The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation

FALL 2008


With the simple snip of a ribbon, it was done. The museum’s major push for 2008—extending the electrified zone of our joint rail line to a full mile in length—was officially achieved. It was a deceptively comfortable, bright afternoon, quite different from cold, wet weekends spent planting power poles and hot, humid evenings wrestling bracket arms in place. And, that simple snip of a ribbon belied the physical effort, heavy equipment, and money that were brought to bear to fulfill the task we had set for ourselves. The two halves of the ribbon fell, the crowd cheered, and trolley operations at NYMT took a giant leap forward.

NYMT Board President Ted Strang (center) cuts the ribbon and officially receives the line extension from Charlie Lowe (left) as Dick Holbert looks on. Photo by Bob Moore

In our last issue we featured the considerable track work we undertook as part of our electrification extension, so it’s only fitting that we give equal time to the great job our volunteers did to reach our goal. Charlie Lowe was the hands-on leader of this effort, but he was given great support throughout by Bob Achilles, Dick Holbert, Tony Mittiga, Bob Sass, and Jack Trip. Scott Gleason was invaluable in the pole-setting stage as well, and we can’t forget yeomen’s duty performed by the auger truck and bucket trucks from our friends at RGVRRM. A big thank you is in order, too, for Alstom Signaling’s donation of the power bonds needed to complete the line.

If you’ve been following the saga in these pages during the year, you know it all started with agreement between leaders at NYMT and RGVRRM to extend the line to milepost 0.5 on our joint rail line. This point happens to be the property line beyond which the Rochester Chapter, NRHS holds an easement.

Charlie Lowe did his usual professional job on a detailed design for the electrification elements. Needless to say a project like this isn’t a casual exercise. For safe, reliable service each pole has to be precisely located, each curve in the

track properly measured for placement and type of pull-overs, and a careful accounting of each component has to be made to be sure we have in stock what we’ll eventually need in construction. Charlie’s design is the foundation upon which the whole enterprise is built.

Speaking of those “components”, we’ve been fortunate to draw on a supply of overhead parts that came to us in the early days of the museum when Ed Blossom was hired for a short time to oversee car restoration and wiring the line. The many unique parts that support the wire don’t come out of a bin at Home Depot, so we have been very lucky to have this supply. What we didn’t have a supply of, however, was poles. Thanks to good efforts by Dave Shields of Rochester Gas & Electric, we were able to pick up a number of serviceable, used wooden poles for just the cost of transportation.

As winter droned on, equipment was prepared and work began setting those poles. Hard, dirty work in the best conditions, this was pretty brutal in the cold. But, Charlie’s carefully designed plan had a schedule attached to it, and if we were going to see trolleys run through to the new end point, the work had to get started early.

The auger truck drills into the soil to prepare to set another pole, with Dick Holbert (left) and Scott Gleason on the job.

As soon as spring arrived, the crew began a regular Saturday schedule, attaching downguys, mounting bracket arms, constructing span wires, etc. This work proceeded down the line through May, June and early July.

Then, in a full week of concentrated effort, July 21 – 25, the overhead took a big leap forward. In that one week, our volunteers were able to place the wire in snatch blocks at each pole, transfer it to HS clamps, position it with pull-overs, and tension it. On Sunday, July 26, training runs were made to BOCES crossing, assuring us that trolleys would transport our visitors to the diesels at that point on Diesel Days, a full month ahead of time.

Part of the joint operation’s track car fleet transported the heavy reels of wire as it was paid out along the line.

Photo by Charles E. Lowe

If the overhead wire transmits the 600 volt electricity from our substation to the trolley, how do we complete the circuit? The steel rails do the job for us, but they need a little help. Each rail joint has to be wired to assure a complete, low-resistance connection so that little power is consumed as the electricity flows back to ground. To do this wiring at each joint, we can employ some modern tools and techniques, but it’s still a grueling task!

At each joint a heavy, stranded copper wire called a power bond is welded across the gap between the two rail heads. The first step is to grind down the rusty, heavily pitted surface in order to assure a tight contact with the welding mold. Here’s a shot of Tony Mittiga working the grinder in the hot sun. Bob Achilles and Jim Dierks shared in the work, but the bulk of the bond grinding was done by Charlie Lowe. There were 90 bonds to do, in all!

