The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Now that we’re wearing that fruitcake and egg nog that seemed like such an important part of the recent holidays, it’s a good time to look to the year ahead and see what’s in store. To work off that fruitcake and egg nog, there’s plenty of track work going on this winter, and the crew would be glad to have your help. New switch timbers are being installed to provide reliable and safe trolley operations on a weekly basis this summer, and there are plenty of mainline ties that are due for change-out, too. Meanwhile, out of the weather (somewhat) our Genesee & Wyoming caboose is getting a much-needed new roof, and Philadelphia & Western car 161’s brakes and electrical functions will be checked out now that it’s resting under the overhead in the new car barn. Check out the Shop Report in this issue for details.
The museum continues to be open Sundays, 11 to 5, and the feature attraction is “Bring Your Own Train”, where we allow visitors to bring in their HO-gauge locomotives and cars, and run them on our large layout. The N-gauge Rochester Subway layout continues to take shape, with nifty recreations of downtown landmarks and tiny Subway cars zipping from General Motors to Rowlands. This layout too is available for visitor operation.
The full summer event schedule is posted elsewhere in this issue, but the big news is the start of weekly trolley rides, due to begin with the start of our summer ride season, Sunday, May 20. Note the “Trolley Follies” planned for July 15, with plenty of trolley-related special things planned!
Looking back on 2006, we’re pleased to report that our attendance held up well, with a total of 5,287 people coming to enjoy a visit with us, a 5% increase over 2005. Group tour attendance accounted for 28% of the headcount, just a little lower than in past years, suggesting the attendance increase was largely due to our trolley operating days. Good weather also helped, and we look forward to continued growth as our unique offering—the only museum trolley operation in New York State—becomes known throughout the community and around the country.
But don’t wait for warm weather to come out to see us. Ted Strang and our new (to us) plow truck will be keeping the driveway clear, so tell your friends and come see what’s going on at your museum. We’ll see you there!
RENEWAL DEADLINE IS HERE
Has your mailing label got a colored stripe on it? If so, it’s time to get the checkbook out. Membership renewal notices went out in the Fall issue of HEADEND last November, and if we don’t receive your renewal soon, your membership will lapse and this will be the last issue you’ll receive. Thank you. We look forward to your continued support!
TALES OF THE RAILS
We can save and restore the cars and photographs, doing our best to preserve the past and bring it to life for the current generation, but there’s nothing like the remembrances of “those who were there”. So, when a visitor or museum friend has a memory rekindled by the sight of one of those cars or photos, we happily record it. We recently enjoyed meeting and talking with Tom Brewer, rumored to have helped John Eagle remove the Rochester Subway signs we received last summer. Like John, Tom was a Subway enthusiast in his youth, and has much to tell about those days.
He told of a trip one day riding with motorman Charlie Daniels, where the car failed to stop at the Edgerton Park station. No brakes…just glided on through. On inspection, it turned out that the drain valve on the main air tank was slightly open, thus dropping the air pressure. The culprit, though hard to believe, was said to be high weeds that the Subway constantly did battle with on their broad right of way. Good reason to keep checking that air gauge, motormen!
If you do enough reading of reminiscences from years ago, you get the impression that practical jokes were routine in the workplace. Maybe it’s just the jokes that get remembered, but Tom had one to tell about on the Subway. John Waterman was a young man who had a job as a starter at the underground Times Square station. Down a ways in the tunnel, away from the passenger platforms, was a siding where the line car was often parked, ready to handle whatever problem might come up. While the line crew waited for the call, they staved off boredom with an ongoing poker game.
they were deep into this pursuit one day, John walked down the
tunnel and did what apparently every kid in the world did back in
streetcar days…he pulled the trolley pole off the wire. Just
like in the streetcars, everything went dark aboard the Las Vegas
Express, leaving the crew to bump around in the tunnel’s total
An upstate blizzard and World War II gas and rubber rationing have brought in the riders here at Times Square station. Brrr.
A number of interesting arrivals for the museum archives will help us continue to tell the story of transportation’s role in our lives. A carton of paper items (timetables, post cards, news clippings, etc.) pertaining to rail, trolleys and transit in general was followed by a trolley headlight of unknown origin. John Eagle—the Subway sign donor highlighted in our Fall issue—sent a spiral-bound copy of a scrapbook of bus and employee photos that Bob Sardis accumulated over his years driving for Rochester Transit Corporation. Steel plates were donated to complete the attachment of the upper sash windows in P&W car 161, too. We’ll also include here a donation of miscellaneous small tools, a power hand saw, screws and bolts. Some pruning shears were among the tools, ready to tame the branches that adjoin our trolley line.
