The first December snowfall at the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton

The first December snowfall at the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton

In background, the abandoned Terrence Building, site of the former Rochester Psychiatric Center.  [Photos: David Kramer, 12/2/20] See Terrence Tower Without Diagnosis: A Photographic Montage of the Old Rochester Psychiatric Center

As seen in First November snowfall at the Highland Crossing in Brighton, (BELOW) we’ve trekked to the Highland Crossing Trail to capture snowfalls of various hues: some minuscule, some wintery, some sunlit.

Today, Brightonians woke up to a dank morning with some snow swirling and the appearance of an inch or two or three of accumulation, making the retrieval of the morning paper in its blue plastic bag a harbinger of blue, harsh snowfalls to come.

I did trek to the Highland Crossing. There, I re-discovered how weather affects mood. After several weeks of bounteous late fall pleasantry, it was difficult for me not to see the Trail through a forlorn and maybe a dismal lens.

When entering the Trail on the Westfall Road side, the signs were already pocketed with snow.  In this part of the Trail to the left is the the Monroe County Juvenile Detention Center and in the background is the abandoned Terrence Building, site of the former Rochester Psychiatric Center. The landscape felt Dickensian, conjuring socially realistic images of poor boys in penitentiaries and the mentally challenged locked in asylums.

The Monroe County Juvenile Detention Center, looking from the Trail.

Signs near the Westfall Road entrance

Entering at the Westfall Road Entrance. The cattail mini-pond is on Empire State College to the left of the Trail

As I entered the Westfall Road entrance, I saw to the right of the Trail dilapidated and abandoned buildings, now snow covered. A couple of years ago, I met a man who was working to clear out some of the buildings. While I can’t now recall everything the man said, he explained that, supposedly, in the ruins previously had lived a secluded, almost hermetic family. They even maintained farm animals making the scene look more like Appalachia than leafy, suburban Brighton. Apparently, the eccentric family had — but rejected — offers to buy their anachronistic farm.

Abandoned structures to the right and left of the Trail.

In an early December snowfall, the abandoned structures reminded me of Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome (1911), her story of early 20th century impoverished New England farmers where a reckless sledding excursion in a snowstorm becomes the doom of its characters.

From there the Trail can be seen industrial debris from a bygone era. I don’t know the history of the various leftover objects, but they seem to look something from an extensive factory or construction site.  In a mood of the first winter snow — and with it a sense of frozen time — the relics reminded me of post-industrial Rochester where old Kodak buildings rust away in Rochester winters — the human activity that once animated the site in a long hibernation.

Industrial debris

Not to be gloomy, once I returned home the snow was on its way to melting. Our next update on Highland Crossing snow will be more ebullient!

First November snowfall at the Highland Crossing in Brighton

From Elmwood Avenue, Brighton, looking at The Highland Crossing Trail, 12:15 pm, 11/17/20. [Photo: David Kramer]

Beginning last March, we chronicled the rare late spring snowfalls that fluttered down upon the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton. (SEE BELOW)

In late October, we received a dusting of overnight snowfall. Today, we got our first daylight squall.  For about half an hour, the snow fell on the Trail, melting away in about fifteen minutes when the sun reappeared.

The Highland Crossing Trail. To the right, the abandoned Terrence Building, site of the former Rochester Psychiatric Center. 12:15 pm, 11/17/20 See Terrence Tower Without Diagnosis: A Photographic Montage of the Old Rochester Psychiatric Center

Bird houses on the Trail with the Terrence Building in background

Near the Elmwood Ave. entrance to the Highland Crossing. At 10:51 a.m., 5/9/20, just a touch of snow is visible behind the bicycle. Note the “STAY SIX FEET APART” cautionary signs. From Distributing masks in Brighton and revisiting (again) the Highland Crossing Trail in (another) May snowfall

(left) Avalon Drive, 1:45 p.m. 5/9/20; (right) Brickstone Court 1:55, 5/9/20 From Distributing masks in Brighton and revisiting (again) the Highland Crossing Trail in (another) May snowfall

During a dusting of May snow, revisiting the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton (5/8/20)

A dusting of snow on the Highland Crossing Trail near the Elmwood Ave. entrance. 1:09 p.m. May 7th, 2020 [Photo: David Kramer]

Left by a well wisher on one of the bridges. 12:09 p.m. May 7th, 2020 [Photo: David Kramer]

Two months ago, On the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton after an early March snowfall (BELOW), I trekked the Highland Crossing Trail.

As you know, this has been an unusually cool, at times record breaking, spring. For every measurable snowfall in April, I returned to the Trail for updates, three times. I did not anticipate a fourth update, in May. If it snows tomorrow, look for a fifth.

UPDATE I: 4/16/20  After a mid-April snowfall, I saw deer, blue jays and ducks. My fox ran away too quickly for its photo op. SEE On the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton after an early March snowfall



UPDATE II: 4/21/20 It’s mid-to-late April and still snowing

UPDATE III: The morning of April 22nd, 2020 and it’s still snowing.

9:10 a.m. 4/22/20

The trail continues into Brighton Town Park

9:20 a.m. The snow is melting quickly. By the time I returned home, it was mostly gone.

On the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton after an early March snowfall 3/7/20

Wild turkey on the Highland Crossing Trail. [All photos by David Kramer, 3/7/20]

Brightonians need not be reminded of the bountiful natural and human resources of the Brickyard Trail, enjoyed by people from Monroe County and beyond. (SEE AT END) Less well traveled is the recently completed Highland Crossing Trail running from the Erie Canal Heritage Trail (the “Canalway Trail”) in the town Brighton to the Genesee Riverway Trail in the city of Rochester.

As described in the town of Brighton and city of Rochester websites:

The Highland Crossing Trail project is located in the southeast quadrant of Monroe County along the west side of the Town of Brighton and southeast quadrant of the City of Rochester. The project begins at Brighton Town Park, located southeast of Sawgrass Drive, and terminates at the Genesee Riverway Trail near the intersection of McLean Street and Wilson Boulevard for a total project length of 3.3 miles.

Map of the Highland Crossing Trail. [Photo: David Kramer]

The Trail location is in an archaeologically sensitive area, with eleven prehistoric and historic sites and six National Register listed or eligible properties or districts within one mile of the project location. In addition, the trail provides access via a raised boardwalk system to a state wetland that represents the headwaters of Buckland Creek. The trail has been designed to preserve the existing wetland area.

Today, after an overnight snowfall and under clear skies, I was alone on my walk between the Elmwood Avenue and Westfall Road entrances, except for wild turkeys and squirrels, but no fox or deer who also make the trail their home.

Elmwood Avenue entrance in Brighton. In background, the Terrence Building in the city of Rochester.

At the beginning of the trail.

One of several bridges.

Bench and birdhouse.

The Highland Crossing Trail intersects with the Johnsarbor Trail behind the St. John’s Meadows Senior Community.

Beer bottles lodged in thin ice.

The main bridge.

View from the bridge.

Footprints in the snow.

Industrial debris where the trail enters an open field.

Streamers next to the parking lot of the Monroe County Juvenile Detention Center.

The basketball court at the Monroe County Juvenile Detention Center.

Abandoned structures near the Monroe County Juvenile Detention Center. David Kramer’s ROCHESTER hat.

United States and New York State flags. Empire State College in the distance.

Cattails around small pond near Empire State College.

Near the Westfall Road entrance. Not sure exactly to what the sign refers.

The Westfall Road entrance.


Abandoned farms in Brighton

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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