ROCHESTER STREETCARS No. 5 in a series

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by Charles Lowe


Rochester and Eastern 157                                                Photo by George Slyford
Orig. neg. owned by Shelden King

At 7:13 p.m. on the evening of May 12, 1914, when Motorman Pritchard and Conductor Andy Brady left the Canandaigua station westbound with Rochester and Eastern car 157, they could hardly have imagined what they would find on the tracks ahead. At Emerson Road, just north of Canandaigua, a high tension wire had fallen in the carís path. Upon reaching Emerson Road and contacting the wire, 157 burned to its trucks in short order. While R. & E. traffic was suspended for three hours, none of the five passengers nor either crewman were injured (note 1).

The loss of 157, a 1903 Stephensen car in the 156-163 series, came at a time when the R. & E. was experiencing heavy patronage. In 1913, express cars 925 and 926 had been fitted with a few seats to increase the lineís capacity (note 2). Editorials in area newspapers cried out for more second section cars as some runs were "crowded to the platform every evening." (note 3)

New York State Railways responded to the demise of 157 by immediately ordering a new carbody from Niles Car & Manufacturing Co. of Niles, Ohio. When it arrived, the trucks and other equipment from the first 157 were installed under the second 157. Several differences distinguished the new car. New 157 had an arch roof; the older R. & E. cars had classic railroad roofs. The square windows of the new 157 were in obvious contrast to the arch windows of the 156-series cars. the new car also was lighter than the 156-series cars (70,000 lbs. vs 71,700 lbs.) (note 4), perhaps explaining why crewmen seemed to think the new 157 was the fastest car on the R. & E.

For 16 years, new 157 proved popular with crew and passengers alike as it streaked over streetcar and interurban trackage between Rochester, Canandaigua and Geneva. On August 1, 1930, with the coming of the Depression, an unrelenting rise in automobile use and the poor financial condition of N. Y. S. Rys., a court-ordered cessation of R. & E. service took place. The final full day of R. & E. service had been on July 31, 1930. Although the court order permitted the removal of trolley wire and station boards to prevent theft, the rest of the railway was to be kept intact for a possible resumption of service (note 5). With other matters of more immediate concern on its agenda, the N. Y. S. Public Service Commission did not issue an official abandonment order until March 8, 1932 (note 6).

This is probably about the time poor 157 is seen in the view above. A workman visible on the carís roof struggles to remove the trolley pole in the hope that the fine 157 carbody, still in prime condition, might be bought at the upcoming R. & E. auction. Already, 157ís destination sign and headlight have been removed. George Slyford and his 116-size box camera were on hand for this sad scene in Rochester at East Main Stationís Garson car house; his work that bleak day was merely to preserve some soon to vanish history. the happy story of 157ís later use as a cottage and its ultimate preservation at the New York Museum of Transportation, where the car can now be viewed, was far in the future.



1. Ontario County Times, 5-13-1914, pg. 7
2. 1933 Equipment Chart, sheet 3804
3. Ontario County Times, 4-15-1914, pg. 8
4. 1933 Equipment Chart, sheet 3804
5. Victor Herald, 8-1-1930, pg. 1
6. Ontario County Times-Journal, 3-16-1932, pg. 4


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