Wording on this well-made wooden box says “H. G. HA MAN, conductor”
The large, wooden box could well go back to the late 19th century, judging by its construction and the flowing script of a couple of words penciled inside the lid. If this was a box for a railroad conductor to keep his tools of the trade, it would be much too heavy to take along each trip, so we might assume it was kept in the conductor’s regularly-assigned caboose. Close examination of the name painted on the front shows no evidence that letters have been removed, so the odd name apparently is original. Perhaps HA was a nickname for the conductor (the first initial of his name is H). One more tantalizing thought—the dark red and black paint seems original; could this have been a conductor on the Lehigh Valley? If anyone has a clue, let us know. We, and our readers, will look forward to clearing up the mystery!
Another railroad-themed item was donated, although it’s a bit off the main track. A large, 2 ½’ x 3 ½’ acrylic painting of old-time locomotives is an original work, purchased 30 years ago by the donor. It might find its way into a gallery exhibit of railroad art someday.
to be outdone, the rubber-tired interests were represented by a
donation of seven cartons of automobile paper items from the
collection of Dr. John D. States. Dr. States’ son, Randy, was
a volunteer when the museum was first formed; he’s been a
member for some time now, and marvels at the changes that have taken
place from those early days of dragging used rail out of the Subway
bed in the 1970s. Dr. States has had a life-long interest in
“anything with four wheels on it”, he says, and is known
for his advocacy of auto safety devices such as seat belts and
roll-over protection long before they became commonplace. His
childhood was one of soap box cars and motor scooters, and attending
auto shows (“picking up one of everything”, according to
Randy). While he pursued an interest in auto racing, both as a fan
and as one devoted to improving the odds of surviving crashes, his
mother and later his wife managed to keep him out of the driver’s
seat at the race tracks.
Early NYMT volunteer Randy States checks out the new 1957 Hudsons in one of many brochures from his dad’s collection.
Dr. States specialized in orthopedic surgery and had a 40-year career in that field here. But there was always time for speaking engagements promoting safer auto design, participation in local auto clubs, and ownership of dozens of vehicles over the years (with a manila folder for each one, from lawn tractors and snowmobiles to Austin Healys and Ferraris). Those manila folders, along with sales brochures for car makes no longer in production, booklets on history of the auto industry, files on auto racing safety, and almost year-by-year files of automobile sales materials from the late 1930s to the late 20th century, are now a valuable part of our museum archives, available for study and an occasional nostalgia trip down the highways of yesteryear.
Nancy Barrett helps in our gift shop, but here we see her at home, uncovering more information about her family tree.
Our museum volunteers always seem to have transportation in their backgrounds. Some worked for a railroad, while others had relatives in the field. Today’s Spotlight victim can claim this heritage through her mother, who worked at the Eclipse plant in Horseheads, NY. Eclipse has since evolved into the Purolator Company, but the firm goes back to 1895, getting its start during the bicycle craze in this country and becoming a noted manufacturer of bicycle brakes. We’d like you to get to know more about Nancy Barrett, who has even more transportation connections to tell about.
Born in Elmira but raised in nearby Horseheads, part of Nancy’s transportation heritage has to do with her education. She attended Morrisville College near Syracuse, graduating with a degree in food service administration in 1969. She joined the Mormon Church at the urging of a roommate while working at St. Mary’s Hospital in Syracuse, and a year or so later headed off to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah to earn her BS in nutrition. Partying suited Nancy more than studying, so she took a year and a half off back in Horseheads and returned to Utah, this time to study nursing. Continuing to rack up the Amtrak miles, she then transferred to West Georgia College in Carrollton, Georgia. She must have found the key to good study habits there, as immediately upon graduation she successfully passed the exam to become a Registered Nurse. After a stint at Tanner Memorial Hospital in Carrollton, she once again packed her bags and returned to Upstate New York, first as an RN at Corning Hospital, and then here in town at Monroe County Hospital, where she continued to specialize in nursing home rehabilitation.
Some time after arriving in our area, Nancy was introduced by a mutual friend to Dick Barrett. They hit it off right away, and were married on October 3, 1981. Many of our readers know that Dick passed away in 2004, and that he was a collector of railroad memorabilia and author and publisher of numerous books about railroads and collecting.
Nancy remembers well moving from the Gates townhouse Dick had been living in to a house they bought in 1983. There was “some furniture” but most of the move involved railroadiana. “We’re never moving again”, Nancy declared at the time. In 1991, Dick started on Volume I of his encyclopedia of railroad lighting, just prior to retiring from Kodak. Nancy herself retired in 1993, phasing out of nursing but keeping a position she had held for a number of years as a cook 2 days a month at the mission home for her church. There, she made home-cooked meals for the young Mormon missionaries arriving in and departing from our area.
Meanwhile, Nancy found plenty to do at home, helping Dick with the extensive research that went into his books. She remembers spending whole days in Syracuse at the Dietz company, where people assumed she worked there and where the employees would turn the place over to Dick and Nancy to shut the lights off and lock up when they were through! In addition to helping with research, Nancy took phone orders for books and often handled the shipping chores too.
