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by Charles R. Lowe

Rochester Transit Corp. 869                                          photo by Stephen D. Maguire

Nestled amongst several buildings on the west side of Portland Avenue just south of Norton Street, Portland loop is seen here with car 869. Since the car’s image is a little blurry, we can assume 869 is moving. The "Portland" signing indicates that 869 is about to come to a halt after having just arrived. Soon, the operator will change all signs to "Dewey" and, after a short layover, head south to downtown Rochester.

The year of this photograph, the only information to survive with the negative over the years, is 1939. By this time, Portland loop was the outer terminal of this streetcar line, but before August 30, 1936, cars were operated beyond this point to Seabreeze. Our photographer, Steve Maguire, made at least two trips in 1939 to Rochester to photograph streetcars. During the first trip, on January 12 and 13, the snow cover was so deep that the 2000-series cars Maguire photographed in Dewey surface-subway service had drifting snow plastered on their fronts. Thus, the present photo seems to date from another trip.

Maguire’s second and longest 1939 Rochester trip began on November 28 and lasted through December 1. The weather was fairly clear for most of his stay, and he made many fine photographs. While we may never know the exact date of this photo, we do know from other photos he made that on December 1, Maguire spent a sunny morning at East Main Station. Perhaps later that day he satisfied his curiosity about the Portland end of the Portland-Dewey car line and made his photo of 869 at Portland loop.

As it turns out, we can be especially thankful for Maguire’s efforts as this appears to be the only known railfan photo of Portland loop. Perhaps the perpetual shadows from the surrounding buildings discouraged most railfans. How ironic it is that Maguire considered this blurry view of 869 to be expendable and either sold or traded it (probably to Rochester railfan Charles W. Yingling) soon after making it. This stroke of luck ended up preserving a unique view that might otherwise have been lost to posterity.

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