Article From the Spring 2004 Issue of
The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
The stories are still out there…you just have to look for them. After our recent "Interurban Era" slide talk at the Rochester Presbyterian Home, one of the audience members came over to us to describe his memories of childhood travel on the Rochester, Lockport & Buffalo interurban line. The line quit 73 years ago, so people with a clear recollection of the RL&B are getting rarer by the day. John Fishbaugh’s observations as a child were good, and his recall is just as fine today.
John says he lived near what is now Long Pond Road on "the first Million Dollar Highway in the state outside of New York City" (Route 31, Spencerport Road). He attended school in Rochester, and commuted on the RL&B. Lucky kid! He remembers the classic wood cars as "just like Pullmans", luxurious in their appointments and smooth-riding.
A feature we weren’t familiar with was popular with John and other youngsters: candy dispensing machines that were fitted to the wide panels between each pair of windows. For 5 cents, he could purchase a small box of hard candy. Alas, his student fare was also a nickel, and one afternoon he lost track of his finances. He boarded the big car for his trip home and immediately bought some candy, only to discover that he had just spent his last nickel! As the car rumbled out Lyell Avenue, the conductor, a Mr. Harmer, showed up and asked for his fare. John couldn’t imagine what else to do, so he offered his unopened box of candy in lieu of the correct change. Harmer wasn’t buying it. "That’s not the way we do business on the RL&B", he intoned sternly. John’s mother knew the man, and the next day John came equipped with an extra nickel to pay off his debt.
John described a big blizzard in 1922 that brought the line to a halt. Homeward bound commuters on a car near Sweden-Walker Road decided not to wait for the plows to rescue them, so they slogged the short distance over to the New York Central’s Falls Road and flagged down the evening local for the short ride into Brockport.
Today, the right-of-way of the RL&B where John used to board is called Trolley Boulevard. We’re glad the line lives on in the memories of people like John Fishbaugh.
Cars 207 and 210, shown here at the Lyell Avenue car barn,