Hear the story of the Plank Road

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

The public is invited to hear the story of the Jerusalem Plank Road at 4 p.m. July 18 at the Branchport Library.

The story is about a journey into the past, but unlike the poem by Robert Frost, it is not about the road less traveled. It is about a road that was a vital link in the Town of Jerusalem between Penn Yan and Branchport. This route has a long and rich history of travel, commerce and residential life. t has been both the path of farm produce and a connection to the pleasures of Keuka Lake. The story of habitation and development along this road is an interesting one. Many of the homes along the road still stand, though some have changed in appearance.

From 1849 – 1879, the Branchport and Penn Yan Plank Company Road was a toll plank road. In 1875, New York State had over 3,000 miles of plank roads built by corporations. These roads, made of hemlock planks, connected rural commerce and travel to railroads, canals and thus faraway destinations. Across the state, many roads still retain the name, “Plank Road.”

Branchport and Penn Yan Plank Road is documented on the 1854, 1855, 1865 and 1876 Yates County Maps. Details of the toll keepers duties and how they were outsmarted by the “Fast and Furious” drivers and everyday farmers using the road to transport their goods of the 1800s will be revealed in the program.