The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation



We are indebted to Bill Matthews and the family albums that he is carefully putting together for the background information and photographs in this article. We hope you enjoy this look at a unique aspect of local transportation and the people who built and maintain a tradition of quality service to the Rochester community.

We’ve said before: if our museum had a motto, it would probably be "Big Things That Move!" Of course, moving those big things takes a lot of work…building track, providing 600 volt DC power, changing the oil on the fire truck. But sometimes the task is even too much for us, and we have to call in the heavy haulers. In Rochester that has to be the good people at Matthews Building Movers.

We first met the Matthews family when we realized that steam locomotive 47 had to be turned 90 degrees (amid a forest of poles supporting the barn) if we were ever going to put a cab back on it for visitors to enjoy climbing into. After a brief telephone description of the problem, Peter Matthews assured us that, "Yep, we can do that", and a Saturday was agreed on. Working instinctively and drawing on years of experience, Pete, his brother Dan, and their Uncle Bill smoothly jockeyed the 0-4-0 into an orientation parallel to everything else in the car house. They used heavy jacks, 6" diameter black gumwood rollers, planks, and a come-along, occasionally whacking a roller or plank to "steer" the heavy load into position. After a quick lunch, brought out by Aunt Helen, the team then rolled 47 back to its intended display position, all as easily as picking up an HO model.

Matthews Building Movers also played a key role when we moved North Texas Traction Co. interurban 409 out of the old Spaghetti Warehouse Restaurant downtown. Pete and Dan were invaluable "general contractors" in the effort to extricate the car and safely transport it to NYMT. They checked all the dimensions, rolled the car body out through the tight building opening, managed the delicate hand-off to the C. P. Ward crane, and set it properly on the Silk Road flat bed semi. The next summer they returned when we took our own building’s wall off and moved the 409 inside.

Apparently, having big things in the wrong place isn’t just a modern-day phenomenon. The Matthews clan has been in the building moving business here in Rochester since 1867. That’s right…135 years, over five generations, in continuous operation. The company history goes back to 18-year-old William Matthews (Bill’s great grandfather) who came to the

       NTT car 409 eases into our car barn under the watchful eye of
      Peter Matthews (and a local news video cameraman).

United States with his parents from England in 1842, and began work as a carpenter. While still in his twenties, impressed by burgeoning traffic on the nearby Erie Canal, young Matthews opened a sawmill on the Eastern Widewaters, and began building barges. The business was successful, but eventually as the Rochester community grew and prospered, he saw a growing need for relocating structures. Perhaps a neighborhood had changed, or a road or rail line was being widened. For whatever reason, houses, commercial buildings, and other large items needed to be moved…across the street, to the next town, or maybe just lifted up a couple of feet to have a decent foundation installed.

The first job for the new company was a house at the corner of Walnut and Jay Streets, near the family homestead. In those early days, buildings were moved much like our steam locomotive was, using long wood rollers. Soon, Matthews progressed to wood-wheeled dollies. Looking like something out of the Middle Ages for their rustic construction and signs of wear and tear, these antiques still survive at the present-day company yard, but are no longer used.

The all-wood dollies were followed around 1900 by similar units with cast iron wheels, and later by specially built steerable assemblies with pneumatic tires. For power, the only thing available in the 1800’s was a horse or mule. Actually, lots of them…unless a little mechanical advantage could be employed. For a lot of reasons houses don’t want to be moved very fast anyway, so Matthews used a clever arrangement with a windlass and a block and tackle. The block and tackle multiplied the force, while the windlass provided further leverage and also converted the horse from a linear power supply to a rotating one (more controllable and taking up less space). Eventually the pulling duties were passed to tractors and trucks.

Matthews son, William H. Matthews, took over the business on the death of the founder in 1906, employing another son, Oliver who had worked with his dad in the business since childhood. When William H. died in 1929, Oliver Matthews took over, but then handed the reins to his own son, Francis, two years later. Oliver continued to help in the business until his retirement at age 83, and died in 1946.

Francis "F.O". Matthews was at the helm for 44 years, and began that tenure with a challenging job, moving the 2-story State Bank building in Livonia, NY from its corner location to make room for a new building. The bank was made of brick, and was estimated to weigh 400 tons including the safe inside! Judging by the photos in the Matthews family album, that wasn’t the only challenging move F.O. completed successfully. The general approach was usually the same: carefully and evenly jack up the structure, place long wood beams through the basement and support them on dollies or rollers, lower the jacks, and slowly move to the new location. Of course, it isn’t that simple. And one of the keys to F.O.’s success was in the detailed planning he did before any move. In addition to consulting with utility companies and government agencies, he would carefully study the structure itself to develop a safe support scheme, and would map out the route in detail. Even the actual move often became one of subtle modifications in roller angles at the front and rear of a structure to steer, rotate, translate, or whatever movement was needed to avoid trouble and get to the destination safely. Ask the Matthews folks today if they can remember any disasters, and they’ll tell you honestly that there may have been some difficult moments, but the true horror stories involve other companies…the ones that didn’t have the patience and skills bred over a century of good business practices.

