HEADEND

The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation


SPRING 2007

READY TO ROLL!

This summer’s ride season brings our museum to a major milestone in its history. We are finally ready to begin offering trolley rides as a routine part of our Sunday operations, with runs scheduled throughout the day, each Sunday from May 20 to October 28.

Air compressors chugging, 168 and 161 give us a glimpse of what it was like at interurban terminals 80 years ago.

The past 30-plus years have seen construction of the rail line, using rail and hardware salvaged from the Rochester Subway, followed over ten years ago by acquisition of two operable cars. As those cars arrived, we started planting poles and installing overhead wire. During the past several years, a state-of-the-art electrical substation was built to conveniently and safely provide the 600 volt direct current our trolleys need. This past winter and spring, necessary track and switch upgrades were completed. Readers of HEADEND have been kept abreast of each exciting advance on our way to fulfilling the dream of regular trolley service at NYMT.

We celebrated the first run of Philadelphia & Western car 168 that used a long extension cord and a diesel generator. In 2001 we staged “Trolleys Return to Rochester” on the newly completed quarter-mile electrified line, again with the diesel generator providing the power. And last summer we once again had reason to celebrate, offering several weekends of trolley rides powered by our new substation.

While there will undoubtedly be many more accomplishments to celebrate in the future as we extend the electrified line and turn our attention to restoring additional trolley cars, 2007 marks a major milestone for us all. Both 161 and 168 are ready to run; motormen and conductors have completed their training; the word is out that the only museum trolley operation in New York State is right here in Rochester and ready to serve the visiting public. All aboard!!

Steve Huse, Tony Mittiga, Paul Monte and Bob Achilles take a break during trolley training in the front cab of P&W 168.


“FRANCHISE BOOK” by Charles Lowe

In November 1957, during his years as a college student at Geneseo, NYMT member Shelden King happened upon a very rare volume while browsing at a Rochester book store. Shelden paid $2.00 and had the bargain of the century in his hands.

Thanks to Shelden King’s purchase fifty years ago (and to his generous donation) the Franchise Book now resides at NYMT.

The full title of the book, “Charters, Franchises, Mortgages, Leases and Agreements, Rochester city and Brighton Railroad Company, the South Park Railroad Company of Rochester, N.Y., the Crosstown Railroad Company of Rochester, N.Y., and the Rochester Railway Company”, certainly is cumbersome, forcing scholars to dub the tome simply the “Franchise Book.” The only author or publication information is “Compiled 1901” on page 1, so we do not really know who assembled the book for publication. It seems, though, that this book was assembled for railway and city officials as a means to collect useful information about the rights of Rochester Railway Company to occupy public streets in Rochester. The text, tightly composed on pages 3 through 327, is repetitious in spots and legalistic throughout. Most fortunately, an index does accompany the text.

For all its rarity and mystery, the Franchise Book gives the modern reader an insider’s look into Rochester’s street railways from their beginnings in 1862 up to 1901. The first section is an exacting recitation of the charters granted the title companies. The second section, by far the most extensive of the book, lists the actions of Rochester’s Common Council relative to street railways. The very first item is the resolution of June 24, 1862 wherein Rochester granted Rochester City and Brighton Railroad permission to operate streetcars on many of the city’s main thoroughfares. The final sections of the book pertain to the mortgages, leases and agreements encumbering the various street railway companies.

An example of information found only in the Franchise Book is the nature of the Four Corners trackage prior to 1869. The earliest street railways employed double-end horsecars. At the ends of lines, the horses were walked around to the other end of the car and re-harnessed. Such cars employed a two-man crew. The failure of the original Rochester City and Brighton Railroad in 1868 was in large degree corrected by the introduction of single-end, one-man horsecars in 1869. To accommodate such cars at the ends of lines, turntables were installed, with the single horse walking in a semicircle fashion to turn the car on its turntable. A turntable was also installed at the Four Corners to permit cars to move between the lines that crossed at this point. However, an unanswered question was: How did cars interchange between lines at the Four Corners prior to the construction of the turntable? Such moves were necessary in that the car house on State Street supplied cars for all lines in Rochester, and the only way to reach the Main Street trackage was through the Four Corners. On page 42 of the Franchise Book can be found, under the date of October 20, 1869, permission granted by the Common Council that until its Four Corners turntable was fully installed, RC&B would “not be required to remove its switches or remove the curved track at the corner of State and Buffalo [West Main] streets…” This indicates that the connection track was at the northwest quadrant of the intersection, an otherwise lost piece of information.


