Article From the Winter 2005 Issue of
The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
We heard from two readers after the Fall issue of HEADEND arrived at readers’ homes. A phone call from Dwight Bliss brought us some more information on the ferries that once carried freight and passengers across the mouth of the Genesee River in Charlotte. Our reproduction of a 1927 issue of New York State Railways’ "Transportation News" stated that ferry service across the Genesee began before 1877 and that the name of the craft was the Windsor. The article went on to say that "the present ferry was built by Doyle, in 1894, and has been in constant operation since, during the summer months", but it isn’t clear if the original Windsor ruled the waves all the way to the 1894 of the "new" Windsor. Dwight tells us that another ferry, the Yosemite, operated there and he understands that it finished its useful life around 1885. The Yosemite measured 40 feet by 28 feet, and like the other ferries was steam powered and used a chain to pull itself across the river. We’ll have to do more research on this. If the Yosemite held down the job until 1885, what was used until 1894? Could there have been a third Windsor?
Dwight says that when their service life was over, both the Windsor and the Yosemite were pushed upriver to the marsh just north of Rattlesnake Point on the eastern shore of the Genesee. There, they were stripped of equipment and usable superstructure. In 1922 Stuart Sill, a marine contractor operating out of Sodus, New York, bought the remaining portion of the Windsor from the New York Central Railroad and used it as a barge for about ten years. Finally, the spent remains were shoved to the south shore of Sodus Bay and left to rot. The Windsor’s last vestiges may still be with us, decaying into the ooze, with the ferry’s role in the commercial vitality of Charlotte lost on motorists as they zip across the brand new O’Rourke draw bridge.
Member Ann Stear wrote to say she appreciates that our articles are written "so that they are easily understandable by non-specialists like me". That’s a good reminder that our museum’s mission isn’t to satisfy only highly-informed enthusiasts. Saving and presenting the transportation history of our part of the country is aimed at enlightening a broad cross-section of the
public. We’re wise to remember this as we move toward trolley operations, as we put new exhibits in place, and as we prepare each issue of this journal.
Ms. Stear went on to suggest that we routinely include our location and simple directions to follow. We’ll take that to heart. Some of us can find our way to the museum blindfolded, but most area residents aren’t that familiar with rural Rush, NY. The info box in each issue of HEADEND sometimes gets shortened for space reasons. We’ll try to do a better job in future issues. Thanks for your compliments and suggestions, Ms. Stear!
As Rochesterians wonder whether the fast ferry will resume its service
across Lake Ontario to Toronto, here’s a view of the steamship Ontario I,
that operated from June 6, 1908 until 1950, carrying rail cars of coal
as well as passengers and autos between Rochester and Cobourg, Ontario.