The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
May 23, 1975 is the date on the museum’s provisional charter from the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, and while significant activity was underway before that date, we consider that our official "birthday". What are we doing to celebrate? For openers, our substation will soon be connected to commercial power, and live tests will follow with P&W 168. The Trolley Operations Team has started monthly meetings to work through the list of things that have to be decided and prepared prior to actually operating on the line.
We hope all this means we’ll celebrate our 31st anniversary by kicking off a summer season of regular public trolley rides. Stay tuned!
Last winter’s "incident" between a motorist and our entrance signs is now behind us, and Phil McCabe has created a replacement for the damaged goods. Complete with plastic covers and caps for the pressure treated posts, the sign ought to last a long time, and won’t need painting either.
Our entrance sign welcomes visitors from around the world, and that includes you, our members and friends. See you at the museum soon, and if you’d like to lend a hand, we’ll double that welcome!
Bill Shattuck and John Corzine make sure Phil McCabe’s new sign
After months of preparation, Rochester city car 1402 has been delivered to NYMT. A former open car later converted to a center-door open car and, finally, a closed trailer car, 1402 becomes a valued addition to the NYMT collection of historic electric railway cars.
Waiting for good weather, Matthews Building Movers was forced to delay the move until early April. A sunny April 11 saw most of the difficult work. That morning, the car was set on a temporary set of highway wheels and shifted out of its long-time cottage position. In the afternoon, 1402 was trucked to NYMT and placed alongside the tank car on the loop track. Operations continued the next morning with the removal of the highway wheels and a sideways slide of 1402 to a position next to the loop track. This positions the car for a possible re-trucking should a set of streetcar trucks become available.
For now, the car is resting on its blocking and is available for viewing. Once track 2 is completed and Rochester city car 437 is moved into the new car house, the tarps on 437 will be used to cover 1402. This will preserve the car until such time as funding and volunteer effort reach sufficient levels to permit the car’s restoration.
Speaking of funding, the special fund created to help pay the significant costs of relocating 1402 is still open and awaiting your contribution. Please consider a donation to help us pay for 1402’s move.
The parade arrives and 1402 gets a first look at its new home.
NEW GALLERY EXHIBIT
Thanks to the generosity of local photographers Phyllis and Keith Hackleman, the NYMT gallery is graced with a new exhibit of over 30 beautiful photos of railroad steam engines. Titled "Steam Locomotives…Restored and Still Running", the show captures the massive power of steam, its intricate mechanisms, and even the poetic beauty of a steam-shrouded morning at a narrow gauge engine terminal.
Phyllis Hackleman says she was born with railroading in her blood, with grandfathers and a great-grandfather employed in the industry. Keith’s love of the locomotive started with his childhood Lionel electric train and the thrill of Wabash Railroad trains passing by his boyhood Indiana home. After they married, the Hacklemans’ shared interest in railroads led to "chasing trains" together, enjoying the sights and sounds of railroading on mainlines, branch lines, and tourist operations around the country.
Phyllis has explored many aspects of the visual arts, lately turning to photography, while Keith’s Masters of Fine Arts degree traces back to winning 1st place in the International Kodak Scholastic Contest as an eighth grader. While her role at first was limited to driving the chase car and handling equipment, Phyllis eventually put a 35mm camera in her hands and started shooting. Considering their mutual interest in railroading, "It was only natural to film and photograph the trains we chased", she says. Her work specializes in "the challenge of photographing anything that moves—trains, planes, automobiles, boats, hot-air balloons", and among her many awards are the Railfan and Railroad Magazine 2000 Cover One contest. Most recently, she has graduated to a medium format camera, which she used for most of her work in "Steam Locomotives…", working with a 55mm lens and a 105-210mm zoom.
"Letting Off Steam" Phyllis Hackleman
Winning that Kodak award as an early teenager set Keith on a path to higher education in photography, and eventually to a career in the field, teaching photography at the Marketing Education Center of the Eastman Kodak Company. Today, both he and his 16mm movie camera are retired, but a digital video camera is now a mainstay in Keith’s camera bag. In still photography, he prints his own color and processes his own slides too. When not on an excursion with Phyllis—working as a team to produce some of the fine night railroad scenes in their exhibit—he enjoys HO gauge model railroading, model making and woodworking.
"Taking On Water" Keith Hackleman
As long as the valleys echo with the wail of the steam whistle, the Hacklemans will be pursuing their hobby and perfecting their photo techniques. The museum is fortunate to have an opportunity to share their work with the Rochester community.
