Corner of Railroad Ave and East Ave
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Opened as Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg RR, 1876. Fruit shipments by rail made Hilton prosper & grow. Last train ran March 31, 1978.
By the County of Monroe — Date unknown
What was there
Railroad Avenue in Hilton used to be a segment of the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad, commonly, but not officially referred to as the “Hojack Line.” It served the agricultural northern towns along Lake Ontario, of which the Erie Canal, located south, did not cater to. A slow freight and passenger train, the Hojack had a 100 year history of servicing farmers and mercantiles on the northern counties from Niagara Falls to Oswego. Towns along Lake Ontario prospered as passengers could come to their lakeside resorts and villages, and Orchards could ship produce easily across the state.
What is there now
Because of its slow speed, the construction of better north-south roads in the state, and consolidation in the rail industry, the route fell into neglect, and the line into bankruptcy.
Today, most of the track has been abandoned, including the stretch along the Genesee River in Rochester that extended down to Seneca Park, and the Hojack Swing Bridge that sits in the middle of the Genesee at Charlotte. Some of the line is being used by other RR companies, as utility right-of-ways, or sits abandoned. Much of the track has been converted to trails, including the El Camino Trail in Rochester that now follows the Genesee tract along the east side of the river.
The path of the line still cuts away through communities along the lake and evidence of its economic impact can be seen through all the abandoned or re-purposed factories and storehouses along the way. Following the Hojack Avenue through Hilton, one can see all the former factories and stores that prospered along the line. The Hilton Station now serves several small business, including a salon. A milepost marker, “P 104” still stands along the route in the village.
- Although there are several legends for the origin of the name “Hojack”, including a few involving an engineer whose name was Jack, and called out “Ho!” The name was most likely a local term for a slow freight line.
- Its second nickname was the “White Elephant Line” because of its high cost of upkeep and problematic returns.
- El Camino Trail
- Hojack Article on Railfan
- Mileposts and segment abandoned timeline
- Webster Trails Hojack Story
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