An Avon hike, some history, & an “1876 Opera Block”

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October 18, 2015 @ 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm
23 Genesee St
Avon, NY 14414

This is a Springwater Trails combo hike event, scheduled for Sunday, October 18, 2015 in Avon, consisting of: a 2:00PM Program (optional) ; a 3:30PM hike on the Erie-Attica Trail & the Genesee Valley Greenway (GVG) trail, with varied hike routing distances provided for various groups of hikers depending on ability & interest; and a 5:45PM after-hike social (optional).

Please note, some minor changes(s) in this announcement may occur prior to hike date, so you may want to check as close to hike day as possible.
**update October 18th  – you may appreciate an extra pair of sock & shoes for the after-hike social & ride home, and perhaps an umbrella in case it rains during the hike. 
.                                                                                           .
Plans have been afoot to have an experienced geocahing hiker at this hike to lead a subgroup of hikers who have interest in exposure to geocaching.  BUT, due to scheduling conflicts of two such geocachers, this geocaching component of the hike may not happen. So, … if you know a willing and available geocacher for this hike, please send an e-mail to damhikes [at] springwatertrails [dot] com    Arrangements can be developed for this component up ’til Sunday Morning 10/18!  (However, sooner is of course better.)     .                                                                                   .
– – – If you’ve no plan to come at 2:00PM for the program, and want the quickest hike description for the 3:30pm hike click here to view a separate short hike descriptor.  For info about the program, and more complete info about the hike continue reading below (scroll down). – – –

⇒ Program at 2PM  on Oct 18th is an approximately one hour presentation about the third floor of the “1876 Opera Block”, located at 23 Genesee St in Avon NY.  The free program is a presentation of the Avon Preservation and Historical Society (APHS) with Kelly Cole presenting, and will be held in the 2nd floor meeting room of the 1876 Opera Block.  Following the APHS presentation, all will have opportunity to tour the 3rd floor of the 1876 Opera Block as it exists at present, with the original stage still intact that played host to various forms of entertainment and so much more, serving as a multi-purpose community gathering venue.  The building is handicapped accessible and has elevator access to all floors.

For those interested:
    • A book titled: “History Restored: The Avon Opera Block”, by Debbie Morrow, 2010  – Originally priced at $30.00  ~ NOW ON SALE! for $15.00 ~  will be offered at $10.00 price at the APHS program presentation on October 18, 2015.

Historical note: “Opera Houses”  (not to be confused with Grand Opera Houses) often were built in rural areas of the USA, many built in the 19th century (from the 1860s on), became popular community gathering places utilized for purpose of entertainment (complete with a stage), yep, theatrical performances, Vaudeville, minstrel shows, traveling Opera, and more, dances, lectures, political meetings, and school graduations & such; and most were considered places relatively accessible to rural sparsely populated locales far from city centers of population yet closer to small rural communities. Some were built in combination as a civic or government building.  Most often an Opera House of rural America would be located in a community with proximity to railroad service which was a leading transportation mode of the time when Opera Houses were in vogue and most utilized.  Some Opera Houses still exist today, and some are still vibrant, others are once again “found”, and some on the rejuvenation rise.  Some were built questionably in design and ultimately were lacking in egress and safety features, some succumbed to fire, some were closed due to occupancy and safety codes that evolved, and some deteriorated over time.  Whether utilized today, standing neglected, or gone from the landscape, Opera Houses made a mark in the USA.