The survival of Shelden’s copy of the Franchise book is a fascinating story as well. Having purchased the book and affixing a dated bookplate, Shelden placed the book in his collection. In the mid-1970s, he loaned the book to the Transit room of Onondaga Historical Association in Syracuse. However, the Franchise Book had limited utility to OHA as the book dealt exclusively with Rochester street railway matters. Over the years, Shelden came to realize that the best location for his book would be in the library at NYMT. Early this year, hoping OHA might release his book to NYMT, Shelden wrote a letter asking that the transfer be made. At the same time, NYMT Secretary Jim Dierks wrote OHA to say NYMT would be pleased to accept the Franchise Book. In late March, the book arrived and was placed in the NYMT library.


This addition to the NYMT archives is now perhaps one of the most significant of NYMT’s holdings. The only other known copy of this rare book is held by Rochester Public Library. Through the preservation of this book, it is hoped that the early days of Rochester’s rich street railway history can also be preserved.


VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT

The long arm of the spotlight reaches all the way out to rural Ohio for this issue’s volunteer tale. Through the magic of the internet, this volunteer manages to perform a vital service for the museum from a distance. Meet Cameron Anderson.

Cameron Anderson helps out with our museum website, but sometimes we have to egg him on a little…

Cam didn’t start out so removed from our upstate New York location. He not only grew up in our area, but completed our first Eagle Scout project. His dad is no stranger to the museum either, as Doug Anderson has been around almost from the beginning and has for many years managed our gift shop, among many other contributions.

You’ll find a short photo story about Cam’s Eagle project in the Fall 1991 issue of HEADEND. A priority then, as now, was to spruce up the appearance of the museum, and the ca. 1910 Canadian National outside-braced wood box car was one of the worst offenders. Cam led a group of fellow scouts in scraping down the weathered siding, replacing many boards, and applying a new coat of box car red paint. He and his dad researched the CN herald of the era and added that too.

Cam was born in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1975, and his dad’s Air Force obligations took him to Colorado and New Mexico, then to Toronto before finally settling in suburban Rochester. Cam remembers enjoying “goofing around” at the museum when he was only five years old, accompanying Doug on work days, but his technical mind soon grew to like being around mechanical things. With his father active in scouting, Cam soon found himself advancing through the ranks and going on scout camping outings, such as Algonquin and Adirondack parks, and Philmont in the New Mexico foothills of the Rockies. Cam says these were exciting times in “high adventure” experiences, backpacking at Philmont, seeing the world as he never saw it before. The things he did and the people he met led to “life building experiences” for Cam. He especially remembers his Scoutmaster, David Dimeo, for his dedication and time devoted to passing on important skills and ideals.

Cam’s college education took him to York University in Toronto and Monroe Community College here at home, but the computer science courses they offered couldn’t help him answer the siren call of the internet, a new and exciting development at that time. After a short stint working in a computer repair shop, Cam moved on to KC Online, a small internet service provider in Warsaw, Indiana, one feature of that job being a busy crossing of two railroad lines right behind the building where he worked.

He job-hopped for several years, gathering experience in the internet field, working for large companies and small ones, even doing website work for the Ohio Republican Party. At present, he’s happy providing the interface between the website design and the raw code written by the more technical types at mytriggers.com. At times, NYMT comes calling, asking Cam to update our own website with event schedules and the like, and his skills are an invaluable help for us.

But there’s more. Cam and his wife, Denise, live on a farm two miles south of Mt. Gilead, about 45 miles from Columbus, Ohio. They have about 5 acres, an 1840 Federal-style farm house, and outbuildings appropriate to the situation. That “situation” involves chickens…about 300 of them…plus 4 sheep, a lamb, 3 hogs, 5 bobwhite quail, 2 geese, 14 cats, and 2 dogs. Denise grew up on a farm, and she manages all this with Cam’s help. They provide eggs, about 1,000 dozen per week, to several customers, including four Whole Foods markets. The “Certified Naturally Grown” eggs get shipped to Columbus, Cleveland, Alexandria (VA), and Marlton (NJ). Cam and Denise also make an appearance each week at local farm markets, selling fresh produce from their 4,000 sq. ft. garden. Denise’s son, Peter, also helps on the farm, and you can check out all the details about the Anderson’s operation at 2silos.com.

Some facts we learned during the course of our interview: (1) Brown eggs come from hens with brown ears, and white eggs from hens with white ears. Other varieties of hens lay eggs that are green, dark brown, or cream colored. (2) Eggs are good for a month stored at room temperature, and up to 3 months in the refrigerator. (3) Old eggs when hardboiled peel easier than fresh eggs, because the membrane gets tougher.

