It was founded by a man named Foster who reversed the letters of his name to name the town and was the site of one of the world's largest salt mines until its collapse in 1994. A new mine is located near Mount Morris, about miles to the southeast.
The original population of Retsof was mostly of Italian origin; they lived in a company town where the salt mine owned the houses, a store and maintained the small village.
In addition to the salt mine there was a small railroad—the Genesee and Wyoming Railroad (G&W)—that took the salt to the "Main Lines" in neighboring towns. The G&W remains active today as a branch line of the Rochester and Southern Railroad.