Rochester landmark being dismantled

Posted at: 11/15/2012 5:37 PM
Updated at: 11/15/2012 6:16 PM
By: Ray Levato

Despite efforts to save it, a Rochester landmark is finally being dismantled. The Hojack railroad swing bridge in Charlotte has been sitting idle for years.

Built in 1905 by the King Bridge Compamy of Clevelend, the Hojack line swing bridge saw its last train nearly 20 years ago. It's said to be one of only two like it in the country and soon there may be just one.

A landmark, an icon structure that stands guard at the mouth of the Genesee River in Charlotte. Geno Lenyk and Matt Schultz were just two of the many people who've come down here to get a last look -- or get a few snapshots of the Hojack swing bridge before it's all gone. Workers using torches are cutting the bridge up piece by piece. The ends have already been cut away.

Geno Lenyk, bridge spectator, said, “It's sad. It's really sad. I remember when they first took it out of service there was all kinds of talk about putting a restaurant in and doing a lot of things out here in the port. And we were kind of excited. I'm sure other people were. I certainly was. It looked like something that could be salvaged and made use of.”

And now.

Lenyk said, “ And now it's just turned into a navigational hazard? It's sad to watch it go.”

Schultz said, “I wish I had taken some pictures before they started taking it apart, before and after. But it's a little too late for that.”

The U.S. Coast Guard says the bridge must be removed under the Federal Rivers and Harbors Act because it no longer serves a transportation function, even though the cement boat The Stephen B. Roman didn't seem to have a problem navigating around it.
CSX owns the old railroad bridge and is paying for its removal. Efforts to preserve the Hojack bridge spawned the save the bridge project, a plea to transform the steel frame into a glassed in, world-class, seasonal attraction.

Richard Swacen said, “We've invested. Charlotte has gotten better. The development plans are here. There's no question this bridge should and must be saved for posterity.”

But others think history has turned the page.

Schultz said, “We used to have a lot of trains come by here. I hate to see it go, but it's time has come.”

CSX says the demolition work is expected to be completed in the spring. That includes removing all the under water structures. The city of Rochester really never got involved in the preservation efforts.
A city hall spokesman says the city has never taken a position on the bridge as they don't have jurisdiction or say in the matter.

Hojack has several different versions. Two accounts including a 1903 newspaper article talks about the way railroad workers called a character named Jack. Hello Jack apparently got shortened to Ho Jack.
The line was officially called the R.W & O. for the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad that ran along Lake Ontario.