Cam tells us he has another transportation link or two you should know about. He’s picked up his father’s love for older Volvos, but his current ride is a 1981 VW Rabbit diesel. Get this: he has built a bio-diesel processor, using old fry oil from a nearby Chinese restaurant and other places. In goes the oil, along with lye and methanol, and out comes diesel fuel and glycerin. Both his furnace and his VW drink the diesel output and the cost is a measly 80 cents a gallon.

Well, Cam, we’re glad your Eagle project at NYMT helped start you on the interesting road you’re traveling. Thanks for your help with our website, and for the CN box car paint job. And we’ll think of you with our next batch of devilled eggs!


TALES OF THE RAILS

We never tire of hearing from the older generation who tell us about kids pulling the trolley pole off the wire, a common prank guaranteed to raise the ire of the motorman. The latest contribution involves a professor at Geneseo College and comes to us via our own Shelden King. Shelden was pursuing a degree in library studies in the 1950s, and one of his teachers, Richard Reynolds, confessed to the trolley pole trick.

One Halloween night when Reynolds was a boy, he and his buddies pulled the pole off the overhead wire of a St. Paul – South car near the southern end of that route. The motorman was too quick for them, and, apprehended, they were ordered to board the car with him. With the pole put back on the wire, the car proceeded north on its appointed run to Summerville, way up on the shore of Lake Ontario. As the car rolled on and the hour got later, the boys grew increasingly fearful of the punishment the streetcar company must surely have in store for them.

The car eventually arrived at its northern terminus and made its long, agonizing return trip. When they finally arrived at the scene of the crime, the motorman stopped the car, opened the door, and told the boys to get off and never try that trick again. They ran all the way home in the late night darkness, to what was no doubt a “warm” reception from their worried and angry parents. Professor Reynolds swore he never pulled a streetcar pole of the overhead again.

Yet another variation on the “pull the trolley pole off the wire” trick came to us from Bud Thayer at Cherry Ridge after a recent “Interurban Era” slide talk there. Mr. Thayer told us that stops at Rowlands loop, the southeast end of Rochester Subway line, sometimes provided the only break for motormen during their busy day. Answering the call of nature involved getting off the car and heading for the bushes. Local kids would take advantage of this interlude, but instead of just pulling the trolley pole off the overhead wire, they’d take it down just enough to clear the wire, then tie the rope to hold the pole there. To the casual eye, the pole appeared to be on the wire, but it really wasn’t. The uninitiated motorman would spend considerable time trying to figure out why he had no power!

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

You may have heard the old expression, “He left in a high dudgeon”, meaning that an argument or disagreement caused a person to depart “in a resentful mood or in ill temper”. We remember an episode of “Chicken Man” in which someone left in a high dudgeon and the announcer offered the further information that it was a 1957 High Dudgeon. We thought that was just a small joke at the expense of Dodge automobiles, until we came across this picture in Smithsonian Institution’s Bulletin 198, published in 1950. The publication is a catalogue of the museum’s collection of automobiles and motorcycles, including Rochesterian George Selden’s original patent model for the automobile. Included in the catalogue is a history of the automobile and its precursors, including early steam-powered vehicles going back to the 1700s.

The beauty shown below dates to the late 1860s and was created by none other than one Richard Dudgeon! The “road locomotive” was capable of carrying 10 people who bravely sat on benches beside the boiler. According to the Bulletin, Dudgeon’s machine was thought to be “the earliest surviving self-propelled road conveyance in America”, and “still in good operating condition”. The inventive Scotsman’s machine is now in the collection of the Smithsonian, and you can read more about him—and it—at this website:

http://americanhistory.si.edu/onthemove/collection/object_1324.html Richard Dudgeon was troubled by the abuse of horses on the streets of New York, and offered this humane alternative.


2007 EVENTS SCHEDULED

Our special events are a great way to feature things that we can’t do on a weekly basis, and they’re also a great way to make new friends for the museum. So tell all your friends, grab that new calendar Aunt Sally gave you for Christmas and mark these dates on it:

May 20 (Sunday): Trolley and Track car rides begin.
The only operating trolley museum in New York State brings back the interurban trolley era with rides on the museum’s quarter-mile electrified rail line. Also, open-air track car rides connect the New York Museum of Transportation with the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum for a guided tour of a 1909 country train station and a host of railroad cars and engines. Unlimited trolley rides and the track car ride with RGVRRM tour are all included in the price of admission.

June 17 (Sunday): “Caboose Day”
Known as vans, cabin cars, crummies, or "the little red caboose", visitors are welcome on this special day to ride the rails and live the life of a railroader, aboard several freight train cabooses of the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum. The track car ride will take you to the staging area where knowledgeable guides will help you aboard for your trip. Keep an eye out for hoboes!

