The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
FIRST TROLLEY OPERATIONS ON
By Charles R. Lowe
As part of a year-long celebration of the centennial of the Rochester and Eastern Rapid Railway, we present this look at the initial runs on the R&E, condensed from a forthcoming book by Charlie Lowe. He notes that construction of the R&E had been in progress since early 1902 on the line’s Rochester-Canandaigua section, and that by late summer of 1903, most work there was completed, and a short section just north of Canandaigua was made operational.
The temptation to make an initial test run over the new railway led to a trial trip on Sunday, September 20, 1903. With power and a car supplied by Canandaigua’s Ontario Light and Traction, R&E officials were able to venture out over their new line for the first time. The group reached Emerson Road, finding the track to be in "splendid shape—smooth and firm." This run was the very first electrical operation over any portion of the R&E.
A second test run was made on Sunday, October 4, 1903. Again, an OL&T car and OL&T power was used. The test run of October 4 was made all the way to Victor. Amazed Victor residents had no advance notice of the event. The impressed Victor Herald observed that this car was the first "in the history of the world" to operate from Canandaigua to Victor.
An early map of the R&E shows the route on which the first public operation took place, between Canandaigua and Victor.
One of the last items of work to be finished before railway operations could begin was placement of telephone wires along the R&E. Rather than use a telegraph as on steam railroads, the innovative R&E planned to dispatch all cars by telephone. With completion of this work between Canandaigua and Victor, and the beginning of trial operation of the R&E powerhouse in Canandaigua, it was decided to commence service between those two points.
Four R&E cars had been delivered and one had been placed on its trucks and otherwise outfitted by R&E shop forces. On October 15, the powerhouse was connected to the trolley wire and the rails, and the one operable R&E car was run out of the car house and onto Main Street as far as the Phelps Street Wye. A test run as far as Victor may very well have occurred on the 16th although no record of such a run has survived. At 7 a.m. on Saturday, October 17, regular R&E service began with runs being made over the 10.3-mile section of the R&E between Canandaigua and Victor. In Canandaigua, a ticket station was opened in the Western Union telegraph office on Main Street at Niagara Street. Only one car was used, and since no turning facilities such as a loop or wye were present at the Victor station, a temporary controller and air brake control must have been placed on the car’s rear platform to permit safe backing moves. The scheduled time for the run to Victor was 36 minutes, and after a nine-minute layover, the car would proceed back to Canandaigua.
Rochester & Eastern interurban car 6 was part of the fleet
One round trip every 90 minutes was scheduled throughout daylight hours for a total of eight round trips per day.
Almost immediately, one Canandaiguan dubbed the yellowish-orange interurban car "The Orange Limited," a name which soon became an official nickname for cars that stopped only at major stations on the line. Newspaper reports called the car the "yellow flyer" in reference to its speed and color. Although many first-day riders were merely satisfying a curiosity about the new line, the Ontario County Times ruefully observed that "some of those who ‘trolleyed’ into town…on Saturday [October 17], did so for the purpose of getting acquainted with Canandaigua whiskey…to their own discomfiture." On the next day, the lone R&E car carried 779 riders. The 6:51 p.m. arrival in Canandaigua carried 123 riders, considerably over the car’s 52-seat capacity; most if not all trips that day must have had many standees. Ticket fares were 15 cents one-way, 25 cents round-trip, and cash fares were 20 and 40 cents. A grand total of $115 in receipts was earned by the R&E on that glorious Sunday.
On the following Sunday, October 25, the R&E extended its operation to Park’s Siding near Fishers. There was no change made in the time schedule, the additional 2.6-mile distance covered from Victor being made up by faster runs and shorter layovers at terminals. As at the Victor station, no turning facilities were provided at Park’s Siding, and the temporarily double-ended interurban car must have continued as the lone car in service.
Another Sunday test run was made on the morning of November 8 using R&E car 3. On board were F. W. Walker, R&E Engineer, W. R. W. Griffin, R&E Superintendent, W. A Comstock, R&E Secretary, and R&E employees Frank Spohn and W. Ritter. The purpose of the trip was to check clearances along the streetcar tracks to be used in Rochester. While the line was traversed to Pittsford without incident, low power beyond this point required that one of the R&E’s steam construction locomotives haul the R&E car. In a few spots, the clearance train had to stop so the tracks could be cleared of construction debris. Nearing Rochester, the steam locomotive was left behind, probably at the Twelve Corners siding. Car 3 then continued on, using power supplied by Rochester Railway Company.
