The Genesee Valley Greenway Passport

Since 2014, the Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway (FOGVG) and State Parks staff have teamed up with Wegmans’ to offer a series of Greenway hikes which a trail visitor can “register” in special passport booklets, available at Wegmans’ stores. 14 plaques set atop 4 by 4 posts are located throughout the Greenway, Hikers can make a rubbing in their passport booklet on the page for the particular hike. The posts are coordinated with maps and descriptions of the hikes listed in the passport.

Each person who uses a passport to complete at least six of the listed hikes is eligible to be entered in a drawing to receive a coupon redeemable for Wegmans’ brand products. The annual drawing is held the first Saturday in May at the FOGVG I Love My Park Day event.

Participants who complete at least ten Greenway hikes may enter an annual grand prize drawing for a free Empire Passport, provided by FOGVG. The Empire Passport enables free vehicle access to all participating NYS Parks for one year.

Hikers may enjoy the trail at any time, or may join an organized hike group. Check the Springwater Trails calendar, the Genesee Valley Greenway State Park events, and other hiking group calendars.

Ask for a GVG State Park Passport at: Wegmans’ store in Rochester, Geneseo and Hornell; Letchworth State Park Administration Building; Mount Morris Dam Visitor Center; and Livingston Chamber of Commerce Tourist Information Office.

The Genesee Valley Greenway State Park

The GVG is a linear state park which approximately follows the alignment of the former Genesee Valley Canal. Following closure of the canal the traverse (mostly the towpath of the canal) would subsequently become the bed of the Genesee Valley Canal Railroad which eventually became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system. In the years after the abandonment of nearly all that railroad alignment there became impetus to utilize the alignment as a multi-use trail. Through cooperative efforts among a number of groups/organizations/and individuals that impetus became reality, and eventually the GVG became the GVGSP.
How the land was acquired. 

The Genesee Valley Greenway follows the towpath of the former Genesee Valley Canal (1840-1878) and Pennsylvania Railroad, Rochester Branch (1882-1963). In 1963, RG&E purchased portions of this corridor.

It later sold sections to the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) became involved as co-sponsor of a federal grant that was used to acquire additional land, expanding the corridor north through Livingston County and south to Hinsdale.

How the Greenway got its start.   

New York Parks and Conservation Association (NYPCA) introduced the idea in 1991 after it  first established interest among local government officials, user groups, environmentalists, and local businesses.

Guided by a 40-member steering committee and a NYPCA Local Coordinator, individual sections of the trail opened for public recreational use in 1992.

A Public-Private Partnership.

The Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway grew out of the interest and enthusiasm generated by initial trail development efforts. Incorporated in 1993, it has since devoted its efforts to developing additional owned miles and maintaining existing miles of open (or usable) trail.

FOGVG also preserves and interprets historic and natural resources along the Greenway, and develops communications, programs, activities, and community partnerships to stimulate increased use and enjoyment.

A partnership between FOGVG, OPRHP, and DEC began in 1994 when these entities co-authored a successful $2.1 million federal Transportation Enhancement grant. Each partner contributes unique and important resources to the Greenway.

(This post is an excerpt from an FOGVG webpage):

Mount Morris Winter Discovery Series 2017

Springwater Trails hikers and others may be interested in a number of program presentations (lectures) in the Mount Morris Winter Discovery Series 2017.  In March, of particular salience in present day current events, as pertain to the Erie Railroad high bridge (Portage viaduct) spanning the Genesee River and construction of a replacement bridge for this 140+ year old current trestle bridge, are the March 18th & 25th programs, among other programs of potential interest.

The annually recurrent Mount Morris Winter Discovery Series is offered January through March, on varying theme and topics. Each year holds about one dozen new program presentations.

The Mount Morris Winter Discovery Series 2017, is titled: “Life in America: Winter Discovery Series 2017”.  Facilities provided by The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mount Morris Dam and Recreation Area, located at the northern end (east side of the Genesee River) of Letchworth State Park.  All lectures are free of charge and will be held in the Visitor Center on Saturdays at 1pm.  The Visitor Center, aka the William B. Hoyt II Visitor Center, which opened in 1999, is an enclosed heated venue with indoor restrooms and is located adjacent the east side of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Mount Morris Flood Control Dam (which was constructed 1948-1952).  Often light refreshments are served at programs of the Winter Discovery Series.   [Please note, do not confuse this A.C.E. Visitor Center with the Letchworth State Park – Humphrey Nature Center which is located in Letchworth State Park on the west side of the Genesee River and further south of the A.C.E. Mt Morris flood control dam.]

