Sunday, March 8, 2009

Vanished Rochester: Rochester Junction

During the 1969 Rochester Centennial celebration, an unusual shopping venue was opened at 600 North Main, on a siding of the Penn-Central (formerly Michigan Central) railroad tracks. Businessman Ronald J. Roberts bought six old railroad cars, including a caboose, from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and created a boutique shopping center called Rochester Junction. The railroad cars hosted Roberts' paper memorabilia business, an antique shop, a penny candy store, and a restaurant. As a little kid, I had no great interest in paper memorabilia or antiques, but the penny candy store got my attention because that was just about all the ready cash I was allowed to carry around at the time.
The restaurant car was the one closest to the street, and it housed several different eateries over the years that Rochester Junction was in existence. The most memorable, for me, was the Purple Pickle, because during its tenure there the restaurant car was painted a garish purple all over, and really stood out from the landscape. Later restaurants featured a more sober paint scheme.
Rochester Junction survived until the mid-1980s, but by then the railroad line had been abandoned and was in the process of being converted to the Paint Creek Trail. Today, the site of Rochester Junction is the parking lot behind the building which most recently housed the True Value Hardware at 600 North Main.

Photo: The Rochester Junction sign on North Main about 1982.


  1. I worked at the Junction and "The Purple Pickle", which had the best beef barley soup and corn beef sandwiches. R.J. Roberts father, Wallace, was also the owner of Furs by Robert in Detroit. I fondly recall Cecil C. Bowman, who was the town character at that time. He used to come into the Junction on a daily basis, complete with his railroad hat and very large chew of tobacco.

  2. Does Rochester Junction include the Hungry Howie's/Downtown Cafe building as well? I ask because my family has owned Hungry Howie's for 20 years and I have a lot of fond memories in and around the building...

  3. Although it was parked next to the building where Hungry Howie's is, Rochester Junction consisted only of the railroad cars. Stay tuned, however - Remembering Rochester will be writing about the Hungry Howie's building in a future "Main Street Stories" post.

  4. Shout out to R.J you where pretty cool!

    I worked in the train for many years. The Dining Car Deli and many other version of it was open by R.J. after "The Purple Pickle" closed. I remember Wallace well he was a funny man... I can still crave the corn beef sandwiches. R.J. had the candy store in the train cabus but later turned it into his office not sure what he actually did back there lol but he was an enterprising man. That old cash register was a pain to operate... I remember co-workers Amber, Elizabeth and Coney.

    I was shocked to see the train gone when I had returned for a reunion. The Town has really grown.


  5. I remember eating breakfast there as a kid and It was amazing. I still miss it..

  6. I worked at the last restaurant that was there, "Matteo's". Great times, i miss it and wish it was still there!! :-). I remember seeing Joni Mitchell and Glen Fry (eagles) there. Awesome! I was a dishwasher there but eventually became the pastry chef. It was my first job when I was 16-18

  7. I can't find any pictures of the actual train anywhere. :-(