TRAVELS WITH GEORGE
One of the Rochester area’s most famous contributions to the world of industry was George Eastman. Although the idea of recording images on a medium of some kind had been around for a long time, Eastman’s creative mind and canny business sense built the giant Eastman Kodak Company in the late 1800s, simplifying the processes and popularizing photography for the masses. As busy as he was, though, Eastman took time out now and then for travel…by train.
In "George Eastman, a Biography" by Rochesterian Elizabeth Brayer (John Hopkins University Press, 1996) there are several mentions of Mr. Eastman’s trips by rail. A man of Eastman’s considerable means would have taken such trips in a private railroad car, of course, but he never actually owned one. Instead, he preferred to engage one of the Wagner Palace Car Company’s cars that were available for just such a purpose, and according to the book he seemed to favor the "Grassmere". In the June, 1893, issue of the Official Railway Guide, an ad for Wagner shows a floor plan of this car:
Viewing left to right, the car featured the customary rear platform with fancy railings, a small "observation room", and a master suite complete with all the conveniences, including a double bed. Mid-car was a dining area, or "parlor", followed by a bedroom, bathroom, pantry and kitchen. Judging by the proportions of the floor plan, the car must have been only 60 feet long. Photos in the Eastman biography reveal that the exterior of the car was wood-sheathed.
Eastman enjoyed nature and the outdoors, and took several long trips around the country, as well as journeys to Oak Lodge, his "camp" in Halifax County, North Carolina. In 1901, he spent six weeks traveling in Mexico, accompanied by his mother, her nurse Miss Knorr, friends Ellen Andrus and Josephine Dickman, and (perhaps to assure a sense of propriety) the Rev. Murray Bartlett.
A close examination of the "Grassmere" floor plan shows that there were three sofas—one in the observation room and two in the parlor—and there were upper berths above them that could be folded down for use if needed. The bedroom also would have been equipped with an upper and lower berth. Thus equipped, "Grassmere" could have slept 10. References in the book to Eastman’s travels on the car appear as late as 1929.
An interesting point is made in Brayer’s book about the transportation of U.S. mail well over a century ago. There was mail pickup and delivery five times a day in the 1890’s, and Eastman could (and often did) pen a letter to his New York City manager in the early morning, and have it arrive by train in the Big Apple in time to be read before the close of business that evening. Take that, FedEx overnight service!
On a further transportation note, Eastman enjoyed a personal fleet of fine automobiles which he stabled at his East Avenue mansion. A turntable in the garage permitted the convenience of driving in head first without having to back out. Eastman liked to take the wheel at times, but was generally considered by his terrified friends as not a very good driver.
But, according to the book, that’s all relative. It seems one night Eastman arrived by train from a business trip, and his personal chauffer picked him up at the New York Central Station on Central Avenue. Unfortunately, the man was in an advanced state of inebriation. Eastman took the bull by the steering wheel, piled his driver into the back seat of the limousine, and proceeded to drive himself home!
Transportation history is saved in many forms, from the full-size (and heavy!) rail and road vehicles in our collection, to documents and photos that open a window on the past. The past few months have brought a number of donated items and a significant purchase as well.
A vintage enameled sign for Rochester Telephone Corporation has already found a home on the wall near our horse-drawn vehicles and other familiar street signs, while a copy of Bill Gordon’s "Route of the Orange Limited", which we have several copies of in our library, will be available for sale in the gift shop. An interesting item saved from the offices of the Rochester & Eastern line in Geneva, NY is a wooden rack for paper forms and stationary. Standing 4 feet high, and about 16" square, the column of closely spaced horizontal shelves at one time probably held pads of forms for train orders and the myriad other necessities of an interurban railway.
Two Grant Money Meter fare boxes have been added to our collection. We have several types of fare boxes and have always entertained the notion that the whole concept of fare collection would make a great exhibit (someday…). In the meantime the ones for which we have keys make nice donation boxes. In fact, one of these two new arrivals has a slot specially made to accept folding money!
Twelve transparencies of the Chicago Railroad Fair in the early 1950s have been added to our slide collection, and two transit tokens from southern Illinois augment our growing collection of these interesting items. Rule books and text books from a donor’s career at General Railway Signal Company also recently arrived. In the non-vintage category, we received a new trolley uniform, complete with trousers, belt, cap and necktie; two dozen railway-motif drinking glasses and coffee mugs to sell in the gift shop; and a new vacuum cleaner.
