Remains of the line to Attica

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Remains of the line to Attica

Postby Benjamin Maggi » Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:09 pm

I was thinking about taking a little trip this summer to see what remains (if any) are left of the line between North Java and Attica. Are their any rails left, or any road crossings with the rails still there? Is there a trail that can be biked, or remains by the prison to see (no, I am not going IN the prison to check it out)! Anything that might be interesting?

It has been something like 52 years since a train went over this portion of the line. I know I get sad just seeing the wye behind Arcade and what remains of the line past the concrete loading dock. How far do the rails extend in that direction too?

Thanks.
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby jgallaway81 » Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:51 pm

Ben, if you want the most out of an archeological expedition north of Java, might I suggest a g-trip? Go by Google Maps.

Using intuition and an understanding of the decay of an abandoned rail line, you can trace it back to the prison.

As for the south end, the rails end about two railcar lengths past the points of the south/east switch. the roadbed continues several miles. THIS would be a capital hiking route. However, most of the existing line is the B&S alignment, not the TV&C.
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby Benjamin Maggi » Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:03 am

Jason,
I am not sure a google-map search would work. It seems that when I search non-urban areas, few maps exist at the zoomed-in level. Usually, maps exist from high up but I would want to zoom in a bit to see the details. Still, it wouldn't hurt to check it out.
Thanks.
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby RussNelson » Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:00 am

I use http://mapper.acme.com/ ; it gives you the Google Maps layers AND the Terraserver topo and DOQ (1m per pixel) layers as well.
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby BSOR Patarak » Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:22 am

Thanks for the link Russ, that is much better than Google Maps alone! The satellite close ups for the area aren't on the highest zoom over much of the A&A.

Here is a link to the Attica end:
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=42.85788,-78.27227&z=16&t=O&marker0=42.85386%2C-78.27933%2CBridge%20%20over%20Tonawanda%20Creek&marker1=42.85669%2C-78.27784%2CGarage%20Built%20over%20Right%20of%20Way%20at%20Exchange%20St&marker2=42.85895%2C-78.27672%2CPoint%20of%20Switch%20to%20Prison%20behind%20Town%20Park&marker3=42.85428%2C-78.26859%2CWhere%20A%26amp%3BA%20siding%20met%20Erie%20Siding%20at%20Prison&marker4=42.86144%2C-78.27546%2CWhere%20wye%20split%20to%20Erie%20Depot%20and%20Westinghouse

I marked a few points, starting at A, this is the end of the Attica Rodeo Grounds. The main driveway is the old right of way going north. It crossed Exchange Street here. The garage was built right over the right of way. From the Town park, the right of way is along the back edge of the park. In the south east corner of the park, right behind the apartments, you can find the switch for the siding over to the prison. The prison siding is actually easier to follow than the A&A's main at this point. I missed the main the first time because there is a large tree grown right in the middle of where the tracks should be. From the park, you can easily walk towards the wye and the depot, or towards the prison. The A&A's own right of way is over grown or on private property to the south. This summer I'd like to go to the rodeo grounds and find the point where the tracks crossed the creek. As far as the rest of the right of way going south, parts of it are readily visible all the way to North Java. All of it was sold off and is private property at this time. However, just south of Attica there is a mile section along the creek that has been turned into a "roadway" to some private houses. I use the term loosely as it is basically just a path. It looks as if ballast and ties are still in the ground at places. It is one lane wide and has several private driveways the come off of it.
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby ctclark1 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:47 am

I've actually got a Live Maps collection of the A&A route...
View it Here.

My apologies, Live is being buggy and not letting me add paths right now (I added the Arcade area to NJ a while back...), so you'll have to follow the pushpins for now until I get it updated.

Pins 6 through 42 show the mainline from NJ to the interchange at Attica. There's two places where roads actually replaced the ROW - Thomas Rd in Varysburg (pins 19 & 20), and Lower Cotton Hill Rd between Varysburg and Attica along Rt 98 (pins 26 to 31). I believe both are considered Seasonal use and for that matter I'm pretty sure the northern part of Lower Cotton Hill shown on the map is actually completely abandoned now... If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say it was probably either in this area where the washout occurred that caused them to abandon the line, either that or where it crosses the Tonawanda just west of 98 (pin 39)

It is very easy to find the old crossing of Rt 20A in Varysburg (b/t pins 20 & 21) - on the western hill, there's a spot where it levels off greatly, and you can actually see the lay of the land in the person's driveway to the south and an old path to the north...

