Brief overview of the railroad history before Ontario Pathways:
The two “legs” of Ontario Pathways, the Canandaigua Leg and the Phelps Leg, are both rail corridors dating back to the mid 1800’s.
The Canandaigua Leg
- In 1845 a charter was granted to the Canandaigua and Corning Railroad Company to build a railroad line from Jefferson (later known as Watkins Glen) to Canandaigua.
- 1850 saw a name change to the Canandaigua & Elmira Railroad Company.
- September 15, 1851 the rail line was completed into Canandaigua. This is the Canandaigua leg of present day Ontario Pathways.
- April 23, 1857 Canandaigua & Elmira RR was sold at foreclosure.
- May 2, 1857 it became The Elmira, Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad Company.
- February 18, 1859 sold at foreclosure it became The Elmira, Jefferson and Canandaigua Railroad Company.
- May 1, 1866 this line was leased to the Northern Central Railroad.
- May 9, 1872 Northern Central Railroad purchases the EJ&C
The Phelps Leg
- 1852 The Sodus Point and Southern Railroad surveyed the route and was granted a charter to build. It would be 19 more years before track work was started.
- 1872 the tracks and infrastructure were in place for the trains to run from Stanley to Sodus Point.
- 1875 reorganized as The Ontario Southern Railroad Company.
- 1879 it was consolidated with the Geneva, Hornellsville and Pine Creek Railway Company to form The Lake Ontario Southern Railway Company.
- 1882 sold at foreclosure again. Was bought by A.H. Harriman who reorganized it to become The Sodus Bay and Southern Railroad Company.
- 1884 this line was sold to The Northern Central Railroad
Shared history after the two combined to one:
- 1884 both rail beds were part of The Northern Central Railroad
- 1913 The Northern Central Railroad is incorporated into The Pennsylvania Railroad system, becoming the Elmira Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
- 1968 Pennsylvania Railroad merges with The New York Central Railroad forming Penn Central
- 1970 Penn Central files for bankruptcy
- 1974 Penn Central abandonment of the lines results in the removal of tracks and rails.
- 1994 Newly formed Ontario Pathways negotiates the purchase of the unsold railroad right of ways.
[compiled May 2016 by Tim Wilbur; updated January 2019]