Dick and Nancy shared a love of gardening, growing a wide variety of vegetables, and today she keeps this up on a reduced scale. Sewing and quilting are other pastimes, and she likes to make clothes and sew gifts for others. Genealogy is a big hobby for Nancy, and she’s traced her family history back to the 1600s in some lines. She says the work “never ends”, as one find eventually leads to another. Nancy offers to help anyone interested in getting started in genealogy.
The family tree has several “interesting” characters, according to Nancy. From a transportation perspective, there was a granduncle who was a railroad engineer in the 1920s. From the family story, she says the man’s locomotive was so inadequate it wouldn’t climb a grade one day, so he got off the engine and quit right there on the spot. Another ancestor had a drinking problem, took the trolley home one cold winter night, walked the wrong way and eventually froze to death.
Nancy has been doing extensive remodeling of her Greece home, especially now that much of Dick’s railroad collection has been sold off or donated to museums (NYMT among them). The remodeled family room, and expanded kitchen and office look great, but she’s now thinking of down-sizing to a town house. Fortunately, she’ll be staying in the area, as Nancy’s a mainstay in our gift shop. With her flexible schedule, she’s very accommodating and has been a big help filling open spots on the gift shop duty list. We thank Nancy for her help as she keeps those family transportation connections in good repair!
HISTORY OF OUR OWN
Well, if you consider a quarter or a century ago to be history. That’s how long the museum has been using its current logo on stationery, signs, brochures, etc. Back then, your Editor was trying to come up with a new logo for NYMT that wasn’t too abstract and that didn’t emphasize one mode of transportation to the exclusion of the others. He finally just punted, creating a design that included all the modes—or at least most of them—by showing six separate vehicles.
Apparently the design isn’t as readily perceived by some of our visitors as it is by your Editor, as he gets asked from time to time for an explanation. To help our readers who have wondered but were afraid to ask, here’s the official decoding of the NYMT logo!
Let’s start over on the far right end. Now, that big black thing is obviously the front portion of a steam locomotive as seen in a side view, right? Not a very good likeness of our 0-4-0 #20, but it’s the thought that counts. The steamer represents railroading’s contributions to transportation history through almost 200 years in our area.
Looking to the left in the middle of the logo, we see a (black) buggy pointing in the same direction as the locomotive; there’s its large front wheel, the shafts (but no horse), and the buggy’s top in the up position. Further to the left, again in black, is a motor truck with a van body, not unlike our 1926 International farm truck.
Now it gets interesting. Stop thinking “black” and start thinking “white”. That steam locomotive is somewhat covered by a “white” 1950s automobile which is also pointing to the right. The streamlined design bears a strong resemblance to our ’51 Chevrolet sedan. Now, skip past the buggy and notice the front end of a “white” interurban trolley car, probably Elmira, Corning & Waverly 107 in our collection. You’re on a roll now, so look past the truck and see that there’s an open-platform horse car blocking your view of the full truck. Again, there’s no horse, but the steps and curving roof line can be clearly seen.
you have it! The answer to yet another question you were afraid to
ask. Now we’re good for another 25 years…
While many trolley fans contented themselves with tightly-cropped “roster” photos of streetcars in yards, some chose to make their shots in the cars’ working environment on the street. Slow films, lenses and shutters of the 1930s made such views hard to obtain without the effects of car motion ruining the shot. Here, Steve Maguire has resorted to two devices to freeze 1007 reasonably well. The shot is mostly head-on, and the car has slowed for its run through some switches. Signed LAKE TO KODAK PK., car 1007 is westbound on Main Street East at Goodman Street. A 1200-series Peter Witt car follows close behind. The Lincoln-Alliance Bank & Trust Co. building at left is still standing but except for the streets themselves virtually all else in the scene is gone.
Rochester Transit Corp. 1007 Photo by Steve Maguire
Maguire made this photo on November 30, 1939 during one of his many trips to the area from his home in New Jersey. The Lake signing of 1007 is of interest. During 1937-1939, the Lake line had not been through-routed; it looped, instead, in downtown Rochester. After the Genesee-Parsells route had been broken by the abandonment of the Genesee line on March 28, 1939, Lake was through-routed with Parsells, an arrangement that lasted until late 1940. In this photo, car 1007 has left East Main Station, located in the extreme distance, and is entering into revenue service. After running through downtown and north on Lake to Kodak Park, 1007 will retrace its way to the point in the photograph. From here, it will turn north on Goodman Street North and travel via Webster Avenue and Parsells Avenue to Parsells loop at Culver Road.
The Lake-Parsells route would itself be broken on December 24, 1940 with the replacement early that morning of the Parsells line’s streetcars with buses. Lake would then be through-routed with Main East. Streetcars of the Lake-Main East route would continue to pass the point shown in Maguire’s photo until the very last surface streetcar runs in Rochester in the early morning hours of April 1, 1941.