Although it was only 7 a.m., the interurban car attracted much attention. It was the largest electric car ever to roll in Rochester up to that time. Having entered the city on Monroe Avenue, car 3 crossed the Genesee River on Court Street and, turning onto Exchange Street, reached the Four Corners, the planned site of the Rochester terminal. The R&E car was then obliged to back down Exchange Street to be able to wye at Court Street for the return trip to Canandaigua. The only place on the entire trip where any problems were encountered was on the Court Street bridge where the car came a little close to some trolley poles. All streetcar curves, it was found, could easily be navigated by the big interurban car.
At 6 a.m. on Sunday, November 15, the first regular service car to Rochester set out from Canandaigua. The first trip started very well, with the 9 miles from Canandaigua’s north village line to Victor covered in just 8 minutes. Nearer to Rochester, rough ballasting forced cars to slow considerably, and it was difficult to maintain the schedule. During that first day of operation into Rochester, about 2,000 riders made use of the line, and many were forced to remain standing. All along the line, riders were waiting for rides.
After three days of somewhat irregular operations, R&E cars finally were able to run on schedule on November 18. Work on building the R&E would shift for the 1904 season to the Canandaigua-Geneva segment.
To Be Continued…
YEAR- END REVIEW. . .
Here’s a quick look at some of the more important data from the past year’s museum operations. Our 2003 attendance increased 5.3% over 2002’s, for a total of 5,744 visitors. In recent years, this is second only to 2001 when we held our "Trolleys Return to Rochester" event and operated P&W 168 for public rides. This year, "Diesel Days", featuring rides on RGVRRM’s fleet of diesel locomotives, gave a big boost to attendance, while December weather (including closing due to a blizzard on December 14) hurt the total for the year.
Group visit paid attendance was down from last year, most likely due to budget restraints at local schools and day care centers. The 2003 total was 1,324, versus 2002’s 1,628.
Thanks to Ruth Magraw for toting up the volunteer hours from our sign-in log. She reports a grand total of 7,704 hours devoted to the museum, an 11% increase over 2002. Just so you know, 43% of those hours were expended in direct hours "keeping us open to the public" (staffing the Gift Shop, track car operations, group tours, etc.), and an additional 38% were devoted to indirect hours for the same purpose (facility repairs, track car training and maintenance, remodeling the Gift Shop, etc.). 12.5% of the hours went into administration (archives, Board business, HEADEND, membership, accounting, etc.), and a relatively small 6.5% was left for restoration and electrification.
With more volunteer participation, we can entertain more group visits and move our restoration projects ahead faster. Make 2004 the year you get involved. There are plenty of opportunities on Sundays as well as during the week. Give us a call at 533-1113 and leave your name and phone number. We’ll set things up for you to be part of our future!
. . .AND A LOOK AT 2004
We’ve obtained the Town of Rush building permit for our new trolley car barn, and are now awaiting final approval from the Education Department in Albany. Construction should start in early spring. Associated with the new building will be the need to extend the track car loading platform around the front of the building, and to start switch and track work for the second track into the barn.
Other goals for the new year include finishing our substation and using it to test run P&W 168 off of commercial power; prepping overhead components to permit extending the trolley line; completing the restoration of P&W 161; rebuilding TC1’s trailer car; and constructing a line car for overhead wire work. There’s plenty of work for anyone interested. Give us a call at 533-1113, "or better yet, we’ll see you right here!"
Over 20 years ago these pages spotlighted a volunteer who was even then a major factor in the success of the museum. Since those early days, Ted Strang has steadily contributed to our growth and continues to play a key role in our progress and in the leadership at NYMT.
Back in 1982, HEADEND reported that "Ted devotes so many hours to NYMT that it seems like he is always there; we are tempted to hang a sign on him and make him a permanent exhibit…" His involvement with the museum began in the winter of 1977 when he stopped in for a visit and noticed our Rochester Subway Plymouth gasoline locomotive. The hook was in, and he soon came back to help, eventually to lead the restoration effort. The report back then noted that the work so far bore "his mark of thoroughness and quality", something we’ve learned to count on from Ted.
Like just about any boy, Ted had his share of toy trucks and cars in his early years. Enthusiasm for transportation vehicles and just about anything mechanical grew, and he remembers taking pictures of some "doubles" (a truck with two trailers) on the Massachusetts Turnpike when he was 10 years old as one of his earliest transportation memories. A large family picnic took over part of the Arcade & Attica tourist train each summer and gave Ted his first train ride at about that time. After high school he held several jobs in local companies, trading on his mechanical skills, and by the time he joined the museum Ted was a mechanic at Monroe Tractor and Implement Company in Henrietta, New York.
Ted’s a great student, interested in many things but also eager to learn about them in detail. He took factory training at J. I. Case, Drott, and Sullair and became a specialist in Drott and Poclain heavy excavation equipment and diesel power units. Business demanded machines that were up and running, and people with Ted’s skills and knowledge in the technology were extremely important and just as rare.
