The Genesee River's source is a spring in Gold PA. It originally turned
east about three miles north of Avon taking the route of Honeoye Creek,
going through the town of Rush. Continuing east, it cut the path used by
Irondequoit Creek, then it turned north again to exit through Irondequoit
Bay into Lake Ontario. During the last Ice Age the river had its course
blocked by glacial deposits. It now follows a straighter northern
course, passing through the city of Rochester, entering into Lake Ontario
Water was by far the easiest way to travel. Indians coming north from the
Mississippi and Susquehanna Rivers they would travel down the Genesee to
the rapids at Red Creek in Genesee Valley Park. (These rapids disappeared
when the Court St. Dam was built to raise the water level for the Erie
Canal.) To avoid the rapids and the three falls of the Genesee they would
portage along the route of Highland Ave. to Indian Landing on Irondequoit
Creek, and from here they could go out through Irondequoit Bay to Lake
Ontario. This was a very important trade route for the Indians.
French explorer La Salle sails up Irondequoit Bay to Ellison Park looking
for Indian guides to show him the water route inland. They are hospitable,
but refuse to show him the way.
William and Mehitabel Hincher, and their seven children move into a log
cabin that they had built the previous summer. The Hinchers were the first
permanent white settlers along the lakeshore between the Genesee River
and Fort Niagara.
Elkana Watson proposes opening natural waterways allowing navigation from
Mohawk River to Wood Creek, to Oneida Lake, to the Oswego River an then
to Lake Ontario.
Project has moved navigation from Schenectady 184 miles to Seneca Falls.
Locks are made of wood, then brick, and finally of stone.
First schooner, the 'Jemima', built on Genesee River.
John Tryon buys land from Salmon Tryon (they may be brothers, or not related)
for £400. Tryon City founded near Indian Landing on ancient Indian
trail, in present Ellison Park. Trade route moved to Upper Falls area,
and Tryon never grew. Site abandoned in 1818
Charlotte established on west side of river at Lake Ontario as a trading
Col. Isaac Castle , James Wadsworth establishes Castletown, two miles above
the falls at the rapids that end the navigable section of the river. Located
on the west side of river, opposite the University of Rochester, River
Campus. A major Indian trail coming from Ohio also crossed the river at
this point and is today Elmwood Ave. The majority of its population is
riverboat men and 'canallers'. Their rough lifestyle gave the community
a notorious reputation.
Charlotte established as Port of Entry by U.S. Congress.
Samuel Latta appointed Custom's Agent for the Port of Genesee by President
Thomas Jefferson. Latta was also the local agent for Pulteney Estates.
First years revenue for the Port of Genesee $22.50
$100,000 in wheat, pork, and whisky pass through the Port of Genesee.
State directs Surveyor General Simeon DeWitt to survey route for a canal
between the Hudson River and Lake Erie.
Carthage settled on the east bank of Genesee just below the Lower Falls.
Later called Brewers Dock, or the 1000 Acre Tract. Brewer's Dock was located
in the gorge at the end of Brewer St. Center of commerce with Canada and
the west. Specialized in shipping and shipbuilding. Carthage had taverns,
stores, a school, and mills.
Oliver Culver builds a 47 ton schooner 'Clarissa' on Clover St. near East
Ave., It takes 26 oxen to drag it to Irondequoit Bay.
Canal Commission borrows $5,000,000 to improve internal navigation of the
state. War of 1812 stops work.
13 British ships approach Charlotte. 33 local militia fake larger force,
and refuse to surrender. Fleet sends officer in boat, but no British are
allowed to land.
Hanford's Landing founded, one mile north of Carthage on west bank, also
called Kings Landing is the main port on the river. Settlement abandoned
after 'Genesee Fever' (Malaria) kills many. Hansford Landing Cemetery is
located on the edge of the gorge, across Lake Ave. from Kodak Park.
Canal project revived.
The 'Ontario' is the first steamboat to enter the Port of Rochester.
Johnson and Seymour Dam built to provide water for raceways to power mills
on both side of river at present Court St. Dam. River elevation is set
at 503.2 feet.
