The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation

Summer 2001


After 26 years of trying, and almost half a century since the last trolleys ran in the Rochester area, NYMT and its partners at the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum have made it possible for the public to take a trolley ride. We’ve kept you up to date over the past several years’ worth of preparations. Now here’s the story of the event itself.

Last winter, after successfully operating our ex-Philadelphia & Western interurban car 168 at a RGVRRM fall gathering, the museum’s Board of Trustees decided we were ready to "go public" and include a trolley event in our summer event schedule. We and RGVRRM agreed this would be a great opportunity to expand general awareness of the museums, and to draw out traction enthusiasts to join us as we continue to expand our trolley operation and restoration work in the future. The weekend of June 30 and July 1 was selected…late enough to avoid spring rains (hah!) yet early enough to provide a publicity benefit throughout the season.

    Car 168 pulls out from NYMT on another trip to Giles Crossing
    and after 26 years the dream comes true!       Paul Monte photo

You would think that took care of the hard part, and that all we had to do was "just do it" come summer. After all, we had a car that proved it could run, a diesel generator that showed it could put out the power, and we had a couple of members who knew how to run a trolley. What else would be needed?

Plenty! For openers, our overhead ended at a point that made sense at the time, but turned out to be awkward for reversing the car: at the lower end of the 3.2% downgrade on the back straightaway. After lots of discussion about ways to secure the car safely during reversing on the grade, the construction crew decided to go ahead and extend the line several hundred feet to Giles Crossing. As soon as the late winter weather permitted, Scott Gleason led a team of NRHS and NYMT people in planting additional poles, attaching bracket arms, and stringing wire, extending the total overhead to about 1/3 of a mile, and allowing the ride to end at a safer, level spot. Neil Bellenger, Dan Waterstraat, Dick Holbert, Randy Bogucki, Dick Luchterhand, Charlie Lowe, Jim Johnson, Charlie Harshbarger, Bob Miner, and Don Quant were involved in preparing the overhead hardware and extending the line, and we were off to a good start.

But there was much more to do. The overhead wire is just part of the circuit that powers a trolley car. What goes out must come back, and the rails handle that job. To make sure that works, each rail joint must be bridged with a guaranteed connection to assure a clean circuit back to the generator. This is done with rail bonds, thick copper stranded cable welded to the rails on each side of each rail joint. Rand Warner led this task, not only on the line extension but also where previously installed bonds were found to be weak and needed replacing. Bob Miner, Dick Luchterhand, and Randy Bogucki were on Rand’s team.

And what of that diesel generator that we would be counting on for two solid days or more of trouble-free output? Neil Bellenger, Art Mummery, Dick Holbert, Jim Johnson, Charlie Harshbarger, Dan Waterstraat, Rand Warner, and Scott Gleason grabbed hold of this one in an all-RGVRRM effort, making sure that the generator, switch gear and DC rectifier were all up to the task. Included in this effort were installation of perimeter fencing to keep the curious at a safe distance, and construction of a temporary roof over the equipment for weather protection. Bob Mader finally got his scaffolding back from the line truck, but donated a screened tent for the comfort of the generator operating crew.

There’s one more element in the trolley circuit, and that’s the trolley itself. There wouldn’t be rides without a fully prepared 168, and Bob Miner rolled up his sleeves and waded into this task. Through the generosity of Tod Prowell at Rockhill Trolley Museum, Bob was able to pick up some brake shoes to fit 168, and he proceeded to dig a "pit" deep enough to swing his wrench and replaced a badly worn shoe. Bob also lubricated everything he could think of—journals, motor bearings, compressor, etc. He also became an expert on the car’s compressor governor, burnished contacts in the relay cabinet, and designed/constructed a shield that keeps the
    Neil Bellenger, Charlie Harshbarger and Jim Johnson were just
    a few of many who kept the power supplied for operations.

handbrake chain from coming off its guide roller. Working with Charlie Robinson, Bob tightened the hand brakes at both ends for safe operation.