But business success involves more than smooth running equipment on the sales and rental lot, and Ted expanded his skill set through night school courses at Rochester Institute of Technology, earning college credits in marketing and small business management. In the years since, NYMT has relied not only on Ted’s ability to repair and operate bulldozers, backhoes and the like, but also on his business training and management skills.
As the museum established a steady course in the early 1980s, there were a lot of plates spinning. Keeping the place open to the public was Job 1, and right behind were repairs and restoration. By the mid-80s, responsibility for all this fell to Ted as he took over as President. The fact that the museum is here and prospering today can be attributed largely to Ted’s steady attention to Sunday hours, with then-girlfriend-now-wife Karen Gibson running the Ticket Desk while Ted took care of whatever else needed doing.
"Whatever else" meant taking over the bookkeeping and setting up annual 3-ring binders that he still maintains today. It meant learning to take care of the reams of paperwork pertaining to insurance for the museum, our (then) lease with the New York State Division for Youth, annual reports to Albany, sales tax reporting, and so on. It also meant trying out advertising (one of many things he paid out of his own pocket…there just wasn’t any money for that kind of thing back then).
Ted and Paul Monte also took on a major project for Regional Transit Service, building a photo display of city transportation images as part of Rochester’s "Main Event" in the 1980s. Ted garnered some publicity for the museum when he was interviewed by WXXI-TV as part of this city event.
But there was still the mechanical aspect of the museum to deal with. Ted had inherited the newly constructed gift shop and visitor entry, but there were many things that were still needed. The original milk processing room at the back of the building suffered in the winter when pressure relief valves let go, spewing water that then froze in huge formations. The problem, which threatened our archival storage, was dealt with by installing a 5000-watt heater. Then, he and Larry Kastner remodeled the room into a legitimate archive, with drop ceiling, proper lighting, racks and shelving, and storage of our paper items in large, uniform cartons. A dehumidifier was added and the paper items inventoried.
The adjoining rear office also got the Strang treatment, with a new outer door, a paint job and carpeting, and a built-in work table. Today this office and the archive room are the nerve center of the museum, housing our computer, operating files, and all our archived historical photos and documents. It’s hard to imagine how we got along without such facilities, and the comfortable space has led to great progress in the archives by Shelden King, Ted Thomas, Paul Monte, Charlie Lowe, Charlie Robinson, and many others over the years.
Outside, do you remember the days when entrance to the museum meant driving in on the grass, then walking up a steep hillside to eventually find one’s way to the front door? Ted saw the accessibility problems in that arrangement and put in the driveway that we all now take for granted. His business sense helped here, but so did his skills at operating a backhoe! Meanwhile, he and the small crew of faithful volunteers kept the track car rides going in the summer, kept the grass mowed, and kept the place standing.
At Monroe Tractor, Ted worked in the service department until 1985 when he joined sales and rentals, becoming Sales Manager in 1990. His most recent responsibility is Milling and Heavy Highway Specialist, covering the sales and leasing of the Wirtgen product line of highway milling machines, Vogele paving equipment, and Hamm compaction equipment (road rollers). His territory is most of New York State, and it keeps him busy, especially during the paving season, demonstrating, training, and sometimes making quick field repairs around the state. Ted’s enthusiasm for learning serves him well, as he seems to know more about this complex equipment, how it works, how to operate it and how to fix it, than anyone else there. Monroe is lucky to have him.
We’re lucky too. Despite his heavy work load and travel schedule the museum can still count on Ted’s mechanical skills and knowledge, as well as clear thinking when it comes to our business decisions. Over the years, we’ve also benefited from the
As Ted Strang starts his 27th year with the museum, we thank him for all he’s done over this time, and look forward to the accomplishments he’ll be a part of in the next 27!
GIFT SHOP HELP NEEDED
It looks like we’re having winter again in upstate New York, right on schedule. But our newly remodeled Gift Shop and entry foyer, with improved heating system and insulated walls and ceiling, is keeping our volunteers and visitors comfy despite the cold outside. We need people to staff the shop on Sundays, and hope you will make this the year that you step forward to volunteer a couple of days for the museum.
It’s an easy job, with no track car ride ticketing to complicate the task…just take admission payments and help visitors buy what they or their family would like from our selection of toys, souvenirs and books. Marie Miner is eager to bring you into the program. She’ll provide a brief training session, then pair you on a Sunday with an experienced staffer to give you hands-on learning. It’s easy and fun! Give Marie a call today.
How Do I Sign Up to Help?
