Article From the Spring 2004 Issue of


The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation


Cataloguing: Ted Thomas has continued to archive more items in our collection, and has recently been concentrating on the Tom Kirn Collection’s hundreds of photos depicting the Rochester Subway in construction and operation. Ted has close to 6,000 items in the searchable archive section on our website ( Also, more and more researchers are discovering us and making contact with questions that can’t be answered on our site. Most recently we were asked about immigrant trains in New York State, and a model builder sought detail information on pump-type handcar mechanisms. We were able to help in both cases. Shelden King focused on our "vertical file" of alphabetically arranged folders on just about every trolley line and railroad (he’s made it all the way to New York State Railways…a subject he knows a lot about). His task has been to sleeve photos, correct misfilings, and protect fragile clippings and documents, thus assuring these files will continue to be a valuable resource for the future.

Acquisitions: A number of valuable additions to the museum’s collection have been made so far this year, all through donations. A 1913 "Route Book" published by the Automobile Club of Rochester offers a glimpse of early auto travel challenges in our area, and a 1944 "Freight Traffic Redbook" provides a wealth of valuable railroad data for that period. Our library benefited from donations of over 200 hard and soft cover books pertaining to trolleys, buses and railroads, plus another 200 periodicals on traction and railroadiana collecting and a scrapbook of clippings covering the Rochester Subway in the 1940s and 50s.

Photographs acquired include a beautifully framed 14" x 16" print of Captain George Ruggles, local inventor of the Ruggles rotary snowplow for trolley lines, posing next to his Rochester Railway Co. plow S-31. The photo was presented to us by longtime museum friend and great grandnephew of the Captain, Dwight Bliss. Thirteen black and white photos of area traction in its heyday recently arrived, including images from Buffalo, New York City, and the Jamestown, Westfield & Northwestern interurban line. A collection of about 700 slides arrived, bearing images of assorted land and sea transportation, for possible use in slide talks and educational programs.

A "life collection" was donated, including a variety of items from the railroad career of Arthur Westphal, who retired in 1957 as Assistant Superintendent of the New York Central Auburn Road. Among the many items are track maps of the line; numerous employee rule books, timetables, switch keys and service pins; Mr. Westphal’s Hamilton pocket watch; and the octagonal Ansonia clock from the NYC station in Canandaigua, NY. "Live collections" are of special interest to historians, as they contain related items that, together, tell more about the person and the times than they can as separate objects.

Non-collection donations during the period include new curtains in the model railroad room and a stuffed teddy bear for Gift Shop sale, both from Anna Thomas, and a generous collection of wrenches, drills, taps, calipers, files, and assorted tools donated by Sue Baker. The tools were formerly used by her late father in the tool and die business.