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by Charles R. Lowe

Rochester Transit Corp. 54                            photo by George Slyford

When New York State Railways decided to upgrade its Rochester Subway equipment in 1937-8, there was much anticipation by the public. The 2000-series cars then in use on the Subway were rebuilt cars dating back to 1902, and their reduced role as Dewey surface-subway and tripper cars certainly must have been considered an advancement by riders. The new Subway cars, nos. 46-68 (even numbers only), were much more modern steel interurban cars built in 1916 for the Rome-Utica-Little Falls interurban line of N.Y.S. Rys., Utica Lines. When that line was abandoned in 1933, the 46-series cars were used on the Utica-Clinton suburban run. The twelve single end cars, with their full coach configuration, were in much too good a condition to scrap when the Utica-Clinton service ended in 1936. Stored for a year and a half in Utica, the cars were brought to Rochester in late 1937, and after reconditioning were placed in service during 1938. Over the next eighteen years, the 46-series cars proved to be well suited to Rochester Subway conditions and were the mainstay of the Subway fleet.

The success of the 46-series cars on the Subway was all in the future when George Slyford focused his camera on car 54 and a second, unknown car on September 18, 1938. The event, a National Railway Historical Society, Rochester Chapter outing, was one of several special trips made about this time to promote the Subway. The late Norm Kistner, an early Rochester railfan, wrote to NYMT member Shelden King on September 25, 1976 about the trip shown here. Kistner mentioned that "…the motorman standing near the front of the car (in coveralls) is Eugene Freeling* who passed away January 2, 1976 in Holcomb." Kistner also indicated some fascinating interior details of these cars, writing that "…the [interior] color scheme was the same as the city cars with dark green to the window sill level and then light green to the top of the side and then egg shell cream for the roof [sic; Kistner means ceiling]. The motorman had a curtain that slid on a rod from the back of him to near the right hand corner of the vestibule that was used at night to cut out the glare of the interior lights."

In our photo, Freeling and his westbound train have stopped briefly at the curve just east of Winton Road, presumably so the many railfan photographers aboard could preserve the moment on film. Soon, everyone would be asked to board for the trip back to downtown Rochester.

    * Diligent readers of HEADEND know that Eugene Freeling was so taken by the "new" Subway equipment that in 1939 he built a detailed ˝" scale model of car 60. The model, which took over 700 hours to complete, is on display at the museum, thanks to Mr. Freeling’s daughter, Dolores Ketchum.


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