• Livonia & Lake Conesus Railroad

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by erie2521
Does anybody know anything about the Livonia & Lake Conesus Railroad? It was incorporated in 1895 and was still paying Corporation taxes to N.Y.State ten years later. According to a New York Times article, it was to run between Livonia and Lakeville with a length of six miles(!). Capitalization was to be $60,000. The Directors were all from the New York City area.
Bill Gordon mentions it in his book on the Rochester Division of the Erie and said that it ran between Erie Jct. and the mine at West Livonia - wherever those places were. He also said that they suspended operations when the mine shut down. Was this the trackage around the old salt mine south of Van Zandt Rd. in Livonia? Ted
  by dummy
all i know of this area is that the [email protected] went south quite aways more than it does now. maybe it branched off?
  by nydepot
This is the company that built the portion of the Erie branch from Livonia to Lakeville. Just like the portion from Lakeville (at the water's edge) up to the Rochester main, north of the current yard was the Conesus Lake RR. It's an accounting thing that it survived, much like the BR&P survives today.

All were owned by the Erie.

  by blabey
Charles is correct. The present line of the LAL between Stone Hill Rd. in Lakeville and Conesus Lake Jct. was constructed by the Conesus Lake Railroad in 1882. The purpose of this 1.6 mile carrier was to provide a connection to steamboats on Conesus Lake. I've seen some old pictures that show excursion trains at the dock, exchanging large crowds with the steamers. The money to build the Conesus Lake RR was raised by local business interests. Landowners along its short route donated property to facilitate the project. Shortly after completion, the railroad was leased to the Erie, which provided the rails used in construction and held a mortgage on the property. The Conesus Lake Railroad was later merged into the Erie. I'm not sure about this - but I think the merger was effective sometime in the 1890's. Maybe an Erie historian can supply the exact date.

The Conesus Lake Railroad didn't have any connection with the Livonia & Conesus Lake RR. The only information I have on the Livonia & Conesus Lake RR came from the late Bill Gordon. Bill described the Livonia & Conesus Lake as a switching line, serving the long-closed salt mine at South Livonia. It was owned by the Fuller family, the same people who owned the Genesee & Wyoming - another salt hauler in nearby Retsof. I suspect that the primary purpose for an independent shortline was to carve out a revenue division on traffic originating at the mine. That was a common practice.
  by erie2521
Mr. Blabey has nailed it. The fact that the Livonia and Lake Conesus RR was owned by the same people that owned the G&W ties it to the salt mine south of Van Zandt Road. The Conesus Lake RR was a separate entity from the L&LC. The Conesus Lake was leased by the Erie (who owned all of its stock) and was merged into the Erie on May 22, 1930. Ted
  by blabey
Thanks for supplying the date of the merger. The property records that we have do not reflect the fact that the merger took place, nor do we have a date for that transaction. May I ask the source of that information so that we may verify it and deal with some title issues. Thanks,
Eugene H. Blabey
President/LAL RR Corp.
  by nydepot
While I do think it was related the the salt mine SOUTH of Livonia, the road was chartered for 6 miles and then only built 1.5 miles "NORTHWESTERLY from the Village of Livonia to the Town of Lakeville". It then added another 1.5 miles of sidings for a total of 3 miles. No equipment was owned. It was all run by the Erie RR from the start. This is from Poor.

By 1899 it was not being run at all.

The stops were, as you noted, Erie Jct and West Livonia. South Livonia, which was close to the salt mine at Livonia was already established and had a P.O.

A salt mine was put in Lakeville during this time but I can't find where. This is according to NYS Museum docs. You would think a place west of Livonia (that puts it near Lakeville) would be West Livonia. I can't find West Livonia as the USGS placename database.

Last edited by nydepot on Thu Nov 12, 2009 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by nydepot
erie2521 wrote:Mr. Blabey has nailed it. The fact that the Livonia and Lake Conesus RR was owned by the same people that owned the G&W ties it to the salt mine south of Van Zandt Road. The Conesus Lake RR was a separate entity from the L&LC. The Conesus Lake was leased by the Erie (who owned all of its stock) and was merged into the Erie on May 22, 1930. Ted
In my example, the Conesus Lake RR was only used as an example. I never said it was connected in any way. Both the CL and L&LC were built by others but run by the Erie.

  by nydepot
Found it. The mine in Lakeville was the Conesus Lake Salt & Mining Co. They dug 1053 feet to reach the bottom of the salt. From the NYS Museum docs.