Here’s the rest of the process according to our Cadwelding guru, Dick Holbert: After the two mating rail surfaces are smooth and rust-free, Dick inserts the bond in the welding fixture and clamps the fixture to the rail, adjusting it for proper height and carefully examining and adjusting it to insure proper contact between the mold, bond wire and the rail.

The upper part of each mold is a hopper that holds the weld metal.  Dick places a special metal disk over the opening in the bottom of this hopper to retain the weld material until it reaches proper temperature after the reaction is started, at which point the disk melts and the molten metal flows down into the mold around the bond wire and the rail surface.

The weld material is a powder packaged in measured shots for each weld.  The bottom of the shot container has a small quantity of a special igniter powder used to start the reaction. Dick carefully pours the weld powder into the hopper on the mold until the igniter powder appears as the container is emptied. Dick then carefully spreads one half of the igniter powder on top of the weld powder in the hopper. The mold cover is then closed and the remaining igniter powder is poured into a slot in the cover.

Dick uses a flint "spark shooter" gun which throws a spark a considerable distance, holding it about a foot away and aiming it at the slot in the cover to shoot a spark into the igniter powder. When the powder inside the cover ignites, it drops down to the material in the hopper below, which starts the exothermic (heat- generating) reaction. Molten metal is produced in about a second which melts the disk in the bottom of the hopper and the molten metal flows down into the mold to form the weld.

Approximately 15 seconds after the reaction stops, it is necessary to promptly open the mold cover and use a special tool to break up any slag in the hopper and cover before it hardens so the mold can be cleaned for reuse. Dick then removes the mold from the rail and chips away any slag on the surface of the weld with a hammer and chisel as is done in other types of welding.

Dick adds these footnotes:   The Cadwelding process is similar to the Thermite process used to weld rails together, but the chemistry of the weld material is different.  Thermite is iron based and used to weld steel to steel, as compared to Cadwelding which is copper based to weld copper to steel.  Both use aluminum to produce the exothermic reaction to generate the heat required for the weld.

"Cadwelding" is the process name. "Cadweld" is a trademark of ERICO International Corporation which has a history serving the electric railway industry.

The bonding work proceeded through late summer and into September, and with its completion, the first trolley test run to the new end of wire operated on September 26, 2008. We wanted to make good on our promise to provide passenger runs to this point before the ride season ended, so Charlie and his crew went to work on a platform with hand rails and a pedestrian crossing there. The platform is essential for riders to safely get off and on the trolley for connecting service to RGVRRM, as well as to make it easier for the conductor to get off and reverse the trolley poles for the return trip to NYMT.

With the final touches made, the line was ready for operation, with nothing left to do but celebrate…and to thank the many members and friends for the generous donations that made this wonderful accomplishment possible. James Root came through for us with some classy souvenir invitation post cards, the plaques honoring major donors were made and attached to poles, and party plans were finalized. The big day was Saturday, October 18, 2008. Anna Thomas brought mountains of cookies and treats, Dave and Sue Mitchell took care of the coffee, and Doug Anderson produced some nifty souvenir buttons for the celebration attendees.

Celebrating members check out the location of the new end of wire, a sunny glade deep in the cool woods.

When it was time to board car 161 and ride out to the ceremonial site, we were happy to see a standing-room-only crowd on board. What had been a gloomy, early fall Rochester morning turned into a much nicer afternoon, just in time. As the assembled members, families and friends gathered to get a good view, the thought was probably passing through many minds…how long it’s been since the museum began to take shape in the early 1970s; how many people have helped in so many ways; how much effort it has taken…to reach this point.

There will be much more to do, but for the moment it was a time to reflect and to enjoy the accomplishment. And so, with a snip of the ribbon, it was done.


The world of trolley museums is widespread, and when the summer tourist season is in full swing there isn’t a lot of time to keep in touch with each other. In an effort to fix that, some years ago an informal get-together was started, to give volunteers and staff of these organizations a chance to share the fun and learn from each other’s experiences. It’s called Winterfest, taking place in mid-winter, and the 2009 host for the event is the New York Museum of Transportation.

Photo by Charlie Lowe

A “Save the Date” flyer has gone out to trolley museums in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, and we’ve already received many expressions of interest. We could find ourselves amid 100 or more enthusiastic individuals eager to see what we’ve been up to, looking forward to trolley rides on our newly extended line, and happy to share what they’ve learned in their home operations.