A donor recently sent some photos from his collection showing the wreck of the New York Central’s "Wolverine" passenger train at Oak Street in the city. In his accompanying note, he pointed out that it was 60 years to the day since the accident, which was due apparently to excessive speed on a curve as the train approached the Rochester station. The top two shots show the J3a Hudson locomotive on its side, having slid down the embankment below the curve next to the Allen Street viaduct. The third picture shows the baggage car that ended up destroying a residence at street level off Oak Street.
The "Wolverine" was just one of many fast passenger trains on the Central’s mainline, and it carried Pullman sleepers from Chicago and Detroit to New York City and Boston, plus coaches and a dining car. Due into Rochester at about 1:30 in the morning, it’s worth remembering as we study these daylight photos that the catastrophe occurred in darkness.
Resident New York Central man, Bill Chapin, was a teenager about to go in the service at the end of World War II when the wreck occurred, and he recalls going over to see the clean-up process. He says the rest of the train continued to roll along the tracks, derailing on the curve and coming to rest against lineside trees and poles near Plymouth Avenue. Years later, his fellow NYC colleagues at Goodman Street yards recalled they had heard the impact of the crash way over there.
Bill says the engine number was 5413, noting not only the last two unlucky digits, but also the fact that adding all four
numerals also yields 13. The NYC powers that be apparently weren’t superstitious, as the locomotive was recovered and rebuilt to serve again on the Water Level Route.
Now and then the museum has an opportunity to acquire something of special value, but with a price tag. Charlie Lowe provides us with the following report:
NYMT has just purchased and taken delivery on several rare and valuable documents from New York State Railways, the street railway company of Rochester, Syracuse, Oneida and Utica which was headquartered in Rochester. Dating from 1913-1914 and 1926-1931, these books and pamphlets offer new details about Rochester’s street railway system.
NYMT member Charlie Robinson made arrangements for the purchase of the collection from Jim McFarlane. A long-time rail historian, McFarlane wrote the first history of upstate New York's interurbans in 1943. He later co-authored, in 1961 with Bill Gordon, the only major history of the Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern and the other Beebe Syndicate lines. In 1990, Jim wrote a "case history" chapter concerning trolley freight in upstate New York for Central Electric Railfans' Association's Not Only Passengers. When Charlie Robinson relayed word to us from Jim McFarlane that he wanted to sell several NYSR company books to NYMT, along with an offer to retrieve the books from Maine and to provide a significant donation toward the purchase price, it became a deal too good to pass up.
The earliest documents are the reports made by New York State Railways to the New York State Public Service Commission for the years ending June 30, 1913 and 1914. Each railway in New York State had to submit detailed annual reports, a summary of which was published in the annual PSC reports. Thus, these reports to the PSC offer much information not otherwise preserved. Especially complete car rosters offer much new and heretofore lost detail concerning the company's cars. Much of these reports are financial in nature, but many interesting details can be found. For example, the 1914 report confirms a newspaper report that the R&E automatic block signal system did indeed cost $115,000 to install but goes on to note that a similar system on the Sodus line cost $121,000. Two similar but less extensive reports dating from 1928 and 1929 are also included in the collection.
Daybreak reveals the extent of damage to the "Wolverine"
Charles Walker collection
Also in the collection are two annual reports to NYSR stockholders. Dating from 1926 and 1927, these slim, 8-page reports include much in their brief length. The 1926 report notes that NYSR operated 991 cars, including 4 open cars at Utica (amazing at this late date), on 597.29 miles of track. The 1927 report includes a page-long letter in which company president James F. Hamilton observes that "to avoid heavy expenditures incident to the construction of track extensions …your Company [NYSR] inaugurated auxiliary bus service to supplement and extend its trolley service…" The beginning of the great decline in NYSR’s streetcar systems was underway! Hoping the worth of "traction lines" would be recognized by the public, elected officials and investors, Hamilton "firmly believed" conditions would improve. Of course, the lure of the automobile and the onslaught of the Great Depression plowed NYSR and much of the rest of the traction industry into oblivion in just a few short years.
