The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation



Business has been good so far this summer, no doubt in part due to our inauguration of regular trolley service on an every-Sunday basis. But, there’s a lot more to share with our visitors than we can cover in a normal Sunday, so the July 15 “Trolley Follies” gave us the opportunity to toot our horn a bit. The event brought in well over 200 people, and many of them stayed for hours in order to take in all we had to offer.

A special feature of the event was an hourly guided tour that included a look at our state-of-the-art electric substation with accompanying explanation by Dick Holbert, one of the team of volunteers that designed and built it. Dick pointed out all the components and what they do, then escorted the visitors through the back office to the track, showing where National Grid’s 480V A.C. power comes in, and where the 600V D.C. goes out to the trolley line. Details like the rail bonds that guarantee a return circuit for the trolley power were right there for easy understanding.

Visitors at “Trolley Follies” got their first good look at Philadelphia & Western 161, after its 10-year restoration.

The tour then moved on to Philadelphia & Western car 161, subject of an extended restoration project and now on display outdoors for the first time. Jim Dierks described the details of the car’s roof and window restoration work, and took the visitors inside the car, showing off further work there. The end of the tour was a stop at a table near our next restoration project, Rochester city car 437, where Eric Norden had before-and-after examples of work he had done on Rochester & Eastern 157. Eric’s presentation helped visitors understand the lengths we go to in order to assure historical accuracy and a quality restoration job.

Another special feature of the day was a series of slide talks in the gallery by Shelden King and Jim Dierks. Timed to fit neatly between track car runs so that visitors wouldn’t have to miss a show (or their ride!), the talks gave a historical look at our area’s trolleys. Shelden spoke on Rochester streetcars, and Jim presented one of the museum’s traveling shows, “The

Interurban Era”, about the R&E. Each half-hour, visitors had either a slide talk or a guided tour to enjoy, and combined with the every-20-minute trolley departures and the half-hourly track car runs, they were really kept hopping.

Preparing for an event such as “Trolley Follies” involves a lot of effort on the part of many volunteers. Car 161 hadn’t operated under power for over ten years, so it had to be completely checked out electrically, mechanically and pneumatically before running it out of the car barn to its Sunday display spot. Thanks to Bob Miner, all air brake parts were restored to good working order. Dick Holbert, Jim Johnson, and Mike Dow were responsible for performing a myriad of electrical checks, as well.

One serious problem was the appearance of the car, despite the newly painted windows and new canvas roof. Starlings by the dozen had decided our car barn’s rafters were the perfect place to nest, and they always made sure to “do their business” on their way to or from the nesting sites. With all the activity surrounding the start of the busy summer season, we just hadn’t had time to deal with the birds, so a full court press was put on to seal up the barn completely. We couldn’t show off the car without cleaning all the doo-doo off of it, and we couldn’t do that until the barn was sealed.

The first step in this unpleasant task was to re-do the baffles intended to prevent bird entry at the notches in the car barn end doors, notches that clear the trolley wire. Assorted brain power was applied to this task resulting in a heavy rubber sheet material folded back on itself to resist the birds’ entry (the previous baffle was a single sheet that the birds were able to push aside). Don Quant and John Ross did the carpentry and installation on this, with help from several others. They then went to work on filling the gap below the door on track 2 of the barn, building a mini-platform between the rails a la track 1, and extending the doors at their bottoms. Assorted pieces of lumber and bricks have temporarily finished the job, but a heavy rubber sweep material has been found to add the finishing touch later this summer.

Hosing off the bird droppings…sounds like a job for one of the museum Trustees. That’s Jim Dierks doing hose duty.

With the barns now empty of birds, and electrical checkout completed just in time, car 161 was moved under power to a position outside of the barn for hosing down. Although the roof will need a new coat of sealer to hide the stains, the wash-down improved things a lot. A final sweep and vacuuming of the car’s interior by Bob Miner, and placement of a set of steps for visitor access on the morning of the event completed the preparations.

Our only regret is that visitors couldn’t be there to see us moving 161 on rusty rail and under wire not normally used. The “light show” was really impressive as the sparks flew! We all look forward to seeing 161 in regular service soon, alternating with sister car 168 that has been handling the runs solo so far.

Sparks were flying at the trolley wheel as 161 ran under power for the first time at NYMT.


If the power to our trolley line ever fails, you can be sure it won’t be due to a fault in our new substation. With all the fine work that has gone into this important part of our trolley operation, we’d be quick to blame National Grid first. It’s time to shine the spotlight on a key player in the completion of the substation and in many other areas too: Dick Holbert.