A bit more easy history of the Avon area.                                               .                                                                                                                                                     .
⇒ Hike time is slated as 3:30PM starting on the Erie-Attica Trail in Avon (at the trail’s trail-head adjacent the parking lot off Farmers Rd) and progressing to the connecting Genesee Valley Greenway (GVG) trail.    For those unaware the GVG is now a NYS Park (a linear park).    – – – Foliage colors of deciduous trees may be prime at time of this hike.
*If you look great in Autumnal Orange (or blaze orange), and even if maybe you’re thinking you don’t, well, … this hike is during Bow Hunting Season for big game, so wearing some of that orange would place you right in fashion this time of year.  **No need for underfoot Traction Devises (TDs) on this hike, perhaps excepting if you see yourself scrambling off the trail on slopes in pursuit of a geocache. The GVG being a former canal (& later a railroad), and the Erie-Attica Trail being a former railroad bed, means the terrain of the GVG trail is basically/nearly flat.
2:00PM Program location : { GPS coordinates   42.911679, -77.746302 } 
In the 1876 Opera Block located at 23 Genesee St, Avon (in 2nd floor meeting room).  For those familiar with the traffic circle in Avon, Genesee Street is directly off the west side of the circle and runs in ssw direction therefrom, and the Opera Block is in the first block of Genesee St.  Avon town offices are also located at 23 Genesee St (point of reference), while the Village of Avon offices are located a bit further down at 74 Genesee St.
←→ Directions:  From I-390 exit #10 (exit for Avon & Lima, Rts 5&20 exit), head west toward Avon on Rts 5&20.  Passing thru the hamlet of East Avon (where you’ll cross NYS Rt 15) and continuing into the Village of Avon, passing the iconic Tom Wahl’s restaurant on the left and opposite Tops Plaza on the right at the eastern side of the Village of Avon.  Still continuing on Rts 5&20 at this point aka East Main St, eventually you’ll reach the ‘traffic circle’ in the center of the Village of Avon.  Round the traffic circle (which contains a village park in the center by-the-way) just more than halfway around, and you’ve arrived at Genesee St which runs ssw off the traffic circle, and the 1876 Opera Block at 23 Genesee Street will be evident. (hint: look for large lettering on the building, “Opera Block 1876” “Town of Avon” and on the building nextdoor to it “State Bank of Avon”)  Parking may be at a premium immediately adjacent the Opera Block, if many folks attend the program.  Some folks may need to park a short walk away.
3:30PM Hike meet location / trailhead : { GPS coordinates  42.922804, -77.756293 } 
←→ Directions:  Less than a 2 minute drive from 1876 Opera Block to intersection of Rt 5&20 & Farmers Rd.  From Genesee St, round the traffic circle (in a contorted sort of manner) a bit shy of 360o, … ,and head west on Rts 5&20 aka at this point West Main Street.    [Historic note: From the traffic circle, as you nearly immediately pass Rochester St & then Railroad St (both on the right), you may wish to take note, this is where the Erie RR Attica spurline branched from the larger Erie RR trackage running from Rochester to Mt Morris and other locales.]  Continuing a short distance on Rts 5&20 to Farmers Rd (on the right) which runs north off Routes 5&20 immediately east of the Genesee River. (The Genesee River forms the western border of the Town of Avon and the Village of Avon.) The Erie-Attica Trail parking lot is off Farmers Rd.  (Farmers Rd is partially paved and part gravel surface.)   To reach the parking lot, drive on Farmers Rd until you pass under the flyover for the former RR truss bridge (now the Erie-Attica Trail truss bridge), and make an immediate right turn into the very ample sized parking lot.   From the parking lot, Erie-Attica Trail paved trail section extends a very short distance eastward to Horseshoe Blvd, majority of trail length is west of the parking lot and is unpaved, and immediately crosses the Genesee River on the former Erie RR truss bridge as it heads westward to jct with the Genesee Valley Greenway (GVG) which is now a NYS Park (linear park).
{You’ll note directions are variably given by: landmark, direction, compass orientation, and GPS coordinates.  Something for everyone.}   Here are some links, about the Erie-Attica Trail. —>
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⇒ Trails, & Hike Groups:
On the hike route, the vast majority of the Erie-Attica Trail (mostly stone dust surface) lies in the TOWN OF CALEDONIA, just over the truss bridge which spans approx 220 feet in length as it provides access across the Genesee River.  The Genesee River is the border between two Livingston County towns, Avon (Town & Village) on the east bank of the river & the Town of Caledonia on the west bank of the river.  The Erie-Attica Trail connection with the GVG trail also lies in the Town of Caledonia.
The GVG portion of this hike (mixed surface of grass, dirt / fine gravel / very fine cinder / coal dust) south of the Erie-Attica Trail (actually south of US Rt 20, which spits from Rt 5&20 just west of Avon) is substantially represented in hike #5 in “Wegman’s Passport to family wellness” Program booklet for the GVG State Park.
For those hikers who wish to do a W Passport booklet “rubbing”, the group or individuals will need a pencil or crayon in addition to their own Passport booklet.