Call Marie Miner at 671-3589
LET IT SNOW
Any regular reader of HEADEND knows we like anniversaries. Points in time such as the centennial of the start of service on the Rochester and Eastern, highlighted elsewhere in this issue, give us a chance to reflect on history and focus on a particular era. The way the winter of 2004 is treating us, it’s appropriate to dig into our archives and take note of the 125th anniversary of a big storm in upstate New York that really messed things up. Here’s what the January 25, 1879 Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper had to say about it:
THE GREAT SNOW BLOCKADE
The snow-storm of the first week in January, in whatever part of the country it prevailed, was the severest that had occurred in many years. New York State suffered particularly, and it is a remarkable fact that while Watertown, Oswego, Rochester and Syracuse, with their suburbs, were being snowed under, snow was falling to an unusual depth in various parts of England, Scotland and Switzerland, Berne and Geneva experiencing the most noticeable paralysis of business. In Central New York the storm began on January 2d, and ceased on the evening of the 6th, a heavy wind prevailing during its continuance. The Western Division of the New York Central Railroad, extending from Buffalo to Syracuse, was absolutely closed to travel for four days. Between Syracuse and New York the track was comparatively open, and trains from the metropolis reached the center of the State on time. As the snow presented an insurmountable obstacle to progress westward, all the trains were laid up at the depot at Syracuse.
On Friday, 3d, the Atlantic Express attempted to leave Rochester for New York. A snow-plow was sent ahead to clear the track, and the train moved out of the depot drawn by nine locomotives. When it arrived at the Sand Cut, near Fairport, and ten miles east of Rochester, the snow-plow jumped the track, and the express train, which was following close behind, ran into it. At that point the passenger tracks are on an embankment several feet above the old tracks.
Five of the engines drawing the express were thrown down this embankment, and the cars were wrecked. The engineer of the first engine, who resides in Buffalo, was buried under the wreck of his engine and instantly killed. (Continued) Conductor John Holmes was seriously injured. Mr. Clough, road-master, had his leg broken, and two firemen and five passengers were seriously injured. When the news of the disaster reached Rochester, a wrecking-train, drawn by six engines, was dispatched to the scene of the wreck, but all six of the engines jumped the track before reaching Fairport. All Friday night and Saturday the snow fell thick and fast, and the wind blew a terrific gale. Both the wrecks were in a short time almost completely buried in the huge drifts of snow. All attempts on Saturday to reach the wrecks from Rochester proving futile, on Sunday morning a train was made up in Syracuse, consisting of eight engines, a wrecking car, and a derrick-car, with a large force of men, and started for the wreck. On board were Henry Watkeys, Master Mechanic; Mr. Palmer, Assistant Superintendent, and other officers of the road. At Jordan the train ran off the track, but was soon got on again. It reached the wreck at Fairport about five o’clock on Sunday night, and the work of clearing the tracks and removing the wreck was at once begun.
This illustration, captioned "Cooking Steak in a Baggage-Car",
Where trains were laid up in the rural districts, provisions were obtained from neighboring farmhouses, whose owners, it must be said, drove very hard bargains. In the passenger-coach of a train stalled some ten or twelve miles from Syracuse for several days were a number of ladies. The snow had drifted over the car, and the passengers found it impossible to get out in search of provisions. Curtains were improvised, and one end of the car was used for a sleeping-room for the ladies. When relief came, in the form of an extortionate farmer, they procured an extra amount of food and fuel. On Sunday divine service was held in the car.
In some instances the male passengers left the cars on a forage for wood and food, and in others the stoves were utilized for cooking purposes. When the first anxieties had passed away, the snowbound travelers, whether in the cars from which they could not escape, or in the depots and farmhouses in which they had taken refuge, set about devising plans of amusement with which to while away the long hours, and amateur magicians, comedians, tragedians, and operatic singers were greeted with an amount of applause they would not receive elsewhere. Card-playing was the rule, and the man with the latest joke or the best story out was welcomed to the social amenities of every set.
Although none of the detained passengers would knowingly put themselves in the way of a repetition of their experiences during these eventful four days, they will retain in pleasant memory many of the jollities that were developed during the siege.
Keeping warm was a priority for the stranded passengers.
DID YOU KNOW…?
We ran out of room in our fall issue to credit some of the "little things" that are so important to our museum:
Harold Russell has gone through our entire collection of models, repairing and cleaning them. We’re especially happy to see the scratch-built O-scale models of Rochester area trolleys, on display in the Gift Shop, looking so nice.
As part of the Gift Shop remodeling, Paul Monte and Doug Anderson removed the pot-belly stove chimney above the shop and Paul installed a replacement roof panel to keep the new shop nice and dry. Ted Thomas and Doug blew in insulation in the shop walls and added more insulation over the ceiling.
Jim Dierks repainted the 157 mural on the building exterior where it had been scraped and primed, and while the brush was wet he repainted the picnic table too.
Dave Peet and Bob Miner continued their great efforts at keeping the lawns and fields mowed during our particularly plenteous growing season.