Dick joined the rest of us on this earth in 1945, growing up in Syracuse. By that time, the streetcars in the Salt City were long gone, although Dick remembers seeing the occasional trolley rail sticking out of the asphalt pavement. Like most of us, railroads had their impact on Dick’s young mind, though, including the fact that the Lackawanna ran coal trains a block away from home on the line to Oswego. His dad wasn’t a classic railfan, but was fascinated by the hump operation at New York Central’s Dewitt freight yard. Father and son would find some quiet time together watching the cars climb the hump and sail down the other side. Dick says his early literacy came from reading the words on the freight cars as they went by.

One day around 1950 at the west end of the yard, a local engineer offered Dick a cab ride over to the coal and water facilities. “It was a short ride, but impressive”, says Dick. “Even at only 4 or 5 years old, I realized what a special thrill that was”. We suspect that engineer knew steam’s days were numbered, and wanted to give a little kid something to remember before they were all gone. He sure succeeded.

Despite that, Dick’s interests veered off toward electronics and amateur radio, and when the time came he enrolled in Central Technical High School, as part of the first class in the school’s new building in downtown Syracuse. In fact, the building was so new that Dick’s first job was to install conduit and wire panels in the electrical technology lab. This was his first “hands on” experience with the power end of the electrical world, and the start of his preparation for substation work many years later. Dick went on to Electrical Engineering at Syracuse University where he mainly worked in radio, but also took as many electrical machinery courses as he could.

On graduation in 1966, Dick hired on with the Federal Communications Commission, assigned to the Canandaigua radio monitoring station. There, his first assignment was to equip the first vehicle set up by the FCC to test microwave radio sites. Microwave was in its infancy then, and being highly directional, could only be monitored at the facilities that relayed the signals. The test truck Dick equipped was the first for the FCC!

After a number of changes in the Canandaigua station’s work, Dick moved on in 1978, joining Rochester Telephone as a transmission special service engineer responsible for mobile phones, pagers, fiber optics, and dedicated circuits for customers (for example, some railroads). In 1987 he moved again, this time to Rochester Gas & Electric’s Electric Meter and Lab Department as telecommunications engineer for in-house fiber optic and mobile radio systems. This brought him closer to people doing power quality work and other things that fascinated Dick, and he transferred to be more involved with electrical metering and equipment, “the fun stuff”, as Dick recalls it, working in the field with the electric repair and installation crews. RG&E’s corporate telephone system and in-house mobile radios became Dick’s responsibility until retirement in March of 2002. For a short while, he kept his hand in as a consultant for the firm’s project to convert their mobile data system to satellite technology, but Dick says he’s now “pretty well fully retired”. That is, until the museum calls on him!

Dick and his partner, Beverly Meissner, have been together for 23 years. They met when both were in the same apartment building, and she was…ta da…supervisor of the switch board at Sears. Bev has a variety of interests to keep her busy, including doll house miniatures, gardening, quilting, and art (she was an art major at Rochester Institute of Technology).

Dick Holbert explains the general arrangement of the museum’s substation to visitors on “Trolley Follies” day.

Dick got involved with museum operations in 1987 through Dave Shields, an RG&E colleague and member in the Rochester Chapter of NRHS. Dick’s early involvement was helping with track construction on the south half of our joint rail line, working with the legendary Bill Reid, operating Kodak diesel number 6 on ballasting runs, and taking his turn at driving the gold spike at a September 1992 evening meeting of the Chapter. Dick then joined Jim Johnson, another dedicated volunteer destined to be a key member of the NYMT substation team. They did electrical work at the Chapter’s depot museum, installing power taps for diesels and assisting with onboard maintenance of the generator on the Chapter’s fall foliage passenger train set.

Trolley overhead grabbed Dick’s attention when Chapter members (and RG&E colleagues) Scott Gleason and Neal Bellenger got involved. Dick’s hands-on experience from his days at the RG&E Electric Meter and Lab Department came in handy here…bucket truck operation, personal protective equipment, and so on…and construction of the overhead has been one of Dick’s many areas of assistance since.

Dick’s knowledge and time were critical to the completion of our substation, and he also serves as a substation operator on many Sundays and special event days. When not handling this part of our needs, he also is in charge of the radios for both museums—hand-held models, base stations, and track car units—keeping us supplied with the equipment and keeping that equipment in good operating condition. As if

Dick’s extensive and well equipped lab at home supports our radio operations at the museums.

that were not enough, he is also a knowledgeable contributor to our ongoing track work. In 2002 Dick received his diploma from Simmons-Boardman’s Railway Educational Bureau, for “railway signaling lessons and basic and advanced principles of track maintenance”. He meets all Federal Railway Administration requirements to serve as a track or signal inspector after completing that 50-module program (with test scores averaging in the high 90s). And that’s something!