 Steerable "wheels", designed and built by Francis Matthews,
could also be rigged with dual tires. Matthews family photo

This house and shoe shop at 3988 Lake Ave. were separated and set      The brick Terminal Service Station at Broad and Plymouth in
back to clear the trolley tracks and enlarge the total structure.              1938 shows a typical assembly of blocking, rollers and beams
Note chimney and plate glass window both intact.                                     Note the oil cans stacked in the window! Matthews family photo
Matthews family photo

The main supports used today are usually steel I-beams, but in an interesting connection to the museum’s world of trolleys, in 1955 Matthews salvaged enormous spruce beams when the State Street car barns were being torn down in Rochester. These massive timbers, still on call when needed, measure 12" x 14" in cross-section, and over 67 feet long!

A glance at some of F.O.’s old business cards reminds us that there were (and still are) many related aspects to the business of moving structures, and the Matthews company has handled them all: Leveling, shoring, roof raising, structure raising, stabilizing, trailer and roller work, and so on. The truly amazing part is they take on houses, garages, and commercial buildings of wood frame, brick, steel, or stone, and containing plate glass, tile, stucco, fireplaces and chimneys.

Francis Matthews’ retirement didn’t stop the Matthews family from carrying on the tradition of quality workmanship. Bill Matthews brings us up to date: "In the early 1970’s, F.O.’s son, Richard, returned from ten years missionary work in Taiwan to join his father in the business. F.O. retired in 1974, and I joined Dick in running the business until he moved to Wheaton, Illinois to pursue another mission-related venture. The business passed to Dick’s son, Peter, with whom I worked until I retired. Following college, Peter’s brother, Dan, joined the firm, and that is the situation today."

Through the unique transportation service they provide, the Matthews family have enabled the Rochester area to preserve numerous historic buildings, like the Oliver Loud Tavern, Irondequoit Historical Society’s Strawberry Saltbox House, the 20-room convent of St. Ambrose Church, and the beautifully restored Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern interurban "stop 22" waiting station that graces downtown Fairport. Not to mention some railroad and trolley equipment near and dear to our museum!

Near the end of 2001, Peter Matthews and the firm made local transportation news taking on the immense task of moving the South Butler Opera House a distance of 100 miles, across four counties, to the Genesee Country Museum. The good people of Matthews Building Movers are now doing business in a third century, and doing it well.

Matthews’ World War II-era Oshkosh truck "walks the plank"
to position a house over its new foundation. Matthews family photo


Special events not only give us a chance to "blow our horn" and get the publicity that reminds area residents that we are here, but also affords the opportunity to do things we just can’t offer on a year-round basis. A good example is the winter-only "B.Y.O.Train" event in which we invite visitors to bring their own HO gauge engines and cars, and take the throttle to operate them on our big model railroad. As we discovered last winter, this is a popular attraction for local families, and has done a lot to boost the headcount during the cold months.

"B.Y.O.Train" has brought in youngsters who have space for just a simple train set-up at home and can only dream of someday running their trains around sweeping curves, through tunnels, and past miniature houses, forests, and mountains. We’ve also attracted a good number of adults who have invested in expensive hand-made model locomotives but who don’t have a layout and have never seen the loco run. Another benefit in this winter fun is bringing in new members to Dick Luchterhand’s Young Modelers club where parents and kids attend monthly meetings to "learn from the master" and have fun working on the layout.

Last year’s mega-event was our two-day "Trolleys Return to Rochester", a successful joint effort with our friends at RGVRRM. This year, we are in the middle of important work that should provide reliable power that won’t require a whole tent full of electrical experts to supply. So we’re holding off announcing any trolley operations until we actually see the sparks. Members will be notified just as soon as we’re ready to re-energize those traction motors, so stay tuned!

Along with a new Gallery exhibit assembled by Otto Vondrak, featuring Ron Secondino’s local railroad views (including steam and diesel engines of the Kodak Park railroad), this year’s event line-up should offer our visitors a lot to enjoy throughout the year. We hope you’ll be among them.



