Lyons Bridge (Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Rapid Railroad)

Lyons Bridge (Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Rapid Railroad)

The former Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Bridge carried the Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Rapid interurban (RS&E) over the Erie Canal in Lyons, New York. 1

The RS&E was constructed through Lyons Rochester east to Auburn. It also connected the communities of East Rochester, Newark, Egypt, Fairport and Palmyra. The tracks paralleled the New York Central Railroad (NYC) and the Erie Canal, and only had one grade crossing with another railroad for its entire length. 3

The RS&E was part of the Beebe Syndicate, a group of 12 high-speed interurban railroads that stretched from Buffalo east through Rochester and Syracuse, then north to Oswego on Lake Ontario. 2 Approval for construction was granted by the New York State Board of Railroad commissioners on September 1, 1902 4 for a double-track interurban which could handle electric cars at 70 miles per hour. 5

In March 1905, the RS&E announced that the line had been completed between Rochester and Lyons, a distance of 36 miles, for $2 million. 5 It included the erection of several bridges that were ordered from the Owego Bridge Company at a cost of $10,500 to $12,000 each. More than 1,000 workers labored on the project, which opened on January 1, 1906 to revenue traffic. By 1907, the RS&E had opened between Rochester and Clyde, with work continuing to Port Byron. 4

The company announced plans in June 1910 for the construction of shops and buildings, and the erection of four stations at Lyons, Newark, Fairport and Brighton. Each station, costing $16,000, was to have a waiting room that could hold 35 persons, and a freight section measuring 50 feet by 20 feet. The buildings were completed later in the year. 6 The RS&E was finished to Port Byron later in the year. It opened to the New York State Fairgrounds just west of Syracuse in 1911. The total cost for the interurban was around $7 million. 2

The RS&E never made a profit in its 25-year history. 2 The interurban could not repay its high construction costs, which totaled $144,000 per mile, nor could it attract sizable freight business because of the competing NYC. Additionally, gasoline-powered automobiles began to chip away at the passenger business.

Financial issues forced the RS&E to merge with the Auburn & Northern Electric Railroad and the Syracuse, Lake Shore & Northern Railroad, forming Empire United Railways. 2 The new company failed in 1915 and was dissolved into individual interurbans a year later. 3

Beebe withdrew from interurban operations and the railroad was reorganized as the Rochester & Syracuse Railroad in 1917. 3 It remained in operation until June 27, 1931 when it was abandoned. 7 The railroad bridge superstructures were later removed.

Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern interurban

A Warren truss bridge to carry a gas pipeline was constructed on some of the piers of the RS&E Bridge in 1956. 1

  1. United States Department of the Interior, National Register of Historic Places. New York State Barge Canal Historic District.
  2. “Perinton Hike-Bikeway.” Foot Print Press, 2011.
  3. Hilton, George Woodman; Due, John Fitzgerald. The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Stanford University Press, 1960. p. 314.
  4. Beauchamp, Rev. William Martin. Past and present of Syracuse and Onondaga county, New York. Vol 1, New York: S. J. Clarke Publishing, 1908.
  5. “36 Miles Ready by 1 January Next.” Post-Standard [Syracuse], 6 Mar. 1905.
  6. Electric Railway Journal. Vol. 35, June 1910.
  7. McFarlane, James R. The Story of the Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Railroad and Associated Lines. Central Electric Railfans Association, 2010.

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