This summer, we look forward to putting NYMT “on the map” with the beginning of weekly trolley rides, but that doesn’t mean track cars are history yet. We’ll continue to operate the popular open-air rides on our joint line, taking visitors for a guided tour of RGVRRM’s 1909 country depot and displays of diesels and railroad equipment.
But the track cars don’t run themselves, and we are always in need of qualified, trained operators…and that’s where you come in. Harold Russell, who coordinates the training for track car operators, has announced his schedule for the sessions. As seen on the accompanying table, classes start March 24. All members of NYMT and the Rochester Chapter of NRHS are welcome to share in this rewarding, fun, summertime experience. Here’s what Harold has to say:
Experienced operators: Training will consist of a one-hour classroom session plus a half-day “hands on” session. There are several dates from which you can choose for your classroom training. The “hands on” training will consist of a minimum of one single-direction trip with both track cars. To even out the attendance, we have broken the training segments (based on the first letter of your last name) into what we hope are equal attendance portions. If for some reason you can not attend your designated “hands on” time, call Harold Russell after March 19, at 427-9159 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Operators: Classroom training dates for new operators will be the same as for the experienced personnel. These are held in the Gallery at the New York Museum of Transportation, 6393 East River Road. Entrance is through the office door at the southwest corner of the building. No appointment needed for the classroom sessions.
The “hands on” training for you will be more extensive and separate from that of the experienced operators. It will consist of the preparation, start-up, and shut-down procedures for both track cars plus a minimum of two hours of operation with both cars.
To avoid uneven attendance, we would like you to make an appointment for your “hands on” training. Please refer to the schedule for the available dates. To make your appointment, or if you have questions, contact Harold Russell after March 19 at 427-9159 or email him at email@example.com.
Track Car Training Schedule for 2007
(location is NYMT for all sessions)
March 24 Classroom session 9 – 10 a.m. All
March 24 Classroom session 10:30 – 11:30 All
March 31 Classroom session 9 – 10 a.m. All
April 14 Classroom session 9 – 10 a.m. All
April 21 Classroom session 9 – 10 a.m. All
April 21 Hands-on 9 – 12 noon Exper. A - H
April 21 Hands-on 1 – 4 p.m. Exper. I - M
April 28 Hands-on 9 – 12 noon Exper. N - S
May 5 Hands-on by apptmt. New
May 6 Classroom 9 – 10 a.m. All
May 6 Hands-on, make-up 9 – 12 noon Exper. A – Z
May 12 Hands-on by apptmt. New
May 19 Hands-on, make-up by apptmt. New
Charlie Lowe pauses for a photo while at the controls of Philadelphia & Western 168. Picture yourself there…!
It takes plenty of volunteer power to run our trolleys too. Charlie Lowe is in charge of the training program, and here’s his message to you:
For 2007, NYMT will be operating trolley rides on all Sundays on which track car rides are operated. Our present eleven motormen will need your help maintaining this schedule. If you are either an NYMT or a Rochester Chapter NRHS member, in good health, at least 18 years old and possess a valid driver’s license, you are eligible for taking motorman and conductor training. We plan on offering both a brush-up course for qualified operators and a full course of training for new operators. In return you will be expected to be available for duty at least once a month.
Training will be held starting in late April as was the case last year. Those wishing to take the training should let me know as soon as possible so I can begin planning the classes, exams and hands-on training sessions. I can be reached at either 223-5757 or preferably at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will assume veteran motormen will all be returning for 2007 and I will include all of you on the emails with details of this year’s training.
Our exciting dream of regular every-Sunday trolley operations is about to become a reality, and with good support from all our members, it will be a satisfying and interesting experience for all!
SHOP REPORT by Charles Lowe
Genesee and Wyoming 8: This former DL&W caboose has recently had scaffolding built by Don Quant and John Ross to give them easy access to the roof. The pieces to repair the bad roof boards have been made and all but one have been fitted. New eave boards will be made which will complete the wood repairs on the roof. Roofing material has been procured and will be installed when the weather is warmer. The siding on the south side of the caboose has been evaluated. It appears that five different designs of siding have been used over the years, either as-built or during repairs and alterations. Much of this siding is in very bad condition. An important question is being studied regarding where to put the caboose during the summer, when the tight fit in the new car barn on track 2 will make operation of P&W 161 difficult. Weather protection, convenient visitor access, and availability for continued restoration are all factors in the question.
York State Railways, Rochester & Eastern Line 157: During
2005, museum volunteers salvaged parts from Rochester city car 501,
part of a cottage being torn down at Lakeville, NY. Among the
pieces saved were two drawbar couplers. An examination of
in-service photos of R&E 157 showed that it once had such
couplers too. The bolt holes in 157 exactly match those on the
couplers from 501. One coupler was cleaned, painted and installed
on the rear anti-climber of 157 in January, with the other to follow
The restored coupler is installed at the rear of R&E 157.
