New York Museum
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This volunteer organization is chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) educational institution, and gratefully accepts tax-deductible monetary donations and contributions of vehicles, artifacts, photographs and paper goods pertaining to transportation history.
Just 20 minutes south of Rochester is a combination of fun and history sure to please everyone in the family from youngsters to old-timers. With rolling hills and the Genesee River valley as a backdrop, two all-volunteer museums have joined to provide an interesting and educational experience featuring transportation history of this part of New York State. Members of the organizations believe their combination of two transportation museums and a rail ride is unique in the nation!
The New York Museum of Transportation houses eleven full size trolley cars, a caboose, steam locomotive, antique highway and horse-drawn vehicles, and the various associated smaller items that illuminate our transportation history. An 11' x 21' HO-gauge model railroad operates five trains and two trolleys at one time. Pump-type handcars, track inspection velocipede, signs, baggage carts, diesel engine cutaways, cap badges, track tools and lots of other artifacts complement the many photo exhibits and interpretive displays. The Gallery features a rare color film of the Rochester Subway. A big hit with visitors is the trolley car from the Spaghetti Warehouse Restaurant, open for display. The visitor Center contains a display of "O" gauge models of trolley cars that once served the area, and the exquisite modules by Donovan Shilling recreate moments in time from the turn of the last century.
On Sundays only from mid-May through October, electric trolley cars depart every half hour from 11:30 to 4:30 for a scenic journey on a full scale railroad (plan to arrive by 3:00 to have time to see and do everything). At Midway Station, riders transfer to authentic track cars like the "gandy dancers" once used, for the completion of their trip to the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum. Here, visitors enjoy a half-hour guided tour of the 1918 Erie Railroad country station owned by this museum. Inside, the stationmaster's office is preserved in its original condition, ready to sell a ticket or hand up orders to the next train. On display in the railroad yard adjoining the station are early diesel locomotives, a steam locomotive, freight cars, and passenger cars, many open for inspection.
At the scheduled time, the visitor makes the return trip, again by track car and trolley, on the 1 3/4-mile rail line. This railroad track was constructed by volunteers of the two museums over a period of 15 years. The "gold spike" was driven in late 1992, marking the completion of a long held dream and the beginning of joint operations for the two separate organizations.
The electric trolley operation at the New York Museum of Transportation offers the only trolley ride in New York State! Aboard 85-year-old Philadelphia & Western cars 161 and 168, visitors can re-live the interurban era of long ago as the traction gears rumble and the trolley wheel sings on the overhead wire. Watch the conductor reverse the poles at the end of the line, and be amazed as the powerful electric motors accelerate the heavy car up the grade on the return trip! The museum electrified line has been extended to a full mile in length, and construction continues with the goal of going all the way by trolley to the depot museum.
While the joint museum/ride package is available Sundays only, mid-May through October, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the New York Museum of Transportation operating season is year round, Sundays only. Trolley rides are also offered from early April to mid-May and throughout November. Group visits are available any time during the year by prior arrangement.
Our History: The New York Museum of Transportation was formed in the early-1970's, to provide a home for Rochester-area trolleys that had been orphaned with the demise of a private museum in Pennsylvania. Arrangements were made to occupy our buildings, Rochester & Eastern interurban trolley 157 was brought to the site, and a volunteer corps began to assemble. Our New York State charter as a non-profit educational institution was obtained in 1975. Through the late 1970's, rail and ties were salvaged from the former Rochester Subway, and a Federal job-training grant helped us complete the track that loops around the building and heads to the southwest. More vehicles were added to the collection, and an archive of photos and documents was started.
For the visiting public, exhibits and a gallery were created and a comfortable visitor center completed. In the summer of 1980, the museum began offering the unique track car rides that continue to be a popular attraction during the summer months. Throughout the 1980's, museum volunteers worked on restoration projects, visitor operations, archive housing and cataloguing, and special transportation history projects. The number of vehicles and artifacts in the collection grew, and the quality of the "hands-on" visitor experience grew with them.
In the summer of 1993, a Gold Spike celebration was held commemorating the completion of the rail line between our museum and the neighboring Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum, operated by the Rochester Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. In a coordinated plan, our two organizations together created a unique visitor opportunity: two transportation museums connected by a railroad ride. Joint summer operations were immediately established. Our museum grew in membership and in number of visitors, including strong growth in weekday group visits by appointment. Our mission was increasingly being fulfilled as we introduced transportation history to visitors from grade schools, summer camps and group homes.
1996 brought the museum many exciting new things. A rare and beautifully preserved interurban trolley car formerly used inside a local restaurant was acquired. Two fully-operational trolley cars, dating back to the late 1920's, were obtained shortly after. And, as the first of these two cars arrived at the museum, the first pole was placed in the electrification of the museums' rail line. Throughout the late 1990's, crews from both museums designed and constructed the pole line and installed the overhead wire. After a series of test runs, the first public trolley rides in the Rochester area since 1956 were run on June 30 and July 1, 2001. With the inauguration of regular trolley service on July 15, 2006, the museum fulfilled a dream that had been a part of us since our inception over 30 years ago.
But the work goes on and progress keeps getting made. Further extension of the electrified portion of the joint rail line to a full mile in length created a new operational opportunity, whereby visitors would ride to the new end-of-wire at Midway Station and transfer to our time-honored track cars for continuation of their journey to the depot museum. Special event weekends were designated when the track cars would be sidetracked in favor of diesel trains for the transfer service.
Our growth continues, and you are invited to be a part of it...as a member and as a volunteer. Join us, and be part of the fun and the fulfillment of our mission!