The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
NEW BUILDING PLANNED
Over the past several months, plans for a new building have taken shape. With the final approval process underway, it’s a good time to tell our members and friends about this exciting step in our museum’s development.
As shown in the accompanying sketch, the building will be located at the current passenger loading platform adjacent to the main car house. At 32 ft by 88 ft, it will contain two tracks and be long enough to hold both of our operating Philadelphia & Western Railroad interurban trolley cars with space left over for shorter equipment.
Any museum’s effort at "preserving the past" has to embrace the literal as well as the figurative interpretation of that phrase. If we were to allow our historic artifacts and vehicles to deteriorate from lack of attention or exposure to the elements, we would be failing to live up to our mission and our responsibility to future generations. The New York Museum of Transportation is blessed with the foresight of its founders in arranging occupancy of a substantial structure that provides valuable exhibit space and weather protection for most of our collection.
However, with the arrival seven years ago of our two fully operational P&W cars, as well as several other restorable additions to our fleet, we ran out of indoor space. Car 161 came inside for its roof repairs, new roof canvas, and major window restoration, but that displaced Genesee & Wyoming caboose 8 and also left P&W 168 outdoors. Protecting 168 has involved a lot of work reported in these pages…caulking and repainting windows and plugging roof leaks. Last year the museum invested in heavy(!) long-life tarpaulins to cover 168, which necessitated further expense and effort to remove and replace the tarps at the beginning and end of each summer season.
Meanwhile, Rochester streetcar 437, now on its trucks and ready for restoration, has continued to slumber outside under its own tarp. Hornell Traction snowplow 34 has been in a similar position as well. Clearly something had to be done to get more if not all of our rail fleet under roof.
A preliminary concept had been suggested a few years ago to construct a "carport" with a simple shed roof to ward off the rain, snow and direct sunlight. To minimize new track laying and to keep the collection from becoming spread over a large area, we envisioned placing this structure at the passenger platform. The idea even had the advantage that the resulting structure would look and function like a trolley terminal— somewhat common during the interurban era—a train shed consisting of a roof supported by poles.
Serious thinking got started last winter after the big effort of placing and tying down the heavy tarps on 168. Vendors we talked with suggested that a partial wall, or "skirt" would be needed just below the roof to protect it from wind damage. We also soon learned that pole barns involve more closely-spaced poles and numerous horizontal members, so that the open "train shed" look didn’t seem to be in the cards. We then decided to add full walls and end doors.
In order to preserve the options of loading trolley runs both in the new building (for example, in inclement weather) and beyond it on the loop track, we added sliding doors on both sides of the structure. This not only would provide straightforward access for our visitors, but would also be visually more pleasing as they exit the main car house. End doors where the tracks enter the building were then added, as were two "people doors" for access by museum personnel.
The building will be a standard pole barn with enameled steel siding and roof, skylights in the roof and along the upper sidewalls, and trusses designed to provide a clear span across the interior and to support the trolley wire. Although we plan to have the building constructed for us, there will be plenty of volunteer work opportunities in laying the second track, installing a floor, and other detailing.
Final drawings are now being developed by our builder, which we will then use to obtain approval from the Town of Rush and the State Department of Education. Current expectation is construction will start in the early spring of 2004.
Funding for our new car house will be sought from the community, our friends around the country, and from you our members. Look for details in a separate mailing later this winter. We already have challenge grants pledged by two generous members that cover half the projected cost. With good matching support, we will be able to pay for this important new structure without having to dip into museum reserves. We hope we can count on you when the call comes to contribute!
While many of our volunteers are happy carving out one area of interest to get involved in at the museum, others enjoy the variety that comes with mastering many jobs. We’d like you to meet a good example of the latter…Dave Peet.
Born in Milwaukee, Dave can claim pretty deep roots right here in Rochester. His parents both came from this area and were on temporary duty in the Beer City when Dave came along in 1944. One of Dave’s ancestors on his father’s side was the first Town Clerk in Penfield back in 1814. The Peets moved back to Rochester in 1951.
