The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation

Spring 2004


By all reports, we definitely had winter this year. For those readers who weren’t around to appreciate it, the season was characterized by prolonged, extreme cold temperatures and a good measure of snow. Except for one Sunday in a December blizzard, the museum stayed open throughout the winter months, as our volunteers braved drifts, icicles, and a balky snow plow to keep serving our visitors and to make great progress on several important projects. Read on, and get the details in the "Shop Reports" elsewhere in this issue.

The substation that will provide power to our trolley line is being carefully built with meticulous attention to industry standards for safety and performance. We’re extremely fortunate to have an experienced team working on this project, people who have devoted their Saturdays throughout the winter designing and installing the hardware that soon will bring our trolley line to life.

      By mid-February, plowed snowdrifts at the back of our building
      began to take on the appearance of small, white mountains.

Meanwhile, the big (32’ x 88’) news outside has been the completion of our P&W car house. Auguring to set the main poles started in late March, much earlier than we had any reason to hope, and the frame of the building took shape quickly. The completed barn will allow us to bring all our rail equipment under roof. Attractive and technologically up to date, this great new addition to our facility is an exciting step forward for the museum. See page 5 for more details!


By Charles R. Lowe

As the museum’s year-long celebration of the centennial of the Rochester and Eastern Rapid Railway continues, we present this concluding look at the opening of the R&E, condensed from a forthcoming book by NYMT member Charlie Lowe. We join the work crews as they furiously strain to open the Canandaigua-Geneva section of the line in the spring of 1904.

During the last full week in May, steel for the new bridge to carry the R&E and the adjacent highway over the Lehigh Valley arrived at the work site. By this time, this bridge was the last obstacle preventing the movement of the R&E's work train from entering Geneva. On the 27th, a track crew began installing the wye on Castle Street in front of the R&E station. Completion of this wye was absolutely necessary as all R&E cars were single-ended cars.

Work lagged on construction of the bridge over the Lehigh Valley. By June 5th, most of the steel was in place, but tracks, trolley wire and approach grading were all absent. Doubt was beginning to replace the former optimism that the R&E would open as planned. Nevertheless, an announcement was made that the first westbound R&E car to leave Geneva would carry Geneva city officials and members of the press on an excursion to Rochester.

Construction went well over the next week. When R&E Secretary William A. Comstock and R&E General Manager John H. Pardee traveled to Geneva on June 11, Pardee stated to the Geneva press that he expected regular runs to begin on the 15th as planned. The two officers knew that work was all but finished on the line. Early the next morning, Sunday June 12th, Chief Engineer F. W. Walker was in charge of one of the R&E express cars and was supervising a work crew installing a switch just east of the Gates substation. While this work was underway, R&E President William B. Comstock, Treasurer Henry Haigh and General Manager John H. Pardee began an inspection trip in work car 0 over the soon to be opened section of line east of Canandaigua. After leaving Canandaigua, the inspection train came upon a flat car loaded with rails. To continue the inspection, the flat car was coupled to work car 0 so it could be pushed ahead. In the exciting spirit of the long-anticipated opening the R&E and wishing to obtain the best possible view of the newly built line, Comstock, Pardee and two laborers climbed aboard the flat car. Proceeding east, the inspection train reached the top of a grade near Butchers, just east of Gates. At this point, the two cars separated, and the flat car began rolling freely downhill toward Geneva. Just at this moment, the express car with Walker at the controller was seen backing to the west toward the runaway flat car. Immediately realizing the danger, Walker brought his car to a halt just as the flat car struck. Seeing that a collision was unavoidable, Comstock lay down on the rails loaded on the flat car but when the cars collided, he rolled the entire length of the car. Both Comstock and Pardee were thrown into the air, and Comstock, especially, landed heavily. Badly shaken up, Comstock was returned at once to Canandaigua in car 0 for medical care. Pardee suffered scalp wounds and bruises while Walker had numerous cuts in his head and face from broken glass. One of the laborers had two broken ribs. The express car's trucks were knocked out from under the car, but they were soon replaced.