The event is open to pretty much any volunteer and staff member from a trolley museum, but is not open to the general public. Charlie Lowe is heading up the planning effort and he tells us the invitees will start arriving on Friday, February 13 in time for a pizza dinner and nighttime trolley rides. Saturday will feature guest motorman training and operations, followed by joint trolley-and-train runs in cooperation with RGVRRM. Guided tours of both museums will be included. That evening there will be an off-site dinner and slide show. Our guests will head for home on Sunday.

Some NYMT members attended last year’s Winterfest. It was held at Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA, and we were represented by Charlie Lowe, Bob Achilles, Tony Mittiga, Paul Monte and Rand Warner. They comprise the Winterfest 2009 committee, and they eagerly invite all NYMT members to help with pre-event preparations and with the many activities during the weekend. Some of the needs are at the registration table, in food service and cleanup, trolley operation and guided tours of both museums.

Winterfest 2009 will be a great opportunity to let our trolley museum colleagues know about the progress we’ve been making over the past few years. It’s also sure to generate lots of sharing and interchange of information among all participants, to the betterment of us all. NYMT is proud to be selected to host the coming Winterfest 2009!


OK, readers. Take a look at this 6 inch long device that came to us in a large collection of train and trolley items. Can you guess what it’s used for? We’ll try to remember to tell you in our next issue.


The item donation file lists three donations this period. The first is “bug spray and grinding wheels” which does a pretty good job of characterizing the rail bonding work that took place this summer! Second up is a nice Dukane liquid crystal projector to use for computer-generated audience presentations instead of traditional slides. The other donation came from Phyllis Griffith, Kevin’s mom (Kevin and son Rob are really doing a great job cleaning the exhibit areas at the museum). It’s a Vogue coaster bike that Phyllis received when she was a little girl. Here’s a shot of her today, and one when she received the bike, back in 1938. The bike (and Phyllis) are still in great condition!

Photos provided by Kevin Griffith


From time to time, something we put in these pages tickles the memory banks in member Bob Fitch’s head. We’re always glad for that, as it enhances our knowledge of local transportation history. Bob recently sent us the following, referring to our donated 16mm color movie of some brand new Union Pacific passenger diesels with a train of antique equipment on its way to the 1939 New York World’s Fair:

“The recent acquisitions from the estate of Earle Gardner listed in the summer issue of the HEADEND sent me to my photo archives for the enclosed photo. Living on the main line of the NYC allowed us to see a lot of train action and my Dad seemed to know when anything unusual was coming along. It’s hard to imagine pushing that little 4-4-0 all across the country; you’d think they would have put it on a flat car??”

Young Bob Fitch watches the UP train, eastbound on track 2 of the NYC mainline, passing over Penfield Road, Brighton, NY.

Leigh M. Fitch photo, Bob Fitch Collection

Bob goes on to say, “The New York World’s Fair also brought the Royal Scotsman by our home and I have a photo of that, but it’s blurred due to the slow lens on Dad’s camera and the speed of the train”. Indeed, the nation’s railroads featured a whole array of their latest locomotives and cars at the Fair, and our archives have many snapshots, slides and movies taken of them. Thanks, Bob!

SHOP REPORT by Charles Lowe

Electrification: The remainder of the bonds were installed during several work sessions in September, with 161 first run to the end of the wire in test operations on September 26. About ninety bonds were installed by the work crew for the 2008 trolley extension. During September and October, the transfer platforms and pipe railings were installed at the Midway Transfer Station located near pole 51.
On Saturday, November 9, 2008, the overhead crew placed a lightning arrester on pole 38, located about midway between BOCES and Reid's Crossings. This completed the last work needed on the 2008 overhead extension, and it was declared officially finished

Philadelphia and Western 161 and 168: Once the museum’s operating season ended on October 26, some long-delayed work was undertaken. One of car 161’s headlights had never worked on account of the cracked and disintegrated bulb socket. Dick Holbert installed a new socket on November 2. Both 161 and 168 had their fiberglass Norristown High-Speed Line map signs reinstalled on their bulkheads behind the control cabinets. Both signs had been removed for various repair work. The trolley pole on 161 which was yanked out of its base after a dewirement on October 26 was replaced on November 9. Also on that day, the steps formerly at BOCES were moved to Midway Transfer Station and set in place for use at 168's bus door steps so that car could be used in Sunday trolley service if needed.