It wasn’t long before the subway was just a memory here, and a few years later Dave was off to college at the University of Michigan. He relied on the New York Central to take him back and forth between Rochester and Ann Arbor. In those days Rochester saw over a dozen trains a day each way, and he could actually choose between two trains—The Wolverine and the North Shore Limited—for his trips to and from school.
Dave eventually transferred to the University of Rochester and worked at Kodak while going to school at night. Between the two college stints, he put in four years with the Air Force—two years stationed outside Phoenix at Luke AFB and two at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Dave studied mathematics in college and was assigned to the computer center at the Academy where he worked with a big Burroughs system well before the era of personal computers. He did some programming and provided general support for research that was going on at the Academy, including some work on X-ray crystallography.
While in Colorado, Dave met Pam Livingston whose father also worked in the computer center. They were married in 1969, and after leaving the service a year later, they returned to Rochester where Kodak had a job waiting for Dave. Working at Kodak Park in the Manufacturing Systems Development Department his field was again computers, only now in support of manufacturing. In the instant film area, he concentrated on linking the Digital Equipment computers in the assembly areas to the IBM mainframes.
In August, 1984, Dave was given an assignment at Kodak’s modern manufacturing facility in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. He was part of an effort to bring the information systems up to date and align them with those in Rochester and around the world so that the Brazil plant could play a role in a worldwide manufacturing strategy for film and paper. Dave’s office was in the same building with your Editor, who was also on assignment in Brazil and who had already discovered the Brazilian railway preservation society. Dave and Pam quickly demonstrated their interest in experiencing as much of Brazil and South America as possible, and it wasn’t long before they were talked into coming along on a society excursion. Dave recalls the "scary" ride in the luxury bus as we headed south (the big tour buses ruled the road, and passed whatever and whenever they wanted!). Our trip in a train of Budd rail diesel cars traversed spectacular scenery along the coast in the southern part of the country.
The Curitiba-to-Paranagua trip featured tunnels and sheer cliffs,
Dave and Pam traveled a lot while on duty in South America and often drove the 1950’s-era divided highway called the "Dutra" from Sao Jose to the huge city of Sao Paulo, an hour and a half away. Crossing the Tropic of Capricorn en route was always interesting, but the real excitement came from the Mercedes diesel trucks that were ubiquitous in Brazil. Often lumbering up grades at 10 or 20 miles per hour, their feeble tail lights obscured in a cloud of black diesel exhaust, these trucks were really something to watch out for on an evening return from the Big City.
The Peets returned to the U.S. in March, 1988, and Dave’s next assignment had him working at Kodak Office on State Street. When the opportunity to retire came along in 2002, he took it, and since then has been enjoying time for his many hobbies at home, including some HO model railroading, as well as community activities such as maintaining the mailing list for the Penfield Democratic Party.
Since joining both NYMT and the Rochester Chapter of NRHS, Dave fortunately has made time in his life for our operations. He has served as a guide at Industry Depot on Sundays and for weekday group visits, and has also put time in on track car duty. His availability for weekday groups is especially valuable, and on several occasions he’s handled both track car and depot guide in one seamless effort. Dave has quickly picked up the routine in the Gift Shop and was a big help at the ticket desk during this summer’s busy Diesel Days. He’s also been a car host and car cleaner for the chapter’s fall foliage train rides. Dave is a quick study in these various visitor-interface jobs and we’re happy to have his time and talents to spread around.
But his help goes beyond the public operations. He’s been especially helpful this summer keeping our fields and lawns mowed, riding the Ford tractor or one of our smaller mowers.
Although Dave claims no special skills, we’re sure he won’t have any trouble contributing to restoration work, which he’s expressed an interest in. His hope for the museum is to see our entire trolley fleet looking good and eventually operating under wire on the rail line. Thanks, Dave, for all your good efforts. We share your hopes for NYMT and we’re happy to have your help in all its many forms!