With two solid days of trolley operation in view, it was time to be sure that we had enough qualified operators to spread the work out. Charlie Robinson took responsibility for developing the training program for motormen/conductors. Charlie was the ideal person for this important task. He has years of experience as an operator at Seashore Trolley Museum, his technical background at Xerox helped him produce clear, carefully worded training materials, and his thorough nature made sure that this training program would leave no points not covered. During spring, Charlie created documents that covered operating instructions for car 168 and operating rules by which the crew would conduct themselves, drawing on similar documents from other museums, as well as from RGVRRM and NYMT. In a somewhat circular process, Charlie worked with Bob Miner and Jim Dierks as understanding of 168’s inner workings and plans for the weekend’s operations became clearer.

During June, the power generation team cooperated as Charlie and Jim ran brake tests, and final decisions were made for safety procedures on the 4% grade. Charlie conducted a series of classes and hands-on sessions, starting June 8 and extending over the following three weeks. Less than a week before the big event, he had graduated our first six motormen: Doug Anderson, Randy Bogucki, Tom Dunham, Charlie Lowe, Bob Miner, and Charlie Robinson.

Early in the spring, Jim Dierks took on the job of event coordinator, eventually creating a four-page outline of tasks, personnel needs, and schedules for the various days involved. It was decided to hold an NYMT members’ night as a dress rehearsal on Thursday, June 28, and a press preview on Friday, June 29, just before noon. Every detail anyone could think of was included in the outline, from trimming of tree limbs and cleaning the rest rooms to inviting dignitaries and roping off the boarding area. As always, many volunteers stepped forward to handle assignments and offer suggestions.

Charlie Lowe did a "walk through" with Jim to identify ride needs, and as a result Jim designed an elevated loading platform for easy entry into 168, and Charlie wrote up schedules for both 15- and 20-minute cycles. John Corzine built that platform over a weekend, and it served us well!

RGVRRM people agreed with the NYMT decision to not operate our usual track cars in any way that would provide a risk to riders, either from the electric overhead or from collision with 168. Their solution was to set up one of their cabooses just south of Giles Crossing—to serve as a safety buffer as well as an attractive and interesting waiting area—and operate the track car rides from that point south to RGVRRM. To help visitors reach this boarding site, their newly obtained 14-passenger bus would be put in service, connecting the NYMT back office area with the track car loading site. That site, incidentally, needed a platform for visitor convenience, and that was put together by Neil Bellenger, Scott Gleason, and Dan Waterstraat. The job included new culverts, brush clearing, and stone for the bus route and the visitor walkway. Dale Hartnett was named coordinator of this specially-arranged track car operation, with Tom Tucker to handle the bus runs, along with several other RGVRRM people.

In early June, close to 100 invitations went out to friends of the museum across the country to attend the press preview and to enjoy the weekend with us. Included on the guest list were local politicians, people who made significant donations of equipment, time or talent, and several people who were instrumental in getting NYMT started in the first place. A press release was prepared and faxed to all local newspapers and TV stations, and a "press pack" full of background information was assembled for each anticipated attendee. Among the materials were a map showing that there are only three other operating trolley museums within a 200-mile radius of NYMT; photos of museum activities and of the overhead line work; our museum Vision statement and a copy of the aerial view of the museum as we envision it in the future; and the four-page overview of Rochester’s history of transportation that we include in the museum’s teacher kit.

Also in the press pack was a brochure, "Trolleys Return to Rochester", created by Otto Vondrak. Complete with photos and nifty graphics, the brochure was printed up so everyone to attend the weekend would have a capsule history of trolleys in our area, including our own history-making achievement! Otto also prepared several retro-design car cards to add atmosphere in 168 and in our other trolleys. Colleen Anderson and Chris Hauf created additional designs, and Chris and Doug Anderson had them printed.

Period-design car cards had the look and carried a message.