Erie Canal Bill signed
Construction of the Erie Canal. Original canal is 363 miles long, 28 '
wide at the bottom, 40' wide at the surface of the water, 4' deep. The
locks were 90' long by 12 feet wide. Traveling night and day the boats
could travel 80 miles in 24 hours. Fare with all expenses passage was 4
cents per mile.
Port of Rochester earns $380,000.
The routes for the Erie Canal and the Genesee River Feeder Canal are surveyed
through Rochester by Thomas Hutchinson.
Nathan Roberts runs the canal from the Seneca River to Rochester, David
Stanhope Bates is Division Engineer on the Irondiquoit section, and John
Jervis is Resident Engineer on the middle section.
Nearly 1,000 Erie Canal workers die of malaria in the Montezuma Swamp.
Construction begins on Erie Canal Aqueduct at site of Indian ford, it was
built by 30 convicts from Auburn Prison. Span is 804 feet long, had eleven
arches, and is constructed of cut stone. The waterway is seventeen feet
wide, four feet deep and twenty nine feet wide overall. Built at a cost
Feeder Canal is built on east side of the river from the site of University
of Rochester's chapel to the intersection of Mt Hope and South Ave. This
canal brought water to feed the canal and bypassed the rapids. This eliminated
the need for cargo to be transferred, ending the usefulness of Castletown
which was eventually absorbed into Rochester.
First canal boat of flour leaves for Little Falls. October 29
Dams are built at Honeoye Lake, Canadice Lake, Hemlock Lake and Conesus
Lake to store water for use by the canal. This water supply was no
longer needed in 1825 when the canal could use Lake Erie as a source. The
dams were abandoned to private users.
After William's death, Mehetable Hincher sells three and one third acres
to the U.S. Government for $400.00.
The stone Lighthouse tower and a two room house for the keeper are built
close to the lake on a bluff above the marsh. The forty foot tower is equipped
with ten whale oil lamps.
Canal reaches Rochester and the Aqueduct is ready to carry traffic over
the Genesee River. Construction starts July 17, 1822, and is completed
Nov. 11, 1823 at a cost of $83,000. Building the canal to cross over the
Genesee was considered an engineering marvel, and one of the biggest obstacles
to the canal's completion. Towpath is on north side. Aqueduct is
so narrow only one boat can cross. Boats fight over right of way -- men
are pushed overboard, and towropes to mules are cut.
The weighlock was built. It was a special lock designed so that the water
displaced by the loaded canal boat in the closed lock, could be measured,
and used to asses fees for canal use -- a nineteenth century tollbooth.
It was located near the site of the Rundel Library, on the east side of
Monroe Ave. Lock is in operation from 1823 to 1919 when the canal is re-routed
Canal causes a 90 per cent drop in shipping costs.
Local millers grind 25,000 bushels of wheat -- daily.
In the first ten days that the canal is opened 40,000 barrels of Rochester
flour are shipped to Albany and New York.
Canal and mill raceways divert water from falls, which is cut to half its
First steamboat on the Genesee is the 'Erie Canal'. The side-wheeler takes
two days for the trip between Geneseo and Rochester.
'Canawlers' dock boats at Castletown and calmer Eastern Widewaters, where
small communities thrive during the winter.
Oct 26, Govenor DeWitt Clinton officially opens the Erie Canal.
Oct 27, Govenor Clinton's flotilla reaches Rochester on it's way to New
Jun 7 , The Marquis de Lafayette, touring America, arrives in Rochester,
New York, on
the Governor Clinton, via the Erie Canal.
Erastus Bearcup is arrested for shouting obscenities at ladies on a passing
First dam built at Mt Morris.
9,000,000 board feet of lumber sawed in Rochester mills. Logs are brought
up the Genesee in the from of large rafts. Raftsmen and Canalmen do not
First village directory lists 8 hotels, 9 saw mills, 8 canal basins, 2
dry docks, and machinery to lift canal boats out of the water for repairs.
City is home port for 160 canal boats
The Spring House built on Monroe Ave. by Mr. Tousy. Named for the sulfur
and mineral springs near by. The site has been used for 3,000 years. The
resort featured bowling alleys and an amusement pavilion. This classic
Erie Canal inn, once claimed "Buffalo Bill" Cody as a regular patron while
he lived in the city.
