LeRoy’s Open Spandrel
by Lynne Belluscio
Or at least that is what I think the Lehigh Valley Bridge at Buttermilk Falls should be called. There is so much I don’t know about the bridge . . . I can’t even verify when it was built. (And pleeeease, do not go down and trespass to see this bridge! It is privately owned, and so is the land around it.)
First, is the question of when exactly did the Lehigh Valley Railroad lay track into Western New York. I read through all of Albert McVean’s articles and couldn’t find anything specific. In our files we have a newspaper clipping from the Daily News, July 2, 1976 and an interview with Sidney Gear who lived in Batavia. He was 91 and he recalled: “catching a ride on the first Lehigh Valley train to arrive” in Batavia. “ I remember when the first passenger train arrived on the Lehigh Valley Railroad,” said Mr. Gear, who is mighty proud of the railroad – the last to reach Batavia but which had much to comment it - - “first to use stone ballast, burned anthracite so the trains had less smoke.” That was in 1893, when the Lehigh rolled in from Scranton, Pa – New Jersey area and was backed over the ‘peanut ‘ to the New York Central line so its cars could be taken to Chicago and the World’s Columbian Exposition by the Central. This was as far as the Lehigh went at the time. As a boy seeing the roadbed of the Lehigh constructed along the southern edge of Batavia was a vast project which had always impressed Mr. Gear. ...