ROCHESTER STREETCARSNo. 34 in a series
by Charles R. Lowe
Our present photo shows car 854 (Brill, 1912) on the loop at Genesee Valley Park after completing a southbound run on the long South-St. Paul line. The motorman is about to change his "SOUTH AV. TO GENESEE VAL. PK." sign to one indicating a northbound run. A "ST. PAUL TO SENECA PK." sign will be used if the northbound run is to be cut back at the Seneca Park loop; a "SUMMERVILLE" sign will be used if the car is to proceed all the way to Lake Ontario. Sometimes, northbound cars on the South-St. Paul line used a simple "ST. PAUL" sign, however.New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 854
One of the problems of railfan photos made decades ago is the loss of information concerning the making of the photo. Three photos, all made of car 854 at this location on what looks like the same day, have come to light from different sources. The negative of our 854 photo came to the author from NYMT member Shelden King. The "CD9451" indication at bottom left tells us that the negative was once in the collection of railfan Charles Duncan. Barely visible on the negative’s lower right corner, though, is the scratched-off name "Holland", written on a diagonal. "Pitt" Holland, a New Englander, was the original photographer, and he made several trips to upstate New York in 1935; the date recorded for this photo is June, 1935. Another very similar negative of car 854 is part of the John G. Woodbury Collection, held by the Rochester Chapter, National Railway Historic Society. Woodbury recorded the date of his negative as May 9, 1935, but the trees in the background appear far too leafy for early May. A third photo from yet another collection gives us more clues. A broadside view of the car’s right side, the third photo’s negative is owned by Malcom D. McCarter and dates from June 9, 1935. It was probably made originally by Chicago-area railfan Eugene VanDusen.
While we may never know for sure, it seems probable that Holland and VanDusen, led by Rochesterian John Woodbury, rode to Genesee Valley Park loop on June 9, 1935 and photographed the car they rode during its layover. The quiet locale of the loop is now in the middle of a Strong Memorial Hospital parking lot, and the line back north to Rochester via Crittenden, Mt. Hope, Stewart and South has been a bus line since 1939. But thanks to these 1930s railfans, it is still possible even today to catch a glimpse of the past.