• "East X" and "West X" near Geneva

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by Richard1
When the Geneva & Lyons branch was built in 1878, a connecting track was built to the Auburn branch about two miles north of Geneva. A New York Central timetable appearing in the Geneva Courier dated May 14, 1879 shows West X between Oaks Corners and Geneva, or six minutes running time. West X was at Milepost 54.75 on the Auburn Road and was exactly two miles west of Geneva (M.P. 52.75) and Oaks Corners (Milepost 57.75. East X is at Milepost 11.5 running south from Lyons and exactly 3.25 miles north of Geneva. This cross-over was gone by the 1904 Ontario County Atlas.
This is an excerpt from the Geneva Courier of May 21, 1879:
"A short distance west of the village of Geneva is a piece of road in the form of the letter X, the west end converging at Lyons, the east one on the new road, that runs from Geneva to Lyons, and the north and south ones on the Auburn road. In this way trains, if necessary, can each the points desired without passing Geneva, and so save quite a distance. At Geneva the road connects with the Lehigh Valley and the road that runs down the west side of Seneca Lake. The Lehigh Valley trains run over the new road to Lyons, and duing the business season sometimes as many as thirty coal trains a day pass both ways over the line."
Existing explanations are rather ambiguous and don't give a satisfactory answer. It is said that the purpose this junction point of the Auburn Road with the Geneva & Lyons line was to allow heavy coal and freight trains on the Auburn Road to avoid the long, sharp curve and grade in Geneva. It appears to have been installed at the time the Geneva & Lyons was built. An "X" would indicate this junction was bi-directional...warrants more research and locating maps. It is said that this spur or connection intersected, crossing today's Route 14 at a place called Skuse's Corners.
Also, maybe someone could explain the purpose of an "X" configured junction or crossover. Anyone have a good track chart of this area? The oldest existing topographic map doesn't show it. While on the subject of the Geneva & Lyons line, what's to become of it? Norfolk Southern took it out of service a couple of years ago.
  by RussNelson
I found that Cornell has some historic aerial photos in the area of interest, and ... I found this interesting curve on the 1938 map:
http://library24.library.cornell.edu:82 ... t/s/0e373c (See the attached screenshot). I added it to OpenStreetMap so you can see exactly where it went: http://www.openstreetmap.org/browse/way/91619631 I looked on the modern aerial photo, and you can see a bit of a shadow in the field still. There's a little creek just about where the line turns from ENE to E to parallel the road which doesn't exist anymore. I'll bet there is some evidence of a culvert or bridge there. There's no evidence on the topo map, but that just says that the guy who drew it didn't see a RR on the historic map, and didn't see anything in the aerial photo. Not surprising given how flat it is there.

Trouble with this line is that it's only one leg of the X, and not even the one that makes sense for coal trains to avoid the 110° corner in Geneva. And per the description it's not X shaped. But wouldn't X shaped imply a diamond in the middle? Or were they talking about the larger scheme of things? So now look a little further south on that 1938 photo. You can see a slanted line coming off the Auburn Branch heading toward the Lyons Branch. On the west side of 14 it's continuous from the railroad over to 14. Less obviously so on the east side of 14. BUT you can see that the area which is now wooded from there to the Lyons Branch used to be a well-plowed field. It's quite plausible that our crossing went through that field.

Unfortunately, none of this rampant speculation explains West X.
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  by RussNelson
Re-reading your description with a map in front of me, none of the Geneva Courier text makes sense. Lyons is due north of Geneva. Something cannot be already "a short distance west of the village of Geneva" and go west to Lyons ("the west end converging at Lyons").

Could the author have meant "A short distance east"??
  by RussNelson
I GOT IT! I GOT IT! GO ME! Hooray Russ!!

Look at that picture closely. The east end of it is a WYE! Just as it curves to the north, an equal and opposite branch curves to the south. Once you know it's there it pops right out. Now look at the west end. It continues to follow the road, and cuts over north of the patch of woods to meet up with the other line. It's two wyes connected by their tails, shaped like an X!!

Woo hoo!
  by RussNelson
In case you can't see it from the photo I attached earlier, I've highlighted it in this aerial photo. Looking at the modern aerial photos, it's not so obvious, but you can see traces there, too. I suspect that a site visit will confirm the X.
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  by BR&P
Very interesting.

East X was a station where Packwood Road crosses the Corning line, and was listed in ETT's even into Conrail days although of course any building was long gone.

