Article From the Spring 2004 Issue of


The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation

Rochester Car 1402       by Charles R. Lowe

New York Museum of Transportation will soon obtain an open streetcar, the most popular style of car with trolley museum riders. Not only is this car, 1402, an open car but it is also a Rochester car. Despite its conversion into a cottage after its service years, car 1402 retains a surprising amount of its trolley-era fabric and will be a fantastic addition to NYMT's collection of historic trolley cars.

In 1904, Rochester Railway Company was in the midst of a changeover from small single-truck cars to larger double-truck cars. That year, after rebuilding many old single-truck cars into double-truck cars, the company began purchasing new double-truck cars in large numbers. One of the orders placed at this time was with G. C. Kuhlman Car Company of Cleveland, Ohio under its shop order 240 for twenty 12-bench double-truck open cars numbered 25-44. These cars complemented other orders placed for double-truck semi-convertible and closed cars which included NYMT's car 437.

While the double-truck cars soon proved successful, the operation of side-loading open cars came to be viewed as dangerous; the conductor collected fares by walking on running boards along the outsides of the cars! Between 1908 and 1914, all of the 25-44 cars were rebuilt, 3 to closed cars with standard end doors and the other 17 to open center-entrance cars.

In 1920, with summer-only open cars too expensive to retain in operation, the 17 center-entrance open cars were re-trucked, de-motored, rebuilt into closed trailers and renumbered 1400-1416. Cars 1411-1416 were immediately sent to Syracuse while 1400-1410 were operated in Rochester. The 1400-1410 cars supplemented the steel 1100-1125 trailers already in use. Powerful four-motor cars, numbered 700-724 and 800-814, along with two specially-rebuilt 600-series cars, were used to tow the 1100- and 1400-series trailers in Rochester.

With the onset of the Depression, traffic dropped on Rochester's streetcar system and the 1400-1410 cars were withdrawn from service about 1931-1934. During 1935, railfans were able to snap a few last photos of various cars of this series as they awaited scrapping. The fact that no photos of these cars from after 1935 exist suggests all were scrapped or otherwise off the property by late 1935. Rather than scrap all its withdrawn cars, New York State Railways (successor to Rochester Railway Company) also sold lucky car bodies intact. Some became farm buildings while others were remodeled into cottages. At least two cars of the 1400-1410 series were reused in this fashion.  Car 1406, surviving the end of Rochester's streetcar era by many decades, was
      Fortunately, when it came time for the Company photographer
      to record the 1400-series cars in the mid-1920s, NYMT's car 1402
      stood alone in the yard at Lake Avenue and was the car chosen to
      represent the series.

moved to NYMT in the 1970s for use as an entranceway display. In the 1980s, the car rotted to the point that it became a hazard and had to be scrapped, but many parts were salvaged by Bob Northrup and placed in storage at NYMT.

Car 1402 survived the years since the 1930s as a cottage on Honeoye Lake. About 1936, it was purchased by Glenn Curtiss, Jr., son of the famous aviator. He had the carbody moved by railroad flatcar from Rochester to Hemlock along, in part, the Lehigh Valley branch to that village. It was then trucked the remaining seven miles to its present site in the Times Union Tract at the northeast corner of Honeoye Lake. Over the years, two porches were added, the cottage was wired for electric lighting and an electric stove, and a toilet was installed. Although some damage to the integrity of the car was suffered by these modifications, they did result in some areas being well preserved. For example, the porch that enclosed the center-door area completely protected that delicate area from the elements and it remains in good condition.

In 2002, car 1402 became the property of The Furniture Doctor whose President, Tom Baker, contacted NYMT regarding a private restoration of the car. Eventually, Baker decided against restoring the car himself and had the car donated to NYMT. The car remains in remarkable condition, especially at the all-important frame which is wholly intact. 1402's unusual wood bolsters are in very sound condition.

Both bolsters retain their center and side bearings although center pins are absent. The center door frame, including the folding step, and much of the remaining right side is intact, but the left side has several rotted and broken window posts that have required construction of a full-length interior stud wall to stabilize the car. One of the two folding center doors, however, is missing from the car. Window sashes are mostly rotten but a few sound examples remain to serve as patterns for possible restoration. Original glass remains for about two-thirds of all windows although much of the car's left side glass has been removed and stored to prevent breakage when the car is moved to NYMT. The rear end remains largely intact but covered on the outside with plywood.
         Having quietly resided along Honeoye Lake for some seventy
         years, car 1402 is seen here in July just after two porches
         were removed. The car's distinctive center door can readily be
         seen in this right front view.

The front end was severely compromised when a porch was added at that area. The front windows and panels have been removed, and the two window posts have been cut away. Bracing has been built here to stabilize the car during its move.  The car's folding step remains wholly intact. A second wood frame roof has been built over the car as the original deck roof has several holes in it, but elsewhere the car's original roof remains largely intact.

Plans for moving the car call for use of a crane to lift the car onto a flatbed trailer, truck the car to NYMT, and to place it upon blocking near the loop track. This operation is expected to cost several thousand dollars and while several donations both from within and from outside the museum have been received to date, a sizeable gap in the funding for this car's transportation remains at present. Your tax-deductible donations to this project would be most heartily welcomed. Be sure to note on your check that you are making your donation to the "Car 1402 Fund."