As we counted down to the big week, there was still much to do. Paul Monte designed and installed supports for all the windows, to avoid any dropping on unsuspecting little fingers. The interior of 168 was cleared of parts and debris that had been there since Keokuk days, and received a thorough cleaning. Slit seats were re-taped. Ted Strang provided grease for all the tight curves and the guard rail that pinches. Paul, Bob Miner, Ted, Randy, Jim, Charlie Lowe and others mowed the entire complex, finished trimming brush, and policed the area, collecting barrels of discarded tie plates, trash, traffic cones and other visual pollution. The large and cumbersome stairway that used to lead to the MDT refrigerator car was right smack in the way, so an impromptu moving party took place one Sunday, involving Charlie Lowe, Trevor James, Bob Miner, Doug Anderson, two track car operators and a museum visitor! Kathy Mielke and her mom, Mary, did their green thumb thing, assembling (and donating!) three large half-barrels of petunias to decorate the passenger platform.

And the work still wasn’t done. There was Charlie Lowe’s photo panel, showing car 437 (otherwise hidden under a green tarp); there was Neil Bellenger’s down-at-eye-level bracket arm and hardware demo, and arrangement to park the RG&E bucket truck as part of the exhibit; there was Doug Anderson’s tape of trolley sounds for the sound system and a few tons of copies he made; there was the trolley fare box soliciting donations; there was Doug’s "Got Juice?" T-shirt and new coffee mugs, both featuring Jim’s drawing of 168; there were Doug’s (again?) three dozen "Trolley Crew" T-shirts for all those who would be on duty; there was Jim’s planning and set up for both the members’ night and the press preview; there was Rand Warner’s arrangement for Rush Ambulance Volunteers, and he and Bob setting up the NRHS refreshment trailer, Ted renting a port-a-potty, assembling safety vests for parking attendants and crossing guards, and on and on….

We knew we had caught the interest of the media when they started calling us for details and to set up coverage. Wednesday, with everything else bubbling, WROC came out at 5:30 a.m.(!) to broadcast a series of live clips with Jim direct from the museum. The local papers came for photos, and we were covered from Batavia all the way to Geneva.

Members’ night went without a hitch. A nice, warm evening brought out a good crowd and we ran several trips throughout the evening. Our motormen were getting good at spotting the 168 at that 10-foot platform, and all the equipment worked well. We hope you had a chance to join us for a great time!

Friday morning, Jim and Dick Luchterhand showed up early, and set up chairs and a podium on the passenger platform next to the building. The day was warm, but clear. Ruth Magraw came to welcome invited guests and hand each a press pack, souvenir coffee mug, and 25-year pin. TV crews mingled with the volunteers and members who could get away from work for awhile. Cathy McCabe (Henrietta Town Council), Jack Driscoll (Monroe County Legislature and also representing State Assemblyman Joe Erigo), Chuck Moynihan (Director, NYSDOT, Region 4), and many other guests began to arrive. We were especially pleased to see Henry Hamlin and his wife, Nancy, come in, and soon after see Mike Storey arrive. Henry was the prime mover of NYMT when it first got started and is still a solid supporter of our work. Mike was the museum’s first Director, and he came all the way from Baltimore to be with us for the celebration.

At 11 a.m., Jim welcomed the assembled group and gave a brief outline of the history of moving people and things. He touched on the massive changes that have occurred in just a few lifetimes, and expressed his feeling that we were writing a chapter in Rochester’s transportation history this very day. Cathy, Jack, and Chuck offered brief congratulatory remarks. Museum Certificates of Appreciation were then presented to Henry Hamlin, Mike Storey, and Rand Warner, all of whom were "here at the beginning" and
Henry and Nancy Hamlin recently joined Tom Kirn for a look at
Tom’s "Wally Bradley Remembered" exhibit in our Gallery.

deserve special thanks for their efforts on behalf of NYMT. The trolley crew was then cued, and Jim ad-libbed for a minute or so, before 168 came around the corner of the building making a dramatic appearance in preparation for what was probably the first trolley ride for many of our guests in quite a while. The TV cameras hummed, 168 ran down and back a couple of times, reporters cornered museum personnel trying to get a different angle on the day’s events, and soon it was all over. We managed to capture some of the coverage on video tape, and extensive publicity set the stage for a busy weekend.

