Article From the Fall 2003 Issue of


The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation


Over the past several months, plans for a new building have taken shape. With the final approval process underway, itís a good time to tell our members and friends about this exciting step in our museumís 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 museumís 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 pagesÖcaulking 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 terminaló somewhat common during the interurban eraóa 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 didnít 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!