- Railroad History Explorations -

Ithaca Railroads

Biking and Exploring History

Despite it’s steep hills, Ithaca, NY has had a robust and colorful railroad history. From its nascent beginnings in 1834 when the Ithaca & Owego Railroad used horses to tow rail cars up the steep grades of South Hill; to the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s famous flagship passenger train: the Black Diamond Express, rail transportation in the area was challenging and an interesting chapter in the town's history.

Weekend Travel

A family reunion in 2014 brought me back to the area where I had spent my college days. Fond memories of the hippie-infused town and it’s wonderful parks and waterfalls were always enticing me for a return visit. After a quick online search of bike riding opportunities in the area traversing the old railroad right-of-ways, I set aside a full weekend for the adventure.

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The Rail Trails

There are three sets of rail trails to check out and numerous abandoned ROWs to explore as well, as the maps below indicate.

South Hill Recreation Way

mtbSouth Hill Rail Trail Ride - Photos and Short Video Summary

East Ithaca Recreation Way

mtbEast Ithaca Rail Trail Ride - Photos and Short Video Summary

Black Diamond Trail

mtbBlack Diamond Rail Trail Ride - Photos and Short Video Summary

Further Trail Info

Ithaca Rail Trails

Railroad Maps

The Lehigh Valley Railroad had a strong presence in the area and the south hill climb was an interesting challenge to overcome. Be sure to check the historical railroad info below.

1 - 1900 Topo Map


2 - Courtesy of Scott Lawrence - New York State Railroad Maps

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