Despite the accident, work to finish the road continued that day. The express car brought the loaded flat car to the bridge over the Lehigh Valley Railroad Naples branch and workers commenced finishing the R&E at the bridge. After a long day of work, the track here was passable and the yellow express car with its drab flat car slowly made its way over the bridge. About thirty men, mostly workers, rode on the train. As it moved slowly but smoothly on the new Castle Street track, numerous residents of Geneva assembled to greet the first R&E train. Although much work remained to finish the road, notably grading at the Lehigh Valley bridge and ballasting in other spots, the R&E was finally operable for its entire length.
Monday, June 13 was spent making the line more truly operational for the official commencement of regular operations. On Tuesday, a special train was run over the full length of the line. Seventy-five Geneva officials, businessmen and newspapermen were accompanied by R&E officers on a grand tour of the full length of the new interurban. A few men from Canandaigua also rode on the tour. Two of the R&E's yellow 1903 Stephenson cars were used for the tour, and they departed the Castle Street station just after 1 p.m. After the quick run to Canandaigua, the group inspected the power house and car house. A photograph of the entire group in front of R&E car 3 was made that afternoon at the car house, after which the cars made a fast run to Rochester. A rainstorm delayed the departure of the special cars from Rochester for 30 minutes until 5 p.m., but the return trip
      R&E car 3 is seen at the Canandaigua car house on the afternoon
      of June 14, 1903 during the celebration of the completion of the
      line to Geneva. The many prominent Geneva men who rode the line
      that day to Canandaigua are seen in front of the car. Regular
      service began over the full length of the line the next morning.

                  Author's Collection

proceeded without incident.Upon reaching Canandaigua a short delay permitted the entire group to be taken to a nearby restaurant where a light luncheon was served.

Once the group made its way back to the waiting cars, the best time of the entire trip was made over the return from Canandaigua to Geneva. Speeds of 50 miles per hour were easily maintained, and in a few spots, speeds of even 60 miles per hour were reached. Arriving in Geneva about 7:30 p.m., the group made its way to The Nester, one of Geneva's finest restaurants where a fine supper was waiting. After the meal, R&E treasurer Henry A. Haigh "rapped for order" and began speaking. Part of his speech has been preserved:

"I wish to thank you gentlemen who have honored us this afternoon by being our guests, for your hearty cooperation with us in bringing this enterprise to a successful end. I desire to express the appreciation of the R. & E. for your forbearance, hopefulness and helpfulness. It has been a source of comfort to us to feel that we are welcome and it is our intention that you will not be mistaken in your confidence.

I am sorry that William [B.] Comstock, whose credit has made this enterprise possible, cannot be present with us this evening, as he sincerely desired to meet with you on this occasion. But if you wish to know how we happened to come to this section perhaps I can tell you in an imperfect manner. Before we commenced with this task we spent considerable time looking over the United States with a view of finding a satisfactory location for a trolley road. We finally decided that New York State was the proper place and that there was no section that offered the opportunities that did the section lying between Rochester and Geneva. This was not a hasty choice but was based on a long and thorough investigation. We examined into the industrial life, social life, assessed valuations and financial interests of this section of the state and found that there was none better in the country.

There are many more trolley lines in the west than in the east. The east had gone into the west with their energy and capital and have developed our country. Now we, who are westerners, are coming back with our capital to help you build up the east. The bread that you cast upon the water is now returning".

Several other men made remarks after Haigh had finished. Dr. Whitman H. Jordan, who had negotiated with the R&E on behalf of Geneva for certain concessions, was grateful for the honesty and generosity of the R&E men. F. W. Walker, as the Chief Engineer of the R&E, had negotiated with Geneva for establishment of the line's eastern terminal. He complimented the courteous and business-like manner of Geneva's Board of Public Works and the Geneva Common Council. William A. Comstock, Secretary of the R&E, spoke next and mentioned that Geneva had been the long-sought goal of the R&E. Then toasts started flying. Responding to a toast to the press, W. A. Gracey, editor of the Geneva Daily Times, offered that the press welcomed the R&E. When Geneva's rival Canandaigua was toasted, Judge Walter H. Knapp, of Canandaigua, reminded the assemblage of the advantages the R&E would bring to both municipalities. Many, many other men in The Nester that evening spoke and all agreed that the new trolley road would be a great success.

William B. Comstock, confined to his lodgings after the accident near Seneca Castle, sadly was not at The Nester that evening. Another voice was also missing from The Nester as A. Lindsley Parker was noticeably absent from the proceedings. In fact, he had hardly been on the scene once Canandaigua had been reached although he had still been listed as the R&E vice president. The list of those attending the "Trolley Party" began with the officers of the road. These were:

President William B. Comstock (absent)

Vice President F. W. Walker

Treasurer Henry A. Haigh

Secretary William A. Comstock (Continued)

General Manager John H. Pardee

General Agent R. W. Norrington

Auditor Bruce Broad

Director O. N. Crane (one of several)

It seems that Parker had finally been replaced! Although Parker had been the very first representative of the R&E to visit New York State, over four years earlier, he had fallen out of favor. He was a lone hold-over from the Detroit Construction Company group that had initiated the R&E, and the Comstock syndicate had perhaps reluctantly retained him during the construction period. No doubt, the contacts and goodwill he had generated in 1900 and 1901 proved useful in the many negotiations needed to build the R&E without the benefit of any eminent domain powers. All the R&E franchises and rights-of-way were assembled through negotiations by the R&E; none of this was forced upon local land owners or municipalities along the path of the R&E. When Parker's usefulness to the R&E ended with the completion of the line, he went his way to new projects now unknown.

