Rochester NY Erie Canal Aqueduct and Subway

Erie Canal Aqueduct & Subway: Rochester’s Transportation Heritage

A brief history of the Erie Canal aqueduct. Before the Erie Canal was diverted to its current course through Genesee Valley Park, it flowed right through the city using the aqueduct to cross the Genesee River. In 1918, the canal was re-routed and the city began to use the vacated basin for public rail transportation, with passenger service ending in 1956, and freight traffic ending in 1970. Broad Street runs atop the abandoned underground today.

Ever since, there has been lively debate over what to do with the decaying infrastructure. This is one of the most comprehensive articles I’ve read on the development of “ROC the Riverway“. It looks to have a decade+ timeline, with quick wins along the way. Broad Street has been the piece I’ve been most fascinated by, with so many solutions debated. I’m excited to see it come to life!

Abandoned Erie Canal Aqueduct
Abandoned Erie Canal Aqueduct

Sneak a peek

To view the tunnel, walk down the stairs next to Blue Cross Arena on Broad Street. You can view the aqueduct from a platform along the Genesee Riverview Trail.

Abandoned Erie Canal Aqueduct
Dinosaur BBQ
Dinosaur BBQ

You used to be able to walk inside

On a sad note, the main entrance has been closed down as a part of the city’s revitalization efforts along the river. This view is no more.

Abandoned Erie Canal Aqueduct

Re-live Rochester’s Rich
Transportation History

There are several excellent places around Rochester where you can interact with historic machines and listen to the stories of Rochester’s beginnings:

New York Museum of Transportation trolley maintenance

New York Museum of Transportation

The New York Museum of Transportation is open on Sundays from 11am-5pm all year long, with special events and trolley rides during the non-winter months. Their impressive collection and engaging events are managed by dedicated volunteers who are excited to share stories of Rochester’s rich transportation history.

Rochester and Genesee Valley Train Ride
Photo courtesy of Rochester and Genesee Valley Railroad

Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum

Volunteers at the Rochester Genesee Valley Railroad Museum actively acquire, restore and preserve New York’s largest collection of historic railroad equipment. Spend a day riding the train and checking out their Rochester-centric collection!

Sam Patch interior
On board the Sam Patch

Sam Patch Erie Canal Packet Boat

Sam Patch Erie Canal Tours are a great way to experience the canal, the locks, and learn about its history along your narrated cruise.

Edgerton Model Railroad cover
Edgerton Model Railroad

Other transportation & innovation museums around Rochester

Rochester Genesee Valley Railroad Museum

Learn more about the historic Erie Canal Aqueduct & the Rochester Subway:


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Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home. The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly.