The Lower Gorge of the Genesee

We'll begin our tour at Charlotte going south along the west bank of the Genesee River, crossing the river on the Driving Park Bridge and returning to Charlotte along the east bank of the river. As in the earlier document the trip will be divided into three sections, Charlotte (Charlotte to Turning Point Park), Maplewood Trail (Riverside Cemetery to the Middle Falls) and Gorge East (Driving Park Bridge to Charlotte).


The first permanent settlers on the west side of the Genesee River, in what is now Rochester, were Thomas and Mehitabel Hincher, who with their eight children, settled in what was to become Charlotte in 1792. Thomas Jefferson made Charlotte the Port of the Genesee in 1805. Charlotte was not much of a port however, since it was not accessible by road from Rochester, the boat landings were in the vicinity of the Lower Falls.

The best sources for historical information on Charlotte are the Charlotte Community Association, Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse Historical Society and the Bill Davis Overlook at the east end of Stutson Street which has many signs with historical information. You will learn a lot during a short visit. This is an open air site and always available. Scrolling down the page of the Bill Davis link will bring you to links for the other signs on the overlook.

A Charlotte History Timeline is available on the Charlotte Comunity Association website.

The best general books on Charlotte are The History of Charlotte (1930) by Emma M. Pollard Greer. A condensed version of the Greer book, augmented with more current information by Carlos de Zafra, Jr., was published in 1976. Another book Eight Miles along the Shore, published by the Greece Historical Society in 1982, has useful information on Charlotte. All are available through the Monroe County Library system.

A likely source for the name Charlotte is given in a Robert Troup Letter of January 1811. The letter is taken from Eight Miles Along The Shore ... , Virginia Tomkiewicz and Shirley Cox Husted, The Historical Society of Greece NY, 1982 p.124.

The area was settled by many New Englanders who didn't pronounce their r's. This is likely how Charlotte became sha-lott.

Thomas Jefferson named Charlotte the Port of the Genesee in 1805. The Port of the Genesee covered Oak Orchard Creek to Sodus Bay and tariffs and duties were collected at Charlotte but the major boat landings were King's Landing, Carthage Landing and Kelsey's Landing near the Lower Falls. Concerns about interfering with shipping to these upriver ports kept a bridge across the Genesee from opening at Charlotte until 1917. Charlotte became the real Port of Rochester in the middle 1850's when a railroad line was built from Rochester to Charlotte. A map drawn for Henry O'Reilly's 1838 book Sketches of Rochester shows the port near the Lower Falls.

Drawn For OReillys Sketches of Rochester

Drawn For O'Reilly's Sketches of Rochester 1838 S. Cornell Surveyor

For further information see The Port Of Rochester - A History of it's Lake Trade

Charlotte became a village in 1869 and was annexed by Rochester on the first day of 1916.

Donovan Shilling has written an article on Ontario Beach Park for the Crooked Lake Review.

Ontario Beach Hotel

Ontario Beach Park - 1918

The hotels at Ontario Beach Park hosted bands, dances and vaudeville shows but I believe it wasn't until 1907 a large midway was built.

Ontario Beach Hotel

Ontario Beach Grand Opening

The park was eventually taken over by the city.

History of Ontario Beach Park

From the scrapbook of Rochester architect Otto Block

The bathhouse dates to 1931

Blast Furnace

The Rochester Iron Manufacturing Company began operating a blast furnace in Charlotte in 1869. The plant covered 16 acres between the river and the current Lake Avenue and produced pig iron. In 1879 the furnace was sold, continuing operation as the Charlotte Iron Works. The company has its ups and downs. The furnace was closed and razed in 1927.

Stereogram of blast furnace

Blast furnace ca 1918

Greece Town Historian Collection

Blast Furnace ca 1918

1926 Plat Map - Blast furnace

1926 Plat Map - Blast furnace now Quinnesec Iron Mining Company

Here is some information on the transformation of part of the site to a boat basin and contains some older pictures.

An article by Donovan Shilling discusses iron ore in the area and mentions the Charlotte blast furnace.

Charlotte Light House

Charlotte Light House

The lighthouse dates to 1822 and the keeper's house to 1863. The keeper's house has a small but informative museum on the history of the area. The lighthouse was colored white in 2016.

Bill Davis Overlook

The Charlotte Community Association did an excellent job of designing this site which contains signage related to the history of Charlotte and the lower gorge. This link to the Historical Signage database will take you to information about Bill and Lois Davis. Scrolling down the page are links to information on other signage at the Overlook

Charlotte Cemetery

Resting place of Sam Patch and Charlotte's early residents including the Thomas Hinchers and the Latta family.

Sam Patch over falls

A map with information which was part of a Girl Scout Project can be found here.

Lists of the interred with gravestone inscriptions can be found here.

Sam Patch's Final Leap

In early October 1829 Sam Patch survived a leap over Niagara Falls. On October 29th an advertisement appeared in a Rochester newspaper announcing "that to convince the citizens of Rochester that he is the real "Simon Pure," by Jumping off the Falls in this village, from the rocky point in the middle of the Genesee River."

The story is told here in newspaper clippings of the time, 1829.

Sam Patch Another Leap RDA Oct 29 1829 2-5

The leap took place November 6 at 2:00 pm.

Sam Patch 1st Rochester Leap RDA Nov 7 1829 2-1

Sam Announced a second leap. Note in the ad Sam will leap at 2:00 and the bear at 3:00.

Sam Patch Announces 2nd Leap RDA Nov 12 1829 2-3

Sam Patch Ad Nov 12, 1829 2-5

The second leap did not go well.

Sam Patch Shocking Event RDA Nov 14 1829 2-2

Found March 1830

Sam Patch Body Found RDA March 18, 1830 2-1

Sam Patch Found RR March 23, 1830 2-3

A transcription of an 1833 article by An English Traveler contained information on Sam's leap.

There is a monument in the Charlotte Cemetery but the exact grave location is not know,

Sam Patch Burial Place RDD June 13 1845 2-1

Sisters of Mercy/Jacobson American Legion Post

Sisters of Mercy/Jacobson American Legion Post

Courtesy of the Sisters of Mercy

Located directly behind the cemetery.

Sisters of Mercy

Turning Point Park

The most important early export shipped from Charlotte was coal sent from the vicinity of Turning Point Park on the car ferries Ontario No. 1 and Ontario No. 2 as well as boats and barges loaded from a coal trestle. Two references are:

The area was known as Genesee Docks. See the original document for pictures.

All Aboard The Ontario Car Ferry!

Genesee Dock - 1935 Plat Map

Genesee Dock - 1935 Plat Map

Many of the former rail beds have been paved making this a great area for biking and walking. These pastimes have been extended by building an elevated walkway over the Turning Basin. For pictures of the walk way see the original Charlotte document. The opening of the walkway improved chances of seeing local wildlife

Riverside Cemetery

Riverside Cemetery

1897 Ad

The Riverside Cemetery opened in 1892 as a cemetery for people living on the north side of the city. Its operation was taken over by the city in 1942.

Riverside Cemetery
Union and Advertiser June 24, 1893 11-1

The almost entire absence of headstones and monuments will preserve the park-like appearance of the cemetery. Instead of thousands of grotesque and unartistic creations in marble, there will be thousands of varieties of plant, flower and tree. These will be cultivated with consummate skill and the whole region will be a glorious exemplification of the wondrous works of the Almighty power and love, and will be a continual appeal to the higher nature and nobler aspirations of the living.

The above text must have raised some controversy. The entire text is here. The Annual Report of 1897, page xix has some information.

Among the well known people buried here are two women in the Woman's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls.

Martha Matilda Harper

Martha Matilda Harper Gravestone

Blanche Stuart Scott

Blanche Stuart Scott Gravestone

Three other interesting women are:

Lee Morse

Lee Morse Gravestone

Helen Barrett Montgomery

Helen Barrett Montgomery, American Baptist missions author and promoter

Caroline Roosevelt

(a.k.a. Elsa Von Blumen) See Two Interesting People in the Maplewood section

Caroline W Roosevelt Gravestone

RocJocks: Cyclist Elsa Von Blumen

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

East Entrance

All Souls Chapel and Bishop's Tower

All Souls Chapel and Bishop's Tower

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