Randy Bogucki and Tony Mittiga did yeomen’s duty on replacing ties, greasing rails, and keeping our rail line in good shape. Stay tuned for news of Randy’s weed steamer!
Charlie Robinson has sorted and catalogued the Dave Lanni Collection of negatives pertaining to the Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern, and is now organizing the many prints that came in with this fine collection.
Ted Strang has prepped the Holland Snow Plow for the season (little details like battery and brakes…); he and the truck have already gotten a workout in our snowy winter.
The first phase of the museum’s Strategic Plan has been completed by a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees. We’ll have more to report as this work continues during the year.
ROCHESTER STREETCARSNo. 29 in a series
by Charles R. Lowe
As part of a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of operations on the Rochester and Eastern, we continue our look at the rolling stock of this line.One would be hard pressed to find a Rochester streetcar that performed more faithfully than Rochester and Eastern's work car 0205, originally car 0. Throughout the entire life of the R&E, and for several decades thereafter, work car 0205 reliably could be counted upon for a great variety of tasks. Whether called out to haul a work train, handle a snow plow run or tow a few freight cars, 0205 always seemed equal to the task. In his history of the R&E, Gordon lists the R&E as the builder of car 0 in 1903; other sources remain
New York State Rochester & Eastern Line 0205
Official NYSR photo
silent, however. Literature from 1903 indicates that a "work car" was ordered from Jewett Car Company (Newark, Ohio) in 1903 along with two freight and express cars (later cars 925 and 926). Perhaps the R&E assembled parts from Jewett along with the trucks ordered from Barney and Smith (Dayton, Ohio) and electrical components from General Electric (Schenectady, N.Y.). As originally built, car 0 had a large cab on one end and a very small cab on the other. An open flat car surface was in between the two cabs. In our present photo, a company photo made at East Main Station in the 1920s, the end of the original large cab can be seen next to the glazed window under the raised trolley pole's base.
Work car 0 aided in the construction of the R&E, figuring in the spectacular crash of June 12, 1904 just east of Seneca Castle just before the R&E was opened to Geneva. Several R&E officers, inspecting the new line, were injured in the wreck; president William B. Comstock sustained injuries that may have brought on his death less than a year later. About 1907, car 0 was renumbered 0205 as Rochester Railway Company, Rochester and Sodus Bay and R&E rosters were consolidated after New York Central obtained all these properties. Figuring in another accident, this time at Woods Crossing (Lower Fishers Road, on March 8, 1912), 0205 sustained extensive damage. The body may have been lengthened at this time; photographs indicate this was done by 1917. A reconstruction in 1927 was probably a general renewal of the car's well-worn components.
After the cessation of R&E service in 1930, 0205 was transferred to the Rochester Subway. Its rebuilding in 1932 permitted continued use as a second trolley locomotive on the Subway, car L-1 being the line's primary locomotive. Over the next several decades, 0205 would often be used to shift standard steam railroad freight cars between the several roads using the Subway for interchange purposes as well as for spotting cars on the numerous sidings at businesses along the Subway. Passenger service on the Subway ended in 1956 when much of the line’s right-of-way was consumed by the city's growing expressway system. Electric freight service lasted until August 31, 1957 at which time the Subway's freight services were taken over by the affected railroads and all electric cars were retired. Scrapping of the Subway's remaining cars in 1958 sadly included 0205. A last remnant, the car's bell, which itself had been salvaged from a Glen Haven line steam locomotive in the 1890s, survived the scrapping and is now owned by the Rochester Museum and Science Center.
We continue to receive interesting and historically valuable donations to add to our museum collection. In the summer issue of HEADEND we reported a gift of several dozen glass-mounted 35mm Kodachrome slides from as far back as the late 1930s. Special among them were two shots of a 1200-series Rochester streetcar at the Blossom Road loop, taken on the last day of service, March 31, 1941. The story gets better.
Just before Christmas, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson (her father took the pictures) called and told us that "the house has been sold, and there’s nothing left but the movies. If you want them, come on over and get them." Movies?! Thanks to the Wilsons’ thoughtfulness and generosity, we now have her father’s collection of 16mm and 8mm home movies, again dating from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s. For good measure, Mr. Wilson’s family treasures are there too, going all the way back to 1921 and including some rare Kodak lenticular color footage (and the 3-color lens needed to project in color).
Among shots of the family, including stuffing the biggest Thanksgiving turkey we’ve ever seen, are about 15 seconds of 1200-series streetcars at the Blossom Road loop, glimpses of the Sodus coal dock, some interesting harbor scenes in New York City, and even some footage shot around and on an elevated train in the Big Apple! We still have the 8mm films to screen, so who knows what else will show up?