NEW GALLERY SHOW
A major new exhibit has been hung at the museum, consisting of 30 photographs of streetcars and interurban trolley cars. "STREETCARS 1930s to 1960s—Railfan Photo Documentation of North American Electric Railways" is the title of this new show, and as it indicates, the images are all from the cameras of trolley enthusiasts. The negatives used for the exhibit prints are from the personal collection of NYMT Trustee Charles R. Lowe, and were selected to show a variety of equipment and eras over a wide geographic area.
Charlie worked closely with NYMT member Shelden S. King in choosing the pictures and in creating the informative captions that accompany the images. The pictures and captions will surely appeal to present-day enthusiasts, but the general public, short on trolley experience, will also find much of interest too.
We asked Shelden if he would help put the early world of trolley fan photography in perspective for us, and we’re happy to share his words with you:
TROLLEYING WITH THE FANS
by Shelden S. King
Young men interested in electric railways discovered that their favorite lines were being supplanted by buses. This led to picture taking. Usually the family box camera—often one made in Rochester by Kodak—was used. Most box cameras of the 1930s used 116 or 616 size film (4 ½ inches by 2 ½ inches), with eight exposures on a roll. That size became a standard used by most fans.
These young men and their friends found others involved in the same activity, because they often took photos in the same places at the same times. This growing interest in trolley and rail photography led, by the mid-1930s, to the formation of the Electric Railroaders’ Association and the National Railway Historical Society. Through publications of these organizations and through principally Railroad Magazine via its columns and advertisements, more lasting associations were made. Fan trips were operated over lines about to be discontinued, providing more personal contacts—and more photo opportunities, including views of seldom-used cars and service equipment.
Pearl Harbor—December 7, 1941—saw many of these young men in the service of their country during the ensuing four years. Their interest in electric railways did not languish. If stationed stateside near an area served by trolleys, cars were ridden and photographed. It was these servicemen who photo-documented the trolleys of Little Rock and Oklahoma City, for example.
Fans would often trade—"swap"—photos and negatives in order to build up collections. Some would shoot an entire roll of film on one car in one location, usually standing, in order to have negatives to trade with other fans for negatives from their areas. Because shutter speeds were slow, almost all photos were made of standing equipment.
The late Stephen D. Maguire and the late Barney Neuburger amassed impressive collections of negatives, and made prints available to enthusiasts. Maguire traveled in pre-World War II days with his father, whose business took him long distances from their home in New Jersey. That enabled him to ride and photograph many systems. For example, Maguire made the only known fan photos of Mobile and Tuscaloosa, Alabama on such trips.
Third Avenue Transit System 32: New York City street railways in Manhattan were prohibited by city ordinance from using overhead trolley wire, and an underground conduit carrying an electrified third rail was used instead. On the street, a slot could be seen between the running rails; a plow used for current collection would fit through the slot to reach the third rail in the below-ground conduit. Keeping the slots free of ice in the winter required use of slot scraper cars. These were often constructed from older passenger equipment. Slot scraper 32, a former cable car numbered 234, was built by Laclede Car Company in 1893 and electrified in 1899. It served as a passenger car until 1908 when it was rebuilt into a slot scraper. In our photo, it is seen as it goes about its chores on 42nd Street near 1st Avenue. Steve Maguire made this view on March 21, 1944, shortly after Third Avenue Railway System had changed its name to Third Avenue Transit System to reflect the increased importance of buses.
Photo by Stephen D. Maguire original negative owned by Charles R. Lowe
Maguire also visited Rochester, and made many photos of its cars in operation during their last years. He made contact with local fans, and also traded and purchased, so his collection of Rochester views was extensive. Photos attributed to Maguire are included in the exhibit.