January 6 through April 28 (Sundays) "B.Y.O.Train"

Visitors are invited to pack up their favorite HO gauge engines and cars and bring them to the museum. Under the watchful guidance of Dick Luchterhand, Bob Nesbitt and the rest of our model RR volunteers, these budding Casey Joneses will take the controls and run their trains on our huge 11’ x 21’ layout.

May 19 Joint Operations Opening Weekend.

RGVRRM Industry depot reopens for the summer season, and track car rides resume operation. Rides board at NYMT only and depart every 30 minutes, on the hour and half-hour, starting at 11:30 a.m. The last full trip departs at 4 p.m. The track cars are open-air, so rides operate weather permitting.

June 16 (Sun.) "Casey Jones Day"

The only operating equipment left from the Rochester Subway, this beautifully restored track maintenance car goes on active duty for demonstration runs throughout the day. Restorer Gary Morse likes to give Casey a little exercise now and then; these outdoor forays are popular with our visitors, with the Ford Model T engine humming as it did when brand new.

July 21 (Sun.) "Model Boats and Steam and Gas Engines"

In cooperation with the Western New York Model Steam and Gas Engine Association, there will be exhibits of working models representing this fascinating era in our history. Prize winning boat modeler Ed Balling will exhibit a collection of his beautiful work, and Bob Miner will have our calliope in full voice!

August 17/18 (Sat./Sun.) "Diesel Days"

There are six diesels in the RGVRRM fleet, from the small 45-ton yard switcher to the large 1,000 and 1,200 horsepower road switchers, and several of them will be operating over this two-day event. It’s a rare opportunity to see and hear these historic diesels working. Rides will be offered in cabooses and on the locomotives too!

November 3 ‘til May, 2003 (Sundays) Open all winter

Our last day of track car operations will be Sunday, October 27, and the Industry depot will close for the season. But, NYMT will once again be open throughout the winter months, at a reduced admission. No matter what your interest and no matter what time of year you want to come out, there’ll be a world of interesting transportation history waiting for you.

See you soon!


We were recently doing research in the museum’s archives, but at the time we were over 1,000 miles from Rochester. What’s up with that? It’s our new website and the great job Ted Thomas is doing putting our computerized archive on the net, that’s what! If you haven’t checked out our new site, give us a look at and see the fine impression today’s cyber visitors are getting of our museum.

As the internet and the people who use it mature, there’s less idle "surfing" going on, and more people seeking specific information. What are our hours? What’s the 2002 Event Schedule look like? Is it true you have a steam locomotive in your collection? They also have specific research questions, such as the man who recently inquired about a railroad car that was used to transport fish to the hatcheries in Caledonia.

Best of all, if you’re looking for a particular photo or other image in our collection, or just want to look at the pictures to enhance your knowledge or pique your curiosity for further research, the process is easy and quick. Click on the Archive button on our home page, then fill in any information, word, etc. that defines what you want to see. You can click on the titles of the data-entry boxes for guidance. You will then get a

list of all items pertaining to your search, with a short description and, where available, a thumbnail image. Clicking on the thumbnail brings up a sharp, full-screen version of the image for more detailed study.

Try it, and see the great results of Ted’s expertise and the considerable time that he’s invested on behalf of our members and the general public. Just another way we’re preserving transportation history and bringing it to life for our "visitors"…electronic and otherwise!


William K. Heron

We were saddened by the recent passing of Bill Heron, a long-time member of NYMT who will be remembered for his enthusiastic encouragement for our trolley operations. Bill was an active track car operator and, drawing on his career experience at Kodak, redesigned our visitor survey to help us better serve the public.




˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜

by Charles R. Lowe

Railroad roofs such as seen here on car 705 graced only a minority of Rochester’s streetcars. While some early single-truck cars including 100-119 and 200-299 had railroad roofs, later cars mostly had either deck or arch roofs. Among the latter-day double-truck cars in Rochester, only 40 cars, the 700-724 and 800-814 cars, employed railroad roofs.

The 700-724 cars were built by G. C. Kuhlman Car Company of Cleveland, Ohio under shop order 440 in 1910. The cars’ 32’-6" car bodies seated 44; platforms at each

New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 705.
        Original negative owned by Shelden King

end gave these cars an overall length of 44’-8". The four GE219 motors, built by General Electric Company and rated at 50 horsepower each, enabled the low 700s to pull trailers. The late Norm Kistner recorded that in the late 1920s, 705 was seen towing steel trailers 1101, 1115, 1116, 1119, or 1124 at various times. The wood 1400-1410 trailers were rarely paired with the low 700s and never, it seems, with 705. That New York State Railways made a repeat order with Kuhlman in 1911 (shop order 494) for 15 more almost identical cars, 800-814, indicates the success of the low 700s. A motor-car-and-trailer train could handle high volume crowds with only ¾ of the crew that equivalent single cars needed since the trailer only required a conductor. As crew costs (known as "platform" costs in the industry) increased, this consideration became ever more important.