July 15: “Trolley Follies”
The goal for the museum since it was incorporated over 30 years ago has been to bring back the days of interurban trolley travel. This gala celebration features slide talks on Rochester’s trolley history, rare movies of the Rochester Subway, docents demonstrating trolley restoration, special trips aboard museum trolleys, and the official unveiling of trolley car 161 after its nine year restoration!

August 18 and 19 (Saturday & Sunday): "Diesel Days"
A two-day celebration of diesel locomotives features the operating engines of the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum, including visitor rides on the diesels and in cabooses. Relive the days of a half-century ago when these first-generation diesels were in their glory, shouldering aside old-fashioned steam locomotives and ushering in the modern diesel age.

October 28 (Sunday): Trolley and track car rides end We put the equipment to bed for the winter and arrange for necessary maintenance to be completed during the non-ride season, but NYMT stays open throughout the year for Sunday visitors and group tours.


SHOP REPORT by Charles Lowe

Electrification: Winter weather finally settled in at NYMT in mid-January, so the attentions of the Sunday crew were turned toward fabricating parts for the overhead. Several bracket arms in the process of being built up were finished, and others were made up from parts on hand. On January 28, the weather was just good enough that the next bracket arm beyond the present end of the wire at Giles was placed on its pole, no. 13. By the beginning of February, all bracket arms and span wires needed out to pole 23, at the beginning of the S-curves, were ready for installation. Some mild weather interrupted the winter blizzards on February 11, and three bracket arms, on poles 14, 15, and 16, were installed. On February 25, bracket arms for poles 24, 25, 26 and 27 were built up, completing the bracket arms needed for the next section of electrification. Bob Achilles, Paul Monte, Lee DeWeerdt, Tony Mittiga and Charlie Lowe worked on this project. On March 18, with cold weather preventing track work, Lee and Charlie worked on preparing backbones for placement. The actual pole-to-pole measurements were made outside. Then, numerous strands of old cable from the Magee Transportation Museum were unwound inside and measured for length. Using old wire and pre-made ends, the first backbone, for use between poles 12 and 13, was set up. Many other spools of old wire were catalogued, and numerous parts such as insulators and small clamps for pullovers were salvaged.

During January and February, Dick Holbert and Jim Johnson worked on installing the new remote shut-off switch for the 600-volt direct current power in the substation. This required the substation to be temporarily shut down, but by early March it was again capable of energizing the overhead. Installation of this switch permits sub-station operators to easily turn power on and of, and eliminates constant use of a cumbersome circuit breaker in the substation for this purpose. Throughout March and April, work continued on construction of the remote shut-off switch. Ted Strang helped out by drilling several holes through concrete walls, and Dick Holbert, Jim Johnson and Charlie Harshbarger extended the conduit further toward the passenger loading area.

Genesee & Wyoming caboose 8: Work by Don Quant and John Ross has moved from restoring the wood on the roof of the caboose to working on the car siding. The car suffered significant damage from the elements over the years while it was stored outside, and the areas in the most urgent need of repair are around the side windows. The window sills have deteriorated to the point where water leaked in and rotted not only the window sub-sill but the main car sill beam and supporting steel structure as well. Several of these window areas have already been repaired, with new mahogany tongue-and-groove boards used to match the car’s siding. Replacement window sub-sills have been fabricated and installed, and replacement sections of the wooden main car sill have been made. The focus has been on the siding and supporting underpinning. Rebuilding of the window sills and surrounds is being postponed until the more serious problems with the siding are corrected.

Re-siding the former DL&W caboose has kept John Ross and Don Quant busy through the winter…with more work ahead.

Philadelphia and Western 168: Through the generosity of Halton County Radial Railway Museum, two Westinghouse #15 Double Check Valves were made available to NYMT. These air brake parts can be used as spares on cars 161 and 168, or on Elmira, Corning and Waverly car 107. Bob Miner and Paul Monte spent the cold Sunday afternoon of March 18 cleaning and lubricating the rear-end catcher on 168. It was caked with dried grease and had been tough to use in 2007. Now, it functions perfectly. Power was applied to car 168’s air compressor on Thursday, April 5, and the parts that Bob Miner cleaned and lubricated over the past winter worked well. The car was not moved because the car house was still in its “winter pack” mode and since the temporary bonds at the new frog in the track 1 switch were not of sufficient capacity to permit trolley car moves. In late April, Jim Dierks coordinated a small but vital project on car 168. At some point in the past, one end window had been severely cracked, perhaps from a thrown rock. While it did not seem in danger of shattering, the cracked glass was unsightly. A new pane of glass was carefully cut and installed by Ray Sands Glass, and the results are stunning.