Adding to all Dick’s credentials and accomplishments with us are his mastery of technical writing and his ready availability when we need help, in person or on the phone. A volunteer who is knowledgeable and ready to serve…we couldn’t ask for better than Dick Holbert.


We’d be glad to include you in trolley or track car training, and we’re eager to add to the volunteers who staff the gift shop and ticket desk. General maintenance activities occur on Thursday afternoons, and the track gang (they also install the overhead) usually works on Saturdays. Give us a call if you’d like to help out! (585) 533-1113


By Charles Lowe

Just about one hundred years ago, a wild interurban scheme to link Rochester and Elmira by means of an electric railway gained serious consideration. Such a railway would have passed within just one mile of NYMT and would have been, with its mainline of 120 miles, the longest interurban in New York State. Despite a flurry of effort, no track was ever laid, no cars were run, and only a faint paper trail remains to tell anything of the line.

Incorporated with the odd name of Rochester Corning Elmira Traction Company (no commas nor “and”) on July 26, 1906, the promoters immediately ran into difficulties. Numerous steam railroads paralleled the proposed route of the RCE, each one complaining loudly that the territory could not support yet another railroad. Much of the land traversed was sparsely populated farmland. To make matters worse, a few landowners saw fit to hold out for higher prices than the RCE really wished to pay. However, on March 22, 1907, the State Board of Railroad Commissioners, one member of which was Rochester political boss George Aldridge, finally granted a certificate of necessity to the RCE. A certificate for a branch line from Dansville to Hornell was filed on April 10, 1907. The RCE was a bustling enterprise and it looked as though it would soon be built. Location surveys were completed and six miles of right-of-way were graded.

A listing of cities, villages and hamlets along the route of the RCE, preserved in the record of the Railroad Commissioners, gives us today an idea of where the line would have gone. RCE cars would have left Rochester via the South Avenue streetcar line. At West Brighton (West Henrietta Road, East Henrietta Road and Crittenden Boulevard), the RCE would have headed south, probably along West Henrietta Road. Lehigh Valley Junction, later known as Mortimer, was only a short distance from the proposed RCE, suggesting the RCE was to follow alongside West Henrietta Road.

A deflection around the east side of Methodist Hill (on West Henrietta Road between Caulkins Road and Lehigh Station Road), to avoid 5% highway grades, would have come close to “Henrietta Station” on the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s Rochester branch, on Lehigh Station Road. Other RCE hamlets south of

this point included: West Henrietta (Erie Station Road and West Henrietta Road), North Rush (Rush-Scottsville Road, now NY-251, and East River Road), West Rush (East River Road and Rush-West Rush Road) and East Avon. West Henrietta Road could have been followed south of Methodist Hill to West Henrietta at which point, to avoid another looming grade, the line probably would have veered to the west. This would have put it in a direct line aimed at West Rush. A power line follows some of this route today. The point where this power line crosses Rush-Henrietta Town Line Road is approximately where the RCE would have drawn closest to NYMT, a distance of only one mile!

South of East Avon, the RCE would have journeyed through the farmlands to South Lima where a short branch would have gone on to Lakeville. The mainline would have gone on through Conesus, Scottsburg and Dansville, at which point a lengthy branch would have left the mainline for Hornell. From Dansville, the mainline would have continued in a southeasterly direction through Wayland, North Cohocton, Atlanta, Kirkwood, Cohocton, Wallace, Avoca, Kanona, Bath, Savona, Painted Post, Corning, Gibson, and Horseheads. Entry into Elmira would have been made along the Elmira-Horseheads line of the Elmira Water, Light and Railroad Co.

Whistle blasting for Martin Road, an RCE limited slices through the woods heading for the Southern Tier, in a rare period photo.

When the RCE plan was being hatched, one or even two steam railroads were giving adequate service throughout the entire RCE territory. The Erie Railroad was electrifying its Rochester-Mount Morris branch, and other electrification projects were being actively considered. This negated the advantage of the RCE—short headways between runs—over the steam roads. While the Railroad Commissioners were ordered by the State Supreme Court to issue the certificate of necessity, investors were not fooled. Most of 1907-1908 was spent by RCE promoters in vain attempts to raise capital. A measly $271,400 of stock was reported sold by the company, but the $1,000,000 in bonds the RCE was authorized to sell found absolutely no takers. Unfortunately, the “Rich Man’s Panic” of 1907 all but wiped out any venture capital that might otherwise have been thrown into yet another interurban scheme.