Funny coincidence about the C.L. RR is that it was roughly 1.5 miles long with additional side tracks, same as the L&LC.

The Abandon RR Inventory of NYS has a section on the Livonia Salt area. The author said the tracks didn't seem to be laid out as they are shown on the Livingston County 1902 map for Livonia which put the siding at 1 mile long. The grade for siding seemed to start further south than the map and didn't curve back in to meet the Erie as shown on the map. It seemed to dead end in the field. He also felt there was at least two tracks (main + siding) and possibly additional tracks.

  by erie2521
My info about the Conesus Lake Railroad came from:
"The Erie System; Its Organization and Corporate History", by George H. Minor, pages 83-85. The original edition came out in 1911 and a later one in 1938. In 1911, Minor was Asst. General Solicitor for the Erie and by 1938, he was Vice President and Secretary of the Erie. It was copyrighted by the Erie Railroad so I would assume it is about as accurate as things are going to get - or at least were in 1938. The Rochester Chapter, NRHS has a copy of this book in its library (or will have when I return it-hopefully next week). This book also has sections on the Rochester and Genesee Valley; the Avon, Geneseo and Mt. Morris; and the various Corporate entities that were associated with the Corning and Attica branches.
As for the names Erie Jct., West Livonia etc, my guess is that Erie Jct. was where the L&LC connected with the Erie near the mine and needed an official name since both railroads were incorporated. (An employee timetable in the late 1890's for the Corning branch might have some info if such a thing still exists somewhere.) The name West Livonia could be because the mine was west of the Erie track. I haven't a clue what the original six mile projection was all about. South Livonia was about two miles south of the mine. Its main bid to fame was as a water stop for southbound freights before they renewed their assault on the climb to Wayland. South Livonia did have a depot until the 1920's or '30's, when it burned and also had a few warehouses and a coal dealer, at least. Ted
  by blabey
Thanks for the information. It is helpful.
Gene Blabey
  by VTM
The Lakeville "mine" was actually a brine operation. The amazing thing today is the fact that the dikes for the desalinization beds are still in place, albeit covered in brush and trees. The dike is rectangular in construction. It also has a separation dike in the center which effectively divides it into two sections.

A portion of the NW corner of the dike was removed within the last two years. It is located immediately south of the Conesus Lake Sportsman Club in Lakeville. I suspect they may own the parcel as well.

Several old NYS maps show the L&LC line in different ways. One map shows it in a straight line roughly from the S. Livonia salt mine due west to the shore of Conesus Lake. Another detailed NYS map showed a line diverging from the same location, thence in a northwesterly direction toward Lakeville. According to the map it would have intersected RT 20A about where Leisure's Restaurant is located today, connecting with what is today's LAL at a point roughly behind Sweeteners Plus. Anyone familiar with the topography of the area would conclude that a significant amount of grading would have to be performed to accomplish this latter route and that a cog railway or inclined plane would have to be constructed to facilitate the former.

I came across another map showing a proposed electric railroad from Rochester to Dansville which I was amazed to discover would have followed the latter route above along the LAL then through Leisure's. Rather than climbing out of the valley toward S. Livonia this was projected to run along the east side of Conesus Lake toward Scottsburg and eventually to Dansville. Unfortunately i did not buy the map.

I agree with Charles assessment of the track layout south of Van Zandt road. Several of us explored this location in the 60's and 70's when overgrowth was not so prevalent as today. The track was at a lower level than the adjacent Erie and as he says, seems to simply end in a field. When snow is on the ground you can see the massive Erie fill from RT 15 south of Van Zandt Road. As you look west from that point, the salt mine was behind the hill on your left. The L&LC roadbed was immediately on the opposite (west) side of the Erie at a substantially lower level. It could have served as a gravity drop track for loading operations. Other than a few old foundations, and some sketchy grading, there was really nothing much to see even at that time 40 + years ago. To my recollection, here was really no evidence of the connection to the Erie left. There was defintely no evidence of anything running to the west or northwest.

When we visited the site in the early 70's the whole perimeter of the property facing Van Zandt Road was posted with new, bright orange signs indicating the property owner was the International Salt Company.

There are photos of the mine in the Livonia Historical Society archives.