Track: On March 11, the Sunday work crew began track work for the 2007 season. This group consists of Bob Achilles, Paul Monte, Lee DeWeerdt, Tony Mittiga and Charlie Lowe, with Dick Holbert offering engineering advice as needed. Enough snow had finally melted to expose the track at the two switches in front of the new car house. Nearly all of the 11 “thin” slider plates still remaining in these two switches were removed and replaced with proper “thick” slider plates salvaged years ago from the Rochester Subway. In addition, the extreme west rail was gauged and every third tie fully spiked in the area of the points for the track 1 switch.

Bob and Charlie worked on Tuesday afternoon, March 13, to cut through two spikes under one of the track 2 switch’s point rails. Bob’s Sawzall made short work of the spikes. In addition, the last remaining improper slider plates in both switches were replaced with authentic 90-pound Subway slider plates. On March 25, the crew finished safety-spiking the west rail through the track 1 switch. During the following week, Ted Strang cut down a joint bar for use in rebuilding the guard rail on the sharp curve between the entrance road and the track 1 switch’s points. Later that week, the guard rail was reinstalled. The use of a guard rail here will keep the car wheels aligned such that in spite of the extreme curvature the outer wheels will not pound the tip of the point rail.

Six switch timbers were delivered to NYMT on March 29, five for the track 1 switch and one for use in the main car house switch. The five track 1 switch timbers were installed on a rainy April 1 work session. Later that day, several switch timbers near the new frog were leveled, tamped and spiked. The following work session, on April 7, saw the remaining seven switch timbers in the vicinity of the new frog tamped and spiked. This work prepared the area for re-attachment of the bonds which were removed to permit the installation of the fixed frog. Some adjustment work in the track 2 switch was also performed. During the week of April 8-15, several work sessions took place, and a staggering amount of work was finished. All remaining switch timbers at point rails were leveled, tamped and spiked. The short section of track between the points for the track 1 switch and the NYMT entrance road (at the R&E shelter) were laboriously re-gauged with rods and eight new ties installed. During this time, work was finished on 31 ties, and about 180 spikes were driven.

Final touches are put on the track project by Bob Achilles, Tony Mittiga, Charlie Lowe and Paul Monte, just in time for spring.

Trackwork on this massive project was finished on April 22 when the final eight switch timbers in the track 1 switch were leveled, tamped and spiked. Loose spikes, bolts and plates in the area were cleaned up, and some grooming of ballast along the edges of the track was also finished.

The final phase of this project, restoration of the traction bonds, was started on April 21 by Rand Warner, Dick Holbert, Charlie Harshbarger and Jim Johnston, with about half the bonding completed that day. All other bonding work was completed a few days later, making the track fully ready for trolley operations.

The rails have to be electrically joined to provide a reliable return path for trolley current. Heavy copper bonds are welded across each rail joint to guarantee the circuit.

A second track project was started about this time. NYMT contracted with Nicholas P. Giambatista, Inc. for 75 mainline tie replacements between the entrance road grade crossing and Giles. Many of the existing ties here, salvaged from the Rochester Subway, had completely exhausted their useful service lives. In late April, Giambatista crews removed ties previously marked for replacement by Charlie Lowe and Dick Holbert. The installation of all 75 ties plus a switch timber was completed on May 1, leaving this section of track in its best condition in years.

Proof that the new track work would perform well came on may 5 when car 168 was run for the first time this season in training runs. During the first runs through both the track 1 and track 2 switches, many sharp eyes were glued to the car wheels, looking for any problems. A small amount of tamping was required at the points for the track 2 switch, but this was the only problem detected. Throughout the day, the points and the frogs all worked to perfection, and the car wheels rolled through all the special work with noticeable ease.


ART IN THE GALLERY

The NYMT gallery was one of the first improvements made at our museum when the original gift shop remodeling took place, and it’s been a useful facility since then for slide talks, special photo exhibits, and the continuous presentation of “The Steel Wheel” film about the Rochester Subway. However, it isn’t often that we are given the opportunity to display works of art in our gallery, and we are pleased to announce just such an exhibit this summer, “Railroad Art”, featuring the watercolor artistry of Patricia Wygant.

Pat is a local resident (Brighton) who has been practicing art and design most of her adult life. She also has a fondness for railroads, perhaps explained by the fact that she grew up in Marion, Ohio. Still a mecca for fans, the town hosted major lines of the New York Central, Chessie and Erie, whose trains thundered across the diamonds that surrounded the Marion passenger station. Pat says she loved that sound, but living only half a block from the NYC she recalls her mom wasn’t so thrilled about the soot that “came down like black snow” from the steam locomotives.