Mount Morris Dam and Recreation Area Visitor Center is located at 6103 Visitor Center Road in Mount Morris, NY 14510. For more information call (585) 658-4790.

There are numerous exhibits and educational experiences in the Visitor Center, a brief opportunity may exist to view and experience some immediately prior to or after the Winter Discovery Series program.  Albeit, the Visitor Center is generally not otherwise open in the winter season.


– – –   2017 Saturday Dates  – – – 

Author Arch Merrill described Letchworth Park as the place where Nature touches the Genesee with a magic wand and like Cinderella, the river leaves behind its ordinary garb and dons robes of dazzling splendor. Discover this geological Cinderella — how it came to be and explore the many interactions between man, river, and land. Presenter – JIM POMEROY, Biologist

January14th  THE IMPACT OF WWI ON LIVINGSTON COUNTY: Life on the Homefront
In commemoration of the World War One Centennial, this program will provide an overview of the prelude to U.S. involvement and local civilian efforts and sacrifice during the Great War. Presenter – AMIE ALDEN, Livingston County Historian

January 21st   SUFFRAGISTS IN EVERY TOWN AND COUNTY: How NY Women Won the Vote
November 2017 marks 100 years since New York State signed woman’s suffrage into law, three years before the U.S. passed the 19th Amendment. This was a milestone for the state and a transformative moment in American democracy. Equal opportunity is as important today as it was when Susan B. Anthony was arrested in Rochester for attempting to vote. Presenter – CHRISTINE RIDARSKY, Rochester Historian

Did you know that two of the female students and one professor at the first truly co-educational medical school in the country came from the Genesee Valley? Uncover a fascinating story which shows how our region contributed to women’s ability to study medicine alongside men -a radical theory at the time. Presenter – JANE OAKES, Local Historian

Our National Parks have been called “the greatest idea America ever had.” This program covers the background of our National Park Service from its official creation in 1916, but really starts with the formation of the world’s first National Park -Yellowstone. Presenter – CRAIG BRAACK, Allegany County Historian

In the 19th century, New Yorkers were gripped by waves of religious revivalism. New groups established churches and utopian experiments all vied for converts. Examine the Shakers, Millerites, Mormons, Spiritualist and Evangelists and the impact that they had on social change. Presenter – PETER WISEBY, Genesee Country Village and Museum

Follow the development of water-powered milling from strong beginnings in a new nation to its appearance in the Genesee Valley. We’ll journey through the pioneering discovery of the natural resources of the mighty Genesee River that excited the early American settler to pursue mechanization and industrial innovation. Presenter – ALEX PIERCE, Local Historian

February 25th   THE GIANT CARDIFF – America’s Greatest Hoax
A ten-foot tall petrified giant is unearthed on a farm near the small rural town of Cardiff, New York in 1869. The word of the discovery soon ‘echoed’ across the countryside and it was quickly sheltered from the weather by a canvas tent to protect paying gawkers from the whims of New York’s weather. Presenter – RICH HAMELL, Geologist

Join Steve on a journey of his family’s military connections to conflicts during King Henry IV’s usurpation of the English throne in 1399 to King Philip’s War (1675), the Revolution, War of 1812, Civil War and on to the modern era. Presenter – STEVE CLARKE, Genealogist

As the women’s rights movement gathered strength in the late 1800’s, Nunda women were leaders in business, politics, medicine, art, education, and more. Hear their stories. Presenter – JOAN SCHUMAKER, Local Historian

People have lived along the Genesee River for thousands of years. Join Tom as he explores life in the Valley through local stories, maps, photographs, diaries, and more. Highlights include the experiences of the Jemison family, early pioneers, the Letchworths, and some 20th century park families. Presenter – TOM COOK, Local Historian

Learn about the creation of Camp Portage (a Civil War Training Camp in Letchworth State Park) and the use of the Erie Railroad to transport Union Soldiers to the front lines! Presenter – MAX SZEMPLENSKI, Railroad Historian








National Park Service – 100th anniversary, and more for Summer 2016 – Just Sayin’

The National Park Service (NPS) is celebrating its 100th Anniversary with events from 2015 through 2016.  You may have not been aware of this celebratory anniversary, which is actually on August 25, 2016.

