ROCHESTER STREETCARS No. 6 in a series

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by Charles Lowe


Rochester Transit Corp. 1236                                 photo by Charles W. Yingling

Going about her daily routine, a passenger is seen here boarding R.T.C. 1236 at Ridge Road on September 5, 1940. Doors will soon clank shut and 1236 will smoothly glide northward on the Lake line toward the Charlotte loop. It is a scene repeated countless times during Rochesterís streetcar era.

N.Y.M.T. member Shelden King recalls his own November, 1939 trip on the long Lake Avenue line. Grandfather King, retired New York Central Chief Passenger Car Inspector in Syracuse, had charge for a few days of seven year old Shelden and his younger brother Steve. What better entertainment for the boys, thought Grandfather King, could there possibly be than to ride the N.Y.C. from Syracuse to Rochester and take a ride on Rochesterís streetcars?

This they set out to do. An early departure from Syracuse launched the great adventure. As they rode through Rochesterís Goodman yard, young Shelden noticed a traction orange colored "Bullet" car recently sold by the Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville; it sat on a flat car en route to Utahís Bamberger Railroad. After arriving at Rochesterís N.Y.C. station, a short taxi ride took the three to State and Andrews Streets where a northbound Lake car full of riders was boarded. Eagerly, Shelden and Steve vied for the most forward seat available. The ride north to Charlotte proved memorable as the abrupt brakes on their 600-series streetcar jerked the car to a bone-jarring halt at each stop. This harrowing ride prompted Shelden and Steve to remark loudly and repeatedly that "these cars are worse than the streetcars we have in Syracuse!"

After lurching and swaying their way to Charlotte, Shelden and the others disembarked at the stop just south of the Charlotte loop. In November, most of Charlotte was shut down but Grandfather King found one cavernous restaurant to be open. It was a grand building two stories tall and on the west side of Lake Avenue. Its first floor was slightly depressed below street level and a wrap-around balcony surrounded the second story. Here they enjoyed a fine pork chop dinner for their noon meal during which at least one 1200-series "Submarine" car went by the restaurantís windows. Most Lake cars were turned back toward Rochester at the Kodak Park loop but even in the off-season, a 20 minute or so service was maintained to Charlotte.

After finishing their meal, Grandfather King, Shelden and Steve boarded a southbound 1200-series car. this car proved to be in good condition and the trip back to downtown Rochester was made in good order. From there, Grandfather King and his charges retraced their steps back to Syracuse. Upon arriving in Syracuse on the N.Y.C. elevated line, Shelden took special care to look out his coach seat window to look down on North Salina Street to make sure the Butternut and Wolf streetcars were still running as they had been before the trip.

One only wonders how many "boys" were on that trip: two, or three!




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