Another innovation of the low 700s was their single-ended arrangement. Motor and brake controls were located only at one end of the car. The low 700s were Rochester’s first single-end cars built as such since the single-end bobtail horsecars of the 1880s. Construction of loops at the ends of Rochester’s streetcar lines proceeded quickly after 1907, permitting use of efficient single-end streetcars.

Although rebuilt in 1917-1920, the 700-724 and 800-814 cars remained 2-man cars for their entire service careers. As trailer use in Rochester diminished in the 1930s with a decrease in ridership and a conversion of streetcar lines to bus operation, the 700-724 and 800-814 cars were withdrawn from operation. First of the trailer fleet to be scrapped were the 1400s; most were gone by the end of 1935. Car 705, which never received a white safety stripe as did most Rochester cars in the late 1920s, is seen in this photo languishing at Blossom Road Yard about 1936. It is sandwiched between 1100-series trailers, and all three cars are awaiting their final scrapping. By August of 1939, scrapping of the low 700s, the low 800s and the 1100-series trailers would be complete.


The Mission of NYMT is to collect, preserve, display, interpret, and operate artifacts and information from the transportation history of Upstate New York and surrounding area, to delight, inform and educate our visitors about their transportation heritage. There are opportunities for our members to help out at the museum in every phase of this calling, but of special importance is staying open to the public. How can we "delight, inform and educate visitors" with our transportation heritage if we haven’t the staff to run the place? Take this little quiz to learn more about our operations and staffing needs (answers are on page 9):

1. How many people does it take to run the combined museums on a typical Sunday in the summer?

£ Two

£ Six

£ Eight

2. What percentage of the Sunday staff is paid?

£ 100%

£ 12%

£ None

3. Due to lack of staff, we are only open to the general public on Sundays. About what percentage of the rail and trolley museums in the U.S. and Canada are open only one day a week?

£ 75%

£ 30%

£ 10%

4. We augment our Sunday business with group tours by appointment during the week. About how many visitors did this bring us in 2001?

£ 750

£ 1,300

£ 3,200

5. The museums seek volunteers in which staff positions? (check all that apply):

£ Gift Shop sales

£ Ticket sales

£ Track car operations

£ Industry Depot guides

£ Model railroad operators

£ Officer of the Day

£ Crew callers

£ Weekday group tour guides

6. No advance qualifications are required…we provide the training.

£ True

£ False

7. Income from admissions and the Gift Shop accounted for approximately what part of total income in 2001?

£ less than 1/4

£ about 1/3

£ just over half

£ just under 3/4

£ almost all

8. Staff jobs are an interesting way to contribute to the museums and to enjoy meeting visitors from around the world.

£ True

£ False

How did you do? We hope you’ll want to join us—on Sundays or in weekday service. It’s fun and entertaining, and you’ll finish your day knowing you’ve helped us live up to the challenge of bringing transportation history to life for new friends of our museum. Give us a call and discover the fun and fulfillment that comes from serving the public at your museum.

How Do I Sign Up to Help?

There are several volunteer coordinators responsible for training and scheduling positions at the museums. They are the ones to call to start your participation. Give them a call, and they’ll take it from there:

Gift Shop and Ticket Desk………..…….Marie Miner (671-3589)

Track Car…………………...……....Jeremy Tuke (359-8944)

Model Railroad……………………..Dick Luchterhand (334-9228)

Depot Guide…………….…………..….….Don Shilling (381-3171)

Group Tour Guide…………….…..…….….Jim Dierks (473-5508)



A team effort led by NYMT President Ted Strang and featuring the skills and talents of Bob Miner, Randy Bogucki, Paul Monte and Joe Reminder, is performing some much-needed reconstruction and upgrading of our track motor car, TC-1. As the backbone of our contribution to the all-important summer track car rides, keeping TC-1 in safe operating condition is imperative. We’re also interested in making improvements for operator convenience, maintainability, and operating efficiency. In a recent interview with Ted, it sounds like we’re lifting everything off the wheels and replacing it, and considering the mileage the motor car undergoes in ride service, that’s probably to be expected.

In fact, even the wheels have been replaced in recent years, along with many other improvements. Track car rides began over twenty years ago, and expanded in scope with the completion of the rail line through to RGVRRM. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the motor car was rewired by Bill Holland, the engine was given a complete overhaul at Van’s Machine Shop, the radiator was cleaned and repaired, a layer of aluminum flashing was added to the roof, a new ignition switch, throttle linkage, oil pressure gauge and governor were added, and from time to time the paint was redone. Not to be ignored was the passenger trailer: Ted and Larry Kastner added fenders and step boards in the late 1980’s, as well as cushioned upholstery for the seats and a reinforced frame for the car itself.