Saturday, June 30 (45 years to the day since the subway quit) was another hot one, and the visitors wasted no time lining up to enter at 11 a.m. Suddenly, every part of the plan was in real life test. Ted Strang’s parking lot attendants got the lines started right; the modified ticket system worked smoothly; the rope line to separate waiting passengers from disembarking ones "sort of" worked; the boarding attendant quickly learned what to say and do to keep waiting visitors happy; our motormen/conductors looked snappy in white shirts and dark ties; and soon it was time to board our first passengers. Somehow, Dierks’ Great Plan forgot to include
Henrietta Council Member Cathy McCabe was among the speakers
who offered their congratulations. Phil McCabe photo

celebrating the first revenue passenger to ride a trolley in the Rochester area in almost half a century! No name, no photo, no ceremonial bestowing of one of Doug’s nifty trolley coffee mugs. Where’s historian Charlie Lowe when we need him? Heads will roll!

Even more: with 52 seats in 168, the car gobbled up all the waiting passengers and left us with no line waiting for the next trip. All that rope! All that hammering steel stakes into the concrete that passes for ground around the museum! Even with some passengers opting for a second trip (they were allowed to ride as many times as they wanted) we never really had a crowd control problem. Let’s see: two operators and two track cars to carry 22 adults versus a motorman and conductor to carry 52. Hmmmm…. (continued on page 4)

We quickly switched to the every-20-minutes departure schedule, and held to it throughout the weekend, giving us plenty of capacity for the steady flow of visitors. Consternation surfaced when it was discovered that the Plan hadn’t included synchronizing watches among the Officer of the Day, the Ticket Desk, and the trolley crew, but that was quickly remedied. Throughout the afternoon, the visitors
Trina and Carlos Mercado are delighted with their trolley ride as
Charlie Robinson’s fine training program proves its worth.

came, the car ran, the motormen/conductors rotated duty to assure equal running time for all, the generator crew wore their ear plugs against the continuing roar of the equipment, and there were smiles all around. Bobbie Corzine, Kathy Mielke, and Bob Fitch held down the fort in the Gift Shop, selling souvenirs and tickets, with 249 visitors tallied this day.

If Saturday was a real life test of the Plan, Sunday gave us some experience at what can go wrong. It was another warm one, and rain was due. On the return of the first trip, the generator had to be shut down due to a wire that had vibrated loose in the diesel control system. The passengers were rescued with the shuttle bus, Ted Strang made an excellent field fix, and we were back in business just in time for the heavens to open up in a huge gully washer! The power crew were grateful for the roof over their heads, and our visitors were amazed at the din created by a hard rain on a tin roof. About a half hour later, the rain let up and then stopped. We resumed the rides in noticeably cooler air and under a clear blue sky. Perhaps the midday monsoon caused some potential visitors to change their plans, as we were busier than Saturday, but not as busy as we expected. Nevertheless, our parking lot attendants had their work cut out for them and the driveway crossing guard was kept busy in his important safety task. Among the many who helped in these duties were Paul Monte, Jerry Gillette, Ted Thomas, Jay Newberry, Tony Mittiga, Sean Brown, Steve Huse, Scott and Brian Gleason, Ira Cohen, and Dee Mowers.

Toward the end of Sunday, 168’s control gear started acting up, and we shut down slightly early, around 4:25 p.m. The Sunday visitor count came to 334, for a total over the four days of 678, and Gift Shop income in four days over $1,100.