Pin 41 is the location mentioned earlier, about the Rodeo's driveway, and the garage.

Pin 42 is the prison switch, Pins 43 and 44 are the ridge behind the park that lead to the interchange with the NS mainline.

Pins 45 through 49 is the line leading to prison yard, while pins 50 through 53 are the other line coming off the mainline, my guess is its the turn at 52 that was what required the A&A to do the switching in the area, as opposed to the mainline owner doing themselves. The doors even still exist where they brought the cars into the prison yard...

When you do venture through, be VERY careful about wandering in the areas with pins above 45, the prison property extends pretty far past the walls, so you don't want to get caught there, for sure. I'm not even sure the ethics of focusing on pins in that area, but if Picometry was able to photograph it and Microsoft allowed to put it up, then it should be fine, right?

I'll try to label these pins a little better on the collection in the future, and try to get a path put in instead of all the pins... When I shouldn't be sleeping...
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby howie729 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:20 pm

Ben, to answer your question about rails still being anywhere on this route, the answer is not likely. Talking with a few people that work at the prison there are some rails still inside but there would only be one way to see them :-) . Kris Lyons just bought the garage that sits on the ROW across from the rodeo grounds. Also Attica Furniture is on ROW. It would be interesting to see if there was anything between the two as far as remains of old bridges. If you decide to make this treck, I would like to go along.
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby thebigham » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:21 pm

^Thank for the map!!

I'll post my comments tomorrow.

Yes, stay off prison property. The guards will pull you over.
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby BSOR Patarak » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:38 pm

As for the pins near the prison, I have visited parts of that connecting track outside of the prison area. In fact, some of the rail from near the prison at pin 29 is under our display at Arcade. (It can not be stressed enough to not try and enter this area around the prison without permission or an escort even though it could easily be walked into)

#22 is the point of the switch for the connecting track off of the A&A main to the prison. The line (26) went up to connect with the Erie's access into the prison at pin #27. There was a bit of a yard there up to pin 29. Several of the switches remained. The track split and you can see that there are actually 3 gates into the prison. You can see from the shape of the parking lot up to the prison walls that it looks like the tracks split and widened out. The one closest to the back wall was for the coal for the power and light plant (this building looks to be still in the prison grounds). It almost appears that there is the remains of a switch just past the power house inside. The coal tipple was removed during the 80's I believe. You can see the "air lock" type arrangement of double walls for inspecting inbound and outbound cars. The gate closest to the middle of the prison was for stores shipments, or that is supplies into the prison. Many fresh foods were shipped in. The prison also for a time produced some form of textiles and they were shipped out from the same track.

Trail 26 is the Erie's access to the prison area. I think a good portion of the rail is still in place on this piece.

There was also a switch off towards the Westinghouse Foundry that received shipments via the A&A. The switch came off of the main south of the wye and went east up into the foundry. It can't be seen too well from the air. The plant did some expansion and removal work over the years. There is not much left of it.

I have not seen any pictures of traffic going into or destined for the prison. It sure would be interesting to see if some one dug some up.

I wanted to set up a hike to tour the old right of ways both at Attica and of the old narrow gauge to the south at some point. We'll have to get together on that Ben...

<edited to match the new pin and line numbers>
Last edited by BSOR Patarak on Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby BSOR Patarak » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:51 pm

The Cotton Hill Road bridge just south of Pin 31 is "Sierks". Just north of Pin 33, the right of way jogs around the creek. This is a location where the A&A used an Erie pile driver to try and hold back the bank. In 1928-29 New York State straightened the creek channel in the area to eliminate the need for multiple bridge crossings for the State Highway, Route 98. In 1932, the A&A sued over the changing of the channel as they claimed it increased the velocity of the water along the right of way and was doing severe damage to the road bed. They requested that the state pay to move the tracks to "jog" around the spot where the water was eating at the right of way.