After obtaining her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Syracuse University, with a major in painting, Pat came to Rochester, married, and got about the full-time business of raising three daughters. She eventually started painting again, and her works included landscapes, water views, and boats, among many varied subjects. One day on a visit to the museums, she took photos of several freight cars at RGVRRM and NYMT, and was intrigued by the textures and colors of the rough components…rusting couplers, grease-laden journal boxes, and so on. The resulting twelve original watercolor paintings capture the feel of these rough parts as we see the cars resting in the warm sun. The paintings will be on display in our gallery through the rest of the summer season, and if you see something you like, here’s your chance to pick up an original work of railroad art…the paintings are for sale.

MOW, MOW, MOW THE GRASS…

Mowing trainer Bob Miner (left) keeps a watchful eye as Roger Harnaart gets his first lessons on the Ford mowing tractor.

Listen…do you hear that? That’s the sound of the grass growing at the museum. Hmm….it must be the start of another summer season, which means the workload of staffing the museum for visitors and at the same time keeping it looking nice has our volunteers pressed to the limit.

We have a small crew of dedicated volunteers ready to keep the lawns and fields under control, but we can always use more help! We’ll happily train you on the Ford field mower, the John Deere riding mower or one of our push mowers, and add you to the ranks of the “green team”. Please give us a call at 533-1113 and leave your name and number.

CABINETS DONATED

Our friends at Alstom Signaling recently presented us with four brand new signal cabinets of the type seen along rail lines containing electrical switch gear. Immediate plans for these cabinets call for outdoor remote track tool storage located closer to rail line work areas. They can also be useful for actual signaling equipment on our joint rail line. The cabinets are in excellent shape, and come equipped with vent fans, interior lighting and switch mounting boards. We always say the best donation is one that’s delivered, and this part of the deal was generously provided by Tom and Bob Cole of Hilton Spencerport Express, Inc. Bob’s assistance in wrestling the heavy cabinets off the semi trailer was a big help too. Our gratitude is extended to the folks at Alstom and H-P Express for their thoughtfulness and generosity.


RECYCLING HORSECARS

Readers of HEADEND know that when old public transportation vehicles reach the end of their useful lives, they are usually sold for whatever scrap materials can be salvaged. It’s down hill after that, and we’ve all seen the sad images of old streetcar bodies being burned en masse. Some lucky vehicles were spared this fate and by so doing they survive to help museums like ours bring transportation history to life. The salvation for these rescued trolleys was their use as storage sheds, chicken coops and cottages, and many of the cars at NYMT owe their existence to such use.

While the necessary economies of the Depression had a lot to do with the “adaptive re-use” of this equipment, there are other, earlier examples to tell of. According to the summer 1960 edition of “News from Home”, published by the Home Insurance Company, over a century ago a New York City woman managed to obtain a number of retired horsecars and set up a camp at Mountainville, New York, near Newburgh.

Rose Gruening was troubled by the illness and miserable working conditions endured by young women at the time, and she thought summer vacations in the healthful country air would help. With no money to build a facility on the small plot of land she had purchased, Rose’s dream was stymied until she discovered that the transit company in New York had a supply of old horsecars made surplus by the advent of electric trolley cars. After intense pleading, the company told her she could have 25 of the cars as long as they were off their property within 24 hours.

Just as we at NYMT have often had to do, Rose went into emergency mode, begging for financial help and in-kind assistance, and with the contributions of many people, the cars were moved and the new camp established.

What is striking about the camp, and the photos of it in the magazine article, is that the horsecars apparently were not altered much for their new lives as kitchen, bunk cars, a laundry, and even a sick bay. The pictures provide a rare record of typical horsecar interiors, as railfans, flash photography and amateur picture taking in general were relatively uncommon. The photographer who recorded scenes of daily life at Rose’s camp also unwittingly captured the ornate structure and décor of the old wooden horsecar interiors. With so few such cars preserved today, these pictures provide a valuable glimpse of city transit from days long ago.


Rose’s horsecar camp hosted thousands of young ladies for over twenty years before the horsecars were finally replaced with cabins. Due to frequent flooding of the nearby Moodna Creek, the camp was moved to Pennsylvania, eventually under the wing of the Grant Street Settlement of New York, offering recreation and a healthy, country experience for underprivileged children. Rose Gruening’s charitable spirit lived on for many years at the camp, while the interior details of New York City horsecars also live on even today, in photos shot over 100 years ago.