With 168’s handbrakes set and wheels chocked, the generator was shut down and an eerie silence filled the area. The combined efforts of over fifty volunteers from our two museums had created a memorable experience for our visitors and joined in celebrating a major milestone in our own history. Exhausted and exhilarated, we departed that evening looking forward to more great experiences the next
    Ted Thomas braves the heat and guards the entrance driveway        time "trolleys return to Rochester."
    as 168 negotiates the curve and embarks on another run.


For several years we’ve been holding a model steam and gas engine show, featuring an amazing variety of miniature replicas of the machines that once powered sawmills and oil derricks, farms and factories. This year, in addition to seventeen of Karl and Nick Stilson’s models, regular exhibitor Ed Balling brought in his enormous working model of the USS Gambier Bay, an escort carrier that was sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in World War II. An accurate replica of the original ship, complete with a deck full of Navy planes with their props spinning and ready for take-off, the ¼"-scale (O-gauge) model weighs 145 pounds and is over ten feet long. Ed’s work on this model amounted to over 9,000 hours, and a lot of that time was spent taking up space in Ed and Sharon’s dining room.

Ed has exhibited his model, and won national Best in Show awards for it, around the country, but the NYMT appearance was the first in the Rochester area. He has arranged to donate the model to the USS Midway museum in California, and the whole human interest story caught the attention of the Messenger-Post newspapers, leading to a nice cover article about Ed and his work. The publicity gave us another busy Sunday at the museum, and among the visitors were several WWII veterans who had served on other such Casablanca class carriers.

Bruce Aikman came over from his home in Grand Island to exhibit his equally remarkable models, also in ¼"-scale, of a
    Ed Balling’s faithful reproduction of the USS Gambier Bay
    includes the camouflage used to confuse enemy subs.

Gridley class destroyer and a Buckley class destroyer escort, and he tells us there were several veterans of these ship classes who came by to reminisce as well. Ed rounded out the exhibit with eight tug boat models, a cabin cruiser, and an Australian Navy attack boat. Out on the front lawn, Doug Metz—also from Grand Island—exhibited his full-size Eclipse hot tube natural gas engine. Doug was assisted by his friend, Jim Depew of Williamsville, and the two of them kept the hit-and-miss engine popping away throughout the day, to the delight of visitors who had never experienced such a machine.

Karl and Nick had scale replicas, toy steam engines, patent models, a Ferris wheel and an oil derrick clattering and hissing away, all functioning off the museum’s compressed air supply. We’ve discussed the possibility of opening up future shows to craftsmen who build model autos, locomotives, and even structures. Stay tuned!


In the spring issue of HEADEND, we described how the chance discovery of an old newspaper article piqued our interest in experiments designed to use compressed air to power streetcars, before the advent of commercially viable electricity. In Part I, we discussed early ideas for moving messages and people down air tubes, with many systems built and operated as early as the mid-1800’s. For more technologically advanced concepts, read on:

Michael Wares, at Fordham University, reminds us that William D. Middleton’s book "Time of the Trolley" briefly discusses some attempts to harness compressed air in transit systems. The Third Avenue Elevated, in 1881, experimented with something called the Hardie air locomotive, in an attempt to reduce air pollution and danger from sparks from their steam locomotives. With four 120 cubic foot air reservoirs where the boiler would ordinarily be, the device was charged to 600 pounds per square inch at the beginning of its run, and was even designed to use its cylinders as air pumps for braking (although it’s unclear whether this helped recharge the tanks in an early form of regenerative braking). Wares also says that due to the prohibition of overhead trolley wires in most of Manhattan, compressed air (and storage battery) cars were tried there too.

We also know that, just as some industries used "fireless" steam locomotives (using steam from a central plant), there were others, such as coal mines, that employed compressed air locomotives. As recent an example as the Locomotive Cyclopedia for 1941 shows an H. K. Porter model operating at 250 psi, from a tank charged to 800 psi, developing 8,000 pounds of tractive force.