The current project is even more ambitious. A fracture was discovered in the steel channel-stock frame, which locates the axles and supports the engine, and that has been welded. With the motor car being stored outside year-round since the arrival of ex-P&W trolley cars 161 and 168, a lot of the running boards and other wood parts are rotting and

Bob Miner Takes a moment to survey the
work still ahead of the TC-1 rebuild team.

Ted Thomas photo are being replaced. A couple of planks on each side, probably used originally as seats but now no longer needed, are rotted and will be removed. New flooring…probably diamond plate, hinged for access to brakes, wheels, etc….will be created. The important cross members and support blocks will all be replaced.

On the body of the motor car, a more durable material will be found to replace the delaminating plywood ends, and the four uprights that support the roof will be replaced. New windows fore and aft will be installed, possibly using safety glass instead of the Plexiglas that is prone to scratching.

A new seat box, set lower and fitted with a padded seat, will please the operators. The box will be designed to provide locked storage to contain the battery and the operator’s kit (flag, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, etc.). Currently, operators have to lug all this paraphernalia in a plastic milk crate, so this alone will be a welcome improvement.

Add in a new, larger fuel tank with convenient side filler neck, new brake shoes, new horn and access for chain tension adjustment, and we’ll have a track car that’s ready to keep attracting visitors with rides until trolley operations end-to-end can become fully operational.


If you’ve been reading these pages over the past year, you know that your museum has been busy. During 2001 we successfully operated the first public trolley rides in the Rochester area since 1956, extended the overhead wire above our rail line, made good progress on a number of restoration projects, brought our all-new website on line, and continued to honor our commitment to the visiting public.

Looking back over the past five years, 2001’s total attendance of 5,869 took top honors and represented an increase of 10.6% over the previous year. Total operating income rose a remarkable 20.2% over 2000, thanks to a 32% jump in Gift Shop sales. Overall income per visitor broke the $3 barrier for the first time, rising 9% to $3.13. Considering the number of school groups in our headcount, that’s a very good figure.

We try to keep a good record of volunteer hours devoted to NYMT, both on the property and in work at home, as such effort is as precious a commodity as the dollars and the visitors themselves. Our recorded volunteer hours totaled 6,446 this past year, another record, topping 2000’s hours by almost 9%. Dividing the total hours by the number of names on our active volunteer list reveals an average of 195 hours per volunteer in 2001!

Much has been done in the continuing effort to enhance our museum’s contribution to the community and to transportation history. Much more is planned for this year. Keep in touch for all the latest news, come out and see for yourself, and for the best view, join as an active volunteer!


The next time we have something heavy to move (which seems like all the time), we ought to call the Spencerport High School Wrestling team. These guys look like they could handle it. Apparently there’s an annual poster contest among the nation’s wrestling teams. Spencerport took the prize early in 2001 and, hoping to repeat their success, they came to us last fall for an appropriate setting for their 2002 effort. Glad to help, and good luck in the poster competition! Now, we call this a cross tie and that over there is a pile of ballast….

The museum’s Genesee & Wyoming caboose provides a macho
backdrop for Spencerport High’s wrestling team poster shoot.


Our "victim" in this issue can count among his many interests the editorship of the Semaphore, the monthly newsletter of the Rochester Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. So we’d better watch our step. And our syntax. Meet a volunteer with many interests: Gale Smith.

Gale tells us he was born in the family farmhouse one cold winter morning, a couple of hours shy of Lincoln’s birthday, next to a Victorian "base burner" stove that burned anthracite coal. The blue flames dancing behind the mica windows that encircled the stove helped kindle an interest in trains and other big things, an interest that burns brightly in him today.

There was plenty of railroad action to stoke that fire in Gale’s youth. He grew up in the grandly named burg of Ohio City, Ohio, where the east-west mainline of the Erie Railroad was crossed by the north-south Cincinnati Northern (NYC) and the northeast-southwest Cloverleaf (Nickel Plate). Many of us can relate when Gale says there were lots of times when the Erie’s two afternoon passenger trains, one heading east and the other west, tended to draw his classroom attention away from the teacher. The Erie was under steam back then, so it must have been an irresistible distraction.