Michael J. “Mike” Cassin

1931 - 2007

The museum lost a good friend in January with the passing of Mike Cassin. Mike joined us over ten years ago, bringing with him his 1941 Mack fire truck, a favorite attraction with our younger visitors. The truck is also a valuable piece of local transportation history, as it served for 40 years in the Brighton Fire Department. Mike donated the truck to the museum, and despite failing health, was always glad to get our updates as work was done to keep #307 parade-ready. From 1971 to 1982, Mike served as Fire Marshall, first in Greece and then in Henrietta, and he brought authentic experience with him to our museum. Our sympathies are extended to Mike’s wife, Mary Lu, their three sons, John, Jim and Gerry, and their extended family.


ROCHESTER STREETCARS................... No. 42 in a series

by Charles R. Lowe

New York State Rys., Rochester and Sodus Bay Line 113

Official NYSR photo

When the Rochester and Sodus Bay was pushed eastward from Rochester between 1898 and 1900, interurbans were a new concept. Running a trolley line through rural areas had been attempted in only a few locations in the United States at this time, and standards for interurban car design had not yet been established. Therefore, the deck roof and generally light construction of Sodus car 113, typical of initial orders for cars for the line, are quite different from that of later interurban equipment.

A total of 14 passenger cars in two groups were purchased in 1899 from Jackson and Sharp in Wilmington, Delaware: cars 50-57 (later 100-107), which were combination baggage and passenger cars; and straight coaches 70-75 (later 110-114, one car previously having been lost in a wreck). Featuring Taylor EH (Extra Heavy) trucks, among the heaviest trucks then available for interurban service, and four mighty GE67 (38 hp. ea.) motors with K6 control, the Sodus cars proved exceptionally durable and well-suited to the line. Additional cars (115-118) purchased in 1909 were moved to other lines in the 1920s because they ultimately proved impractical for the line’s hilly route at Irondequoit Bay, its tortured side-of-road alignment along Ridge Road, and gradually diminishing ridership. In the end, the surviving 1899 J&S cars, along with five similar cars (108, 109, and 170-172), carried Sodus passengers until the end of service in 1929.

Our photo of car 113 is made from the original company negative, now a part of the NYMT archives. It shows 113 in the yard at East Main Station. A damaged journal box at right seems to have been the reason this late 1920s photo was made.

What had been the very zenith of interurban car design in 1899 had become an anachronism on the streets of Rochester by the late 1920s. The wonder is that the line, with its antiquated cars and its roadside track, survived so late in the interurban era. After the end of service, the line’s cars were herded to East Main Station for disposition. As occurred with other Rochester Lines cars of New York State Railways, several Sodus car bodies escaped scrapping in the 1930s by being sold for other uses. Car 110 served as a shed in Pultneyville until finally succumbing to time just a few years ago. Car 113 has had the happiest fate of all Sodus cars. It was rescued from its Webster-area farm in the mid-1980s by Seashore Trolley Museum at Kennebunkport, Maine, where it now safely resides under a heavy tarp awaiting its turn for restoration. Dating as it does to the very beginning of the Interurban Era, Sodus car 113 has become the oldest extant interurban car anywhere in North America.


BOCES CAMPUS CLOSING

At this writing, although nothing is totally certain, it appears that Monroe #1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services will be closing their Rush campus by August 15, 2007. The move is due to a number of factors, including dwindling enrollment, increasing costs, and the requirement to “main stream” the learning disabled young people that attend classes at the campus. The primary motivator at this time, however, is the decision by the State School at Industry to modernize their water and sewer system and to cut off such services to the BOCES property effective as early as the August date. The aging facilities are in need of replacement, and seepage into the sewer tiles is causing overloading of the Pure Waters pumping station near the Genesee River. According to BOCES estimates, the cost to replace the water and sewer lines, plus other upgrades needed at the campus, do not make economic sense.

The impact on our museum is considerable, as we occupy our buildings and property through a long-term lease with BOCES, and our water and sewer service is theirs. This impact comes in two phases. First, we will have to make provision for water and waste service that satisfies the Monroe County Board of Health by mid-August. We are currently planning on a water tank, to be replenished from home water supply, and a waste holding tank to be pumped out periodically by a service. We feel this will be the most cost-effective option, and we should be able to accomplish it by the deadline.

A more serious phase is longer-term. BOCES is seeking other uses for their Rush campus, because if the property isn’t to be used for educational purposes, it must revert to the State of New York. The reversion requirement is not clear at this time, although BOCES management tells us their attorney is convinced that the requirement is real.

The property could find a new educational use, or it could revert to the State, or it could be sold if the reversion isn’t in fact required. In each alternative, additional questions remain, regarding our ability to secure permanent rights to the property we currently occupy. The open fields, woods and wetlands to our northwest are also of concern, as residential construction continues to eat up open countryside. Whether or not we can find an ally in the broader issue of saving not just our museum, but a larger area of benefit to the community is another question not yet answerable.