Mack Fire truck: During last year’s annual New York State inspection, loose rivets were discovered where the rear shackle of the left front-axle spring attaches to the frame. At this year’s visit to Beam Mack for inspection, the service department corrected the condition by drilling out the bad rivets and replacing them with bolts.

Thanks to Mike Ziegler, Service Manager. The truck made a well received appearance this year in the Brighton High School homecoming parade. Total miles driven this year was 40, at an average 5 mpg. In October, Don Quant and John Ross drained the gas tank, added fresh gas and stabilizer, and checked the antifreeze.

Packard ambulance: Following the vehicle’s arrival on September 18, Don Quant and John Ross determined that stale gas and three bad spark plugs were preventing the engine from running. An engine compression test checked out OK, at 150 psi in all cylinders. Lew Wallace is restoring two of the car’s hubcaps. John and Don placed the car on blocks and labeled the battery cables + and -. To date we have received no 911 calls…

North Texas Traction 409: The trucks for this trolley body were donated by a private electric railway in Japan several years ago. Since then, pending time and resources to fabricate carbody bolsters and place the trucks under the car, they have been sitting on a section of track, outdoors, safely enclosed in several layers of tarps. Charlie Robinson is the caretaker for these trucks, each year providing a new tarp, and carefully re-tying the lines that secure them.

The first impression for our visitors is the smiling welcome they get from the volunteers staffing the gift shop and ticket desk. It’s a great way to meet people, and all it takes is a short training session to get you started. Can you help? Give us a call at 533-1113. Thanks…we need you!

Fall 2008

Dear Friend of the New York Museum of Transportation:

It has been a year of dramatic progress at the museum with the extension of our electrified line to a full mile in length, once again doubling the previous distance. Generous support from our members and the community brought us the resources needed for this achievement. Our summer attendance appears to have held equal to last year’s, despite record high fuel prices and reduced tourism throughout the nation, thanks to increased advertising and the unique experience we offer our visitors. We look forward to an exciting year to come, thrilling visitors young and old with a trip into the “interurban era”, and we hope we can count on your support through your membership, donations, and encouragement. Please take a moment right now to renew your membership with us, and consider raising to a higher level of membership and adding an extra donation to support our many worthy projects.

Remember too: The key to continued growth of our museum is in the active participation of volunteers—people like yourself—who come from our membership ranks. If you haven't yet discovered the fun of working on a restoration project, creating an exhibit, selling tickets, archiving, or operating a trolley or a track car, 2009 is the year for you to get involved! As can be seen from the many exciting activities described in this issue, our volunteer opportunities are expanding in number and scope, and there surely is something for every interest, time constraint, and skill level.

The gift of your time is a valuable contribution. Now more than ever, we need you to help keep the museum open to the public. Call us at 533-1113 and we’ll take it from there!

Thank you for the support and encouragement you have provided during this past year. It's a valuable expression of confidence in the vision we've established for the museum and the work we're doing to make that vision a reality. Please help us continue to grow, by selecting a generous level for your 2009 membership and by becoming an active participant in our exciting progress.

Theodore H. Strang, Jr., President

Click here for the Membership Application Form
(in a new window)

P.S. Remember, your membership contribution is tax-deductible to the full extent of the law and entitles you to a 10% discount in our gift shop, a museum reminder gift, and four quarterly issues of HEADEND. Family level memberships and above entitle you to free family visits to the museum.


The golden beams of the spotlight are directed this time on a guy born in Newburg, New York seventy years ago this December 2. Newburg is on the opposite shore of the Hudson River from New York Central’s main line, and we are sitting here trying to imagine what Henny Youngman would have made out of “a birth on the west shore” and “a berth on the West Shore”. We’ll leave that to our readers and look forward to their responses, but right now let’s get to know a versatile and dedicated NYMT member, Bob Moore.

Bob’s earlier memories of life in Newburg, include taking the ferry with his dad, across the Hudson River to Beacon, NY for a train ride to Manhattan to visit relatives. It seems there were a lot of family connections with railroading, too. Dad worked for the BMT (the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit) doing electrolysis tests, sleuthing leakage currents. Meanwhile, Bob’s grandfather was superintendent of third rail for the Long Island Railroad. Juice and trains, therefore, can explain a lot about Bob’s interests at the museum, but there’s an even more interesting connection: Bob could well be our earliest volunteer!