William C. Gray served as RCE’s chief engineer; he would have laid out the location surveys and overseen whatever small amount of construction was actually accomplished. Hope persisted with the promoters that the RCE would be built, but by 1912 such an outlook was no longer reasonable. Automobile ownership and highway construction were both on the rise, and no new interurbans were being built. Gray won a judgment against the RCE to the amount of $34,620 and was appointed temporary receiver of the RCE on July 18, 1912, a position made permanent on September 30. This arrangement was probably made as insurance that Gray would someday be paid for his engineering services to the company. As of 1915, the RCE remained in receivership under Gray. It had “no cash or tangible assets” but had made, during 1914-1915, some receivers’ disbursements. Curiously, no amounts for these disbursements had been submitted by RCE in its annual report to the Public Service Commission (successor in 1907 to the Railroad Commissioners).

As late as 1915, RCE reported to the PSC that a paltry “six miles of road [had been] graded to the close of the year.” One wonders today the present status of this work, and whether or not the rough grading along the power line just east of NYMT might be the one construction legacy of Rochester’s “Paper” interurban.


There still isn’t any news about the long-term plans by our landlord, Monroe #1 BOCES, for the 220+ acres of which we occupy about 10%. Answers are being sought by their attorney regarding any State legal limitations on what they can do, but it is clear that the Rush campus will cease operations with the end of summer classes on August 15. We know that they plan an auction, tentatively slated for early to mid-September, and that all their equipment and supplies will go, including that which occupies one fourth of our milking parlor area. Clearing this area will release a sizable amount of space, offering interesting possibilities for additional museum exhibits. Until a clearer picture of what BOCES can or must do with their property, our only recourse is to stay close to them and not be the last to get the news if something happens. Management at BOCES’ main offices continue to assure us that they want to help us any way they can to secure our long-term future at the site.

Short-term, we’ve been told (but not confirmed yet in writing) that the water and sewer shut-off associated with the upgrading of the systems at the State School at Industry will not take place on August 15 as originally planned. While we see this as a welcome delay, there is no indication that their project won’t indeed happen, so we are working hard to install our well and septic system as close to mid-August as possible. Hopefully all will be in operation by the time you read this. As of early August, we have engaged Avery Engineering to provide the necessary professional engineering design and oversight, and have passed muster with the Monroe County Department of Health on our overall plan and the witness percolation test for the leach field. Given our position as a facility open to the public, we have much more severe requirements placed on us by the County and State than for a typical home system, even though ours will probably involve less gallonage than that of a typical residence.


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 (585) 244-5255
840 University Ave, Rochester, NY 14607

State Senator James Alesi (585) 223-1800
220 Packett’s Landing, Fairport, NY 14450


The donation box in the model railroad room is a welcome source of funds to help the keepers of this miniature world maintain the tracks and rolling stock. Recently, a Lionel animated crossing signal bank was donated to help this effort. On depositing coins, the crossing flashers activate and train sounds waft out. The clear plastic vertical column of the crossing signal will fill with coins, to be well spent.

An interesting assortment of artifacts arrived over the past few months. Leading the parade was a conductor’s uniform jacket adorned with Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad buttons. This was followed by two headlights, both originally obtained when Rochester Subway car 2010 was being scrapped. One headlight has the distinctive bracket encircling the housing, as it was mounted on the roof of the car. This donation was accompanied by an assembly of two wood insulators and wire hangers that may come in handy in our overhead trolley wire work. Also useful for our overhead was the donation of 450 linear feet of new 7-strand guy wire to support the poles on our line.

A cast steel threshold plate that accommodated the sliding vestibule door on one of Rochester & Eastern’s original 150-series interurban cars found its way to us in July. Cast into the heavy plate is “John Stephenson Company”, the car builder. Of slightly more recent vintage is an embossed steel sign for the Blue Bus Company, a local firm that grew in the 1920s as paved highways began to appear. The line eventually connected our city with towns on the west side of Rochester…Bergen, Batavia, LeRoy, etc.…and on to Buffalo.

No question that this was a stop for the Blue Bus.

A 100-year-old mill built by the Brainard Milling Machine Company was donated recently, and the South Bend lathe donated by Anna Thomas last year was picked up by Ted Strang on the same hauling run. A nice set of five small photos of interurban cars on the Rochester, Lockport & Buffalo also has been added to our archives. Rounding out this term’s donations are a life-collection of photo albums from a series of automobile vacation trips in the 1920s and 30s; sets of greeting cards featuring artwork of Pat Wygant (whose paintings are in our gallery through October 28); books and an LP recording of railroad sounds; and two new “stop” signs for our track car loading platforms.


The many works Ted Thomas was able to complete for the museum in the few years he had with us stand as a memorial to his caring and dedication. Last year, friends of Ted and Anna declared that they’d like to do something for us as a memorial and that it would involve woodworking. We eventually settled on a desk for the gift shop where visitors could pick up a copy of HEADEND, sign up as members or just log their name and address in our visitor book. Chuck Rinehart led the effort in his well equipped wood shop, with considerable assistance by Bob Slocomb and Dick Wood.