My question would be where was the wash out that closed down the north end of the line in 1957? Looking at Pin 39 south to the 98 crossing (behind Attica Furniture) it looks like the creek took out the right of way at that point. I was under the assumption that there was only one bridge leaving Attica. There appears to be a wing wall on the north side of the creek at the south end of the Rodeo grounds. (I'll have to check the RR Commissioner Reports and Surveys to see for sure.) If that was the case, then the area mentioned has greatly changed since the tracks were in place. Looking at the soil in the creek beds, it is full of silt and looks to move a bit in that area. The land area in the middle doesn't show signs of a right of way across. My guess would be that the creek didn't cross under at those points, but rather along side. Another area of concern for washing problems.
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby ctclark1 » Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:05 am

Finally got a path on there... Apparently they stopped letting you make paths while in Bird's Eye (Which I used to do...)
Cut down on the number of pins, tried to label all the relevant stuff this time...

Pat - At the "New" pin 19, where you questioned the silt and stuff, looking at the contour of the field to east, and the tree growth patterns, it certainly seems like the creek moved, perhaps this is the more likely location for that fateful washout... It seems to have crept west in that area, probably slowly inching more and more to the railroad, until the washout pushed it over the edge.

I was unable to find where the spur cut off into the old Westinghouse plant. I've actually gone up there before, and do recall seeing some trackage remnants, but never thought of it being the A&A. It was also covered in snow at the time...

Obviously looking at these in Bird's Eye View, you'll have to remember that the pictures don't always line up quite right. The path was done in Aerial view (its actually pretty easy to see the line there without the path), so its not always going to line up either.

Also, Pat, let me know if I got any of the pins wrong, I'll gladly move them, or point out any new spots you want.
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby thebigham » Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:00 pm

ctclark1, this is phenomenal. Thank you!

I hiked the the row back in the early 1980s from Attica to North Java. I grew up on Dunbar Road in Attica so I spent a lot of time exploring the A&A row.

These aerial photos are 2-3 years old. They show the boxcar with the water tank inside still outside of Arcade on the disconnected siding. It was moved to the Arcade yard and now it's on display next to the mainline.

Pin 8: An old culvert can be seen. It's a short walk here back to the feed mill where some old orange boxcars are stored. I was there once. I remember how old the track was under the boxcars.

Pin 9: Some of the row is missing near the road crossing. I hiked this part of the row towards Humphrey Road a few years ago.

When I hiked the row in the early 1980s, parts of the row were very overgrown from Maxon Road to the old depot at Johnsonburg. It was awful in places.

From Johnsonburg to the exErie mainline in Attica, you can hike the whole row today.

Just before where Rt. 98 connects with Dunbar Road, there is a barn on the right. A big old house is across the road on the left. The A&A crossed a stream here. The bridge still stands. It's only 12-15 feet long.

Pin 19: Yes, the creek has washed out the row here. There was not a bridge here. Near the Attica Furniture building, pilings are still in the creek from an old retaining wall.

Pin 20: One of the concrete bridge abutments still stand.

Pin 29: Pat, how much of the rail did you take for the display? Is any left?
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby Benjamin Maggi » Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:36 pm

Wow, this is turning into a really interesting thread! Thanks for everyone who has posted. Pat, if you ever do that hike, let me know and I would love to join you.
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby joesbag » Wed Feb 25, 2009 8:26 am

Pat and Ben - I've wanted to do something like this for years and I think it would be a great thing to do. The maps posted are great. I would also like to join in but as they say 3 might be a crowd... If you guys do something like this I would like to know as well. Having long been a student of the A&A I was unaware they served the former Westinghouse plant in Attica. Anyone know what was manufactured there? Also, I would think the prison would receive cars of coal and other food items? Anyone know if it was a single siding within the prison walls? Just coming at this from a modeling standpoint trying to get an idea of what loads may be going in or out on the A&A from businesses in Attica.
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Re: Remains of the line to Attica

Postby ctclark1 » Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:40 pm

As you can see from the maps, and from Pat has said - there were three tracks entering the prison walls - the east-most one was typically coal for the power/light building. The west-most track was used for food/supplies in and prison-made products out. I'll directly re-iterate what Pat said - you can see the double-wall "air-lock" type setup for inspecting the cars to make sure there weren't stowaways, etc.
The majority of the cars actually went out on the Erie line, A&A was really only used for switching in the area - the turn from the Erie to the prison was too tight for their engines to make.
Correct me if I'm wrong Pat - but the prison rail operations were shut down when A&A discontinued service to Attica because of that reason, right? I've seen this mentioned before but don't remember where (don't think it was on the forums).

The Westinghouse Plant was a foundry plant. I'm not sure what went in/out, but they too I have a feeling were more directly served by Erie than they were A&A (the access spur just came off the A&A line because it was convenient, I'm guessing)
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