At the conclusion of the festive evening at The Nester, the excursion cars were probably run back to Canandaigua with the citizens of that village. Early the next morning, Wednesday, June 15, a car was run from the car house in Canandaigua to Geneva, arriving just after 6:00. After turning the car on the Castle Street wye and loading a few early-morning passengers, the first regular R&E train to depart Geneva left the station about 6:15 and made its way up Castle Street. An hourly schedule was established, with runs leaving Geneva at 15 minutes after the hour all day from 6:15 a.m. to 11:15 p.m.; the last car, though, only returned west as far as the Canandaigua car house. On Saturdays and Sundays, a half-hourly service between 8:15 a.m. and 6:15 p.m. would certainly offer a great many choices for riders. Fares from Geneva were modest.

Geneva to: One-way Round-trip

Seneca Castle $.10 $.20

Cananadaigua .25 .50

Victor .40 .75

Pittsford .55 1.00

Rochester .70 1.25

For the convenience of Geneva residents, a local 5-cent fare covered all travel between the Castle Street station and Pre-emption Road at the west edge of Geneva.

With the low fares and the novelty of the new trolley road, a great many Genevans rode the line on that first day, at least for a short distance, so that they could say they had done so; a total of 299 tickets were sold from the Geneva station alone.  Even on the first day, Geneva merchants reported brisk sales of all manner of items. It was a Seneca Castle farmer, though, who summed up what the R&E might really mean to area residents: "I have been waiting patiently for a year for the opening of this road. The convenience for me can scarcely be figured in dollars and cents. Now, in the busy season of the year I can leave my farm, come to the city [of Geneva], do my trading and get back all in one hour, while formerly, when I had to drive [a carriage], it broke up an entire half day." With its new roadbed, gleaming cars and mighty power house, the R&E stood ready to make good on its promise.


Doug Anderson has been busy lately, prepping a new display case and stocking the museum Gift Shop with plenty of new items guaranteed to tug at the wallets of young and old. He already has a large, new selection of Thomas the Tank Engine trains and trucks. We are amazed at the variety and the durable nature of this big market with young railfans.

Of special interest this year, honoring the Rochester & Eastern’s centennial and the continuing restoration progress on R&E 157, he has stocked a supply of T-shirts in the museum’s R&E/157 design. You’ll want to pick up several, for yourself and for any trolley fans you may know.

We’ve recently received several donations of rail and trolley books for our library, and as duplicates occur, we set them aside for sale in the shop. As soon as Doug decides on prices, he’ll be putting some of these books on sale.

Anna Thomas has been keeping the shop spotless with her weekly cleaning, and Doug and Paul Monte recently removed the last vestiges of the old pot-bellied stove, so the place looks terrific. Whether you’re looking for Instant Railroads, wood whistles or Thomas toys for the kids; reproduction railroad heralds, museum ball caps or posters for older enthusiasts; coloring books, videos, railroad picture books, patches, refrigerator magnets, engineer hats, Brio-type wood engines and trolleys with the museum name on them, key chains, puzzles, stuffed dolls, "pull-back" autos and construction trucks, tops, pencils, erasers, reproduction brass oil cans, or a soda pop, you’ll find it at the museum Gift Shop. Check us out for party favors at that young railfan’s next birthday party; get set for Father’s Day and start stocking up for Christmas; buy something to treat yourself. See you there!


The busy summer season is almost upon us, and the need for volunteer help is growing. Will you give us a hand? The lawns and fields are already responding to spring rains, and the weekday group tour list is growing too. Our new building will soon be ready for track installation, and the windows need to be reassembled for P&W car 161. Recent book donations need to be shelved, and our entire library could use a thorough cataloguing.

There’s something for just about any level of skill or exertion, so give us a call. For help in the Gift Shop, please call Marie Miner at 671-3589; for other volunteer opportunities, call Jim Dierks at 473-5508. Thank you!

Can’t spare the time, but still want to help? Here’s another option ($$$). A recent generous donation has established a fund for a landscape maintenance tractor. We need a machine in good condition that we can count on for summertime field mowing as well as winter driveway and parking lot plowing. Your check in any amount will be welcome. Make it out to New York Museum of Transportation, and note that it is to be credited to the Tractor Fund. Mail to: New York Museum of Transportation, P.O. Box 136, W. Henrietta, NY 14586 THANK YOU!