With the desk delivered and now serving its purpose (and significantly enhancing the look of our gift shop!), the men and their families joined us for a brief dedication ceremony, complete with punch and cookies. We thank Chuck, Bob and Dick, as well as all the many friends of the Thomases who donated in Ted’s memory. The desk is a beautiful addition to our gift shop and a thoughtful reminder of the value of friendship.

Chuck Rinehart, Dick Wood and Bob Slocomb show off their fine furniture piece at our recent dedication ceremony.


Group tour attendance this year is running considerably behind previous years, perhaps due to increased fuel costs and budget limitations. But the kids, seniors, and special-ed visitors who have come to see us all get the same royal treatment, and we benefit as well. For many youngsters, a visit at NYMT is their first chance to ride a train or see a trolley car, and they always enjoy it. Their exuberance is contagious. Now and then a large envelope arrives in the mail a few days after a group visit, full of thank you notes and artistic interpretations of the kids’ time with us. All of the pictures and notes are a delight, and we thank the kids for their nice work. We particularly want to thank Ian Bankes for his rendition of our trolley car 168, as we think he’s captured the essence of the experience…a shiny orange car, sparkling blue sky, the trolley pole riding on the overhead wire, and a bright sun beaming down on the whole scene. He even got the trolley wheel right, but most important, his bold, confident colors reflect the joy we all share as we bring trolley history to life for our visitors.

Sunday attendance seems to be holding up nicely so far, with several days over 200 visitors, which keeps us hopping. Trolley rides are surely a part of this, plus we’ve had some good publicity from RGVRRM folks handing out our classy, full-color brochure (thanks to Rich Carling and James Root) and several good responses by area newspapers. Innovative events such as the opening of Pat Wygant’s water color exhibit in our gallery present not only a publicity opportunity, but also the chance to raise awareness of the museum among a new constituency. Riding on the tails of last year’s 50th anniversary of the end of Rochester Subway service, we’ve had a sharp rise in off-site slide talks about the line. Including those scheduled through August, we have 14 talks this year with an audience count around 500 (versus last year’s 300, which itself was a big increase over previous years).

Along with all the progress reported in this issue, it’s clear that our museum is committed to moving forward, enhancing our visitor experience and serving the public. Stop by some Sunday…and tell all your friends about us too!

SHOP REPORT by Charles Lowe

Electrification: In late May, the drooping overhead on the loop track between the track 1 switch and the end of the wire just south of the track car loading area was re-tensioned. About one foot of slack was pulled out of the trolley wire over this 400-foot length. During June, the overhead crew of Bob Achilles, Tony Mittiga and Charlie Lowe installed bracket arms and span wires from the loop switch to the beginning of the S-curves. A total of nine bracket arms (poles 17 – 19 and 22 – 27) and two span wires (poles 20 – 20A and 21 – 21A) were installed, with five bracket arms (poles 23 – 27) installed in one day, June 23.

In late June, an additional spool of guy wire (500 feet) was obtained for installing downguys. This wire was used to finish the installation of downguys between Giles and the S-curves during July. Helping with this work, in addition to those listed above, was Dick Holbert. Another spool of guy wire was obtained in late July for installation of backbones.

(Above) Bob Achilles and Dick Holbert watch as Charlie Lowe works from the bucket truck. (Left) Dick Holbert and Tony Mittiga finish planting one of the many downguys that support the overhead.

Bob Achilles and Charlie Lowe spent two very hot days, July 27 and 28, repairing the former BOCES bridge near their Sugar Shack. This 12-foot-long span bridge is used to access poles 24 – 27, and the bucket truck had nearly gone through the old decking on a previous day. The bridge received new decking and some structural repairs.

Philadelphia and Western 161: A few test runs of 161’s compressor were made in June for testing of the air brake system. Bob Miner made a few small repairs to the air brake system, and removed the lower covers on the motors so the field and armature windings could be tested, and so that any debris could be cleaned out. The whistle lines were also blown free of debris and two Westinghouse “Trombone” whistles, matching those on 168, were prepared for installation. With the lower cover plates removed on the motors, Mike Dow and Jim Johnson tested motor windings and cleaned out what little debris they found. On Thursday, July 12, car 161 was awakened from a period of inactivity which appears to reach back to January, 1996. The car was moved under it own power out of the barn for washing.

Philadelphia and Western 168: This car was power washed on July 12, along with sister car 161 and the doors of the new car house. Mike Dow and Jim Johnson continue to perform background work, restoring components to have on hand for spares. So far, Mike has restored a traction motor brush holder assembly and is rebuilding surplus contactors from the electrical cabinet in 161.

Mike’s rebuilt brush holder looks good as new.

