The Genesee Valley Greenway has had a long and diverse history that extends from the 1800’s to the present day. This path’s story begins in the 1830’s when the Genesee Valley Canal began construction in the area. Due to lack of profit, this canal was abandoned in 1878 and two years later the Genesee Valley Railroad was constructed in its place. As the railroad also began to lose profits, it was abandoned in the 1960’s. In 2011, the Genesee Valley Greenway took its place, following along the old canal bed and now invisible railroad lines.
This thin trail that weaves through sixteen towns and five counties in Upstate New York has immense layers to it, and, with this website, we attempt to understand how a specific place and its landscape are marked by the influences of the past, but also how we can look at a landscape and begin to understand its history on a deeper level. Through the weaving together of the archival history of the Genesee Valley Canal and our own modern day explorations of the Genesee Valley Greenway, we were able to begin to synthesize and become more educated on how industrialization, natural resources, geology, engineering, economics, abandonment and environmentalism interact with society and nature in order to create a storied landscape.
The map below displays only two-thirds of the ninety mile long trail, which is the part that we focused on for this project. We encourage you to either click on the “Trail Marker” links at the end of each page to guide you through this history and personal narratives of this place, as if you were walking the trail yourself.
Start of Trail | First Trail Marker
Map of Genesee Valley Greenway courtesy of https://parks.ny.gov/parks/attachments/GeneseeValleyGreenwayGeneseeValleyGreenwayTrailMap.pdf