Barney Neuburger was located in the Chicago area. His coverage of Chicago trolleys was vast. By trading and purchasing, he put together a catalog of photos of trolleys from all major and many minor companies in North America.
In the Rochester area, John Woodbury was the leading fan, and it is believed that he was instrumental in bringing leading fans, such as Francis Goldsmith of New York City, to Rochester. John Woodbury put together a sizable collection of railroad and electric railway negatives, apparently mainly through purchase. He published lists, and made prints available to fans. The Woodbury collection is owned by Rochester Chapter, NRHS.
While fans usually made "three-quarter" views of cars (showing the front and the side), automobiles, buildings and people appeared in many views. These pictures give one the feel of the era in which they were made. Note especially the view of Worcester Street Railway car 557. That is a downtown scene as downtown is remembered by many—the place were the major stores and offices were located. (Continued, page 4)
Worcester Street Railway 557: Here is a street scene once quite common in the United States. Worcester (Massachusetts) Street Railway's car 557 has pulled up to the City Hall stop on Main Street. A steel sign on heavy concrete bases protects passengers as they board or depart cars at this center-of-the-street stop. A lady intent on a day of shopping is leaving car 557 while a nearby boy gazes at a young woman crossing the street in front of car 557. The date is August 21, 1939, and Boston railfan William V. Kenny was on hand with his 828-size camera to record the action. The tiny 828 film was 35mm wide but did not have sprocket holes as does modern 35mm film. As a result, 828 negatives have an image area that is slightly larger than a standard 35mm frame size. Photo by William V. Kenny
original negative owned by Charles R. Lowe
There was a great variety of trolley cars in use over the period represented in the exhibit. Visitors will see such equipment as the single-truck Birney "safety" car, large double-truck city streetcars, streamlined PCC cars, and the fabulous "Electroliner" of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee.
Enjoy your trip back in time!
Your museum has once again been on the receiving end of the generosity of members, local companies and area residents during the past few months. They all are welcome additions to our collection and facility, and demonstrate a recognition of the value the community places on what we are about and what we do.
We’re indebted to Jeff Lader and North Ridge Glazing Co., Inc. for underwriting half the cost of new tempered safety glass for the windows on Philadelphia & Western car 161. When it arrived at NYMT seven years ago, 161 had smoked acrylic plastic windows. As part of our major refurbishment we decided to incorporate glass in the windows as the car was, of course, originally equipped that way. For safety reasons, we elected to use tempered glass—the kind that will break into harmless, tiny pieces if broken—but the cost would have been high. North Ridge saved us hundreds of dollars on this important part of our restoration of 161, and we appreciate their generous support. They even delivered the glass free!
Business Methods, Inc. of Rochester got a brief mention in the summer issue of HEADEND, but it bears repeating that they have donated a copier for our office needs, replacing the old one that was on its last legs. The new machine makes much better copies, and comes with a free maintenance contract that will keep our many forms, letters, signs, etc. looking crisp and neat, and we’ll spend less time struggling to make good copies, clear paper jams, etc. Thanks Mark McDowell!
Still more local companies helped out as we received a collection of 20 year’s worth of Rochester-Genesee Regional Transit Corporation annual reports, and several items from Alstom Signaling (formerly General Railway Signal Company). The latter included display stands for future exhibits, assorted parts and manuals pertaining to block signals and grade crossing protection, and a variety of office supplies. Among the components were several of the new light-emitting diode crossing flasher units. Also found in today’s traffic signals, a circuit board full of LEDs, connected in several sub-circuits, replaces the light-bulb-and-reflector in common use. Besides lowering maintenance costs by not having to replace light bulbs, these signals are safer—if a vandal were to shoot at the signal, the bullet would only break one of the dozen or more sub-circuits and the signal would still function.