Well, sort of. Bob’s father joined the New York State Corrections System and ended up working from 1951 to 1954 at the State Industrial School at Industry (on whose former property our museum now sits). The family lived in a house provided by the State that was situated on a hill visible today on the left as our trolley heads south past BOCES crossing. Bob is impressed with the changes we have wrought since he was a boy playing in the area.

Dad took a job teaching at Edison Technical High School in Rochester, and the family moved to the city, with Bob graduating from Franklin High in 1957. He went on to an Electrical Engineering degree at Rochester Institute of Technology (at the old downtown campus). He was a co-op student, and worked for the Cunningham company on Canal Street, tucked in there with a good view of the B&O and the NYC. Bob “did everything” in the operation—designing and building test benches, making repairs, and so on. He recalls the wood block floors, black with oil, in the old plant where luxurious carriages and fine automobiles were once made. They tried to chemically clean the floors, but the oil kept wicking back to the surface.

Bob did another co-op stint at Taylor Instruments, calibrating temperature test instruments. A winter quarter in Engineering Maintenance at Kodak convinced him he wanted to work elsewhere, partly because he felt there were already more employees there than were needed. He remembers a continuing problem with dimensional changes of 5-foot-wide rolls of film that came from Roll Coating to the Finishing area via an overhead passageway between buildings. The passageway had the benefit of serving as a holding area when the rolls came in faster than finishing could use them up. Bob pointed out that the unheated passageway was pretty cold, which turned out to be the answer…but he couldn’t figure out why the more experienced engineers didn’t see that.

Bob pursued a teaching career, in Binghamton, NY at Broom County Technical Community College. There, he taught electrical technology at a time when techs were in big demand in industry. In 1964 he joined Xerox as a product development engineer. Bob became restless working in the lab, and when the company started up an Education Division the personnel people suggested he become a recruiter. He began to find his place career-wise, and did well as he traveled the country hiring technical people. In fact, during a business downturn with many layoffs, Bob kept his job after hiring 98 people in six months!

He moved on, however, through other personnel jobs; became employment manager over 400 employees at Xerox’s University Microfilm division in Ann Arbor, Michigan; was promoted to College Recruiting; changed to the training department; then moved again, this time to Management Development. Finally, Bob tired of the changes and the corporate management “pressure cooker”, and left Xerox for a position at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. There he developed and taught a program of electrical technology. Bob was Chair of the Engineering Technologies Department there three separate times, each period ending when he wanted to go back to the teaching he loved. Bob met his second wife, Dori, at NTID, and they were married in 1983. He retired in 2001.

Bob acquired “the train disease” as he calls it when he was two years old and was given a toy train.

In Rochester, he was in the Iron Horse Model Railroad Club, and was an active modeler. As a member of the Rochester Chapter, NRHS since 1989, he hadn’t been actively involved, but Don Shilling called him one day to be a depot guide and the hook was set. Bob enjoyed that role because it involved interacting with our visitors, “a main benefit of being a volunteer”, he says. He moved on to track car maintenance and operations, and has most recently added lawn mowing with the John Deere to help Dave Peet keep the place looking good.

He enjoys helping at the museum, and when we broached the subject of ticket desk and gift shop, he didn’t say no. Trolley crew is another likely move. Bob does a great job with people, and we suspect he’d do well in all these positions. Dori is very supportive of Bob’s contributions at the museum, and we appreciate that. Thanks to Bob as well, for all he does to keep us open and serving the public.

ROCHESTER STREETCARS................................ No. 48 in a series

New York state Railways, Rochester Lines 1218
NYMT Collection

by Charles R. Lowe

The year 1936 proved to be the turning point in the struggle for survival of Rochester’s streetcar system. Buses had by that point proved themselves capable of carrying the riders of even the most-traveled of transit lines, even in winter months. Rochester’s streetcar fleet, despite the best efforts to keep them in good repair, were slowly wearing out. Perhaps more critical was the system’s track. Since the mid-1920s, very little trackage had seen replacement, and some sections were in poor condition by the 1920s.

In our present photo of car 1218, one of Rochester’s distinctive Peter Witt cars (1200-1249; Cincinnati, 1916), we are looking northward at the Clinton Avenue South loop near Field Street in 1936. Clinton Avenue is at the right side of the image. For decades, the Clinton Avenue South and Clinton Avenue North streetcar lines had been through-routed, forming a strong north-south line through Rochester. The Clinton Avenue South line, though, was the shorter and weaker of the two and it was slated to be bused during the month of August 1936 along with ten other streetcar lines, after which Clinton Avenue North would eventually be linked with the Monroe Avenue line, a through-routing arrangement that remains in effect to the present day (alas, with buses).