Speaking of steam, during World War II, Gale’s dad went to work for Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio, and the family moved there for a year and a half. Gale says he "spent many an afternoon, touring the perimeter of the loco works, ending up on a highway bridge that went over the NKP yards (LE&W). This location gave excellent views of yard activity and a portion of the loco works. I was able to marvel at the freshly painted SP Daylights as they emerged from the paint shop". Back in those days of brightly painted streamlined steam, such as the famous Southern Pacific Daylight 4-8-4 "Daylights", it’s no wonder Gale had a fascination for trains.

While in Lima, the family spent every Saturday shopping in Van Wert, the county seat and…joy unbounded…a station on the Pennsylvania Railroad mainline. Gale remembers vividly the thrill of watching the streamlined T-1 steamers pulling into town. He recalls that most of the Pennsy’s exotic and experimental steam locomotives were confined for clearance reasons to the Crestline-to-Chicago mainline through there, but those shopping trips were apparently too brief, as he doesn’t recall seeing anything but T-1’s. (continued on page 7)

Once back in little Ohio City, Gale got a job at the village’s drug store, where one of his assigned duties on Saturday evenings was to retrieve the Chicago Tribune shipment that came in at the depot on the 10 p.m. Erie train. He remembers that the colorful age of streamlining had captured the attention of the locals, as many of them would gather at the station just to see the new Alco PA and EMD E-8 diesels that the Erie was putting into passenger service. The station, by the way, sounds like a good candidate for a model railroad project. It served all three railroads, with three separate ticket offices inside, a large waiting room, and central heat. Topping the depot was the interlocking tower to control the traffic at the junction.

Traces of the Midwest’s vast network of interurban electric lines could still be found in Gale’s younger days. More recently, he reports spotting classic brick trolley depots from the Fort Wayne, Van Wert and Lima in Middlepoint, OH and Monroeville, IN, and he notes that the one in Convoy, OH which incorporated a substation, also featured a brick "2-holer" out back for the convenience of patrons and staff. Gale was able to get some photos about twenty years ago before the large interurban car barn and shops were torn down in Lima, and he notes that the former interurban station downtown is, at last visit, a city annex building.

Gale majored in Chemistry at Bowling Green State University, in Bowling Green, OH, and after the draft interrupted his studies, he eventually earned his PhD from Michigan State University, with his doctoral project in metal-ammonia solutions. Apparently all that time staring out the school window at passing trains didn’t hurt much! He began his career at Kodak in the research laboratories in 1963, and after a number of interesting assignments, ended up doing research on lithographic plates. Gale considered this work a "golden plum", as he had always been interested in printing. He had edited his high school newspaper and yearbook, and had his own offset print shop at his Rochester home.

"Soon after my arrival in Rochester, I was invited to tour the Wurlitzer theater pipe organ in the RKO Palace Theater, and was hooked—not on classical organs, but on the theater organs developed to provide one-man orchestras for silent film accompaniment", says Gale. We can understand that fascination every time we crank up the player calliope at NYMT! Gale got involved with the Rochester Theater Organ Society—originally formed to provide monthly concerts but which was soon caught up in saving that RKO Palace organ, currently in the Auditorium Theater. That success prompted the society to obtain another, smaller Wurlitzer theater pipe organ which first had to be refurbished. Gale soon found his garage and basement filled with chests, console and relay components awaiting work!

Besides providing free storage for organ parts and serving in just about all the organization’s executive positions, Gale’s time was also devoted back then to publishing the theater organ society’s newsletter, with all the hard work of typing, re-typing, pasting copy (literally), working with halftones and metal printing plates. He continues to help the society with newsletter distribution. As we mentioned, he eventually took over editing of the NRHS chapter’s newsletter, some time after joining that group around 1990. Gale finds real satisfaction keeping the chapter members informed, but is happy to note some important differences from his days with the theater organ society’s bulletin: chapter members provide most of the copy, and the introduction of computers and laser printers has revolutionized the whole routine.

Soon after joining NRHS, Gale’s interest in interurban trolleys prompted him to join NYMT as well. His first big accomplishment with us was in the Archives, providing a detailed cataloguing of 17 boxes of papers and blueprints obtained from Rochester’s New York Central station just before it was demolished. Gale tells us that while the paper documents are fragile from age, he is surprised "that the many blueprints are in excellent condition, probably because the ammonia process used in producing them neutralized any acid in the paper".

Gale also provides invaluable help from time to time selling tickets and waiting on customers in the Gift Shop. He notes that these jobs are not only important but fun too, and we’re glad he can spare the time to help there. Competition for Gale’s time comes from his continuing interest in theater organs, a number of pet birds (including Hans II, a cockatoo you’ll hear in the background on any phone call to Gale), and a cabinet in the basement overflowing with N-gauge model train equipment.