Electrification: Jim Johnson and Dick Holbert have been making measurements for the conduit needed for a remote emergency shut-off switch for trolley power. All parts needed for this project are now on hand.
Philadelphia & Western 161 and 168: Bob Miner has continued his tireless efforts to rehabilitate certain components of the air brakes on these cars. The triple valves and #15 double check valves on both cars have been cleaned and oiled, and a motorman’s air brake valve has been investigated for possible rebuilding. Bob has also been working on rehabilitating a defective S-16 compressor governor. He has looked into the sticking brake rod that forms part of the hand brake rigging on 168 so that both hand brake stands can be used during 2007. Bob and Charlie Robinson have spent some time looking over all the air brake plumbing to understand the differences between the two cars.
New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 437: Work on a new cover for car 437’s K35 controller has been completed. The main drum used is a K35GR2 drum, not to be confused with a similar K35G2. The existing cover on the controller was stamped K35G2, but since this would not have matched the drum inside, a replacement cover stamped K35GR2 found in NYMT’s parts was reconditioned. A weldment preventing the use of parallel points was removed, and the cover was cleaned, primed and painted with the stamped areas giving the controller’s type and serial number left unpainted. In January, the controller was placed on display in its proper spot in the front vestibule of car 437.
Track: The track 1 switch reconstruction is the only ongoing track project this winter, but its completion is necessary before any trolleys can operate in 2007. The December 3 work session was well attended, with Bob Achilles, Ted Strang, Tony Mittiga, and Charlie Lowe present, along with former NYMT Director Mike Storey who was visiting Rochester that weekend. Two rail joint holes were drilled, and numerous rotten ties were removed with the bucket truck. Ted Strang made three rail cuts with his rail saw.
For the December 10 work session, Bob, Tony and Charlie were joined by Dick Holbert and new member Richard Shauer. Richard is a volunteer at Illinois Railway Museum, but his recent visits to Rochester have found him at NYMT. Dick Holbert offered an oversight review of the project and suggested a proper order to the individual tasks. The last remaining ties to be removed were pulled out from the switch area using the bucket truck. Two rail joints were unbolted for easy alignment of the loop switch rails when it comes time to spike those rails, and another rail cut was made by Ted. This final cut will line the two points up even with each other.
Achilles hauled the many rotted ties away to the tie graveyard on
December 16. During the general work session on the next day, Bob,
Tony and Charlie made necessary ballast removals and slid 11 of the
required 17 switch timbers into position under the rails. During
the following week, Charlie and Los Angeles visitor Dave Reifsnyder
slid two more ties in place. The Board, during its regular meeting
that week, voted to purchase the ties needed to finish the switch
reconstruction plus enough standard ties to refurbish the rest of
the presently electrified track.
Dick Holbert, Charlie Lowe and Tony Mittiga work at the track 1 switch points, with the new frog in the foreground.
On December 23, Dick and Charlie conferred on the next steps to follow. Charlie and Paul Monte then slid the last two switch timbers on hand into position. They then “safety spiked” the loop track’s east rail at two new ties so that it was spiked at every third or fourth tie for its full length through the switch. A very successful work session on December 31 saw the loop track’s rails safety spiked to gauge through the switch. The very difficult connection of the new frog to the east rail of track 1 south of the new frog was made with extensive use of jacks and pull rods, and the track here set to gauge with rods.
Work continued in January with unseasonably warm weather boosting crew moral. Bob led the effort to clear away ballast in preparation for the installation of the five remaining switch timbers at the track 1 switch. This work was finished on January 7, with the assistance of Paul and Tony. Also finished on that date was the refurbishment of three rail joints at the track 1 switch. At this point, all rails were reconnected and in gauge close enough to pass the work cart, allowing easy transportation of tools. The Sunday work session of January 14 was hampered by ice and sleet. The east rail of track 1 was safety spiked into its proper location. Spikes were pulled on the west rail for its entire length through the track 1 switch except at the heel of the point rail, which was correctly spiked. The west rail was also set to gauge with rods between the point rail and the new frog.
The agent at Cedar Swamp station brandishes a large warning flag at the crossing, near today’s Henrietta Foundation kiosk.
Collection of Shelden King
The days of the Black Diamond and riding the doodlebug to Rochester Junction are long gone, but the North Branch of the Henrietta Foundation’s Lehigh Valley Trail is keeping the memory alive with some help from the NYMT archives. Museum member Ann Stevens asked if we had any photos to tell the LV story in a kiosk located where the trail (former Rochester - to - Rochester Junction line) crosses East Henrietta Road. Ann has created a display for the kiosk that includes a 1935 geological survey map, photos from the collection of Shelden King, and captions and text to tell the story to hikers and bikers who were probably born long after the line quit.