Our museum may not be up to its eyeballs in volunteers (we can always use more help) but we can be thankful for the ones we have, and in awe over the depth and breadth of their skills and experience. Such is the case with a man who’s long overdue to step into the "spotlight", James Johnson.

Have we ever reported on a volunteer who doesn’t trace his interest in large things with wheels on them back to his childhood, and who more than likely had a relative or two who worked on the rails? Well, Jim is no exception. He tells us he was born in Rochester in 1948 and that his first visit to his aunt and uncle, when he was only 6 months old, included a trip to the nearby Pixley Road crossing of the mighty New York Central. That’s some uncle, and some crossing! Central veteran Dan Cosgrove says the four-track Water Level Route back then saw 10 to 12 trains an hour. It sure made an impression on little Jimmy, and the love of trains has stayed with him. Just to make sure of that, though, at times he was given the chance to visit his grandparents in Wellsville, NY who lived half a block from the Erie Railroad mainline. Jim also remembers a grade school train ride in the 1950’s on the NYC Auburn Road from Canandaigua, NY to Rochester, and he tells us the family connections to the industry include a great-grandfather who was the Railway Express Agency man in Canandaigua in the early 1900s, and a distant uncle—Roy Gunnison—who was a motorman/conductor on the Buffalo, Lockport & Rochester.

Jim grew up in Irondequoit, and except for time in the service has lived his whole life in the family home. After graduating from East Ridge High School in 1966, he joined Rochester Telephone Corporation doing "everything" in maintenance on the central office mainframe on Stone Street in the city. This large (15 feet tall, 150 feet long) electromechanical apparatus handled calls fed from satellite offices around the area, and the work there appealed to Jim and his life-long interest in electricity. He soon became an installer, working at both residential and business sites, soon putting him in Rochester Tel’s largest customer, Kodak, in 1967 where he handled installations and removals throughout Kodak Park.

The U.S. Army draft notice came March 1, 1968, but Jim had joined the Air Force just the week before. He spent four years as a ground traffic control dispatcher, responsible for passengers and cargo entering and leaving Wheelas Air Base in Libya for 15 months, followed by similar work at the Torrejon Air Base near Madrid, Spain.

Rochester Telephone held his job for him, and Jim returned to run equipment in offices in the city and in Fairport, taking trouble calls from customers, fixing wiring problems, working with field installers on multi-plex lines, etc. A 1975 strike, during which Jim (not a union member) went back to work after 3 months (ran out of money!), led to some ugly reprisals, so he started looking around for a better work environment. A neighbor suggested he interview Kodak, and in 1976 Jim began work in Building 31, Utilities, at Kodak Park. The second largest industrial facility in the United States, containing over 150 buildings on 1,300 acres, this "city within a city" boasted its own fire department and 17 mile railroad, and relied on the Utilities Division for electricity and steam. Jim started as an apprentice in the co-generation powerhouse that produced both. The steam, at 260 psi, was piped throughout the Park for heating as well as air conditioning and refrigeration. Before Jim’s time, the steam was also used to charge "fireless cooker" steam locomotives. Conventional steamers were out of the question with so many flammable chemicals and film bases around.

One especially interesting aspect of Jim’s work involved changing the brushes on the slip rings that supply excitation for the generators. Since the need for steam was continuous, at both power houses (KP Buildings 31 and 321) this had to be done "on the fly" without shutting down the turbines. If the 250 volt, 400 ampere DC power isn’t dangerous enough, Jim tells us there’s a huge fan rotating at 3600 rpm to watch out for too! He must know what he’s doing, as he’s still keeping the juice flowing at Kodak Park, over 28 years now.

While all this technical stuff was going on in Jim’s life, he found time to pursue his interest in quite a different field—music. Back in 4th grade, the band director had come around seeking kids for the band. Jim was chosen for trombone based on his "smile teeth", and he quickly grew to like the instrument. The trombone must have liked him too, as he got into Big Band music and eventually landed a spot in the high school jazz band the summer before he started school there. Over the years, he played in many local music groups, such as the Irondequoit Concert Band, Webster Village Band, the Chick Edman Orchestra (for over 20 years), the Penfield Rotary Band (15 years), and the Gates Swingers, started by Ben Gramatico, the father of nationally known singer Lou Gram. At times, Jim found himself playing in 4 or 5 different bands per week! The frantic pace gradually slowed, but then sadly stopped when Jim contracted Bell’s Palsey in 1997, putting an end to his playing, at least for now.