1941 Mack fire truck 307: Between Don Quant, John Ross, and Jim Dierks, we’ve been able to keep our fire truck on the road, publicizing the museum. John and Don fixed several small items in preparation for New York State vehicle inspection. Don and Jim took the truck to a history event in Brighton, where the truck once served, and John and Jim made the short trip down East River Road to display 307 at the GVAC antique car and truck show on the RIT campus.

Don Quant explains the complexities of the former Brighton fire truck to a father and son at the Buckland Farm history event.

New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 437: A plain steel disc, measuring 5-7/8 inches in diameter by 3/16 inch in thickness, was obtained for covering the rear kingpin. These dimensions match the one original cover plate found over the car’s front kingpin. Charlie Lowe drilled this plate for its four #14 flat screws, and primed and painted it.

Track: Twelve ties were left over from the recent work performed in front of the new car house, and these were installed during May at key locations along the loop track between the track car loading area and the track 1 switch. The loop track is capable of limited service now, but before regular service can be undertaken a great amount of stone ballast will have to be placed and tamped here. New 3/4” by 2-1/2” operating bars for the track 2 switch were obtained by Bob Achilles from Steel Work in Rochester.

During clearing of the right-of-way, two relay ties in good condition were discovered in the weeds. One is a standard tie while the other is an 11-foot-long switch timber. When Tony Mittiga removed the temporary platform just south of Giles, to permit proper track inspection and rail bonding, another three usable relay ties were discovered under the walkway boards. On July 14, Bob Achilles, Tony Mittiga and Dick Holbert installed three ties between Giles and the loop switch. This brings the total of mainline ties installed by NYMT so far in 2007 to 104. Also on that day, Rand Warner installed 14 rail bonds in this same area, completing the bonding of the west rail through to the section of double-bonding installed by Alstom (from the loop switch to Reid’s Crossing).

A delivery of ballast stone was received on July 26, with Bob, Tony and Dick supervising the placement of the stone. A “slinger” truck, with its own conveyor belt system to throw the stone as desired, made short work of this project. The stone was placed on track 2 in front of the new barn so as to stabilize the track structure there. Several volunteers pooled their money and time to make this delivery occur without drawing upon critical museum funding reserves now slated for water and sewer improvements.

Car house: a great deal of effort has gone into sealing all entry points for birds trying to enter the new car house. Proper seals were installed by Don Quant, John Ross and Jim Dierks in the door cutouts for the trolley wire. The guys have also built a platform between the rails on track 2 at that door, and made other additions to seal up the gap at the door bottoms. Jim placed heavy foam blocks in the flangeways on all four rails. On July 12, with what we hope are all entry points now sealed, the bird droppings on the doors were removed by power washing, in time for “Trolley Follies”.

Genesee & Wyoming caboose 8: Work on this wood-siding repair project is on hold, as the Thursday team of Don Quant and John Ross turn their attentions to general summer maintenance issues, including the critical accomplishment of securing the car barn against the starlings that had made such a mess of things inside.

ROCHESTER STREETCARS...........No. 43 in a series

by Charles R. Lowe

Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern Railroad 116

Photo by Pual Emerson

With three-quarters of a century now separating us from the last gasps of Rochester’s interurbans, it is not surprising that we might collectively recall these now-extinct beasts only from their last years. A weatherbeaten interurban car with faded paint mirroring its fallen glory, grinding out its last few miles with but a handful of faithful passengers, is all we are likely to imagine now.

Behold, then, our photo for this latest installment of this column. The world is young again, and the mighty interurban has only just pierced the boredom and separation that marked farm life at the beginning of the twentieth century. Westbound car 116 of the Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern Railroad is seen thundering through the rural lands of Perinton, and is about to cross Hogan Road. In short order, this car will pass through Fairport, East Rochester, old Brighton village and, finally, University Avenue on its way into Rochester.

Unlike most photos of this era, we know the date of the photo and the name of the photographer. RS&E Superintendent Paul E. Emerson had taken a 116-size camera with him on an inspection trip to Newark, New York. The company’s car house there had just suffered a fire, and a temporary wooden structure had been built as a replacement. His photo of the temporary car house is the only known photo of this building. Emerson snapped another photo there showing a wood frame storehouse with a calendar for July, 1912, and proceeded west. He was interested in the westbound signals just erected between Macedon and Fairport. These signals were needed on the double-track RS&E to prevent rear-end collisions during busy times. After making three photos of signal 14 at Egypt, Emerson seems to have walked to the next nearest flag stop, at Hogan Road.

While waiting at Hogan Road, Emerson must have decided to make a photo of the next passing car. A slight blur in the “LOCAL” sign tells us the car was indeed in motion. That the entire car is not blurred leads one to imagine Emerson making his photo of a slowing car, and then madly waving his arms to signal the motorman to stop the car so he could board. That this series of negatives does not contain any scenes farther west suggests that Emerson did manage to stop 116 for his ride back to the city.