Another nice addition to the collection are albums of photographs originally owned by the late Ed VanLeer, the donor of the HO-gauge models that comprise our "Evolution of Rail Technology" exhibit. With thanks to Ed’s daughter, and to museum volunteer Harold Russell (who thoughtfully divided the collection between us and the Rochester Chapter, NRHS), we now have some sharp images of area rail action from the 1940s and 1950s. Watch for it soon on our website.
Rochester Chapter, NRHS, donated a two-volume copy of scrapbooks made by the late Lloyd Klos, a long time local traction enthusiast. The books cover the Rochester Subway and are a welcome addition to the collection. Special thanks go to Charlie Robinson and Jerry Gillette for arranging this.
Other items in recent days include an antique Cretors popcorn machine of the type employed at trolley parks a hundred years ago, some slides of ex-P&W cars 161 and 168 when they were in Keokuk, Iowa, and a nifty working model of a steam locomotive valve gear which we’ll be able to use to explain the complex workings to budding steam enthusiasts.
The slide valve and Stephenson valve gear suggest our
We’d be remiss if we didn’t credit Heidelberg Digital for their invaluable help in printing HEADEND on their Digimaster 9150. We can thank them, especially James Root and Peter Leas, for a quality job at a price we can afford!
SHOP REPORTby Charlie Lowe
Electrification:The concrete block enclosure for the trolley substation has been finished. The concrete block was erected and a steel door installed by a mason. NYMT and NRHS volunteers applied finishing touches by sealing wall-to-floor
areas and by painting a sealant onto the inside walls of the substation room. Installation of electrical equipment, nearly all of which has been obtained and is now stored inside the substation room, has begun, with members Jim Johnson and Charlie Harshbarger in charge. This coming spring, we will make a final decision on power feed from our local power company and make external hook-ups for both AC and DC. Given success with all of the above, we could be in a position to make test runs of the system during the summer, possibly offering limited rides to the public late in the year. John Ross and Tony Mittiga are spending the cold winter hours in the comforts of their home workshops, prepping fittings so we’ll be ready to extend the
Mack Fire Truck 307: Don Quant has taken charge of the fire truck and has concentrated on routine maintenance. The truck was run several times to exercise the working systems of the engine, clutch, brakes etc. The battery was charged, and gasoline treated with stabilizer was added in preparation for winter storage. Tire pressures have been checked. A bracket was made to mount the license plate on the rear of the engine. The gas tank was inspected and plans have been made to determine how to get the fuel gauge working next spring. The fuel line between the tank and carburetor will be rebuilt to eliminate the loop in the line and make a more direct path. Ignition systems have been checked.
Philadelphia & Western RR Co. 161: Don Quant has secured the trolley boards to the cleats. He and Jim Dierks wrestled the two 120-pound pole bases to the roof, and Don’s next task will be drilling the holes and mounting the bases to the boards. This will be followed by routing and attaching the power cables leading from the pole bases, along the roof and into the car’s control panel. Paul Monte has finished the "water deflectors" he fabricated for the window sills on both sides of the car, and is now installing them. Charlie Lowe and Dave Reifsynder teamed up in January to replace a broken hand brake pulley on this car. With the pulley broken, an application of the hand brake would tighten a chain onto a heavy electric cable under the car, an obviously unacceptable situation. While roaming through the extensive parts supply at NYMT several months ago, Charlie found an exact replacement part. Incredibly, the replacement was part of the lot of spare parts that had been obtained for NYMT when founded in 1973.
New York Museum of Transportation 04: Construction of a four-wheel line car trailer continues. In early January, Charlie Lowe finished bolting the wooden frame together. Construction of the tower for this car will proceed through the spring. When the line car is finished, volunteers will be able to maintain our existing overhead and build extensions to the present electrification.
THE MODEL RAILS
Once again the museum is spicing up the winter months with "Bring Your Own Train", giving visitors a chance to run their own HO cars and engines on our 11 ft by 21 ft model pike. Dick Luchterhand, Bill Chapin, Bob Nesbitt, Jack Allen, Vern Squire and Roger Harnaart have been at work on the layout, and the latest news is the addition of lights in many of the structures. Streetlights are on the menu for the near future, and of course the block signals, crossing flashers and headlights are already operating. So, now we can turn off the room lights and enjoy "Nighttime on the Railroad" as a new addition for 2004. Members are welcome too, so if you have an HO train you’d like to see barreling through the tunnels and over the bridges of our model railroad, here’s you chance to take the throttle! We’re there any Sunday through April, ready to get you going.
The guys also report that the Young Modelers group continues to meet (youngsters with a parent, learning model railroading construction and operating techniques). One project of this group is construction of an N-scale layout depicting the Rochester Subway. Dick reports they now have power to the line and the control panels are operational. Young Modelers meet on the second Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and they’d be happy to include you and your son or daughter.