Jim originally started his involvement at the museum soon after he began his Kodak career…1977 or 78 he thinks…but the hook wasn’t in. In 1990, he found an outlet for his experience with our friends at RGVRRM, where he continues to do electrical installations, upgrade service to safe standards, wire signals, and, yes, does maintenance on diesel electric generators while they’re running.

He came back to NYMT around 1997 as trolley activity was starting to heat up. With two operable trolleys on the property and poles and wire going up on the rail line, it was clear there’d be a need for his expertise. Jim started by metering and labeling our electric panels, and soon found himself in the middle of a major effort to provide power for a demonstration run with P&W 168. Working with a host of Chapter members, Jim did wiring and checkout work on the diesel generator that brought our electric operations to reality.

Today, working alongside Charlie Harshbarger, Dick Holbert, Bill Chapin, Dan Waterstraat Ted Strang, and others, Jim coordinates the layout of the substation that is rapidly coming to reality at NYMT. He’s actively involved in the construction and he has no trouble visualizing the whole thing, completed and ready to run. Jim wants to keep involved "as long as I can walk and see", and we’re glad to have him. He looks forward to trolley operations, eventually linking the two museums with an authentic interurban ride for our visitors. With the talents and dedication Jim Johnson has demonstrated so far, we can be sure that vision can be attained!

Our New Car House




Thanks to start-up funds from several generous donors, your museum has been able to erect the first trolley car house to be built in the Rochester area since 1942. The importance of this new structure goes well beyond historical interest, however. With this new building, the museum will be able to put all of its rail vehicles under roof—an important goal rarely achieved by transportation museums with large vehicle collections.


Two of our donors have also presented us with a Challenge Grant in the amount of $7,000. They will match every donation to the new building fund, dollar for dollar, up to that amount. If your support can meet this challenge, the museum will be able to pay off the entire $30,000 cost of the building. If your generosity helps us exceed the challenge, your funds will be directed toward costs of track, ties, switch timbers and ballast for the second track.


Our beautiful new building will accommodate two tracks 88 feet long inside, sufficient to store our two operating trolley cars—Philadelphia & Western 161 and 168—the cars that will be playing a major role when we begin regular trolley operations soon. Light and airy inside, the building coordinates with the lines and colors on our main building, and it embodies the latest technology in pole barns. Built on a framework of pressure treated lumber and computer-designed, prefabricated trusses, the building is roofed and sided with heavy-gauge factory enameled steel for good appearance and easy long-term maintenance, and conforms to ASCE and ASAE standards as well as the New York State Building Code and all local requirements.


Your tax-deductible contribution in any amount is welcome. Please consider a major donation, and watch your money double with the challenge grant! You’ll be supporting a major improvement in the museum’s ability to accomplish its mission of preserving and exhibiting transportation history. Do it today.

Thank you!

Yes, I support the new car house at the New York Museum of Transportation. My gift of $_____________is enclosed (Credit cards accepted, but only in person at the Gift Shop, on Sundays)

Name: ____________________________________________________________________________________

Address: __________________________________________________________________________________

City: _____________________________________ State: ______________ Zip: _____________________

Please recognize my gift (circle one) In Memory or In Honor of: _______________________________________________

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I want to help with a pledge of $____________ , and I agree to monthly payments of $___________.

Signature ________________________________________________________


We’re always glad to get feedback from HEADEND readers, especially when it’s favorable. A number of you have commented, as did member Dave Orlando in a recent phone message, that you enjoy the issues for the museum news and especially for the historical articles. Democrat & Chronicle columnist Carol Ritter Wright gave us a nice compliment (and some good publicity too) in one of her columns awhile back, and we actually received a "letter to the Editor". We thought you’d enjoy reading about some more local memories:

I have enjoyed the Hugh Donovan story in the [Winter 2004] HEADEND and especially that photo of NYC K-3 #4670 derailed on the Auburn Road crossing of East Avenue.

He didn’t date the picture but I’ll bet it was the same locomotive I saw in the same predicament as a result of the blizzard of December 11-12, 1944. For at least a week after the storm, East Avenue was only two wheel ruts in each direction and, if memory serves me right, the Subway was the only means of public transportation during that time. This at least allowed my Dad to get to work at Rochester Products.

Due to World War II and the many problems resulting there from, many roads were impassable for many days. I can remember skiing down North Landing Road to Ellison Park and finding a four-foot, heavily packed snow drift firmly blocking the road near Rich’s Dugway Road. I don’t think I had newspapers to deliver for a number of days, but we kids made good money shoveling out neighbors’ driveways.

As we old folks like to recall, those were the days when it really snowed. Keep up the good work with the HEADEND.

