Article From the Summer 2003 Issue of


The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation


Another new addition to the visitor offering is a 100-year-old horse drawn milk truck on long-term loan. Bruce Miller, who operated the last independent dairy in Rochester, purchased and underwrote the restoration of this great vehicle, and heís happy to see it find a home and an appreciative audience on our exhibit floor. The varnish finish reveals the painstaking craftsmanship in the original truck and that of Bruceís brother in law who did the restoration.

Bruce delivered the truck along with a horse mannequin, and he plans to also provide harness, a milkman in uniform, and the assorted bottles, crates, etc. to turn the vehicle into a full exhibit. At present the truck is near R&E interurban 157, which represents the fact that milk was often shipped on interurbans and local trains from lineside farms to the city for distribution by small dairies. Weíre looking for some old milk cans to place near the truck to interpret this part of the history, so call us if you can help!

The Keiser Dairy ("Be Wiser, Drink Keiser") was operated by Bruceís family until just a few years ago. In a capsule history of the business, he tells us that at one time there were 400(!) independent dairies in Rochester and their function was to obtain bulk milk, separate it into a few products and bottle them, perhaps add their own butter and eggs, and make daily deliveries. In an era when even ice boxes were something of a luxury, dairy products spoiled quickly, so daily delivery was essential. With only horse power to do that work, and over a limited area, it naturally involved a lot of dairies and a lot of delivery teams. World War II required a reduction to 2 days a week delivery, and according to Bruce after the war things never changed back. More people were buying refrigerators, and home building in the suburbs strengthened supermarket sales of dairy products.

    Bruce Millerís great looking horse drawn milk truck is a fine
     new exhibit at the museum.

Many changes have come since. Milk now comes from large dairy farms, shipped to a handful of local bottlers. In the old days cream was separated for sale and the skimmed milk was tossed out, while today "skim" milk is a popularly consumed and butter and cheese are stockpiled by the Federal Government to help keep the dairying industry solvent.

Transportation is more than moving people, and itís more than the big trains and trolleys that are at the center of our collection. Weíre delighted to include this handsome milk truck in our visitor experience, and we thank Bruce Miller for allowing us to do so.