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Lyons Bridge

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.

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

The RS&E was completed between Rochester and Lyons, a distance of 36 miles, for $2 million by March 1905. 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, to Port Byron by late 1910, 4 6 and to the New York State Fairgrounds west of Syracuse in 1911. 6 The total cost for the interurban was around $7 million. 2

Generally, the RS&E paralleled the New York Central Railroad and the Erie Canal, and only had one grade crossing with another railroad for its entire length. 3

In June 1910, the interurban announced plans for the construction of shops and buildings, and the erection of four stations at Lyons, Newark, Fairport, and Brighton. 6 Each passenger station would have a waiting room for 35 persons, have a freight house measuring 50 feet by 20 feet, and cost $16,000. The buildings were completed later in the year.

The RS&E never made a profit in its 25-year history because of its high construction costs of $144,000 per mile and its inability to attract a sizable freight business because of the competing New York Central Railroad. 2 Additionally, gasoline-powered automobiles began to chip away at the passenger business. Financial problems forced the RS&E to merge with the Auburn & Northern Electric Railroad and the Syracuse, Lake Shore & Northern Railroad to form Empire United Railways. 2 The new company failed in 1915 and was dissolved into individual interurbans a year later. 3 Beebe soon 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. 7 The railroad bridge superstructures were later removed.

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

Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern interurban


  • State: New York
  • Route: Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Rapid Interurban
  • Type: Warren through truss
  • Status: Active - Other
  • Spans:


  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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