Ann’s thank you letter, addressed to the members of NYMT extends the appreciation of the Henrietta Foundation for our help, and goes on to say, “We encourage NYMT members to stop by the kiosk and see the poster you helped create. And while you’re on the trail, take a moment to hike or bike south to Rochester Junction, where the trail meets up with the Black Diamond Train, or north through Brighton to the Canal Path”. That’s a good idea, and a healthy one too. We can’t bring back the Lehigh, but at least the right of way has been saved for the benefit of all. For more information about the Henrietta Foundation and to download maps of the LVRR multi-use trail system, visit www.henriettafoundation.org.
Lehigh Valley trains first traversed what later became the East Henrietta Road crossing on September 1, 1892. Through the 1920s, as many as 10 passenger trains a day carried travelers between the city of Rochester and the connecting station at Rochester Junction meeting trains for Buffalo and New York City. The line’s famous “Black Diamond” was one of these trains, named for the clean burning anthracite coal that made up much of the railroad’s freight tonnage. Passenger travel on the Lehigh Valley gradually diminished, and the connecting “doodlebug” stopped running between Rochester and the Junction on September 6, 1950. It was replaced by a bus that soldiered on until it too ceased operation just fifty years ago on January 7, 1957. Freight service was abandoned (south of Lehigh Station Road) in August, 1981.
WIDENING OUR SCOPE
We’re a hands-on museum offering the opportunity to climb on and touch the history that is contained in our collection. Rides on trolleys and track cars add immeasurably to the fun and to the understanding of our transportation heritage. But not all who want to know more can visit and experience things in person. Also, there are numerous historical societies, lunch clubs, libraries, and the like that regularly engage speakers and presentations for their members or community residents. For these audiences, NYMT has two slide talks that describe our trolley history in interesting presentations.
During 2006, eight talks were given around the county with a total audience count of 320 people. “The Interurban Era”, a 25-minute scripted show focusing on the Rochester & Eastern and composed of post card views and photos from our archives, was a popular talk. However, we must have been successful in getting the message out about the 50th anniversary of the ending of Rochester Subway passenger service, as the latter part of the year had several groups opting for our Subway talk. This show consists of black and white photos from the museum’s Tom Kirn Collection, as well as a small set of early color slides too.
We don’t charge for these talks, although we are happy to receive an honorarium for the museum (or a free lunch if that’s the arrangement), so if you know of a group or club that would be interested in one of these talks, give us a call and leave a message: (585) 533-1113.
Our article in the Fall 2006 issue of HEADEND about the history of Rowlands, the southeast terminus of the Rochester Subway, brought a response from our resident transit historian, Charlie Lowe. Read on for Charlie’s interesting additional information about another Rowlands loop:
While Rowlands was well known for its Subway loop, many readers of HEADEND may not know that another loop was located nearby for a short time.
When Rochester & Eastern interurban cars began running in the Rochester Subway on December 1, 1927, the long section of R&E track from the Cobbs Hill loop near Highland Avenue out to Rowlands was left with no passenger service. The track, however, remained in use for twice-daily R&E freight trains which used surface trackage to reach Rochester’s interurban freight terminal at New York State Railway’s State Street Station (a present-day parking lot for Kodak Office, near Frontier Field).
Interurban freight trains were second-class trains, and would wait at sidings while streetcar traffic passed by. On the R&E, the Brickyard Wye on Monroe Avenue, just east of Cobbs Hill served as both a turning facility for the line’s single-end cars and as a spot to store waiting freight trains. This wye, built in 1903 with the line’s original construction, was moved a few hundred feet west in 1920 to the Love Lot when the area occupied by the original wye was developed for housing.
Rather than abandon the Cobbs Hill-Rowlands track for passenger service after December 1, 1927, New York State Railways bowed to long-time pressure from Brighton and introduced a shuttle service. The Brighton town board had long argued (since at least 1913) that the R&E’s basic hourly service was insufficient for the town’s transportation requirements which, it felt, would be better satisfied by twenty-minute service. The new shuttle runs operated between the Lake-Monroe surface streetcar line’s Cobbs Hill loop at Highland and Monroe Avenues to a point on Monroe Avenue near Rowlands where the R&E track curved away from the highway. A waiting shelter was located at this point and the twenty-minute schedule Brighton had craved was begun on December 1, 1927. Double-end city streetcars were used for this service.
