The route along Ridge Road (Route 104) between Lewiston and Rochester, referred to as the "Cobblestone Trail," has the distinction of having more buildings of cobblestone construction than any other highway in America. However, you'll find more than just great architecture near and along this route; you'll also find "agritourism," and lots of farm markets, antique shops and stores full of country arts and crafts.
First, let's talk about the architecture. Cobblestones are generally round and even, and are prevalent in Western New York, left by retreating glaciers millions of years ago. Cobblestone masonry was developed in this area during the early 1800s. At that time, it was considered a status symbol to be able to have a house built out of cobblestones rather than wood.
Numerous cobblestone buildings can be found right along Ridge Road; however, most are private residences, so plan to view them from the roadside and don't trespass.
A good reference guide to bring along is the book "Cobblestone Quest," by Rich and Sue Freeman, which has information about all the cobblestone buildings in the area, as well as maps and suggested driving tours.
The best place to learn about cobblestone construction is the Cobblestone Museum Complex at the intersection of Routes 104 and 98 in Childs, just north of Albion.
There are eight historic buildings in this complex, three which are of cobblestone construction and designated National Historic Landmarks. The 1834 Universalist church is the oldest church of cobblestone construction in North America; the 1840 Ward House served as the parsonage; and the onsite cobblestone schoolhouse dates to 1849.
Another cobblestone building of note that is open to the public is the Babcock Cobblestone House Museum on Route 18 in Barker, an 1848 Greek Revival farmhouse that now houses the Town of Somerset Historical Museum.
> Going to market
Niagara and Orleans counties are noted for their agriculture, and you will find a number of farm markets near and along Ridge Road. These markets offer fresh, in-season produce, and at many are set up with fun family activities and other interesting things to do.
In Medina, you'll find Lynoaken Farms retail market, which is located right on Ridge Road. Lynoaken Farms, which is best known for its apples, was started by Leonard Oakes in 1918.
In addition to apples and cider in the fall, it sells a variety of locally made foods, candies and arts and crafts, as well as seasonal produce. It recently opened a winery and tasting room, Leonard Oakes Estates, which serves a number of wine varieties, including whites, reds, fruit wines and ice wines.
It is a short distance down the road to Bashford's Farm Market, selling seasonal fruits, vegetables and flowers, alongside a playground and miniature golf course.
In the Albion area, there are two farm markets of note: Browns Berry Patch, located about five miles north of Ridge Road, and Watt Farm Market, two miles south of Ridge Road.
Brown's Berry Patch has been a farm since 1804. Its farm market offers a large selection of fresh fruits and produce, as well as U-pick fruits, a gift shop, deli, bakery, and ice cream parlor. For children, it has a Barnyard Adventure play area and farm animal petting zoo.
Watt Farm Market also offers seasonal produce, as well as a delicious variety of U-pick fruits, including cherries, raspberries, blackberries, apricots, plums, peaches, pears and apples.
Its country store has gift and decorative items, as well as 35 flavors of homemade fudge and an ice cream shop with 32 flavors of Perry's ice cream. If you visit on a fall weekend, you can take a ride on its Orchard Express train.
Continuing east on Ridge Road to the village of Holley brings you to Hurd Orchards, which has been operated by the same family for 200 years. In addition to fresh produce, jams, jellies and baked goods, the farm hosts luncheons and other special events throughout the summer and fall. You can also pick your own fruits.
About four miles north of Ridge Road, just over the Monroe County line, Partyka Farms in Kendall is part of the Country Barn Quilt Trail, started by farm owner Lora Partyka in 2006.
To date there are more than 40 barns and buildings adorned with hand-painted wooden "quilt" squares throughout the neighboring farm communities.
At Partyka Farms you'll find in-season produce, as well as U-pick strawberries, raspberries, cherries and tomatoes, along with ice cream, baked goods and homemade jams.
> The old and new
Antique and art-related businesses dot the route on and near the Cobblestone Trail. Described here are just a few; keep in mind that many antique shops are open limited hours or by chance, so call first if you want to visit a specific place.
In the Medina area, right on Ridge Road, you'll find Jeddo Mill, a circa 1858 gristmill that has a variety of antiques, primitives and collectibles. Next, head south to the village of Medina and Canal Country Artisans, a craft co-op, where you can choose from a large selection of quality hand-crafted items and gifts.
A little off the beaten trail, but definitely worth the trip, is Another Time, Another Place, located a few miles east of Medina. Located in a historic 1870s church, this shop is stocked with antiques, plus craft items by local artisans, jewelry, candles and more. They even have a small tea room where you can enjoy light fare.
> If you go:
Cobblestone Museum Complex, 14389 Ridge Road, Childs (585-589-9013; www.cobblestonemuseum.org). Open June 23-Sept. 2, Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.
Babcock Cobblestone House Museum, 7449 Lake Road, Barker (716-795-9948). Open Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m., late June to October.
Lynoaken Farms, 10609 Ridge Road, Medina (585-798-1060; www.lynoakenfarms.com). Open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.
Bashford's Farm Market, 11074 Ridge Road, Medina (585-798-0235).
Brown's Berry Patch, 14264 Roosevelt Highway, Waterport (585-682-5569; www.brownsberrypatch.com). Open daily April to October.
Watt Farms, 3121 Oak Orchard Road (Route 98) Albion (800-274-5897; www.wattfarms.com). Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Hurd Orchards, 17260 Ridge Road, Holley (585-638-8838, www.hurdorchards.com).
Partyka Farms, 1420 County Line Road (Route 272), Kendall (585-659-9131; www.partykafarms.com).
Jeddo Mill, 10267 Ridge Road, Medina (585-735-3535; www.jeddomillantiques.com). Open Thursday-Sunday. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.Canal Country Artisans, 135 East Center St., Medina (585-798-7460; www.canalcountryartisans.orleanslife.info).).