Member Dick Barrett’s local company, Railroad Research Publications, made an offer in their catalogue last year whereby shoppers could request autographed copies of certain books and add $2 to their order, for the benefit of the NYMT archives. As a result of that effort, Dick recently sent us a check for $100, including his matching funds, and we thank him for his thoughtfulness. Dick has written and published numerous books, and they grace the shelves of the museum library. Among them are the authoritative "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting", in two massive volumes, and "Railroad Locks and Keys". These books are invaluable for the collector, and provide a thorough review of the many companies—including several in Rochester—involved in the railroad supply industry. Dick also published and distributes Mary Hamilton Dann’s locally-oriented books, "Rochester and Genesee Valley Rails" and "Upstate Odyssey, the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Western New York". For a catalogue or to place an order with Dick, give him a call at (585) 227-6903.
Dick Barrett also donated a cast iron "Rochester" station sign from the former New York Central station here, and a rare hand lantern from the Rochester & Eastern Rapid Railway (see sidebar).
Good relations between members of the rail museum community brought us some good fortune in the last period. Member and longtime supporter of our electrification efforts Fred Perry alerted us some time back to a pair of surplus Tomlinson couplers at East Troy Electric Railroad in Wisconsin. That outfit has a sister car to our P&W 161 and 168, and they had changed its couplers to match the rest of their fleet. The people at East Troy were willing to donate the couplers to NYMT so we could install them on one of our interurbans to mate with our P&W cars. Thanks go too to Charlie Lowe for making the long trip to the Dairy State to retrieve the couplers.
Our contact at Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, Connecticut came through for us once again when we asked if he knew where we could get a couple of missing components for the 10 x 10 brake cylinder designated for Rochester streetcar 437. Bill Wall not only came up with a whole, complete brake cylinder, but offered to bring along a pair of carbody bolsters—just exactly what we need for our Northern Texas Traction Company interurban 409. As if that wasn’t enough, he delivered these goods on a trip through our area!
A vintage toy steam engine, some locally made Star Headlight electric carman’s lanterns, an Adams & Westlake kerosene switch lamp, a train station bench, and half a dozen rare destination signs from Rochester, Lockport & Buffalo interurban cars are also additions to our collection. We’re also grateful to Phil McCabe for making up a couple of "STOP" signs for the rail line approaches to the two terminals on our track car ride. One item that didn’t stay in our collection was a kerosene switch lamp in like-new condition and equipped with day targets. The story the donor gave us was that the lantern was retrieved from the old New York Central station when the Rochester Chapter, NRHS was evicted prior to demolition. Chapter members, having no permanent meeting place to move to, kept various items from their former club house at their homes for safe keeping. We were delighted to reunite the lantern with the current Chapter membership, and know it will find a good home at the Industry Depot.
When Dick Barrett donated his rare Rochester & Eastern trainman’s lantern recently, he told us the circumstances surrounding its acquisition. In Dick’s words:
Wallace Bradley was a well known local railfan from the 1940s through the late 1970s. He and I became acquainted in the 1970s when we both moved to the town of Gates. Wally would often make the walk to my house (a distance of probably 1 ½ to 2 miles) and we would spend hours talking about trains, trolleys and interurbans. He was very knowledgeable on western New York railways and I, a transplant from New England, was eager to learn. Our friendship grew rapidly and I loved the hours we spent together. But, after several years, he and his family moved back into Rochester and our visits became more telephone oriented and less in person. Wally was much older than I, and there came a time when his health began to fail. I later learned that he had cancer and the prognosis was not good.
One evening I got a call from Wally. He said he was confined to bed and alone in the house.
He wanted to know if I could come over because he had something he wanted to give me. He explained that it was a lantern, one of the last pieces of hardware left in his collection.
It was a lantern from the Rochester & Eastern Rapid Railway. He told me where to find it in the garage and asked me to tap on his window after I found it so that he would know that I had found it. I followed his instructions and easily located the lantern. After getting it, I tapped on his window, he looked up from his bed and smiled and waved at me, then laid back down. I then left with the lantern. It was only a few weeks later that I learned that Wally had died.