The West X station is suspected to have been a ways east of Carter Road crossing and the OP's reference of MP 54.75 would bear that out. I have seen one photo of the station sign at West X but without enough detail to show much else.

The western leg of the Auburn Road wye is still clearly visible from FGLK property at about MP 53.85. I will look for any remaining sign of the eastern leg next time I'm out there. (Remember the Auburn Road was timetable east-west - in the area of the wye it's closer to north-south by compass)

On the Fall Brook side the south leg would have been right about where Hessney's Auctioneers place is and I don't believe there is any trace left. No idea about the north leg. It's my understanding some parts of that line between Geneva and Lyons were re-located slightly east of the original layout so it's possible the wye did not connect to the Corning (NS) line which is there now.
  by RussNelson
The north leg seems to have a very short section that still exists. However, the NS seems to have had a siding going up to the (now destroyed) industrial plant with silos. That siding went through the north leg, so I expect that there's little to see of the north leg.
  by RussNelson
Richard1 asked me to post this photo of a NYC Loco. On the back is stamped:

C.Å. Lane Telegrapher
West X, Geneva

New York Central Locomotive #129
Marker on right has "West" over the
"X" with eagle on top of it.
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  by BR&P
Today I was able to briefly explore the point at which the east leg of the wye would have connected with the Auburn Road. While there is not a clearly defined roadbed as there is at the west leg, there IS a widening of flat ground where the track would have diverged. Fighting through brush a few carlengths farther, there is still NYC-type wire fence roughly defining what would have been the north (compass almost east) property line. Unfortunately I did not have time to get to where the east and west legs would have met but from the Auburn Road it looks like there MIGHT be old roadbed which would have been about where the tail track switch would have been. While I have not explored the Fallbrook side of this layout, personally I'm convinced that it was at one time just as Russ has laid out on his post above.
  by BR&P
"West X was at Milepost 54.75 on the Auburn Road and was exactly two miles west of Geneva (M.P. 52.75)"

This would indicate that in 1879 the Geneva station of the Auburn Road was at a different location from later on. MP 53 is just east (south) of Gambee Road so the "Geneva" location would have been about at Gates Ave.
  by RussNelson
So .... I took my GPS receiver and loaded the path as I figured it from the aerial photo. Went for a walk this afternoon. On the northeast leg, there's a treeline which has a raised railbed and drainage ditches. On a scale of 1-5, I'd give it about a 3 where 1 is nothing at all. On the southeast leg, the only thing I could imagine I saw was the west side of the drainage ditch looked a little bit lower where we expected it to be. Give that a 2. On the southwest leg, there's a tiny bit of embankment in the field, but you have to squint pretty hard. When the ROW leaves the field, I saw 1) a fence, and 2) a rail embedded in the ground with about 4" showing. That fence continued to the existing railroad. There was a culvert made of rough-cut rocks which looked old enough, and the drainage ditch moved away from the railbed. Give that a 4 of 5.

The big winner is the northwest leg. Not only was the drainage ditch filled-in where the leg hit the existing railbed; not only was there an obvious embankment curving away from the railbed; not only was I able to trace that crossing a farmer's road; but there was a sheet-metal sign mounted to a rail as a sign post sitting on the embankment. 5 of 5, we have a winner!

Kudos to Richard Palmer for finding out about this line in the first place.
  by BR&P
I don't think there is much doubt the double wye was just as drawn in green by Russ several posts back. The Auburn Road ends of both legs are still obvious as he notes, and while the traces are less obvious on the old Fallbrook, the aerial shot in the second post shows pretty distinct evidence of the wye there.

To me, the biggest puzzle now is not where the tracks went, but why they were removed at such an early date. I have seen discussion from early 1900's - can't recall if it was a newspaper article or testimony on the elimination of East X as a passenger stop - which tells of a fatal grade crossing accident and noting the crossing has been abandoned. The original poster says it was gone by 1904. Things were far, far busier in those days and the benefits of this arrangement were surely not obsolete at that time. Likewise, the railroads in general were a powerful force and it's hard to believe one crossing fatality would have led to removal of the connection.

Such a track arrangement, were it still there, would certainly be a benefit to Finger Lakes Railway's operation today.
  by RussNelson
I posted a link to this from the Abandoned Rails group over on Facebook, and Sean Angelo points out that signs like the one I found on the NW leg can be found "up and down the Auburn Road right of way, I believe they are old No Trespassing signs from NYC days." I couldn't see anything printed on the sign, but maybe that's because it was on the other side, away from the railroad?