For hikers’ general  knowledge, the “Wegmans Passport to family wellness  Program booklet” for the GVG consists a total of 14 listed hikes on the GVG. The Wegman’s “Passport to family wellness – Genesee Valley Greenway State Park” booklets are available (free) at select Wegman’s locations (likely W store locations closeby to the GVG) at the store’s service desk.  (You may want to call first, if it would mean a special trip for you. Wegman’s Chili-Paul location in the Town of Chili, does have them currently.)  Picking one up (and maybe several for fellow hikers) on your own assures that you have one in hand.  A limited number of these “Passport to family wellness” GVG booklets will be available at the hike.  Of note, S/T has three hikes on the GVG this autumn hiking season, 10/18, 11/1. & 11/8.
Completion of hikes in this booklet makes the trail user eligible for Wegmans grocery coupons or a NYS Parks Empire Passport.  See details —>
{approx excerpt from the GVG website} The GVG State Park Passports are available at the following locations (when they have them):  Wegmans stores in Rochester, Geneseo, and Hornell; the Letchworth State Park Administration Building; the Mt. Morris Dam Visitor Center; and the Livingston County Chamber of Commerce Tourist Information Office.  Please note that you need to ask for the passport at each of these locations (read, they may not be out on open display, but are available if you ask).  Passports are also available from FOGVG Board Members.                            .                                                                                                                                                                                                                    .
***Toward establishing future S/T hike & Genesee River paddle event possibilities in and near Avon, … S/T kayakers may want to take time to assess the “Genesee River access point” at the NYSDEC fishing access area at the southeast corner of Rts 5&20 and the Genesee River.  This is approximately opposite the Rts 5&20 and Farmers Rd intersection. (The locale is sometimes referred to as Berry’s Park, and you’ll find a blue and gold NYS Education Dept historic marker there titled “Berry’s Tavern”.)***
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Hike Planner’s option #1- – –
This hike is suitable to accommodate Springwater Trails – Climbers, Tourists, Naturalists, and Flatlanders. There is a flat short paved trail segment of the Erie-Attica Trail, and most of the rest of the trail is relatively flat as it is a former railroad bed, so this hike is suitable for mobility limited hikers.  The connecting GVG, also being a former railroad bed is relatively flat.  Respective hiking groups will be coalesced based on abilities and interests of hikers at this hike.   Hike Leaders will gauge time of their respective hike group for return to the hike start point at approximately 5:30PM.  Being that the trails utilized for this hike are well established trails, Hike Leaders will well be able to lead with no pre-hike required prior to hike day.
The hike routing is basically an “out and back type hike”, so if a group were to continuously hike the trail “out” from start point at 3:30PM, at the one hour point (4:30PM) the group would then reverse direction and hike “back” therefore arriving at the trailhead (start/end locale) at approx 5:30PM.  Hike Groups choosing to not keep a continuous pace, and instead injecting some ‘sploring and stationary observing into the hike will need to better gauge time for return than continuous pace hikers.
reference points on GVG for access, in this area, listed N to S, and extrapolated from the brochure map (hyperlink) above :
Erie-Attica Trail jct [mile 16.9?]
NYS Rt 5 (aka Avon Caledonia Rd) parking & access jct [mile 17?]
US Rt 20 (aka Telephone Rd) parking & access jct [mile 18?]
Batzing Rd parking & access area jct [mile 18.6?]
Fowlerville Rd jct parking & access jct [mile 21?]
~5:45PM After-hike Social (optional) — Tom Wahl’s Restaurant, 283 East Main St in Avon {weather dependent: inside, outside, or outside under the picnic pavilion} is a quintessential venue for a quality meal at reasonable prices. {menu here} telephone 226-2420  Suitable as Plan A or as Plan B for an after-hike social.  The outdoor pavilion lights are on during nighttime restaurant hours of operation  In keeping with the multifaceted nature of this hike event, so too will the after-hike social be multifaceted.  With History of yesteryear (Opera Block, and the Erie RR Attica spur line now turned rail-to-trail) in mind, and with Harvest season bounty upon us, we will: -(*1)- Converge at the iconic Tom Wahl’s Restaurant picnic pavilion behind the restaurant. Tom Wahl’s Restaurant long standing reputation of uncompromising quality food at reasonable prices offers Ground Rounds (don’t call it a hamburger, please), “plates”, wraps, sandwiches, salads, soup, chili, and more (menu).   And, some discount coupons are available in various newspapers & one here.
-(*2)- In addition to restaurant food purchases if you would like to bring a favorite dish-to-pass among S/T hikers, in recognition of Autumn Bounty, we can do this at the picnic pavilion.  No time or thoughts to make a dish-to-pass?, well, …no worries or hurries we’re at Tom Wahl’s.
-(*3)-  And being Harvest season, hikers who find themselves with an abundance of produce are welcome to bring it for gifting or exchanging with other hikers. (No full blown Farmer’s Market here folks, just a simple sharing if you’ve a bounty, be it grown by you or a neighbor, or be it that peck or bushel of produce that was such a good deal at a farmers market but you’ll probably not use before some were to go to waste.  No over abundance of bountiful harvest?, well, … no problem (its just an option).   – – – So, you can see that old-fashioned (historic) sharing of autumnal harvest bounty with your neighbors and friends is woven in here.  Bushel or peck of apples, tomatoes, squash, pears, peppers, etc?, and wondering if you’ll use them all? – No problem, share your good fortune.
Sunset on this date is 6:23PM with twilight ~ 30-60 minutes or so thereafter.