NEW BOOK HITS STANDS
We’re fortunate to have several published authors among our museum membership. Don Shilling’s fourth Arcadia publication is just out and it should be of interest to local transportation history enthusiasts. "Rochester’s Transportation Heritage" covers its topic in vintage images from the 1890s to the 1950s, and ranges from bicycles to airplanes, horsecars to buses, trolleys to automobiles. Don’s selection of photos, combined with posters and documents, shows our life and times as well as the vehicles we used to move people and goods in our area.
A final chapter in the book, entitled "Preserving our Transportation Heritage" amply covers the activities and efforts at NYMT and RGVRRM with photos of members and exhibits at the two museums.
Arcadia’s "Images of America" series includes hundreds of books in a now-familiar 6" x 9" softbound format with sepia-tone photos on their covers. For some time now, local authors around the country have been bringing the history of their area to light through these works, and helping make history available to all. In Don Shilling’s "Rochester’s Transportation Heritage", readers can gain an interesting and nostalgic overview of the history that delights so many of our visitors each year. The book is for sale in the museum gift shop, and at $19.99 is a great gift idea for transportation enthusiasts or local history buffs.
A LOOK BACK
The summer issue of HEADEND mentioned a local man who donated a number of photos and artifacts to our archives. During our visit with him, he had a lot to tell about "the old days". Here’s a summary of our conversation.
Hugh Donovan was born in 1926 and lived in Rochester near the East Avenue grade crossing of the New York Central’s Auburn Branch. This area, now the "Can of Worms" interchange of I-490 and I-590, has been of transportation importance since before European settlers first arrived, and it was certainly a busy place in Hugh’s youth too. He has childhood memories of watching the big Rochester & Syracuse interurban trolleys come downhill toward the University Avenue extension, off the long viaduct that carried them over the New York Central mainline. He regrets that he could never convince his dad to take him for a ride on one of those big, luxurious Pullman-green cars.
Like so many young people back then, Hugh took the subway to attend high school in the city. He boarded at the East Avenue stop, on the curve east of Winton Road Station, and usually rode up front with the motorman in the front vestibule of one of the old 3000-series cars. He says the cars were all polished mahogany inside—"really beautiful". Hugh recalled hanging around the subway to watch the cars, and he’s given us some nice photos of those days. He described how a kid one day made a mixture of some common chemicals (he thinks it was tri-sodium phosphate and sulfur, but isn’t sure)(don’t try this at home, anyway!). The mixture was placed in lead toothpaste tubes. These things acted like railroad torpedoes, and when a number of them were placed on the rail at intervals, it sounded like a machine gun!
Besides interurbans and the subway, Hugh and his friends got a lot of entertainment from the streetcar system. By the mid-1930s, Rochester was starting to convert lines to buses, and the streetcar "grave yard" on Blossom Road started to fill up. Some of the cars got sold—in fact Hugh remembers several on Atlantic Avenue near the New York Central underpass that were diners. The old wooden cars had sway-backed roofs and didn’t offer a very classy dining experience.
Over at the grave yard, Hugh and his friends would sneak in and play. They learned how to put the trolley poles on the live wire, and enjoyed pretending they were streetcar motormen, operating the doors and even moving the cars a few feet. Some kids "from over on Halstead Street" would unscrew the brass handles from the walk-over seat backs and sell them for scrap. Oh, what a few museums would give to find a box or two of those handles hidden in someone’s attic. Hugh recounted a time when he and his buddies had come to play with the cars, and the one they got into had its air pressure gauge removed. He stuck a stick into the open hole to retain air pressure in order to operate the doors and brakes. When a watchman was sighted running toward them with a big club, the rest of the kids took off, but Hugh had to hold onto the stick. Just didn’t want to lose that air! He doesn’t say what happened next…
His memories of actual streetcar rides are still vivid and mostly involve the big 1200-series Peter Witt "submarine" cars. They bounced and swayed as they rolled along the increasingly deteriorated tracks. People in the rear of the cars had it especially bad. In addition to the magnified bouncing and swaying, the overhang of the cars turned curves into something like an amusement park ride. More than once he witnessed riders getting dizzy or carsick in the back of a Peter Witt taking the Vick Park curves on Park Avenue! "It was quite a ride", says Hugh. "A slow motion roller coaster…and it only cost a nickel!"