With R&E interurban cars now operating into and out of the Subway at Rowlands just east of the line’s Erie Canal bridge, and the new shuttle going no farther east than where the track curved away from Monroe Avenue, no passenger trains used the intermediate section of track between these points on and after December 1, 1927. Freight trains then could be held as needed in the vicinity of the R&E’s canal bridge at Rowlands, making the Brickyard Wye (as relocated) unnecessary. As a result, the wye was removed from the Love Lot in 1927. The awkward operation of a shuttle as an extension to the Lake-Monroe streetcar operation may have been viewed as an inefficient use of manpower by NYSR and undesirable, since a transfer between cars had to be made at Highland Avenue. Therefore, a streetcar loop was constructed at Rowlands so that certain Lake-Monroe cars would have their runs extended to Rowlands on the former R&E track as a replacement for the shuttle car.
During 1928, the R&E embankment on the west side of its Erie Canal bridge was widened to accept a streetcar loop. The 12-foot-wide top width of this embankment was widened on both sides to create a teardrop-shaped area about 90 feet wide at its maximum. The radius of the curved track installed was a squealingly tight 40 feet, similar to what might have been found on a city street corner. The height of the fill at the loop was about five feet, so cars turning on this loop would appear to be perilously teetering on the edge of a severe drop-off.
It is entirely possible that some or all of the Brickyard/Love Lot Wye tracks were reused at the Rowlands streetcar loop. The two switches would have matched the R&E’s 70-pound rail, and the wye was removed at about the time of the construction of this loop.
An unusual feature of the Monroe Extension loop is that the R&E main track went through the middle of the loop. Typically, this arrangement would be avoided as it required the installation of a crossing, not needed in standard side-of-track loops. However, the fact that this loop had to be built centered in a narrow right-of-way and perched on a high fill dictated that such unusual construction be used.
The only known photo of the Monroe Extension Loop shows it under construction in late 1927 or early 1928. A shuttle car is barely visible at the waiting shelter on Monroe Avenue in the far distance (about midway between the pole closest to the photographer and the large white house on the right). The switches are in place for the new loop, but the crossing of the R&E main track has yet to be installed.
Finally, at some unknown date about October, 1928, the Lake-Monroe line’s Monroe Extension loop at Rowlands was finished. The shuttle cars were withdrawn, and every fourth (or so) Lake-Monroe car had its run extended beyond the Cobbs Hill loop at Highland Avenue to the Twelve Corners and Rowlands. This created a 12-mile-long through route from Charlotte, through Rochester, and on to Rowlands.
Transfers were not offered between the Subway and the Lake-Monroe line at Rowlands since these were the outer terminals of both lines. The facility was constructed with sidewalks connecting the two loops. In walking from the Subway loop to the Monroe Extension loop, a level walkway was followed until nearly reaching Meadow Drive where a flight of stairs with a branch-off to the north portion of Meadow Drive was encountered. The Monroe Extension loop’s station was at the top of these stairs. Another flight of stairs at the south end of the Monroe Extension loop’s loading area led down to the south portion of Meadow Drive. Thus, a pedestrian on Meadow Drive could walk between the two portions of the street via the Monroe Extension’s station.
The two loops at Rowlands are shown on plate 25 of Plat Book of the Environs of Rochester, Vol..3, published in 1931 by G. M. Hopkins Co. of Philadelphia, Pa. Various identifications as well as the location of the former Erie Canal have been added.
The last full day of R&E operation was July 31, 1930. The cessation of the R&E, which had been outmoded by automobiles and dealt a final blow by the onset of the Great Depression, foreshadowed the end of the use of the Highland Avenue-Rowlands section of the R&E by Lake-Monroe cars. On July 17, 1931, Lake-Monroe cars ran for the last time out to Rowlands. This was the last passenger operation over any section of the former R&E. Buses already grinding out mileage on Monroe Avenue between Rochester and Pittsford had proven capable of carrying all riders along Monroe Avenue in Brighton, and the extended Lake-Monroe runs to Rowlands were thereby rendered unnecessary.
R&E service had been permitted to end in 1930 by court order, pending an abandonment ruling by the New York State Public Service Commission. An agreement was reached whereby in exchange for ending R&E service, NYSR would maintain the track and cars in operable condition should the PSC not agree to permit abandonment. Once the PSC finally granted NYSR permission to abandon the R&E on March 8, 1932—nearly two years after the line’s service ended—the line’s remaining physical plant was sold. A scrapper purchased the R&E rails and proceeded to tear up the line, starting in July 1932 at Highland Avenue and heading east. It is assumed that the Monroe Extension loop at Rowlands was removed at this time.
Within a few years, Meadow Drive was extended across the former R&E right-of-way, obliterating the eastern tip of the loop area; houses built here soon thereafter finished off the rest of the loop’s embankment. It is still possible, though, to spot the R&E right-of-way as an overgrown area in the back yards of houses along Monroe Parkway and Elwell Drive. If one lines the R&E right-of-way up with Meadow Drive, one will see the site of Rowlands’ “other loop”.