The model railroad room is a popular place when we’re open to the public. It’s also fun for the rest of us once in awhile to be able to re-rail a train car with one hand or realign a piece of track in 20 minutes using only small hand tools.
WEB SITE CONVERTED
For some time now, Ted Thomas has been the keeper of our internet website, updating the events calendar and adding archive items as he progresses through another of his big accomplishments for NYMT, computer cataloguing the items in the museum’s collection. Clicking the Archive button on our home page (atwww.nymtmuseum.org) lets a website visitor search our archives and bring up images of photos, documents and small artifacts, all thanks to Ted’s efforts.
We were concerned to learn a few months ago that our server was planning to convert from Windows to the Linux system, and that staying with Windows would require us to find another server at unacceptable annual cost. So, Ted dug in and learned some new computer languages so he could convert our site and stay with our present, low-cost server. He spent about 100 hours at home learning the languages and generating the website pages in the new code, and we are now up and running in the new system.
We often bless ourselves to have volunteers whose knowledge reaches back to the days of trolley technology, early autos, and even horse-drawn vehicles, but we are just as grateful for volunteers who keep us up to speed with the digital age, extending our contact around the globe as the world of museums keeps growing and changing.
The Guest Book at NYMT reveals that our visitors come from all over the world, and the "comments" section tells us they had a good time. Notes such as "awesome" and "neat" and "a little known Rochester treasure" show up frequently. We also enjoy the feedback from our group visitors. Last November a well-behaved group of 40 preschoolers from the Jewish Community Center’s "Discovery Rooms" came to see what transportation is all about. After enjoying their visit, they returned to school and created a large poster to tell us what they liked best.
Adina liked "going in the trains" (those are interurban trolleys, sweetheart), and Brian liked "going through the old fire truck" (let’s add him to the team, Don). Ellie was taken by "the big room with all the trains moving" (keep that HO layout on the rails, guys) while Madelon responded with "the tables in the train that used to be a restaurant" (and presumably the snack they all enjoyed on those tables). Mitchell, Erin, Mikayla, Elyse and Lucas all gave the nod to "going in the bus outside" (future transit patrons). You’re apparently never too young to learn diplomacy, though. Several youngsters "liked the whole place". Thanks kids! We enjoyed having you with us and receiving your thank you list too. Come again!
A LOOK BACK, PART 2
When we last left Hugh Donovan, boy trolley operator, he had grown up, landed a job on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and was looking forward to a rough first trip in a caboose. Hugh hired on in the waning days of World War II, and due to the wartime shortage of available workers, they took him on despite his wearing glasses. With no training or formal indoctrination, he reported to work on the following Monday and soon learned all about coupler slack on a train of empty coal hoppers heading for Salamanca.
The B&O used steam power back then, of course, and often resorted to double-headed 2-8-2 mikados to get the freight trains over the road. Despite his early assignment as a flagman, Hugh soon ended up in the cab as a fireman, where he saw a lot of the local B&O territory over the next ten years.
On the road, it was hard work. Hugh says the big mikes rode well, but he didn’t have much time to sit and enjoy the ride. Warsaw Hill and Bliss Hill were a couple of places that were tough on the southbound runs, and they were especially hard when Hugh drew Emett Williams for engineer. "Emett knocked an engine hard", he says, keeping the cut-off in a position that used up steam fast, but which the engineer claimed "cleaned out all the soot and crud" in the loco. Needless to say, all that extra steam meant extra coal shoveling for Hugh.
Steam locomotives were complex mechanical machines, and you had to have the right tools and know-how to keep things running smoothly. Emett, Hugh remembers, had a bunch of tools he used to adjust the wedges between the journal bearings and their springs. Some "tools" weren’t so official, however. Engineer Orrie Taylor practically ran a restaurant in his locomotive cab, sticking the coal shovel in the firebox for a little while, cleaning it with cotton waste, and making great toasted cheese sandwiches fried right on the hot shovel. Orrie always brought a big lunch pail and was happy to share. In summer, he’d make iced tea, starting with tea bags in a glass jug "on the pipes" in the cab. One time a brakeman gave a quick stop signal, and there was brewed tea and broken glass all over the deck!
Hugh often drew the "dock job", switching hopper cars of coal onto car-carrying ferry boats at Charlotte. It was a pretty good detail, as he could expect to sleep in his own bed instead of being out on the road. Another advantage was the fellows he worked with on the dock job. Engineer Frank Hayden loved to sing, and he’d often get the head end crew singing in 3-part harmony.