Hugh befriended the watchman in the crossing shanty at the Auburn Branch East Avenue grade crossing. Harry Piso had lost an arm as a teenager, and crossing watchman was typical assignment for such people. In the winter, coal to keep the shanty heated was dropped off by passing steam locomotives. The first time Hugh ever tasted pepperoni was when Harry put some slices on a shovel and placed it in the coal stove. With the hot sausage placed on bread, it made a great lunch, he says. Harry also had to maintain kerosene switch lanterns within his jurisdiction, but he still had plenty of time to fill. Hugh tells us the brakemen on the local switcher would sometimes stop in for a few games of checkers and to warm up in the winter. It always amazed him how so many people could fit into that little shanty.
Railroading had a special appeal, and Hugh eventually moved on to the Central’s Atlantic Avenue engine house, and enjoyed spending weekends climbing on steam locomotives that were stored there awaiting scrapping. After playing all day on these old yard switch engines, Hugh usually came home filthy. The bug had bitten, and he eventually hired out on the Baltimore & Ohio at age 19, at the end of World War II. Hugh showed up for work and was immediately assigned to a Salamanca freight as a flagman. His training: "Get in the caboose and hang on!" We’ll have tales from Hugh Donovan’s B&O days in a future issue.
SHOP REPORTby Charlie Lowe
Hornell Traction Co. 34:In the recent high winds at the museum, this car’s worn tarpaulin was blown off the car. A new tarp has been installed to see the car through the winter.
NYS Rys., Rochester & Eastern 157: Dave Johnston of Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista, California has provided NYMT with copies of many Westinghouse Traction Brake Company catalogs and pamphlets. This information will prove useful as 157’s air brakes are restored.
Philadelphia & Western RR Co. 161: Don Quant has determined the proper positions for this car’s trolley pole bases, trolley pole hooks and lightning arrestor equipment. Don has designed a change in the trolley boards to accommodate a conflict between a pole base and a roof ventilator, and the boards have been fabricated, primed and painted. Paul Monte has been continuing the difficult work of rebuilding the stools for the side windows.
New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 437: Placement of ballast on the loop track near 437 continues. From 1997 to this past summer, 437 was stored on blocking on the site of a former ballast pile. As part of the general cleanup from re-trucking 437, the last of this ballast is being shoveled onto the loop track. Since this part of the loop track will soon see trolley car movements, stabilization of the track with proper ballast is a worthwhile improvement.
Electrification: The layout of the substation room has been finalized and agreed to by NYMT and the members of RGVRRM who will be installing the electrical components during the winter once the room is completed. A professional mason will be hired to construct the concrete block room, and this work is expected to be completed by early winter. Ted Strang is investigating heating alternatives for this relatively small (approximately 10’ by 13’) room. All electrical items for the substation are on hand. This coming spring, we will make a final decision on power feed from our local power company and make external hook-ups for both AC and DC. Given success with all of the above, we could be in a position to make test runs of the system during the summer, possibly offering limited rides to the public.
Meanwhile, Charlie Lowe is looking forward to getting some "cottage industry" started in the winter months. Wrapping wires for downguys and prepping overhead components such as insulators and bracket arms will allow us to proceed with extending the trolley line once the substation effort is behind us and enthusiasm for a longer trolley ride predictably arises. These tasks are relatively low-tech, and they’re the kind of mass-production work that goes well with a team meeting on a regular basis. If you’d like to be involved, call and leave a message at 533-1113.