Mark Brader tells us that the French city of Nantes (where, in 1826, the horse-drawn omnibus was first used) developed a large fleet of compressed air streetcars that started operation in 1879. Mark says that a model the line introduced in 1900 had an under-floor storage tank of 95 cubic feet capacity and was charged to 80 atmospheres of pressure (1,200 psi). He points out one of the shortcomings of compressed air systems: the air had to be heated before use, as cooling from the expansion of the air caused ice to form in and on the cylinders. Other technical hurdles would have been the need to periodically recharge the car’s tank and the relative inefficiency of compressing air (see box). One might wonder, too, about sitting over a 1,200 psi "bomb". Apparently it worked for the French, as the concept was in use until 1917.

Shelden King, in his book, "New York State Railways", cites the March 1927 issue of Transportation News (the employee monthly of N.Y.S. Rys.) as he describes Rome, New York’s brief and rather late flirtation with compressed air. Horsecars were first operated in Rome on June 27, 1887, and they provided service until well after most other cities had converted to electricity. The American Air Power Company bought a controlling interest in the line, and on September 22, 1900 the first run was made of a car powered by a Hardie air motor.

According to the Transportation News article, "A car started out in the morning with its tanks fully charged and when the air pressure became low, the motorman returned to the power house to have the tanks of his car recharged". The article doesn’t say how often these recharging trips had to take place, but does say "it was often necessary to send out to get a car which had run out of air upon the road". From mid-1902 until the inauguration of electric trolley service on June 9, 1903, horses did most of the work on the Rome system.

Here in Rochester, we find further information in "The Genesee River and Its Relation to the Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation", written by RG&E employees and published in 1943. Tom McColloch, Senior Mechanical Engineer in Fossil/Hydro Administration for RG&E, has graciously provided us with selected portions of this book which offers further illumination. According to the book and its appendix listing several newspaper articles for further research, James M. Bois, born in nearby Aurora, NY in 1842, invented the Bois Compressed Air Motor and formed the Hydraulic Motor Company. In a May 13, 1880 article in the Rochester Daily Union & Advertiser, work on the company’s facility at the Lower Falls was said to be ready to commence in a few days. A subsequent January 5, 1881 article in the same paper reports on an inspection tour and somewhat opaquely attempts to explain how the system of vertical and horizontal chambers was intended to work. Apparently the system employed static water pressure, as only about 45 psi was expected from the 97-foot head.

The articles about the Bois system are enthusiastic about replacing horsecars with compressed air machinery. Horses (and mules) could only stand a few hours of service in the best conditions, so even a system the size of Rochester’s required hundreds of animals, with the attendant costs of feed and maintenance, not to mention the immense manure problem. The equine epidemic of 1872 all but wiped out the stables of many horsecar lines.

Bois apparently had some bugs to iron out of his system, as we next hear from him almost two years later in a November 24, 1882 article in the Rochester Daily Union & Advertiser (researched for us by Charlie Lowe). Bois is characterized in the article as having been "laboring long and hard to prove the practicability of his idea". The article describes an actual demonstration on November 23, made on tracks laid "half way from the car house at the bank of the river, just below the falls, to the tracks of the [horse-powered] street car railroad company". Robert Hardy [sic], "the inventor of the pneumatic engine recently introduced on the New York elevated railway", was at the controls as the noisy car sped back and forth on the short section of track. The Bois plant was now capable of providing compressed air to street level at 75 psi, but statements were made at the demonstration that at 400 psi, the car should be capable of carrying 30 passengers over 10 ½ miles. This seems a reasonable claim, as the previously mentioned Hardie air locomotive tested on
This c. 1882 photo of the Lower Falls shows Bois’ compressed             the Third Avenue Elevated back in 1881 powered a
air plant in the foreground. From "The Genesee River and Its              three-car train for 9 miles.
Relation to the Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation",
published By RG&E

Indeed, just a year after that first Rochester demonstration, a much larger-scale demo took place. The November 7, 1883 Rochester Daily Union & Advertiser (also provided by Charlie Lowe) included a brief note that "A street car on the North St. Paul Street route, yesterday, was run by the compressed air motor and worked very satisfactorily. Over thirty trips were made and 1,000 passengers carried, the run being from the Central depot to the Asylum".