For the future, Gale nominates Hans II for work on electrification…the bird likes to chew on things and the other day he was caught chewing on the vacuum cleaner cord while

Versatile Gale Smith has done time in the Archives and
also handles Gift Shop and ticket sales. Ted Thomas photo

it was plugged in. For Gale, however, he enjoys the ticket job and archive work, and has indicated that he’d like to get more involved in working on, and running, the museum’s HO model railroad. The talents, backgrounds and accomplishments of our volunteers—people like Gale Smith—continue to astound us. Thanks Gale!


This continuing report from Charlie Lowe, the museum’s Historic Car and Restoration Manager, is a round-up of progress reported by volunteers in several key areas. Thanks to all who are supporting these important projects with their time and donations.

New York State Railways, Rochester & Eastern 157: Randy Bogucki has been asked to assist in rearranging rails in the car house under 157 and P&W 161 to permit changing out the wide gauge trucks under 157. An investigation of the rails at the walkway shows that the common rail has a gap of about one foot that will have to be spanned with a filler-section of rail and four splice bars. The current display "ties", wood planks about 2" thick, appear long and solid enough to support this work. Additional planks will have to be placed under the display rails due to the extremely wide spacing of the current planks. The rails appear to be a shallow section of about 70 pounds per yard that our 90 pound Subway rail will not match well with. Randy Bogucki has found a few lengths of the lighter rail and they will be used under 157 during the truck moves and when the track is rebuilt there. Flange measurements were made of all eight wheels on the wide gauge trucks, indicating extensive flange wear. To facilitate movements of 157’s trucks and car 161, Bob Miner has charged the battery on L-3.

Philadelphia & Western interurban car 168: Charlie Robinson has continued his efforts through the winter restoring the side windows. Using plywood panels as temporary replacement, he is removing the sash and in the comfort of his basement scraping loose paint, priming and top coating, caulking any loose spots where rain might seep into the wood. Bob Miner reduced spring tension on the trolley pole bases to attain the correct 20 – 25 lbs upward force of the trolley wheels on the overhead wire, and a beneficial reduction in roof bow can now be seen.

Philadelphia & Western interurban car 161: Don Quant is hard at work building proper trolley boards and cleats, as the ones previously on the car were broken in a hasty removal effort prior to moving 161 and 168 from Iowa. These will be attached to the roof with wood screws sunk into the wood portions of the ribs supporting the roof boards. Don is now measuring where the ribs are and is marking cleat positions on the roof. The decision was made to use pressure treated wood for cleats and trolley boards, following electrical resistance tests. Randy Bogucki is patching ventilator covers to prevent rainwater from entering the car. These four units fit under the trolley boards, so they must be completed before the boards can be attached. With trackmobile L-3 adjacent to the front of 161, it has served as scaffolding support during the last five years of restoration effort on 161’s roof. In preparation for moving L-3, Bob Miner has removed the scaffolding and restoration debris.

Don Quant locates roof car-lines
from the inside. Ted Thomas photo

Electrification: Substation plans continue to move forward, with Rand Warner detailing a schematic plan for the facility and contacting the necessary officials (twelve at last report) to insure that our installation will be constructed to code. The decision to locate the facility in a steel cabinet along the rail line has been made, pending location of a suitable enclosure. Use of such a cabinet will avoid the cost and complexity of running high voltage and DC 600-volt lines any significant distance. Mild winter weather allowed Charlie Lowe to stake pole and anchor positions from milepost 1.0 to beyond the BOCES crossing, with a goal of having the entire line staked by the end of April. Several poles have been positioned for setting in May, including extra-length poles accommodating the dip at the loop switch and poles to mount the substation. Tony Mittiga and Tom Dunham have restored over 140 wood strain insulators this winter. Completion of the line will require restoration of an additional 125 insulators, as well as prep and painting of about two dozen bracket arms.

New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 437: Charlie Lowe has resumed work on the K35 controller. He has reinstalled the wood block holding the 16 reverser fingers, adjusted the fingers to the correct tension, and cleaned the contacts on the reverser drum. This portion of the controller permits motors to be run either forward or reverse and has a position for power to be cut off from the main drum. Charlie has rebuilt 7 of the 15 main fingers. Recently, NYMT ordered enough additional controller fingers, burning tips and other parts to maintain this controller in service and to restore one additional K35 controller (in order to operate 437 on the museum rail line before loops or wyes are built, a temporary controller will have to be installed on the rear platform). After the first ex-Johnstown Traction Co. K35 controller is restored, a second will be rebuilt to serve this purpose. Resistor grids, brake valves and air tanks will all eventually be needed.