Emerson’s photo of 116, an afterthought perhaps, nevertheless remains a fine image of a bygone era. It captures a moment in time not likely to be repeated in our area…except at the New York Museum of Transportation.


With our trolley operation now in full swing every Sunday, and with one of the men responsible for our substation—Dick Holbert—featured in this issue’s “Volunteer Spotlight”, it seems a good time to explain the purpose of this major new facility at NYMT.

In the early days of the electric power industry, it was discovered that direct current (DC) electricity, while lending itself to simple, rugged motors for trolley power, could not be transmitted efficiently over long distances. Alternating current (AC) proved better for that, and transmitting at high voltage helped even more, but AC motor control was more complex. As the industry evolved from small, local power companies that were close to their customers, to larger, centralized firms, efficient transmission over long distances grew in importance. The concept of a substation was developed to provide the necessary transition from the high voltage AC to the lower voltage DC required for trolley operations.

The museum’s substation provides this necessary transition, as our trolleys require the 600 volt DC power that was established as a standard over 125 years ago…but the transition is accomplished through the technology of today. Dick has provided us with a “Trolley Substation Overview”, and we’ll draw on that document for this “tour” of our facility.

Our substation was built through a cooperative effort of NYMT and RGVRRM volunteers, and funded through donations, NYMT funds, and accumulated gift shop profits. Throughout the design and construction phases, all required inspections and approvals were obtained, both from local government and from Underwriters Laboratories. The facility provides 600 volts DC power at a maximum load of about 600 amperes. Input to the substation is a 480 volt AC, 400 amp, 3-phase, 4 wire wye service from National Grid (formerly Niagara Mohawk), and the line from the power pole to the building is under ground.

First in line for the incoming AC power is a 300 KVA (think 300,000 watts!) Isolation Transformer, with a Delta primary to Wye secondary. The Wye common point is “floating”, as required for the Rectifier which is next on the list. A Circuit Breaker set to trip at 350 amps guards the line into the Rectifier in case of high current overload. This Circuit Breaker has a Trip Circuit which provides for remote trip capability. The Trip Circuit includes an Emergency Trip Button outside the substation door, a Trip-and-Lockout Switch on the DC Control Panel, and an Interlock Switch on the Overhead Grounding Switch.

Our Rectifier was built for us by the late Fred Perry, and consists of EMD diesel locomotive rectifier diodes and fuses. A 3-fan cooling system on the Rectifier is protected by Motor Sentinel overload protection. The Rectifier changes the alternating current to direct current. From the Rectifier, the negative ground line passes through a current metering shunt (in order to monitor the current) and is connected to the track by two 350MCM underground cables. At the rail connection point, there are two 5/8” copper-clad ground rods, 8 feet long, with cadwelded connections, thus assuring a reliable ground.

The positive 600 volt DC output from the Rectifier goes to the DC Control Panel, where a 1000 amp Ribbon Fuse in a transit car shoe fuse enclosure protects against backfeed of foreign voltage from outside (for example if a National Grid power line were to fall on the rails during a storm). This Ribbon Fuse also provides a means to disconnect the Rectifier for maintenance.

From the Ribbon Fuse, the 600 volt DC connects to a large Knife Switch, rated at 1600 amps, that permits us to ground the overhead line. The center of this single-pole, double-throw switch is connected to two 350 MCM cables which pass underground to feed the overhead wire. The bottom of the switch is grounded. Except when the overhead is powered for trolley operation or other work, the switch is locked in the grounded (down) position as an absolute safety precaution. The switch is also fitted with a plastic safety cover which must be in place to engage and interlock when the switch is in the energized (up) position.

A System Monitoring Panel is located outside the door of the Substation, with indicator lights arranged in a schematic of the substation to show switch and voltage status. Keeping the door to the substation closed and locked, with very limited access among designated volunteers, is an important part of the plan to assure electrical safety, which has been fundamental to the design and operating plan for the substation.

So, the basics are: (1) purchased 480 volt AC power, (2) Isolation Transformer, (3) Circuit Breaker with Emergency Trip, (4) Rectifier to convert alternating current to direct current, (5) negative DC line to the rails, (6) positive DC output to Ribbon Fuse for backfeed protection, (7) Knife Switch to ground the overhead wire, (8) positive line to the overhead wire above the tracks, and (9) a System Monitoring Panel. There’s more: Inside the substation are numerous indicator lights and meters to monitor conditions at various points in the system, and there are additional transformers to provide 120 volt AC power for substation room lighting, heating and ventilation, and to energize the Substation Control system.