But the compressed air crowd wasn’t the only game in town. Among others interested in harnessing the power of the Lower Falls was the Brush Electric Company. According to "A Century of Engineering in Rochester", published in 1997 by the Rochester Engineering Society, Brush built a generating plant there in 1881 just after Bois’ compressed air plant was erected nearby, and on October 29 of that year the first lights for commercial use were turned on in the Powers Art Gallery and the A. S. Main Store in the Powers Block on Main Street in downtown Rochester.

After all this, what we’re still not sure of is just how Mr. Bois’ concept worked. Newspaper accounts obviously were written by non-technical people and are not too clear. We hope it didn’t involve too much machinery as Canadian Charles H. Taylor invented a system of compressing air using water power and no moving parts at all! In the Ragged Chute plant built in 1910 and still in operation, water from the Montreal River drops 350 feet down a vertical shaft and makes a sharp turn to a horizontal tunnel at the bottom. Air in the water compresses in the fall, but separates naturally from the water in the tunnel from where it is piped off to local cobalt mines. The system develops pressure of 862.5 kPa (125 psi).

Of course, what we do know is that the first electric trolley operation in the country got started in Richmond, Virginia in 1887, and—except in Rome, NY—any thoughts of further local experiments with compressed air machines were probably discarded in the race to join the electric age.

As we embark on the electric age ourselves at NYMT, it seems appropriate to reflect on the birth of electric power and the trolleys that eventually became commonplace on city streets and then faded into history. Imagine all the alternative scenarios that could have developed into reality—mechanical transmission lines from Niagara Falls, compressed air subway cars, and pneumatic tubes instead of e-mail. Many of today’s cities are still exploring alternatives, and as a result, the modern light-rail equivalents of streetcars and interurban trolleys are flourishing around the country. The compressed air experiment on St. Paul Street happened over a century ago, but the lesson is as modern as tomorrow.

We thank a number of friends of the museum for taking the time to help us research this article: Mark Brader, Michael Wares, Shelden King, Tom McColloch, Charlie Lowe, and David Minor. You can listen to David’s Time Traveler series each Saturday morning on WXXI-FM (91.5). Check out Mark Brader’s entertaining review of urban transit development on the web at

What do you think?

We wondered about the numbers associated with vehicles powered by compressed air machines. How fast would they go and how far before needing a time-consuming new charge of compressed air? Beginning with the definition of horsepower as 33,000 ft-lb/minute, and assuming 10 horsepower for a machine to run a streetcar with any degree of zip, we started to do some back-of-the-envelope figuring. We assumed some cylinder bore and stroke combinations, gear ratios, wheel diameters, and tried a 3 ft diameter, 5 ft long tank with air initially at 300 pounds per square inch.

We ended up with a streetcar that would go 7 miles per hour but only had enough air to go about two thousand feet down the track. No wonder Nantes used 1,200 psi!

Maybe we made a mistake in our calculations, and/or maybe you’d like to try arranging the variables yourself to produce a design that would satisfy the traveling public. Let us know what you come up with! If it’s a really good analysis, we’ll let you play the calliope the next time we crank ‘er up. Okay, sharpen your pencils! Ready, set….


Keeping the museum grounds mowed and looking nice for our visitors is a priority throughout the warm months, and Mowing Supervisor Bob Miner got a real boost in this annual effort from Larry Kastner’s recent donation of a Mitsubishi MT 180D diesel lawn tractor with a 54" mowing deck. Wow…a big, capable machine in great shape, and it couldn’t have come at a better time! Thanks, Larry, for your generous gift.