The crown jewel of the collection is an original copy of the three-volume receivers report from 1930. NYSR entered receivership on December 30, 1929, never to emerge intact. This report details the operation and physical plant of the company at the commencement of the receivership. Although abandoned, the Sodus line receives generous documentation; the Rochester city lines and the Rochester and Eastern line (still in operation as of the July 1, 1930 report) and operations in Syracuse, Oneida and Utica also are covered in detail. We find in a section titled "Deferred Maintenance" that NYMT's Rochester and Eastern car 157 was in good condition, needing only $10 for replacement of some linoleum flooring. As the first of many receivers reports covering New York State Railways, the 1930 report is especially comprehensive and is a great addition to our library.
The second receivers report, also included in this collection, was submitted in early 1931 and gives additional valuable information omitted in the first report. Of special interest is section 8, a complete car history for all cars then in use, including a detailed chart showing the transferal of some cars between Rochester, Syracuse and Utica. It is in this list that we find that NYMT's Rochester city car 437 was, along with cars 429 and 431, in the very first group of Rochester cars so altered, in July, 1922. One-manning of streetcars, while requiring the installation of additional safety and operating equipment, saved "platform" or employee costs by eliminating the conductor. That such information is available to us today only enhances NYMT's holdings such as car 437.
The museum"s thanks go out to Charlie Robinson for arranging this acquisition and to Jim McFarlane for recognizing NYMT as a suitable repository for these books.
Along with the arrival of Rochester streetcar 1402, the past few months have had a lot of activity on the arrival track. One of these days we’ll have to face the issue of outgrowing our environmentally controlled archive space. But, we’ll save that for a future discussion….
Our "victim" this issue handles several important jobs at the museums, and at home he’s in charge of running the New York Central System. We’d like you to meet the guy who carries all these weighty responsibilities, Bob Achilles.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Bob and his family moved to Cranford, NJ where he grew up amid a lot of railroad action. His father commuted on the Jersey Central for years and had a "passing interest" in trains, as we suspect most fathers did back then. Dad also lived up to tradition and made sure Bob had a Marx wind-up train, then a Marx electric train, and finally a Lionel set up to keep both father and son busy.
Bob’s uncle on his mother’s side was actually in the railroad business—a locomotive engineer on the Canadian National who worked his way up to Road Foreman of Engineers, responsible for training and testing the men who fired and ran the CN’s locomotives. His uncle even had his own instruction car, with living quarters and classroom space, as Bob recalls.
The railroad bug might have bitten Bob in his early years, as he has a dim recollection of visiting the cab of a steam locomotive with his uncle when he was just a tot. Having relatives in Canada meant summer vacation trips to visit them at their cottage, and the traveling was by train, of course. Bob says the trips started in New Jersey on a Lehigh Valley "Maple Leaf" sleeping car to Toronto, followed by a CN train to a major junction at Lindsay, Ontario where the through coach was switched to a freight run. The resulting mixed train, powered by a diminutive 2-6-0 steamer, handled the last leg of the journey.
Although Bob didn’t have a camera with him early on, he eventually figured it out, taking his first pictures on a Jersey Central fan trip in 1952. After that, he haunted the Cranford
station and the nearby Aldene yards, where there was lots of interesting action for him to record. He also took his camera along in search of steam in Canada, and on a memorable 1957 excursion that went from the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Newark, NJ station to Harrisburg, Buffalo, Toronto, Peterboro, and home.
All good things must come to an end, of course, and Bob eventually moved on, graduating from Lehigh University with a Chemical Engineering degree in 1960 and starting work thereafter at Kodak in Rochester. He spent his career in engineering and supervisory assignments in the Paper Manufacturing Division at Kodak Park, and retired in 1995. Bob married Carol Ann in 1960, a lady he had known since they were in 7th grade together. Their two children, Donna and Geoff, graduated from Cornell and are employed in engineering jobs at Pratt & Whitney and Air Products, respectively.
Bob stood in a 2/3-full coal hopper car to get this shot of CNJ
Both Bob and Carol Ann volunteer with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (along with 800 others!), doing office work and occasionally driving the orchestra’s conductor, Christopher Seaman, to area schools to conduct bands and choruses. For almost 30 years, the Achilles owned a cottage on the tip of Keuka Lake’s Bluff Point, but with the family grown and the effort of keeping up two homes eating into their free time, they sold that place in 2002.
