by Richard H. Jordan III/photos by the author
Welcome to the Albert H. Knapp Rotary Pavilion in Fairport, New York, milepost 361 on CSX’s Rochester Subdivision and two miles west of where the West Shore Subdivision peels away from the mainline (it rejoins the mainline at milepost 382, near Churchville, N.Y.). A clean, safe and wonderful place to spend time watching and talking about trains.
Fairport has been a favorite place to watch trains for well over a century. With the New York Central mainline from New York to Chicago, the West Shore Railroad, and for a while in the early 20th century, the Rochester Syracuse & Eastern electric interurban paralleling each other through town, the action didn’t stop for long, and doesn’t now. Tonnage on this line is heavy, with about 40 trains per day including eight Amtrak trains. Traffic includes double-stacks, TOFC, merchandise freights, refrigerated perishables, crude oil, ethanol, grain, salt, sand, steel, lumber, plastic pellets, garbage, scrap metal, dimensional loads, military, and run-through-power. The locals based out of CSX’s Goodman Street Yard in Rochester use cabooses for reverse moves. Fairport has a lot to see and photograph, including action on the nearby NY State Barge Canal (a.k.a. the Erie Canal)!
The idea for a rail viewing platform was formed back in 2006 by the Fairport Perinton Partnership for a Better Community. The group did their homework and talked with CSX, railroad communities with platforms, and asked railfans what was needed. CSX became interested in the project to promote safety and to curtail trespassing on their tracks/property through the village. Fairport was interested in adding another attraction to its already long list of Erie Canal tourist destinations.
Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited (Train 48) blasts by at 10:07 a.m. on November 29, 2020
Once the location and design was agreed upon, the FPP began fundraising and received $2,500 from the Fairport Rotary, $30,000 from the Fairport Perinton Merchants Association, and a $10,000 grant from CSX. The remaining balance of the $125,000 construction cost was provided by the Village of Fairport and the Fairport Office of Community and Economic Development. Just Solutions, a local tech firm, takes care of monthly internet costs. They also installed the electronics for the Virtual Railfan internet feed with help from Fairport Electric. Fairport Electric fabricated two benches from train axles/wheels donated by CSX from nearby Goodman Street Yard. They also picked up, refurbished and installed the signal from the defunct CSX hump at Frontier Yard in Buffalo, NY. Conner Short, a local rail enthusiast, was successful with a GoFundMe drive to fund a radio scanner, antennae, and speaker, which got installed and is now running 24/7…