Bob Miner tries out the new Mitsubishi tractor, spiffing up the right
of way for our "Trolleys Return to Rochester" event.


by Charles R. Lowe

˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜

Late on mid-summer afternoons, Monroe loop at Highland Avenue was a favorite spot of railfans for practicing their craft. Bright sun would illuminate the right side and front of cars when they stopped on the loop, allowing photography with the slow film and shutter speeds of the era. This photo was made in 1937 using 50-speed Verichrome-Pan film; note the "V" in the upper margin. The square corners of the frame indicate that a box camera with a 1/30-second shutter speed was probably used, requiring a steady hand by the photographer.

The real story here is the car’s survival. Remaining in service until the end of surface streetcar operations in
N.Y.S. Rys., Roch. Lines 1213              orig. neg. owned by Shelden S. King     1941 (last full day, March 31), car 1213 was scrapped

soon thereafter. Motors and other high-value scrap would have been removed at East Main Station, and the carbody would have then been towed by wrecker 0461 to Blossom Road Yard. Fate then intervened. Rather than being broken up, the 1213 carbody was sold intact for use as a shed in nearby Webster where it reposed until the mid-1980’s.

In 1985, seeking an early "Peter Witt" car for their "National Collection of Streetcars," Seashore Trolley Museum of Kennebunkport, Maine, moved the remains of 1213 to STM. With the car badly rusted and weakened, the harrowing ride ended with 1213 reaching STM mostly intact. For nearly 40 years, 1213 sat outside and largely unprotected from the harsh and salty coastal Maine climate. Finally, generous funding for the car became available, mostly from the late Lloyd Klos of Rochester. 1213 was moved into the STM shop about 1995, and progress since then has been slow but steady. Nearly the entire body below the windows is being built new using original all-riveted steel construction. Currently, the surviving roof section is positioned over the reconstructed floor and frame, ready to be attached. Plans call for rebuilding the car to its original 2-man "Peter Witt" configuration (front entrance, center exit) of 1917. Much remains to be done and funding remains regrettably tentative. One day, though, this last surviving steel Rochester surface streetcar may be in routine service on STM’s Seashore Electric Railway.



We just don’t have enough room here to do an article on all that goes on at the museum, but the following should give a little credit where it’s due, and give readers an idea of the variety of opportunity for involvement offered at NYMT!

Ô Ted Thomas has been adding electronic photos of our catalogued archive items to the computer catalogue, to make it easier for researchers to find the photos they want.

Ô Jim Dierks has added new signs on the fire truck to remind visitors not to push buttons, etc., and he has added placques on both sides recognizing Mike Cassin’s donation of the truck.

Ô John Corzine installed a tension bar across to support the gates of our bus corral, so the gates work and look better.

Ô After a suggestion by the Gift Shop staff, nifty new signs have been put up inside the barn to direct visitors to the track car ride, restrooms, model railroad, and fire truck. Thanks to Phil McCabe, Randy Bogucki, John Corzine and Jim Dierks.

Ô Roger Dupuis is starting up a website for RTS buses:

Ô Members interested in keeping up to date on happenings at other rail and trolley museums can check their latest newsletters in our Archive room (binder on top of mail box).

Ô Don Shilling’s latest book is out, and it’s full of nostalgic Rochester street scenes. "Rochester’s Downtown" is another in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, and features over 200 photos, maps, restaurant menus, and early ads in its 128 pages. Ride the streetcar to see a movie at the Capitol theater, have a malt at Sibley’s, and learn where the first Cutler Mail Chute was installed, all for $19.99.


As promised in our last issue, the museum’s 1920’s Casey Jones track car, the one time Maintenance of Way workhorse for the Rochester Subway, will perform a series of demonstration runs throughout SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23. If you haven’t seen Gary Morse’s splendid restoration or watched him manipulate the controls of the Model T Ford engine of this nifty piece of Rochester history, now’s your chance!