The time for Clinton Avenue South’s abandonment, however, had yet to come when the photographer made our photo. Probably, he rode out the line and jumped off at the terminal loop after pleading with the motorman to a) pose the car in the sun, and b) neglect to charge a second fare when he re-boarded. We are glad he made the effort since this is the only known view of a streetcar at the Clinton Avenue South loop.


No, not the ladies of Greek mythology whose seductive calls lured sailors to their deaths on rocky coasts. We’re talking about the kind once made in Rochester by the Sterling Company, and the vehicles that carried them in the line of duty. In fact, our museum now has two such vehicles, with the arrival late this summer of a 1952 Packard ambulance.

Rural/Metro Medical Services’ area branch was once the locally owned National Ambulance Company whose familiar green emergency vehicles began zooming through our streets half a century ago. In 1990, National’s owner, George T. Heisel, purchased this 1952 ambulance to commemorate his father’s founding of the company in that year.

We had been aware of the Packard, and the fact that it had been retired from public relations appearances in parades and the like, but overtures to the company never went anywhere. But in late August, Rural/Metro’s area manager, Dave Bonacchi, contacted us wondering if we’d like to add the car to our exhibits of local transportation vehicles. They even offered free delivery!

An inspection of the vehicle showed that it was in good shape, ready for display for our visitors, so we took measurements, figured out where to exhibit it (and how to get it in there), and advised Rural/Metro we’d be happy to accept the ambulance.

A press event to announce the move to NYMT took place on Friday, September 12, 2008, and the company had the Packard all shined up for the occasion. The following Thursday, September 18, Benson Towing drove up with one of their big tilt-bed trucks bearing the car to its new home. After Don Quant, John Ross, Lew Wallace and Jack Tripp looked the car over and checked the fluid levels, Don started it up and almost got it inside before bad gas brought things to a halt. The assembled multitude, now including Kevin Griffith and Jim Dierks, used human power to navigate the car into the planned display position.

The Packard came fully equipped with a National Ambulance driver’s jacket (modeled here by Don Quant), a gurney with sheets and a blanket, and oxygen bottles.

John Halldow, spokesman for Rural/Metro, tells us that George S. Heisel, realizing a need in the early 1950s for modern customer-responsive ambulance service, cashed in his Rochester Fire Department pension and bought two 1947 Pontiac ambulances, forming National Ambulance. He later purchased a 1952 Packard like the one now at NYMT. At that time, John says, nearly half the country’s ambulance services were provided by funeral parlors, and the vehicles were used solely to get the patient to the hospital. Little was done in terms of patient care en route, while today’s ambulances carry so much hi-tech equipment and trained personnel that the vehicle is literally a portable Emergency Room.

In fact, the Packard is testament to the history John describes, with a decal on the glove compartment indicating a previous life at Harold C. Davis, Inc. “Chapel of Flowers” (still a going concern in High Point, North Carolina). The car bears vehicle number 2633 – 20II on the Packard builder plate; engine number is 200050; and the odometer reads 17,601. The gracefully curved ambulance body is by Henney Motor Company, a Freeport, Illinois maker of hearses and ambulances associated with Packard.

“Ask the Man Who Owns One” was Packard’s slogan years ago, and the car is indeed luxurious. Just sitting in the comfortable driver’s seat gives a hint at the smooth ride this car must have given its customers, whether they were aware of it or not. Packard had a lock on the luxury car market at one time, but after the Depression and World War II, the company struggled to stay competitive with the Big Three. It held on too long to its post-war design, finally managing a total restyling for the 1951 line-up. Well engineered with big, smooth, low-revving straight eights and road-smoothing suspensions, these cars still found favor, but in a small part of the market. Luxury cars and ambulances weren’t enough, and after several years of struggle, including merger with the equally struggling Studebaker, the proud name faded from the highways of America.

With thanks to Rural/Metro Medical Services, our museum is pleased to be able to share with our visitors this fine example of Packard’s engineering, Henney’s beautiful body design, and a “scoop and run” era of ambulance service that once was the very best in emergency care.