If you decide as result of this hike on the GVG, a former canal, you thirst for more exposure on the former canal, well, … there is an event of The Canal Society of NYS which this year centers on the former Genesee Valley Canal (specifically the southern section).   – – -This October also brings an very unique opportunity in Western NY for hikers and historic canal appreciators.  The 2015 October Fall Field Trip of the Canal Society of NYS (website ) is focusing on the former Genesee Valley Canal, and more specifically the southern portion.  The Fall Field Trip scheduled for October 23&24, 2015, is based out of Mt Morris, NY, with multiple visits to substantial parts of the former Genesee Valley Canal.  Sound interesting?  The details can be found through one of the two above hyperlinks provided, or click ⇒ October 2015 Field Trip schedule details.

Also of note, for folks interested in canals in NYS, is an official website publication of the NYS Canal Commission. ⇒  New York State Canal System .
Also of interest:
FOGVG Facebook group led a hike on 10/10 on the GVG and in the 10/6 Facebook posting included much info about the hike, Cuba,NY area, and much more, including the “1867 Palmer Opera Block”, aka Palmer Block, aka Keller Opera House in Cuba, NY.  (Yep, quite a story to this place.)
Sunday, Nov. 1, FOGVG Annual Meeting & Trail Event in Geneseo– 2:00 PM Guided Hike on the Genesee Valley Greenway (GVG), meet at trailhead in Cylerville ; 4:00 PM Program at Geneseo United Methodist Church, Rt. 63 & Court St.TBA ; 5:30 PM Dish-to-Pass Dinner (bring table service and dish to pass); 6:30 PM Brief Meeting.      Some of these plans may still be in a flux state, at present.  Information: 585-658-2569 or
Monday, Nov. 2, 3 PM, GVG Partner Meeting followed by FOGVG Board Meeting at Letchworth Park Administration Building.
1864 Bent’s Hall Opera House, in Medina, Orleans County, NY  – cited as one of the oldest existing opera houses in the USA.
Lancaster Opera House, in Lancaster, Erie County, NY (opening day in 1897? perhaps started in 1894?)
Opera House in the Village of Rushville, Town of Potter, Yates County, NY
(note: the northern most part of the Village of Rushville, NY is situate in Town of Gorham, Ontario County)
Rushville history – industrial heritage
historic aerial photo of Rushville  – the Opera House, on South Main Street, is shown in the aerial  photo, as well as being the foreground building in the photo titled “Field Day At Rushville NY Aug 23, 1913”
Presently (2015), the first floor of the Opera House is occupied by “Federal Hollow Staples” a grocery/general store.
— Some Hike Planners notes, for possible use when developing this Avon hike. —
⇒ ~5:45PM After-hike Social – (for use in developing the Hike Plan)  — Hike Planner options:  1) Tom Wahl’s Restaurant, 283 East Main St in Avon {weather dependent: inside, outside, or outside under the picnic pavilion} is a quintessential venue for a quality meal on the lower end of the price scale yet with attention to quality {menu here}, telephone 226-2420  Suitable as Plan A or as Plan B for an after-hike social.  The outdoor pavilion lights are on during nighttime restaurant hours of operation.  ; 2) pot-luck held at the 3rd floor of the Opera Block if permission can be gained ; 3) pot-luck held at Avon Driving Park (aka “the Downs” by locals) at the end of Spring St (a park aptly named for the horse racing track of former glory days, of note the track is still present albeit minimally used)   { 42.906791, -77.766153  } , both the (closely situate) north and south picnic pavilions have lighting and receptacles (you’ll need an extension cord to utilize the receptacles) & likely there are parking lot lights.  There are plenty of picnic tables, and grills too.  Water spigot located near the picnic pavilions.  ; 4)  Avon Inn at 55 East Main St {fancier than the norm for a social, would need to check on required attire, not sure hiking attire would be acceptable} 226-8181, but closed on Sunday evenings unless a change occurs;  5)  “Village Restaurant” (aka “the VR”, by locals) at 13 Genesee St , phone (585)-226-6333, is NOT an option as hours are 5AM ’til 2 or 3PM daily & Friday dinner ;  6)  The Avondale Pub, 37 Genesee St. , phone (585)-266-9319 ; 7) Fat Sam’s Bar & Grill at 58 West Main St., phone (585)- 226-2744 ; 8) Concessions and Arcade building, menu, at Vintage Drive-In located at 1520 West Henrietta Rd, Avon/East Avon (with possibility of staying for a movie for those interested), unless the Drive-In has closed for the season.  9) Peppermints Restaurant, 244 East Main Street, phone (585)-226-2707 open ’til 10PM on Sunday ;  10) Woody’s II Ice Cream Parlor at 43 Genesee St, phone (585)-226-3408.
Note: if choosing an outside venue, especially one not having a pavilion, having a Plan B of an inside venue option would be a good thing in case weather is not optimal for an outside social.
One geocache on the south side of the Erie Attica trail, cited here.   (send in the kids!)
notes from an internet search, albeit not sure this info is totally up to date.
Genesee Greenway Trail and Erie-Attica Trail Click for Google map 
2419 Avon-Geneseo Road
Avon 14414
585 226-8210 (Fairview Golf Course)  – so this phone number is either obsolete or was originally incorrect
Avon Driving Park Click for Google map
Spring Street 
Avon 14414 
585 226-8118 (Village of Avon)
“baseball fields, basketball court, volleyball court, ice skating rink, play area, gazebo, picnic pavilions”  (there is a north picnic pavilion and a south picnic pavilion)
 [This is a Springwater Trails combo hike event, scheduled for Sunday, October 18, 2015 in Avon.  This hike is on the Erie-Attica Trail & the Genesee Valley Greenway (GVG) trail.]
—draft format ~~~Please note – this is a preliminary hike event announcement, in development stage; the hike event announcement will change with time as further determination occurs. The draft arrangements have been posted for S/T hikers’ convenience.~~~

One thought on “An Avon hike, some history, & an “1876 Opera Block”

  1. Successful hike, great day for it. No wet feet, nor rain. The counts: 7Climbers, 5Tourists, 3Naturalists, 0Flatlanders, for a total of 15 hikers. (The same number came out of the woods as went in, always an important thing!) About a dozen hikers at the APHS program (which was nearly standing-room-only being it was so well attended overall), and as well about a dozen hikers at the after-hike social at Tom Wahl’s. Thanks to hikers for the positive feedback about the history program and infusing such in a Hike Plan for this hike and future hikes.

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