NAME THAT TRAIN
Once upon a time, the Association of American Railroads spent a lot of time airbrushing railroad names and heralds out of publicity photos and presenting those pictures in a host of publications sent to school teachers and the inquiring public. There were annual books of statistics, historical works on how the west was won, and lots of features on hump yards, diesels, and the other modern innovations that promised a bright future for the rails. To many a young railfan-in-training these booklets were the bridge from just seeing the trains that ran through town to understanding what made them tick, learning what messages the whistle signals carried, and dreaming of faraway places.
such publication was “Named Passenger Trains”. A copy
from 1952 is in the museum’s collection, and just skimming
through the lists of names brings back memories and images from a
distant past and a time when the passenger train was still the
way to travel.
Nothing represents rail travel luxury like a sumptuous meal in the dining car in the shadow of purple mountains’ majesty.
As the foreword in the booklet says, there were some 13,000 passenger trains operating each day in the U.S. in the early 1950s, including suburban runs and locals. 650 or so make up the stable of “deluxe” trains with names that, according to the AAR, had become household words. The trains are listed in the booklet in alphabetical order, including an indication of motive power…diesel, electric, or the rapidly waning steam.
There are plenty of memorable names, many of which had been around for more than half a century. In fact, the Century (more properly the 20th Century Limited) is one that springs easily to mind, along with the Super Chief and the Broadway Limited. And then there are the ones that are only “memorable” to regional travelers…names like The Texan (a joint Missouri Pacific and Texas & Pacific train between St. Louis and Ft. Worth) and Norfolk & Western’s The Cavalier, a popular run for Cincinnatians heading for Norfolk, Va.
well dressed couple have just enjoyed a ride on NYC’s Empire
State Express observation car “Franklin D. Roosevelt”.|
New York Central timetable for April 24, 1955
Then we have the truly obscure operations, with names that just don’t ring a bell. Certainly someone’s pulse must have quickened with the PA announcement in Louisville that the Irvin S. Cobb was boarding for its run to Memphis. The Saco must have meant something if one were traveling from Boston to Portland, Maine, and the Trojan was surely the logical way to go from Boston to Troy. But those Boston & Maine names sure aren’t part of any “household” today. In fact, the B&M seems to hold a record of sorts in the booklet, fielding the Winnipesaukee, the Nashuan, the Uncanoonuc, the Portsmouth Up (and, of course, the Portsmouth Down), the Greylock, the Wachusett, the Cumberland, the Cheshire, the Taconic, and the Cardigan…all no doubt named for a geographic feature or person important to New England culture, but none resonating through the halls of history.
Scanning the list, one finds five different trains named the Owl, and with the implied urgency of the U.S. Postal Service, three Fast Mails and one The Mail. Some companies chose nature as their theme: birds (Meadowlark, Blue Bird, Red Wing), animals (Wolverine, The Antelope, Man o’ War), flora (The Bluebonnet, The Cotton Blossom, The Nutmeg, The Peach Queen), and geography (The Ozarker, On Wisconsin, Kettle Valley Express, Everglades). Others keyed on unique aspects of the train’s route, such as the Milwaukee Road’s Copper Country Limited from Chicago to upper Michigan and Santa Fe’s Oil Flyer from Kansas City to Tulsa. Still others settled for less imaginative yet not likely to be misunderstood descriptors, like the Pittsburgh-Cleveland Express and the Des Moines-Omaha Limited.
In each case, someone sat down and thought about the train’s route, coming up with a unique appellation designed to separate the train from the competition, flatter the potential travelers of the area, and in cases where the line ran several trains a day on a particular route, avoid confusion and make a stab at what we would now call “market segmentation”.
But there was also the call of faraway places built into the name. Who in rural Ohio wouldn’t have his imagination stimulated by the Fifth Avenue Special or the Rocky Mountain Rocket? What young lady on a cold, February day in New England wouldn’t be warmed by the Orange Blossom Special or the Dixie Flyer? Who wouldn’t want to board the Firefly, the Advance Commodore Limited, or the New Royal Palm? What do you say…pack your bag. Let’s leave tonight…!
WE HAVE A WINNER!
In mid-November our gift
shop Manager, Doug Anderson, held a drawing for the G-gauge “Holiday
Express” animated train set we offered throughout the summer
season. The lucky winners were Mr. and Mrs. Allan Jeske of Avon,
Again we thank Peter Oosterling of Mill-Side Trains in Ontario, NY for the generous donation of the set, valued at over $240, and we hope the Jeske family will enjoy many happy Christmases with it.
2007 EVENTS SCHEDULED
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 New York Museum of Transportation is open Sundays, year ‘round, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at 6393 E. River Road in Rush, 1 mile north of NYS Rt. 251 (I-390 exit 11). Write to us at P.O. Box 136, W. Henrietta, NY 14586 or call (585) 533-1113. www.nymtmuseum.org.
HEADEND is published four times a year by the New York Museum of Transportation, © 2006. All rights reserved. No portion of this newsletter may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. www.nymtmuseum.org