postcard

Postcard depicting Hammondsport Depot, circa 1910

A Brief History

The Bath & Hammondsport was officially born in 1872 when approval was given to operate a railroad between the two towns. The propsed railroad would be be a total of 9 miles in length, connecting with the Erie Railroad in Bath, and Keuka Lake in Hammondsport.

Construction began that year and continued until the line finally opened in 1875. It was originally built as a narrow gauge, using 40 pound rail. By 1888 the need for a standard gauge was apparent, and track was re-laid.

Initially the line was controlled by local interests. The Erie, which had the only connection to the Bath & Hammondsport, gradually began to aquire its stock. By 1911 the Erie owned the Bath & Hammondsport Railroad outright. It remained under Erie control until 1936, when it returned to private ownership.

Trackage increased by an additional 22 miles in 1976. The Stueben County Industrial Development Agency chose the railroad to service the former Erie Lackawanna line from Bath to Wayland. A connection with Conrail was established at Bath.

By 1993 the Stueben County Industrial Development Agency was again in the picture. In February of that year, the agency aquired all of the railroads assets. They were leased to the Champagne Railroad in March of that year. The Champagne Railroad maintained the dwindling freight bussiness, and operated a popular tourist excursion out of Bath.

The Stueben County Industrial Development Agency became involved once more in the spring of 1996. After the death of its owner, Stanley Clark, the Champagne Railroad ceased operations. The agency reveiewd proposals from three regional short line operators, including Genesee Valley Transportation, Owego & Harford Railway and the Livonia, Avon & Lakeville Railroad. The Livonia, Avon & Lakeville Railroad was selected in March to take over operations.

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