The latest feature of this facility is a remote control station located in the main barn close to the trolley boarding area. Staffed by one of the trolley crew when in operation, this feature of our system permits control of power to the overhead without having to maintain constant presence of a Substation Operator. In the Substation, a 480 volt 3-phase Contactor permits control of the overhead system from inside the Substation as well as via a low-voltage (24 volt DC) control circuit from the remote control station.

Our new Substation is truly state-of-the-art, and we’re proud of the quality workmanship and attention to safety that’s been built in at every step in its creation. It will serve us well for many years as we extend our trolley line and bring back the interurban era for our visitors. Congratulations to Dick Holbert, Jim Johnson, Charlie Harshbarger, and all the others responsible for completing this critical part of our future!


By Charles Lowe

Long time readers of HEADEND know that Editor Jim Dierks loves to ferret out 100th anniversaries from the endless Corridors of Time. Sometimes, though, it falls to your lowly Associate Editor [hey…these are his words, not mine. Ed.] to unearth such “century mark” anniversaries. Here are two:

1. Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern Cars Enter Rochester. When the RS&E opened its interurban line to Rochester in 1906, entry into the city on Rochester Railway Company’s city streetcar trackage was denied the big interurban cars for a number of reasons. Some curved track and switches in downtown Rochester were deemed too tight for the long-wheelbase trucks under the large interurban cars, and the RS&E was forced to replace all the wheels on its cars during 1906-7 so RRC specialwork and curves could safely be negotiated. There was also some concern over spots on curves where it was thought the interurbans could not safely pass oncoming city cars. Union territory issues caused some friction as well, since RRC and RS&E men belonged to different unions. Finally, all these problems were solved, and on Monday, June 17, 1907, the first RS&E car rolled into downtown Rochester. The first terminal was at Main and Franklin, at which point the double-end RS&E cars were reversed for their return run to the east. Within a short time, RS&E cars were run to the Four Corners (Main, Exchange, and State), the very center of the city. Just over 24 years later, on June 27, 1931, Rochester and Syracuse cars (the line had been renamed in 1917) ran out their last full day of service.

2. State Industrial School Completes Move to Rush Campus. Between 1902 and 1907, a vast campus for wayward boys was developed along the Genesee River in the town of Rush. The old campus had been in downtown Rochester and fronted on Backus Street. As of July 1, 1907, the last of the boys at the city campus were transferred to the new facilities in Rush. City residents rejoiced that the unsightly wall that had been erected around the Backus Street facility could now be torn down. Soon after the transfer, the Backus Street facility was transformed into Exposition Park, a long-time center in Rochester for all manner of public events. The re-named State Industrial and Agricultural School campus (italics added) brought a farming aspect to the school’s curriculum. So important became the school that the locale took on the name “Industry.” The new campus spread all the way north to the Rush-Henrietta town line; NYMT occupies lands that once formed the northernmost portion of this campus.


Lots of things happen at the museum that deserve mention. Here are a few more:

* Dave Mitchell and Dick Holbert have installed track lighting for the exhibits in the corridor, including the new Don Shilling miniatures. Along with the paint job Don did last summer, the new lights really brighten up this part of the museum. Along with the lighting is the addition of new wiring and outlets serving this area.

* Like the Energizer Bunny, Anna Thomas continues to come in every Thursday to clean the gift shop, back office and rest rooms. Thanks Anna!

* Mowing is another job that has to get done. Thanks to Al Emens, Roger Harnaart, Dave Peet, Bob Miner, Paul Monte and Steve Huse for joining the crew handling this key task.

* Local blues/funk/country/rock music group “Deep Blue Dream” shot photos for their new CD at the museum, rating us a “special thanks” mention in the liner notes.

“Deep Blue Dream” poses for a publicity shot at NYMT

* Doug Anderson has rebuilt the Eagle Scout project that visitors can operate to learn how a trolley works. Brighter lights and better switching enhance this nice exhibit.

Matthew Helton tries out Doug’s improved trolley exhibit with a little help from his parents, Chris and Kathy.

* Archive research is another part of our service to the community, and our Tom Kirn Collection recently proved helpful to local writer Laurie Mercer. Watch for her cover story about Rochester Subway construction in Construction Equipment Guide. Check

Edwin Anthony

1923 - 2007

We note the passing of a man who served on the Board of our museum in its early days. Born in New York City and raised in Binghamton, Ed Anthony served in the Pacific in World War II after which he received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Duke University. Ed was a founding partner of Erdman Anthony Consulting Engineers, a firm that contributed to numerous municipal and state projects, including design of many of the interstate highways in upstate New York. Ed earned many honors over his lengthy career, including Rochester Engineering Society’s Engineer of the Year (1977), and his engineering expertise was supportive in our museum’s initial track construction work.

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.

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