Sincerely, Bob Fitch

Thanks Bob, for your kind letter and for further illuminating the East Avenue crossing derailment. We’ve found a shot in Charles Knoll’s "The Water Level Route", published by the Rochester Chapter, NRHS, that shows the December 1944 incident you refer to. Although the engine number isn’t visible, it looks like it’s the 4670 shown in our Donovan article, pretty well plastered up with snow.

SHOP REPORT by Charlie Lowe

NYS-R&E 157: Over the past few months, a few small projects have been undertaken. An upper brace for the car's C6 master controller was fabricated, painted and installed, completing the installation of the controller in the motorman's cab. Where the motorman would stand, though, was a gaping hole cut into the car's floor during its days as a cottage. Using tongue and groove boards salvaged from the repair of the hole in the floor of 157's main seating area, the hole in the  motorman's cab floor is now patched.

P&W 161: Don Quant has completed work on the trolley boards, trolley poles and wiring on the car's roof. Bob Miner prepared the heavy cables to run from the trolley pole bases to the switch cabinet inside the car. Paul Monte continued his progress at rebuilding the side window stools, while Don, Jim Dierks and John Ross are priming window quarter-round.

P&W Car House: Volunteer activities for the new car house are centered on construction of a second track into the building. The new track will consist of a switch and about 200 feet of track. During winter months, Randy Bogucki and Tony Mittiga cleaned and restored a switch machine that must have been sitting outside the main car house for over twenty years, awaiting its call to duty. A proper frog for the required switch has been located, and a few loads of ballast have been brought to the switch site. Two switch points have been towed to the vicinity of the proposed switch. Once warm weather arrives for good, the proposed track alignment will be staked out so that track and switch construction can begin. Ninety-pound rail, salvaged in the late 1970s from the Rochester Subway, will be used to build the new track.

Other volunteer work concerning the P&W Car House was devoted to the removal and replacement of a span wire that conflicted with the south end of the new building's roof. Dick Luchterhand and Charlie Lowe removed the span wire so that car house construction could continue unimpeded. This, of course, caused the trolley wire to sag noticeably. A newly-placed bracket arm, which will not interfere with the new car house, has since returned the trolley wire to its former position.

NYMT 04: The frame of NYMT's new line car has been completed. Fairmont wheels, axles and bearings were used for the running gear while pressure-treated lumber was used for the frame. All parts are securely bolted together and the frame is painted New York State Railways olive green. Work on building the tower has begun with Randy Bogucki taking charge of performing some repair welding on a set of steps that will be part of the tower apparatus.

NTT 409: The car bolsters given to NYMT by Shore Line Trolley Museum last year, possibly to be used under 409, received a little work this winter. When a large trash run was made, loose parts were pulled off the car bolsters and thrown away. Dick Luchterhand and Trevor James assisted Charlie Lowe in this work.

Substation: A substation work crew consisting of Jim Johnson, Dick Holbert, Charlie Harshbarger, Rand Warner, Scott Gleason, and Bill Chapin has been steadily working on Saturdays throughout the winter.  On the AC side, the conduits (3" and 4" diameter) are installed and AC breakers and panels are mounted. For the DC trolley power, installation of the conduits is now underway, and the rectifier has been mounted to the wall. Dick has rebuilt this rectifier for better insulation and more rigid construction, while Dan Waterstraat has rebuilt the safety disconnect and grounding switch, which is now mounted on the slate trolley control panel. A transformer and some components have been mounted for the eventual inclusion of 120-volt AC power in the substation room.

Electrification: Much preparation for an extension of the overhead has been performed this winter. John Ross constructed the top sections for about twenty downguys; these are to be installed during 2004. Six bracket arms have been cleaned, primed and painted by Dick Luchterhand and Bob Miner.

Tangley Calliope: John Ross has removed the calliope from its highway trailer and placed it on a small wagon for easy movement about the museum property. The Tangley is a player machine, that uses rolls of perforated paper like those of a player piano. The pneumatic system needed a good cleaning, and John did this with a player piano pump, a manual device that sucks out the paper dust and other debris that accumulates in the player system. He adjusted several key-actuating rods so that all notes will play fully, and he replaced a pouch in the valve that controls the forward/rewind mechanism. Given warmer weather, John expects to do some trial runs to limber up the calliope, select the best music rolls from our collection, and determine the best location (outside)(!) from which to play. Look forward to hearing the calliope at museum events this summer.

Richard C. Barrett

1941 - 2004

We were saddened in February with the death of Dick Barrett after a brief illness. With his passing, the museum has lost a friend and supporter, and the rail historical community has lost a valuable resource.