It wasn’t all fun, though. Moving a train up the steep grade by Boxart Street meant getting a lot of steam up and shoveling a lot of coal into the firebox. One time an engineer loosened the packing gland where the throttle went into the boiler. The 175 psi steam blew out into the cab, and continued to exhaust all night. With all the steam in the cab, Hugh couldn’t get in to drop the fire, so he had to stay with his engine and keep the water level up as the fire slowly burned itself out. The good news is no one got hurt, and Hugh got paid for the time he babysat the loco. (Continued)
Seems that steam and air pressure were a constant problem for Hugh. One time on the dock job, he had a spare can of valve oil and decided to add it to the lubricator on the locomotive. In this system, steam pressure forced the oil to all the needed locations on the engine. Unfortunately, the oil reservoir was under pressure when he opened it. Out came a mass of dark brown, hot, smelly lubricant. Clean-up time…"and did that stuff stink".
Sometimes it was the lack of pressure that was the problem. One night Hugh was firing on a southbound road job, and they had just cut off some cars at Ashford, NY (junction of the lines from Rochester and Buffalo) and were approaching the yard at Salamanca. The brakeman had forgotten to open the angle cock when he recoupled the train, so there was no air for braking in the rear half of the train! His engineer laid on the whistle, sparks flying from the wheels where the brakes were working, as the freight train rolled fast into the yard. The engine and cars rocked and rolled through the switches over to the destination track, finally coming to a stop at the far end of the yard…fortunately still on the rails.
After ten years of this kind of excitement, Hugh made a career change and became a custodian in the Rochester school system. His experience on the B&O was helpful, as one of his new responsibilities was keeping the school steam boilers working properly. Hugh and his wife, Anne, now spend their winters in a condo in Tucson, Arizona. Summers, they go to Lake Lamoka, familiar to many of us as the source of a couple of NYMT’s trolley cars.
How Do I Sign Up to Help?
The museum stays open throughout the winter months, Sundays, 11 to 5, serving many visitors and bringing in important income. We need you to help staff the Gift Shop and Ticket Desk. Give Marie Miner a call at 671-3589.
Renew your museum membership today!
BRING A GROUP
Your museum opens by appointment during the week to provide guided visits for school classes, clubs, day care centers, and other qualifying groups. Visitors pay the standard per-person admission charged on Sundays, and there must be enough attendees to satisfy a $50 minimum fee. Most visits last an hour and a half, and take place on weekday mornings, but we can customize to suit a group’s scheduling requirements. Group visits normally include a guided tour through NYMT’s trolleys, steam locomotive, fire truck and model railroad, plus a track car ride and brief guided tour of RGVRRM’s country depot and collection of railroad equipment. Jim Dierks does the scheduling for group visits, so give him a call at (585) 473-5508 to answer your questions and set a date.
A RAIL TALE
Born and bred in Rochester, Tom Kirn is a valued reference source for city transportation knowledge. The other day he came up with this vignette from Rochester’s trolley days.
His father commuted on the Monroe Avenue line from Sumner Park to his office stop at Main and Clinton, usually sharing space in a 1200-series car with other "regulars". A friend and fellow rider was a pipe smoker, and one morning he chose to ride with the unlit pipe clenched in his teeth out of habit, ready to light up when he got off. The motorman, checking his rear view mirror, spotted him and hollered, "Hey—no smoking on the car!"
"I’m not smoking", the man replied.
"Well, you got your pipe in your mouth", the motorman answered.
The man came back with, "Yeah—and I got my feet in my shoes, but I ain’t walking!"
KEEPING IN TOUCH
VISIT US: Your museum is open Sundays, year round, 11 am to 5 pm. and on weekdays by appointment. Museum membership admits you free any time, and allows you to bring a limited family group to enjoy your museum at no charge. Why not stop out and see the progress first hand and check out the new items in our Gift Shop? Winter admission is $3 adults and $2 under 12. Summer admission is $6 adults, $5 seniors 65 and over, $4 ages 3 - 15, age 2 and under free if child sits on adult’s lap on ride. We’re at 6393 East River Road. Take Exit 11 from I-390, Route 251 West 1 1/2 miles to East River Road, then north 1 mile to our entrance.
E-MAIL US: email@example.com
CALL US: (585) 533-1113. Leave a message if we’re not there, and we’ll get back to you.
WRITE US: P. O. Box 136, West Henrietta, NY 14586
CHECK OUT OUR WEB SITE: www.nymtmuseum.org
JOIN US: If you are not already a member, complete the form on the Membership page on the web site, send it in, and we’ll take it from there.
Tell your friends about us, too!
HEADENDis published four times a year by the New York Museum of Transportation, © 2004. All rights reserved. No portion of this newsletter may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.
Editor Jim Dierks
Contributing Editor Charles Lowe, James Root
Printing James Root, Peter Leas
Publication Ruth Magraw, Doug Anderson
If you aren't already a member of the museum, or if