Democrat and Chronicle, December 23, 1921
An inquiry recently made in "Over the Percolator" asks for information relating to the plank roads that formerly ran out from Rochester. The year 1857 may be taken as the date when the plank road system was at its height, and in that year the following plank roads ran out from the city:
Brighton plank road, from the city line on East avenue to Allen creek a distance of three and one-half miles. This line was the favorite one for pleasure driving. The road company was organized in December, 1847.
Rochester and Charlotte plank road, from the city line at Lake avenue to the steamboat dock at Charlotte, a distance of seven miles. The road company was organized in November 1849.
Rochester and Gates plank road, from the city line on the Buffalo road to Chili, a distance of eight miles. The road company was organized in November, 1849.
Rochester and Hemlock lake plank road, through Rush and Lima to Hemlock lake, a distance of twenty-five miles. From the city line on Mount Hope avenue this road followed the Rochester and Henrietta road from Rochester to Henrietta. The company was organized in February, 1850.
Rochester and Henrietta plank road, completed September 1850. Length of road, seven miles.
Rochester and North avenue plank road, from the city line on North avenue to the ridge road, a distance of two and one-half miles.
Rochester and Pittsford plank road. The company was organized in 1850. and the road was seven miles in length.
Rochester and Spencerport plank road, nine miles long. The company was organized in 1849.
Rochester and Webster plank road, from Rochester via Main street to the Ridge road in the town of Webster. This road was nine miles long, with branches of one and three-fourths miles.
These roads were constructed of heavy planks laid cross-wise to the like of the road, and supported on timber "string-pieces" placed parallel with the road line. The income of the road companies came from the toll charged for the use of the road. Toll was collected at toll gates placed at specified distances apart along the road. The tolls were fixed by law, and were apportioned according to the use made of the road, and a schedule of the tolls was posted at each toll gate.
The roads were generally constructed of planks reaching from one side of the roadway to the other, though there were instances where there were two lines of planks separated by a gravelled way. There were other toll roads made of gravel or like material, and generally classed under the name of "turnpikes." This name was taken from similar roads in use in England, passage along which was barred by long poles or pikes, which were turned one side when the toll was paid.
Modern road building has done away with plank roads and turnpikes in this state, though there were a few instances of plank roads existing until quite recently. There was one instance of an existing plank road as late as 1919, in the southern part of the state.