Dick amassed an extensive collection of railroad and trolley memorabilia over a lifetime of interest in rail history. He also built up a wealth of historical information that he was always willing to share. Hobbyists and collectors in any field who reach out to share their interest and knowledge with others are rare, and Dick was one of those few. In 1976, he was President of the Rochester Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society when that group published "The Water Level Route", by Charlie Knoll, and in 1985 he co-authored (with Ron Amberger and Greg Marling) the Chapter’s definitive history of the Rochester Subway, "Canal Boats, Interurbans and Trolleys". Following his retirement from Kodak in 1991, he wrote many works, among them "The Illustrated History of Railroad Lighting", volumes I and II; "Railroad Locks and Keys"; and reaching back to an upbringing in his beloved New England, "Boston’s Depots and Terminals". He was the mainstay for many years of "Key, Lock & Lantern", editing this national group’s informative magazine, and in 1995 Dick edited the "Souvenir Guide" of our joint museums. His Railroad Research Publications brought his own books, as well as many by other authors, to the world of rail collectors and enthusiasts.

We extend our sympathies to Dick’s wife, Nancy, and we share her loss.


To loosely paraphrase Shakespeare, you can live a whole life doing things right and nobody notices, but screw up once and it gets written down for posterity. "Posterity" at NYMT includes a set of and-written journals of accidents, derailments, injuries (and worse) on the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railroad. Beginning in the late 1890s and extending to 1932 when the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad took over operational control of the BR&P, these large books tell us about life on the rails a century ago. In 1904, the average U.S. wage was 22 cents an hour, and the country’s 8,000 automobiles had 144 miles of paved roads to drive on. Only 8% of homes had a telephone. Transportation was still firmly in the hands of the railroads and their armies of operating employees, who regularly faced danger in the execution of their duties. Let’s look back 100 years to the winter of 1904 and see what kind of things were wreaking havoc on this well-managed and profitable local railroad.

Scanning through the entries, we find evidence that equipment and hardware weren’t always up to the task. There are several items like the January 9 entry, "Train broke intwo [sic] and ran together". In this case, freight train #56 broke a coupler—probably from slack action—and as the brakes were applied, the rear part of the train rammed the front part. No injuries were reported, but someone in the accounting department sharpened his pencil and noted that there was $1,085 worth of damage to BR&P and Lehigh Valley cars, as well as caboose 45. Other equipment failures include a truck breaking down under Lehigh Valley freight car 61572, the tire coming off a wheel on steam locomotive 9, and a broken wheel flange on BR&P freight car 9039.

An unspecified caboose was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the early morning of January 15 at Springville, NY on the Buffalo line. Passenger train #2, the overnight train from Pittsburgh (which had split into separate Buffalo and Rochester sections at Salamanca, NY) "backed up and struck hack". A hack is a caboose, which apparently didn’t suffer any damage worth reporting, as the only note is $4 damage to the sleeping car "Eden".

Much more serious was the next day’s 3:00 a.m. accident at Du Bois, PA. Freight extra #265 "pulled out on northbound track, crossed over and [was] struck by southbound No. 7" (the overnight passenger run to Pittsburgh from Buffalo and Rochester). The freight loco, 265, was an Alco 2-8-0, and #7’s loco was Baldwin 4-4-2 161. Damage in the amount of $1,723 was recorded to the locomotives, baggage car 2, and coach 49. Tragically, one of the firemen, E. R. Magnuson, was killed.

A few days later at Beitter Jct., a hostler had to report that "getting engine ready, engine 42 backed into turntable". By that we assume he means into the turntable pit, something sure to raise the ire of the roundhouse foreman and make a lot of work for the wrecker crew, in January weather too.

Some accidents aren’t so different from the kinds that befall us today. Snow and ice in rail flangeways caused several derailments and there were a number of reported injuries slipping on ice when brakemen were getting on or off cars and engines. Also, at Butler Junction, PA, a man was injured: "Taking washout plug from engine 253, struck it with hammer and small piece broke striking him in eye". Safety glasses are still important in our modern work settings. When freight train "No. 31 struck Erie RR train" at Mt. Jewett, PA, Erie caboose 4091 took most of the damage. This kind of inter-railroad calamity doesn’t happen so much today, since there are so few different companies to run into each other.

Some things really were different back then. On February 8, there is an unusual injury report from Buffalo Creek, NY involving freight train #50’s rear end crew. "Conductor had brakes set on caboose to grind flat spots out of wheels and wheel broke". Two scalp wounds were reported among the three crew members in the caboose. Curiously, we find no reference to this incident in the separate journal of derailments. Either the caboose never actually derailed, or the wounded crew were too embarrassed to do any further reporting. We can only picture the overheated wheel breaking apart, with red-hot fragments flying through the wood floor to ricochet among the frightened trainmen!