Our new electrification extension brings with it much more than a longer trolley ride. When we began regular trolley operations on Sundays, we had to deal with the question of how to continue taking our visitors on to the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum at the south end of our joint rail line. Ever since the full length of the line was achieved in 1993, we have been making the trip by half-hourly track car runs. We were able to continue that by “interlacing” track cars and trolleys in a very strict arrangement of scheduling and communications that assured us a safe operation that gave our visitors a trolley ride as well as the full depot museum experience.

However, the interlacing depended on getting the trolley run out to the end of wire, and return, all within the half-hour that the track cars were away. Once we were able to extend the trolley run beyond pole 26, the scheduling became tighter, and running the trolley all the way to our present end of wire, at pole 51, made interlacing impossible. Anticipating this all along, the plan has been to change the operating mode so that visitors detrain from the trolley at a new platform at pole 51 and immediately board waiting track cars to continue their trip to the depot. The track car “shuttle” would also return visitors to the trolley platform on their return north.

We all agreed with our RGVRRM friends that it would be really cool if a diesel freight train could do the shuttle honors instead of the track cars, so a test was proposed. For the last two Sundays of the ride season, October 19 and 26, RGVRRM would operate a caboose/diesel train and carefully document fuel usage. They also planned to evaluate things like schedule-keeping, crew availability, etc. Charlie Lowe produced a timetable to govern both the trolley and the diesel train. Things worked great!

Visitors transfer from the RGVRRM train to the waiting car 161.

RGVRRM prepared their train with GE 80-ton diesel 1654 pulling Erie caboose C-254, and Penn Central transfer caboose 18526. In order to permit the most running time for both modes, the schedule called for the diesel train to follow the trolley on its northbound return to NYMT, going no farther than BOCES crossing, then reversing to the RGVRRM depot. Overall, the scheduling worked and there were lots of happy customers despite the fact that we hadn’t advertised the experimental runs. RGVRRM is doing their homework now to decide if training and finances will allow them to do this on a regular basis in the 2009 ride season. If that becomes the case, our aging track car fleet will get a break and be used only for group tours during the week. Someday when the trolley operation runs all the way to the depot, we expect trolley rides will be the norm for groups as well as Sunday visitors.

As a historic footnote, if diesel trains become the norm for future ride seasons, we will have seen the end of regularly scheduled Sunday track car rides at the museum. Rides began in 1980, and the faithful machines have run their wheels off over the intervening years. Here’s a shot of one of the last runs on October 12, the last Sunday before the diesel train rides operated. Perhaps fittingly heading west into the afternoon sun.


The world famous George Eastman House museum of photography is currently featuring (through late January) rail photography in their exhibition, “Trains!”. We, along with members of the Rochester Chapter, NRHS and the RIT model railroad club, were invited to help the staff at the House in setting up the show and publicizing it. With support from CSX, Amtrak, local tour operators, etc., they have installed a nice exhibit of O. Winston Link’s highly regarded night photography, along with an exhibit of rail photos of all kinds from the GEH collection, and some “experimental videos” by Andrew Cross entitled “Passing Time”. It’s worth a visit, if for no other reason than to see the nifty HO scale recreation by Otto Vondrak and Dave Scheiderich of one of Link’s more well known photos. In a large glass case, the guys have a Norfolk & Western articulated steam locomotive passing a drive-in movie, just like Link’s "Hot Shot Eastbound at the Iaeger Drive In, Iaeger, West Virginia, 1956":

Photo by Dave Scheiderich

With all the attention on Link’s night photos from fifty years ago, and knowing the popularity of night railroad shots today, we decided to offer a modern counterpart to the Eastman House exhibit by mounting an exhibit in the NYMT gallery of night photography by Chris Hauf. Unlike Link who used multiple flash units to capture a speeding train, contemporary railfans pose the trains and use time exposures, “painting” the equipment with spotlights and carefully positioned flash units while the shutter is open. With digital technology, the results are immediate and the scene can be modified for better lighting or for special effects.

Chris has put together a very nice set of his night shots and the gallery show is something you’ll want to see. Here, in a Link-inspired shot, is car 161 at Giles Crossing, meeting Jeremy Tuke in his 1940 Buick.

Photo by Chris Hauf

HEADEND is published four times a year by the New York Museum of Transportation, © 2008. All rights reserved. No portion of this newsletter may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. www.nymtmuseum.org (585) 533-1113

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Contributing Editors - Charles Lowe, James Root
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