That was good news for us, because about the same time a friend suggested doing a gig or two as depot guides. Although Bob had been a member of the Rochester Chapter, NRHS for some years, this was his first shot at actually getting involved. The hook was in, as he began to see the other volunteer jobs that were available, notably track car operator, which he then signed up for. Since then, bob has operated track cars on Sundays, and is a valuable weekday group tour track car man as well. It didn’t take long for Bob to recognize the on-going need for maintenance and inspection of the track car equipment, and he eventually took over responsibility for that. He developed a 90-day inspection routine for the track cars, and continues to perfect the connection between the operator log books and the maintenance work. Bob is also a member of the joint museum group that meets monthly keeping both museums coordinated with a safe, seamless public offering.
Where does that New York Central job fit in? Years ago, New Jersey had a lot of O-scale model railroad clubs, and Bob found the hobby interesting. There’s not much of the big stuff here in Rochester, so Bob gravitated to the smaller HO gauge, eventually creating a mini-empire in his Perinton basement. He models the NYC of the 1940s on an around-the-room layout that features 180 feet of mainline. A 300-car freight yard and 80-car passenger yard support mainline action powered by steam super power and first generation diesels. There isn’t any scenery yet, but Bob is working hard on a section that has priority for that.
We can see where he’s headed with his basement railroad, but what does Bob want to see the future hold for the museum complex we all know and love? His ready answer starts with trolleys (and he points out that he often rode Toronto trolleys as a boy, including Peter Witt cars with trailers on Yonge Street before the subway there). Bob looks forward to seeing trolleys operating under the NYMT overhead. Second on his list is completion of R&GVRRM’s restoration building, and third is seeing one of the RGV steam locomotives in action. He supports all of these programs, and confides that someday he’d like to qualify as a trolley motorman. He’s already taken his RGV brakeman training to become a diesel engineer, and with his smooth performance at the controls of track cars, we’re sure he’ll do an outstanding job in all these areas.
Always thoughtful and ready to help, Bob Achilles is a model volunteer. We’re pleased to have him on board and look forward to his valuable contributions in the years of progress that we have ahead of us.
SHOP REPORTby Charles Lowe
Track No. 2 at New Car House:Randy Bogucki and Charlie Lowe concentrated on steel work at the new switch during much of February and March as heavy snows and freezing temperatures made tie replacements impossible. By the time warm weather finally arrived, all switch rails between the points and the frog were in place. With track car season approaching and the need to return track 1 to service, a major work session was planned for Saturday, April 3. In the week before, Randy performed much ballast excavation. On April 3, despite heavy rains, Ted Strang, Tony Mittiga, Randy and Charlie placed ten medium-length switch timbers; having four people handling ties with tie tongs made lifting the heavy timbers reasonably easy. Another work session was planned for Saturday, April 10. Paul Monte, a veteran of the crew that originally built the museum railroad in the 1970s, lent a hand that day, as did Doug Anderson, John Ross, Randy, Tony and Charlie. All ties still needed for the switch and track 2 were set in place by this large and energetic crew. In the smaller work sessions that followed, track 1's rails were gauged and spiked in place, the points and switch machine completed and the guard rail for track 1 bolted in place opposite the switch frog. With track 1 again operable, attention has been turned toward track 2. On May 8, Joe DiBenedetto and Charlie Lowe positioned another section of rail for track 2. At 90 pounds per yard, each 33-foot-long rail weighs in at 990 pounds. At present, spiking on track 2 is proceeding from the switch points toward the frog, and setting the curvature in the rails for the entrance into the car house has begun.
Passenger Platform at New Car House: With P&W 168 now safely secured inside the new car house on track 1, we no longer have space to load both track cars inside the building. So, providing safe footing for visitors in front of the car house was called for. Spreading crushed stone there was considered but rejected in favor of adding a 4-foot wide by 10-foot long wooden deck on both sides of the track, matching the existing platforms. All within a few days, Jim Dierks prepared the design and bought the materials, Rick Holahan made the delivery, and the ace Thursday team of Don Quant, John Ross and Al Emens did the construction work.
NYMT Substation: The recent granting of a permanent easement by BOCES to Niagara-Mohawk in April permits Nimo line crews to begin construction of the power line to NYMT. Now that warm weather has arrived, the substation crew is getting ready to pull the heavy and stiff cables needed for the direct current circuit. These cables will be run in the underground ducts laid last year between the substation and a pole on the trolley line. A commercial electrical contractor has been hired to complete the wiring connections and modify certain building power connections. Ted Strang and Rand Warner have cleared and painted the area just outside of the substation room for connecting equipment.