Picturing accidents isn’t too hard given some of the descriptions in the journals. On February 9 in the freight yard at Adrian, PA, "car dropper" Joe Halbovina met an untimely end. "Roping cars over scales and rope broke. Both legs crushed; died in a few hours". Death was ever-present on and near the rails, as a sampling of the journals confirms: January 23, Ernest, PA, brakeman D. A. Barkey lost his life: "going in siding engine pilot caught rail and pilot torn off. Man was riding pilot". February 13, Bradford, PA, Fred R. Smith, switchman "switching and got caught between cars". March 26, Du Bois, PA, Wm. Eiganauer, "school boy", aged 12, "struck by train".

Passengers came into their share of grief in all the mayhem, as described in a February 20 occurrence at Ashford, NY, the junction where the Buffalo and Rochester lines separated. In

the 1942 BR&P track map of Ashford, the mainline to Rochester runs vertically (and north is "up"). The line from Buffalo can be seen curving down from the upper left, with the two lines meeting just south of the station (the cross-shaped figure on the map). According to the records, passenger train #5, southbound from Buffalo "left Ashford at 7:48 p.m. No. 1 switch was wrong and the light on the switch showed almost white when it was set for siding and the Engr. Went down no. 1 and did not discover the mistake until he saw cars ahead of him, but he was too close to stop, and ran into the cars. Damage $623". There were nine injuries listed among the passengers. While we can’t determine exactly where the number 1 track was by looking at this map from 40 years later, there probably were yard tracks similar to those shown south of the depot, into which train #5 strayed, eventually ramming freight cars there.

February continued on the BR&P with the usual broken axles, wheels, rails and miscalculations in switching cars. The line finished the month in grand style, though, on February 27 as the third section of freight #54, coming downgrade into Dent, PA, south of Bradford, "got away from the crew and was running about 15 miles per hour when they crashed into 2/54 [second section of #54]". Locomotive 283, the Baldwin 2-8-0 on third 54, was "badly damaged" along with seven freight cars in that train. Second 54’s caboose, number 51, was a "total wreck" and four of that train’s cars were listed as damaged. The total value of the deal came to $3,275. Thanks probably to a lot of hysterical whistle blowing on the part of third 54, the crew on second 54 must have bailed out of the condemned caboose, as there are no injuries or deaths reported.


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.




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,
      were part of the RL&B’s original order of 15 Niles interurbans.

NYMT Collection

ROCHESTER STREETCARS :  No. 30 in a series
˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜

by Charles R. Lowe

As the Rochester and Eastern completed its line to Geneva in
1904, a second group of cars was ordered from Stephenson and numbered 30-35. In some ways, the new cars were similar to the line's eight cars of 1903. All were of wood construction, had railroad-style roofs and rode on Barney and Smith Class F trucks. There the similarities ended. The most obvious difference between the two batches of cars were side windows, the new cars having squared windows while the earlier cars had arched windows. At 46'-7" length-over-all, the new cars were about four feet shorter than the 1903 cars and therefore seated only 48 passengers instead of the 52 that the 1903 cars could handle.

      As part of the museum’s celebration of the 100th anniversary
      of the beginning of operations on the Rochester and Eastern,
      we again offer a look at some rolling stock of this line.

Perhaps the most significant difference between the two groups of cars was the style of motor control. The 1903 cars were intended for use only as single cars, and could not be operated in multiple-car trains. The 1904 cars were equipped with General Electric's Type M multiple-unit control and could be operated in trains of up to three cars in length. The motorman on the lead car controlled the motors and air brakes of all cars, not just his own. The 1904 cars were intended for use as multiple-unit excursion trains, and the system proved so worthwhile that the 1903 cars were finally re-equipped with Type M control in 1914. About 1906, as most electric railway properties in Rochester were being consolidated under New York Central ownership, the R&E's 30-35 cars were renumbered to 150-155 and the older 1903 cars curiously were renumbered to the higher 156-163 series. Our present photo, which features 152 displaying its green-and-cream paint in use from 1918 to 1925, was captioned "152 in Pittsford Y" and this indeed appears to be the case. The car has been run forward on to the wye's tail track and is facing northeast; it probably will be backed onto the R&E main for a run back into Rochester. Soon, all R&E cars including 152 will be repainted into a brilliant yellow and cream paint scheme, but this treatment will not prevent the 1930 cessation of service on the R&E. Car 152 appears to have been scrapped soon after the official abandonment of the R&E in 1932.