Related Links:

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Genesee Canal.

The Genesee Valley Greenway trail.

Greater Rochester Railfan page

Rochester Railfan Network

LAL Forum on

New York Forum on

Alcos of New York State

LAL Railfan Network

A History of Rochester Railroads

Scot Lawrence
Rochester, NY
April, 2002

Updated April 2008.

Return to Scot's main page.