Philadelphia and Western 161: The crew of Bob Miner, Ted Thomas, John Ross and Don Quant have worked steadily through the winter on the massive job of replacing all the upper windows on 161. All the old upper windows were removed from the car. Ted built and painted all-new window frames for the entire car from mahogany wood purchased by the museum. Pressed privacy glass, similar to the style of glass originally used, was purchased in carefully measured sizes, and several windows have now been glazed. Jim Dierks arranged for the purchase of a supply of custom made quarter-round wood used to hold the glass in place. Now that this wood is primed and painted, the remainder of the upper windows can be glazed and installed.
Don, John and Al have one platform done and the second well on
Philadelphia and Western 161 and 168: In a recent discussion via e-mail with Western Railway Museum Electric Car Superintendent (and NYMT member) Dave Johnston, Charlie Lowe voiced some concerns about lightning arresters for cars 161 and 168. Although the substation and the line are protected from lighting strikes, the two cars must also be so protected. Since NYMT possesses only two old lightning arresters, Dave procured two modern ones and gave them to NYMT with NYMT paying the freight bill for these two heavy items. These will be mounted on the cars’ roofs, at the trolley pole base near where the trolley cable enters the car. A choke coil of the heavy trolley cable, which carries the 600-volt trolley current, will be placed in series between the trolley pole and the entry of the cable into the car. The lightning arrester will be wired into an alternate circuit between the trolley pole bases and ground connections under the car. This will provide an alternate route to ground for extraordinarily high power surges such as lightning strikes since the choke coil will pile up the charge, sending it via the alternate cable to the lightning arrester. Here, the surge will jump the gap within the lightning arrester and safely continue its way to ground. Failure to provide adequate lightning protection for cars, overhead and substations can lead to burned-out motors and other equipment, requiring prohibitively expensive repairs. Rewinding a traction motor, for instance, could easily cost $10,000. Before either 161 or 168 enter service, they will be equipped with the new lightning arresters.
Rochester and Eastern 157: Economy meters were used in electric railway cars beginning in the 1910s to encourage the conservation of electric power. The meter indicated the amount of power used by each motorman. Based on the patched hole over the motorman’s operating position in 157, it was suspected that such a device was once used in this car. When one of the two economy meters in NYMT’s parts stock was held up against the holes, it fit perfectly. Charlie Lowe cleaned up the meter and lacquered its exterior black as it originally had been. The meter’s dials are run by means of a shaft with a tiny, finned wheel set in a small pool of mercury. The mercury had to be replaced every two years, and all of this meter’s mercury is long gone. Rather than attempt to actually use the meter, which was filled with silt from the flood at Magee Transportation Museum in 1972, the device will be mounted in 157 so as to further complete the appearance of the motorman’s cab.
New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 1402: The move of 1402 to NYMT in mid-April is related elsewhere in this issue of Headend.
New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 437: With all the activity centering on 161 and 168, it was in the spirit of car 437’s anticipated un-tarping (once track 2 is finished) that a little work was expended on the museum’s most complete Rochester city car. A simple on-off switch is needed at each controller. Once in a great while, the contactors inside the controller will jam, preventing the controller from being turned. When this happens, an electrical fire can quickly encompass both the controller and the car. To prevent such an event, shut-off switches were placed overhead at each controller and, because of their location, were called "hood" or "canopy" switches. NYMT is fortunate to have a large supply of circuit breaker style canopy switches. These will automatically shut off when excessive current or voltage tries to enter the car. To set these switches in the "on" position, a wooden handle is manually set. A "panic button" is used to operate a push-rod that returns the canopy switch to the "off" position. Charlie Lowe took one such switch from NYMT’s stock, emptied out all the 1972 flood silt, cleaned all the internal parts and lacquered the cover. When the time comes, this switch will be used in 437’s front end along with the K35 controller still being restored.
A sad note in the ongoing story of car 437 is the passing of Ben Minnich. A member of Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine and Orange Empire Railway Museum in California, Ben first appeared at NYMT in 1996 on a dark and cold November evening. He poked around the museum and then offered to the NYMT members present the possibility of obtaining a real Rochester city streetcar. He thought it was sad that a trolley organization such as NYMT did not have an intact native city car. Ben soon offered a Rochester car (502) already at Seashore, but the car’s condition was so poor it did not seem it could make the journey back to Rochester. Not losing heart, Ben then made it known that one of a pair of Rochester cars could be made available. As a result of this offer, NYMT obtained car 437 and aided Seashore in bringing the second car, 394, to Maine. Our museum was deeply enriched by Ben’s efforts, and his kind acts will not be forgotten.