Mack Fire Truck 307: Mike Cassin and Dick Kalpin recharged the battery and started the truck. Mike has resolved the rough running by replacing the fuel filter. Ted Thomas has begun discussions with Jim Dierks on the design of a permanent exhibit on the wall adjacent to the truck, featuring model fire apparatus, photos and explanatory text. Don Quant has agreed to take on the job of project leader for this important vehicle, and will be responsible for all maintenance. We continue to seek responsible, knowledgeable enthusiasts for this segment of our transportation exhibits so that the truck can continue to appear in parades, advertising our museum.
ROCHESTER STREETCARSNo. 28 in a series
by Charles R. Lowe
If ever the word "resplendent" could be applied to an interurban car, R&E 163 as seen here in the summer of 1924
certainly would qualify.
After the 1904 "race" photo showing an R&E car pitted against the best the New York Central’s Auburn Road had to offer, this view of R&E 163 is perhaps the most well known R&E photo. It has been used in virtually all rail histories that cover the R&E, and it saw wide distribution as one of Bill Gordon’s many railroad and trolley postcards issued in the 1970s. Surprisingly though, the background of this famous photograph is largely unknown.
In the summer of 1924, R&E 163 became the first Rochester Lines interurban car to be repainted into a new paint scheme. In November, Transportation News (page 37) announced the event to employees. "The body is painted a golden shade with cream trim and mahogany sash. The interior is finished in mahogany with white enamel trim". The new colors were suggested by Rochester Lines General Superintendent of Transportation Roy R. Hadsell. A new monogram, an inverted isosceles triangle with "New York State Rys." inside, replacing the old lettering of the company name along both sides of the car just above the windows. The monogram added to the "general attractiveness" of the cars by modernizing slightly, for a style-conscious public, the twenty-or-more-year-old cars used by both lines. During the repainting program, a second monogram was added to the cars. A red octagon with the words "Be Careful, Safety First" were added near doors to remind passengers and crew to act safely. This design was used on both city and interurban cars on all operating divisions of New York State Railways. Throughout 1925 and 1926, cars of the NYSR Rochester interurban lines, the R&E, and the Rochester & Sodus Bay Line, were repainted to the new color scheme as they came into the shop for servicing. Improvement in ridership seems to be a secondary advantage of the new paint scheme. While both interurban lines were desperately in need of any improvements that would increase flagging ridership, the repainting program was largely a safety improvement introduced when the cars needed repainting anyway.
Although we cannot be sure, our photograph of R&E 163 was probably made by NYSR company photographer William G. Amer. It shows the car at East Main Station in Rochester on the tracks leading from the car houses to Main Street East and appears to have just rolled out of the nearby paint shop. While some tough years were ahead for car 163 and the R&E as ridership continued to decline, at least the improved visibility of the cars contributed to an excellent safety record.
DID YOU KNOW…?
John Ross has removed the 1920s-era Tangley calliope from its trailer and placed it on a new, portable cart. He’s now repairing and replacing valves and tubing. Expect the Tangley in full voice soon.
Ted Thomas managed to solve our problem of WHAM coming across on our PA system. He’s also been busy modifying the Gift Shop furnace cold air return and working with Doug Anderson to insulate the ceiling and walls.
John Corzine repaired our display crossing flasher after it fell prey to a sudden wind squall, and fabricated a lid for the milk can he and Bobbie recently donated.
Charlie Robinson has continued to caulk upper sashes and trolley board cleats on P&W car 168.
Anna Thomas has committed herself to cleaning the newly remodeled Gift Shop on a weekly basis, and has added the two restrooms to her list as well.
Ted Strang jumped in to make emergency repairs on TC-1’s trailer car, replacing a wheel and axle set. His good work, completed entirely on one Saturday, allowed us to maintain our schedule of Sunday and group tour track car rides without interruption.
Watch for more news in the Winter 2004 HEADEND!