We have alerted our government representatives, Assembly Member Susan John and State Senator James Alesi, as well as County, Town and Federal representatives. But without a clear direction for disposal of the property, there isn’t anything specific we can ask for yet. Suffice it to say that the Board of Trustees is committed not only to maintaining our service to our visitors but to doing all we can to preserve our museum for the future. Our doors will continue to be open every Sunday and during the week for group appointments, and the investment in dollars and volunteer labor will proceed unimpeded.

YOU CAN HELP

In your own words, write to our representatives and tell them of the good work we do serving upwards of 6,000 visitors a year, of the importance of saving historic transportation artifacts, of the value our museum has to you and your family:

Assembly Member Susan John

840 University Ave, Rochester, NY 14607

State Senator James Alesi

220 Packett’s Landing, Fairport, NY 14450


SHILLING “MODULES” ON DISPLAY

The museum is often blessed with donations of both historical artifacts and useful tools or materials. It’s rare, however, that we receive a donation of an exhibit, ready to present to visitors. Such is the case with the arrival of two of member Don Shilling’s collection of hand-crafted “modules” depicting period scenes. We’re pleased and excited to receive these fine pieces of representational art, and thanks to the efforts of several NYMT volunteers, an exhibit of the two modules is already up and running.

Don and Yolanda Shilling notice that Dorothy has her Uncle Henry's farm hands dressed up as "Wizard of Oz" characters.

Don has always had a keen interest in history, especially the human side. Over the years, his encyclopedic mind has captured details of life in past eras, and his knowledge of local inventors, business people, and companies is the source of many interesting stories. Don also has a talent for model-building, and years ago he began creating what he calls “modules”, super-detailed scenes on 22 by 24 inch plywood forms. The scale is 1 to 87, which is HO scale to model railroaders, and each module contains numerous mini-scenes, such that the observant viewer is treated to a story from all the goings-on. Most of the modules include railroad tracks, often with an industrial rail siding to reveal transportation modes of years past.

Let Don tell about his works: “Almost all the modules reflect the Victorian Era with appropriate dress, events and architecture. The miniature scenes represent a combination of both kit-bashed and scratch-built models. Many of the buildings’ interiors are complete, filled with detail, some having furniture, wallpaper, overhead belts for machinery in industrial settings or other significant details.”

“Seascapes include lighthouses, fishing or boat-building industries, as well as appropriate vessels. The city- and town-scapes feature detailed buildings, complete with sidewalks, brick paved streets and turn-of-the-century vehicles and enterprises.”

In order to display his masterpieces properly, NYMT several years ago decided to create an exhibit table to accommodate two modules. The late Ted Thomas took this project on, creating the design and buying wood and hardware. Among the latter were two turntables to rotate the modules at one revolution per minute so the viewer can slowly take in all the details of the 360-degree scenes. This was the last of many projects Ted worked on for us, and, sadly, he passed away before he could finish it. Eric Norden stepped in to stain and varnish the table components, Doug Anderson obtained switch parts, and John Ross mounted the electrical components. The completed exhibit is located in the corridor that connects our main exhibit hall with the back barn, and Don will happily remind you that he and his grandsons were responsible for the paint job that lightens up the corridor and makes it more visitor friendly.

The original plan was to accept two modules at a time, on loan from Don, but that changed when he announced that he wanted to donate the complete set of works. There are 16 of them, and over the years we will be able to display them all, two at a time. On special occasions, we’ll bring them all out for a mass show, but with plenty of volunteers hovering to keep inquisitive fingers from damaging any details.

And there are details! Danny Wegman’s small fruit and vegetable stand; an HO-scale squirrel scampering along a farm fence; Auntie Em’s quilts for sale at her Kansas farm; clever use of N-scale railroad equipment to create a factory that makes miniature amusement park trains. The longer one observes, the more one finds.

We sincerely thank Don Shilling for his generous donation. More than the thousands of hours that have gone into creating these model masterpieces, Don’s real contribution is in his active imagination, weaving stories with his models and telling those stories in such vivid and entertaining detail. Don Shilling’s modules will captivate visitors of all ages for years to come.


HEADEND is published four times a year by the New York Museum of Transportation, © 2007. All rights reserved. No portion of this newsletter may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. www.nymtmuseum.org

Editor - Jim Dierks
Contributing Editors - Charles Lowe, James Root
Printing - James Root, Peter Leas
Publication - Ruth Magraw, Doug Anderson