We’re talking the green kind, and there’s lots of it at NYMT. Bob Miner is in charge of the mowing operation each summer, and you can usually see Dave Peet commanding our John Deere riding mower as well. They get a lot of help from Charlie Lowe, Don Quant, and John Corzine, with Al Emens recently spotted trimming around the buildings with our recently-donated walk-behind string trimmer.
You can help! (Bet you never guessed). Join the team and take a turn at keeping our broad expanses of green down to a dull roar. We won’t lie to you…mowing isn’t a lot of fun in itself, but it’s a great way to break the ice and get involved with the many other projects we have going at the museum. Give Bob Miner a call today: 671-3589.
Lawn Mower Wanted!
Your museum is in need of a good-running rotary push mower to handle the smaller lawn areas. Are you getting a new mower for Father’s Day? If the old one still runs well, we would be grateful for the donation. Thank you!
ROCHESTER STREETCARSNo. 34 in a series
by Charles R. Lowe
Our present photo shows car 854 (Brill, 1912) on the loop at Genesee Valley Park after completing a southbound run on the long South-St. Paul line. The motorman is about to change his "SOUTH AV. TO GENESEE VAL. PK." sign to one indicating a northbound run. A "ST. PAUL TO SENECA PK." sign will be used if the northbound run is to be cut back at the Seneca Park loop; a "SUMMERVILLE" sign will be used if the car is to proceed all the way to Lake Ontario. Sometimes, northbound cars on the South-St. Paul line used a simple "ST. PAUL" sign, however.New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 854
One of the problems of railfan photos made decades ago is the loss of information concerning the making of the photo. Three photos, all made of car 854 at this location on what looks like the same day, have come to light from different sources. The negative of our 854 photo came to the author from NYMT member Shelden King. The "CD9451" indication at bottom left tells us that the negative was once in the collection of railfan Charles Duncan. Barely visible on the negative’s lower right corner, though, is the scratched-off name "Holland", written on a diagonal. "Pitt" Holland, a New Englander, was the original photographer, and he made several trips to upstate New York in 1935; the date recorded for this photo is June, 1935. Another very similar negative of car 854 is part of the John G. Woodbury Collection, held by the Rochester Chapter, National Railway Historic Society. Woodbury recorded the date of his negative as May 9, 1935, but the trees in the background appear far too leafy for early May. A third photo from yet another collection gives us more clues. A broadside view of the car’s right side, the third photo’s negative is owned by Malcom D. McCarter and dates from June 9, 1935. It was probably made originally by Chicago-area railfan Eugene VanDusen.
While we may never know for sure, it seems probable that Holland and VanDusen, led by Rochesterian John Woodbury, rode to Genesee Valley Park loop on June 9, 1935 and photographed the car they rode during its layover. The quiet locale of the loop is now in the middle of a Strong Memorial Hospital parking lot, and the line back north to Rochester via Crittenden, Mt. Hope, Stewart and South has been a bus line since 1939. But thanks to these 1930s railfans, it is still possible even today to catch a glimpse of the past.
Cathy Ann Howes
The museum was saddened at the recent passing of one of its earliest supporters. Cathy Ann served as the Director of Education for NYMT, working with young people to interpret transportation history through exhibits of photos, maps and drawings. She was also invaluable in keeping the museum financially sound at a critical time in its young life. According to former Director Mike Storey, "…in 1978 when the CETA project wound down [a major program that built much of the rail line], she was largely responsible for rounding up the money to pay off the expense of running the heavy construction. She and I subsequently wrote grants in the following years that provided the revenue for much of the museum’s budget, including the insurance costs that allowed the volunteers to operate on the track".
Cathy accomplished all of this despite health issues that at times put her on the sidelines. We were always glad to see her when she visited the museum in more recent years, often showing her affection for the place with suggestions and offers to help when she could. She surely found satisfaction in seeing the growth of the institution she was so instrumental in creating. She will be missed by us all.
In response to the HEADEND Winter issue’s question that accompanied the photo of a Ruggles rotary plow clearing an ice jam at Queenston in 1909, Dwight Bliss (donor of the photograph) called to explain that power to the plow was provided via an extension cord connected to a DC generator on a flat car. Recall that in the photo the plow’s roof-mounted trolley pole was hooked down, and no overhead wires could be seen. The ice jam may have taken down the overhead at that point, necessitating the use of the generator. Such equipment apparently was on the roster to provide help in situations like this, or when extra power was needed, according to Dwight’s father, H. Dwight Bliss II, who also told him there was a similar generator car in Rochester.