General: Charlie Lowe has compiled a list of compressors in the museum’s collection, and made preliminary assignments of them to the cars in our fleet. He has also produced a chart of the major equipment for each of the museum’s six unrestored cars, and will be updating the list as new equipment assignments are made.


Is there anyone out there who hasn’t discovered that you are probably eligible for a nice discount on your car insurance if you complete a safe-driver course every three years?

One of many community services performed by NYMT members Dick and Maria Anderson is teaching the AARP version of this kind of training. Their course, geared to older drivers, is called the "55 Alive Safe Driving Course". Given several times a year, you must reserve a spot in an upcoming class and attend two half-day sessions to earn your "diploma". The fee is just $10, although other courses under different organizations charge other prices.

Dick and Maria guide the class through the workbook, with nice emphasis on discussion within the class to add depth to the lessons. You’re guaranteed to discover some things you didn’t know about the current rules of the road, causes of accidents, and ways to be a safer driver. The Brighton

Probably some nitwit yakking on his cell phone…

Recreation Center coordinates the sign-ups. Give them a call at (585) 784-5260 (or check with your insurance company for a course more appropriate to your needs) and help make our area roads safer for all of us!


This story can’t be true, but it came up years ago in a lunch time conversation, and seemed like a nice picture of the way things used to be, transportation-wise, around Rochester. Bear with us…

It seems there was a highly placed executive at the Eastman Kodak Company who had to get to New York City in a hurry. Pulling some strings, he booked space on the prestigious Twentieth Century Limited—the finest and fastest of the New York Central’s "Great Steel Fleet", and the only train on the system appropriate to his position…in his opinion at least.

Late that night, he arrived at the Rochester station and presented his ticket. The night agent was aghast. The Twentieth Century? That couldn’t be! There are lots of overnight trains to New York, but the Twentieth Century doesn’t stop in Rochester! A quick glance at the timetable assured him of what he already well knew, that the pride of the Central stopped at Toledo and, according to the timetable at least, didn’t stop again until Albany. And yet, here was this

Very Important Person, fully expecting to board the Limited in just a short while from now! What to do…?

The agent thought for several minutes. About the importance of keeping the Century’s schedule intact. About the importance of Kodak’s business. About the importance of keeping his job! Finally, he hit upon a solution, pounded out some frantic messages on the telegraph, and told the executive everything would be all right.

Shortly before the Century was expected, the agent ushered the important passenger to the platform. He placed one of the man’s two valises next to the tracks in clear sight under one of the overhead lights, then walked down to the west end of the platform, leaving the other suitcase in a similar spot. He then guided the man down to the far eastern end of the platform and told him to step up close to the edge.

Soon a brilliant headlight appeared west of the station, and the sounds of a fast steam train could be heard. As the locomotive began crossing the Genesee River bridge, the power was shut off and sparks started flying from the brake shoes. Still moving at a good clip the slowing steam engine roared past the waiting executive, looking small and a little too alone on the vast platform.

As the train continued to slow, down at the west end a sleeping car porter standing in the open steps of his car reached out and grabbed the first suitcase, then turned as he threw it into the vestibule. He returned to his precarious position just in time to snag the second bag and toss it inside.

With the train still moving, the porter returned once more to the bottom step, reached his arm out and threw a bear hug around the astonished VIP, dragging him up the steps as the Pullman car rounded the curve and the locomotive began to accelerate.

The executive made it to New York City in the style he demanded, more or less. BUT, The Twentieth Century Limited did not stop in Rochester!


Answers to Quiz

1. It takes eight volunteers to run the combined museums on a summer Sunday…ticket seller, Gift Shop sales person, model railroad operator, two track car operators, two depot guides, and an Officer of the Day. And this doesn’t allow any backup for rest periods, breakdowns, or the unexpected arrival of a large group.

2. Our museum is entirely run by volunteers; we have no paid staff.

3. At our last count, only 41 of the 430 rail and trolley museums listed in the "Guide to Tourist Railroads and Museums" are open to the public only one day a week.

4. In 2001, 1290 people paid to enter in weekday groups; this is over ¼ of our total paid attendance.

5. Bet you figured this one out! Yes, we need your help in all of these positions. We can also use you in repairs, mowing, exhibits, administration, archives…and the list goes on.

6. The answer is True…sign up now, and we’ll get you into the "spring training" schedule for Gift Shop, Ticket Sales, or Track Cars.

7. Besides being central to our mission to serve the public, staying open for visitors brings in much needed revenue. In 2001, admissions and Gift Shop accounted for 54% of total income.

8. You knew this one too, didn’t you! Besides the importance to NYMT, your help can be important to you as well. It’s fun!