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A Visit to the Corning Secondary: Corning to Geneva

Near Billsboro, N.Y., the railroad runs less than 50 feet from the shore of Seneca Lake making for fantastic scenery and photo compositions. This location is shot from the shoulder of Route 14, about one-third mile south of the intersection of Armstrong Road, just past the Billsboro Winery on October 13, 2019. Jackson Glozer photo

A Visit to the Corning Secondary: Corning to Geneva

March 2020By Jackson Glozer/photos as noted

Located in New York State’s beautiful Finger Lakes region, Norfolk Southern’s Corning Secondary extends approximately 57 miles from Corning north to Geneva, N.Y., where there is an interchange with Finger Lakes Railway. From Geneva the line continues north to Lyons, where it connects with the CSX Rochester Subdivision (Chicago Line), however this portion of the line is out of service.

The Syracuse, Geneva & Corning Railroad was chartered August 27, 1875, and was completed from Corning to Geneva in 1877, connecting the Delaware Lackawanna & Western in Corning with the New York Central and the Lehigh Valley in Geneva. In 1878 the Geneva & Lyons railroad was completed. This allowed coal to be brought from the coal fields of Pennsylvania to a coaling facility on the New York Central mainline in Lyons.  In 1881 the SG&C was leased to the Fall Brook Coal Company, a coal mining and distribution company based out of Fall Brook, PA, for 20 years. In 1885 the railroad was merged with the Penn Yann & New York Railroad, which was eventually leased to the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad in 1899. Finally in 1914, the line was merged into the New York Central.

Norfolk Southern Corning Secondary

Norfolk Southern’s H06 local is returning to Corning from Geneva after interchanging with the Finger Lakes Railway, October 20, 2019. Baker Yard here is filled with stored Railbox and TTX well cars. Once the H06 crew receives permission from dispatch, they will proceed onto the Southern Tier Line towards Gang Mills Yard where they will tie up. Joseph Cermak photo

This story will cover the upper portion of the Corning Secondary between Corning and Geneva. The Corning Secondary also extended further south through Corning and southward to Williamsport, Pa, through the Pine Creek Gorge, also known as the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.” Into the Conrail era, the line hosted a daily through freight (SYEN/ENSY) between Syracuse, N.Y., and Enola, Pa., plus coal trains originating from the central Pennsylvania coal fields, originating from Williamsport area. However, the southern portion of the line was abandoned by Conrail on October 7, 1988, following retirement of Vice President Operations Richard Hasselman, a former New York Central man. A portion of the southern segment is still in service as short line Wellsboro & Corning between Gang Mills and Wellsboro Jct. (and onward into Wellsboro).

Norfolk Southern Train H06 is the six-day-a-week (except Saturday) Corning–Geneva interchange train, which is the only train to run the entire length of the line. The Finger Lakes Railway also operates Train HW-2 from Geneva south to Himrod Junction. From there HW-2 operates over Finger Lakes (former Pennsylvania Railroad Elmira Branch) trackage down into the village of Watkins Glen on the shore of Seneca Lake to serve American Salt. This train runs on an as-needed basis, usually three days a week between the FGLK yard at Himrod Jct. and Watkins Glen, but less frequently over NS between Himrod Jct. and Geneva, usually at night. The FGLK Himrod crew occasionally also operates north-west of Himrod Jct. on the former PRR Elmira Branch to serve an agricultural customer at Penn Yan, N.Y….

March 2020Read the rest of this story in the March 2020 issue of Railpace Newsmagazine!

This article was posted on: February 27, 2020