Here is one on-line article which extols some free admission days to NPS parks which normally have an admission fee.

What else has 100 year anniversary in 2016?

>> Well, for those of you with ties to the City of Rochester, NY, you may find the following of interest.   2016 marks the 100 year anniversary of the city annexing the Village of Charlotte from the Town of Greece. Charlotte was a populous center in the Town of Greece, and was in fact a village within the Town of Greece prior to being annexed into the City of Rochester.

“Back in the day”, cities in NYS had powers of annexation granted to them by the NYS legislature in order to encourage economic growth in NYS.  (Fast forward to today, such powers and impetus ceased to exist decades ago.)  In fact, the City of Rochester over time annexed several parcels of towns surrounding it, and annexation could make for some odd lying property boundaries and associated quirks.

On point of annexation of the Village of Charlotte, the City of Rochester had over time coveted Charlotte as having a port on the Great Lake of Ontario and the Genesee River, wishing for those navigable waters to be in city limits.  In fact more than one attempt was made prior to 1916 to claim the Port of Charlotte for the city’s own.  But those attempts failed, unlike the final attempt that succeeded and became effective in 1916.

It was not unusual for Annexation attempts to be hotly contested, and pros and cons existed, and many points of view would be the case in such annexation attempts.

In years and decades before annexing the Village of Charlotte, the City of Rochester annexed other lands from surrounding towns.  In fact in the push of city limits northward (west of the Genesee River) a number of annexations occurred from the Town of Greece.  One substantial driver of this was the expansion of Eastman Kodak Company, and the desire of Kodak to have city services in the areas that it owned.

>> For those of you who shop at the iconic Rochester, NY based Wegmans’s Food Markets, you may be interested to know that Wegman’s stores have origin in 1916 in Rochester, and so Wegman’s celebrates 100 years in 2016 with some special initiatives.

Jumping to today, and a bit off topic, but within the Town of Greece, on June 11 & 12, 2016 is the Street Machines of Rochester super cruise and car show 2016 in Badgerow Park North.   Eye candy and more for vintage car enthusiasts. – – –  Perhaps a reason to cruise northward to this car show.  Timing on Saturday, June 11th is quite impeccable, being that the Saturday late afternoon/early evening outdoor car show (4PM-8PM) follows the ADK Outdoor Expo which is held in Mendon Ponds Park and which ends at 4PM.  Saturday’s Super Cruise is free admission (flyer), Sunday’s Car Show has $3 spectator admission fee (flyer).

And, for you super cruise night junkies, Friday and Thursday evenings present some distinct possibilities.  Every Friday during the summer at the Damascus (Shriner’s) Temple at 979 Bay Rd, Webster, NY there is a super cruise night.   And, on Thursdays during the summer at the Charcoal Corral / Silver Lake Drive-in located at Silver Lake (Perry), NY cruise nights are held.   Both of these have food available for purchasing, thus allowing for getting dinner and checking out the cars.


Back to anniversary topics. – – – What about 200 year anniversaries?

Well, The Town of Springwater, NY originated in April 1816 by act of the NYS legislature.  And, Springwater Trails is helping to recognize this bicentennial, leading hikes in the Springwater Trails Bicentennial Hike Series scheduled on the third Sunday of each month April through December 2016.

And what about 400 year anniversaries?  2016 holds the 400th year since the death of playwright William Shakespeare.  – – –  A tip.  If you enjoy Shakespeare presentations plein air, check out either of these 2016 Shakespeare presentations.  1) Romeo and Juliet at Highland Park Bowl (at Highland Park in Rochester) July 15-30 (no Monday or Thursday performances) produced by Shakespeare Players (of Rochester Community Players) who has for decades now been presenting summer outdoor Shakespeare productions “in the bowl” ; or  2) “Shake On The Lake” (SOTL) productions of The Twelfth Night at various venues (Silver Lake is the “home” venue) in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier Regions during late July thru mid August 2016.  2016 is the fifth year of SOTL summer Shakespeare productions, the inaugural was in 2012.

So, if you appreciate Shakespeare plein air, you’ve some opportunities.  An appreciating Springwater Trails Hike Planner may wish to consider possibilities of coupling a Springwater Trails (S/T) hike nearby to a Shakespeare plein air performance for making of a S/T hike combo event, be it this summer or a future year’s summer.