We heard from an on-line reader (that’s internet on-line, as opposed to 100 years ago when that would have referred to a reader living near the railroad track!). Gary Smith asked for information about Stop 28, near Macedon, on the Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern. Planning a trip to the Rochester area, he wanted to try and find the location of the stop, as it was used by his family members years ago. Gary says his uncle, Arnold Smith, now 97 years old, recalled freight trolleys in a recent conversation. Arnold’s father, Walter Smith, was a dairy farmer in Palmyra who would load milk on an RS&E freight trolley bound for Rochester. Once a week, he’d ride into the city on the interurban to get paid for the milk. Fresh milk, delivered daily, the fast, clean electric way.
We heard many nice comments about our article on the late Ed Blossom and his contributions to NYMT’s early days. Former museum board chairman Henry Hamlin shared some insights from those days. Blossom had been trying to save the Magee Transportation Museum after being ruined by disastrous floods from Hurricane Agnes, "but once Mr. Magee died he knew he was on borrowed time", said Hamlin. Heavily involved with the development of the planned community to be called Riverton, Hamlin and an official of the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority had been in discussions about a light rail line between Rochester and the new town. On a visit to Magee, the two men met Ed Blossom and learned from him firsthand of the problems there as well as the resources available and the potential they offered.
Hamlin says he recognized that potential and decided "on the spot" to acquire Rochester & Eastern car 157, Elmira Corning & Waverly car 107, and a supply of overhead wire and hardware. And the deal included Ed Blossom, who moved to Rochester and lived for a while in the house next door to NYMT, currently the home of members Bill Shattuck and Ann Stevens. Although he later purchased more items to be brought to NYMT, Hamlin says an available open car was beyond his means at the time. Blossom’s financial needs eventually exceeded the funds available to support him, and his tenure at our museum ended, leaving us well on the road to trolley operations.
Every museum has its unidentified archive items, and NYMT is no exception. Such artifacts and photos get the scrutiny of many members, ultimately landing in Shelden King’s in-basket for his consideration. Shelden is one of those proverbial "walking encyclopedias" and often finds a clue to the identity, location or other aspect of the mystery item. Even Shelden can’t help us on the photo shown here. It appears that two steam locomotives have recently suffered a head-on collision, the one in the foreground apparently an old 4-4-0 type, and both still smoldering. Nearby, a little boy might be reconsidering his dream career as a locomotive engineer. Or it may be that this was one of those staged wrecks that were popular for a short while a century ago wherein two trains of obsolete equipment were set in motion, deliberately arranged to pile into each other near a large field, with admission being charged to disaster enthusiasts. We doubt any of our readers will be able to help identify this shot, but just in case, here it is.
This otherwise unidentified photo of a head-on wreck is back stamped W. S. McCollester, and is dated Oct. 8, 1905
DID YOU KNOW?
* Marie Miner has put in for retirement as gift shop and ticket desk staff scheduler, and has agreed to continue as one of the volunteers in that part of our operations. Both Marie and her husband Bob put in major volunteer time on our behalf, and that of the neighboring Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum, and we thank her for her valuable service. She reminds us that volunteering in the gift shop is fun, easy work, but that we are in desperate need for members to do it.
PLEASE VOLUNTEER IN THE GIFT SHOP
Enjoy meeting our visitors while you sell tickets and make gift shop sales. It’s easy and fun and we need you. Give Jim Dierks a call at 473-5508!
* Last issue we joked about possibly needing City Council action to raise the roof on our N-gauge model of the Rochester Subway to clear the tops of Dick Luchterhand’s fleet of tiny subway cars. No joke, though, is the City’s proposal to fill in the remaining portion of the real subway’s tunnel through downtown, from Exchange Street to Brown Street. There’s considerable resistance to the fill-in from advocates for proposals such as a light rail line in the tunnel, removing the deck (Broad Street) to recreate the Erie Canal, developing an underground attraction of nightspots and restaurants, and other suggestions. Keeping the Broad Street deck, over a half-mile long, in good repair is costly, and the City says it will save money in the long run to face facts and fill in the tunnel. The former aqueduct over the Genesee River is to be saved and possibly developed as a pedestrian walkway featuring exhibits pertaining to the bridge’s history in service to both the Erie Canal and the Rochester Subway.