10 steamboats landing 5 times per week at Carthage.
First Mt Morris Dam washes out. Rebuilt fourteen feet high. Dam has lock
100' long, 18' wide to allow boats and rafts to pass.
Two piers are built into the lake at the mouth of the river to allow ships
of a draft greater than 8 feet to cross a sand bar. The piers extend approximately
2,850 feet out, forming a 15 foot deep channel. The piers were 20'x 30'
and made of wood. The river is navigable to lake boats for a distance of
2 1/ 2 miles up stream.
1835 - 1862
Due to the success of the canal it was enlarged. 52 1/2' at the bottom,
70' at the surface, and 7' deep. Locks were now 110' long and 18 feet wide,
allowing passage of boats carrying 250 tons of freight. Locks were built
Steam boat 'Genesee' built. Operates from the rapids to Geneseo.
20 flour mills produce 500,000 barrels annually.
Construction of Genesee Valley Canal begins. Junction of the two canals
is at West Main St.
Panic of 1837 hits economy - mills move west. Grading of Buffalo St. (Main
St.) is first work offered for unemployed.
Larger, second Aqueduct built after demolition of leaking first structure.
Canal is made thirty six feet wide, and seven feet deep with improved locks.
The two arches at the western end were rebuilt as a wall of solid masonry.
Overall length of this aqueduct is 858 feet.
Genesee Valley Canal opens to Mt Morris. Built as a North-South compliment
to the Erie Canal to avoid problems on the 'crazy' Genesee.
Phineas Cook, who used a cable and windlass to pull the ferry across the
river, operated the first ferry across the mouth of the Genesee.
A Fresnel lens replaced the ten Argan whale oil lamps in the lighthouse.
The old wooden stairs are replaced by cast iron steps, and a new larger
house is built with a slate roof and two chimneys. The bricked up windows
on the front facade were an architectural device for visual balance.
Charlotte Branch of the New York Central extends to the Lake.
Genesee Valley Canal reaches Olean. Pennsylvania does not want the expense
required to continue proposed water route to Ohio, and the railroads were
already hauling the freight, so the canal system was never finished.
Lake Ontario Shore Railroad builds swing bridge over river at Charlotte.
Bridge could be moved by one man with a pole.
The 'Yosemite' replaces original ferry at mouth of the Genesee River.
Operated by G. B. Manning.
Genesee Valley Canal closes.
Feb. 15, Lighthouse discontinued. The lighthouse has 'moved' so far inland
that it is useless. Feb. 15th is it's last day of operation. A new light
is built on the west pier.
Tolls are no longer collected on the canal. With the cost of the canal,
including improvements at $49,590,000
the canal realized a profit of $52,599,000.
Rochester Yacht Club opens.
Army Engineers conduct survey to see if Port of Rochester should be moved
to the larger, safer, and more convenient Irondequoit Bay. Study
said that the present port was able to handle the projected future traffic,
and there was no need to waste government money.
The ferry 'Yosemite' is caught by breaking spring ice, and is carried out
into the lake, and lost.
Windsor Ferry begins service across mouth Genesee River in Charlotte. The
500' trip takes seven minutes. Ferry is 75' long by 50' wide and
will carry 200 passengers and vehicles. Steam engine on board, pulls the
ship across the channel using a one inch diameter chain.
Work begins to increase canal depth to 9'. Construction stops in 1898 when
money runs out.
Construction workers deepening of the Erie Canal in Pittsford expose a
layer of black shale and interbedded dolomite. This formation was named
Pittsford Shale in 1903, and is noted for the large numbers of a relatively
rare and exotic fossil known as eurypterids or sea scorpions.
A new swing bridge for the Railroad is built.
Ferries 'Ontario' and Ontario II run between Charlotte and Coburg, Canada.
They carried coal in railroad cars, automobiles, and passengers.
Erie Canal moves out of the city of Rochester, and is re-routed to the
Court Street Dam built. Fixes the water level at 512.6 feet for sixty miles
June 4, canal is formally abandoned, city offered land.
River bed is widened above the Court Street Dam to form the Rochester Harbor.
Material is used to fill in the canal feeder along the east bank
Contracts are let for canal construction in the Rochester area.