The Lehigh Valley Railroad began providing service to Hemlock lake in 1895. Talk of the railroad had been in the air since 1849 and eventually a Lehigh Valley track was laid into the valley east of Livonia Center. It connected with Lima, Honeoye Falls and Rochester to the north and curved south, continuing to Hemlock Lake. A daily train went to Henrietta and the Depot was on Richmond Mills Road (route 20A) on William Lightfoot’s property, about where the Sargeant’s Metal Works is located. This was a two-story depot, a beautiful building, and was duplicated at Rochester Junction, near Sibleyville. Frank Ingelow was the first station agent in 1896 and lived on the second floor. He was also a grain and feed merchant. Part of the large grain mill is now Sargeant’s Ornamental Iron Works. The huge engine of the grain mill, which powered the pulleys and hoists for the conveyors, was in the basement of the building when the present owners came in the 1970’s.
The depot was a place for parties and dances also. Passenger service continued until about 1936. Herbert Tilly, shown here with his wife, was the ticket agent at the Hemlock Depot around 1900. Perhaps they are shown here as they were dressed for one of the parties at the depot.
One story about the first train to Hemlock says those engineering it were so excited they drove right into Hemlock Lake and gave the passengers some real excitement.
The Panipinto family lived above the Depot and the children attended the school in Hemlock because they could take a train to school. Mrs. Panipinto said she lived there 25 years.
About 1942 the freight service was also discontinued and by 1945 the tracks were abandoned and the depot was torn down. But the route to Hemlock Lake can still be traced where the railroad beds left their mark on the landscape. The route is now used as a hiking trail from State Route 20A to Big Tree Road. Parts of the old railroad beds can also be found where they ran along the west side of the old Hoppaugh pond. This is also a hiking trail in the Hemlock and Canadice State Forest and is accessible from Blank road in the west or Rix Hill road in the south. The “T” intersection is also visible on the map where the trains would turn into the depot at the village of Hemlock.
F. A. Cole was the conductor for the Lehigh Valley line that went into Hemlock around the 1908.
In 1899 the railroad line to the shoreline of the lake was removed because the City of Rochester was using the lake as a reservoir for drinking water.