The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation



The response to our electrification fund drive launched in February has exceeded our expectations! Including the matching funds, the total raised is well over $12,000. Added to the money budgeted this year from operating funds, this generous support from our members and friends will allow us to complete the overhead line to pole 56, with some left over for much needed track upgrades in the electrified zone. The 0.4 mile-long extension will give NYMT a mainline electric railroad a full mile in length!

Early responses to our fund drive, the first we’ve launched since 1990 for restoration work on R&E 157, gave us the confidence to obtain poles and ground anchors right away. This let our line crew get right into setting the poles during the winter, which was actually an ideal time from the standpoints of both crew availability and ground conditions. With generous help from our friends at the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum, an amazing total of 24 poles and 17 ground anchors were placed by the end of March. This critical task really had to be accomplished at that time in order for the overall project to remain on schedule, and it is still anticipated that the full extension will be operational in August or September.

An inspiring sight! The new line of poles marches down the straightaway from the BOCES crossing toward Scanlon’s curve.

It will take a big effort to finish preparing components and put up the wire, but there will be more to do as well. A proper transfer station will need to be built at the new end of the wire so passengers can change to track cars to continue their ride to the R&GVRRM depot. Also, our near-future plans include electrifying the steep section of loop track, the tracks leading to the front of the main car house, and eventually southward along the joint mainline to RGVRRM. So, if you weren’t able to join in the fund drive while the matching grant was in effect

(or even if you were!), please consider contributing to help defray the costs of this additional work. Thank you, to all those who have helped so much as NYMT takes this next great step in recreating the interurban era!


There’s a lot of planning and preparation involved in building a trolley railroad, and our overhead designer and crew leader, Charlie Lowe, had that well in hand months and even years ago. Mapped out on his careful survey of our joint rail line are all of the pole locations. Downguys are located precisely and all details and dimensions for the overhead hardware are specified for each pole, so that all components can be prepared in advance, ready for installation.

A special work area was established in the back barn at NYMT in the space formerly occupied by BOCES, and a production line set up there for prep work. The pullovers, wood strain insulators, and bracket arms were all cleaned and painted, and the various downguy and pullover wires were made up, each one specific to its intended location.

Bob Achilles and Tony Mittiga sand a bracket arm amid an array of overhead components ready to go up this summer.

The heavy work out on the line began in earnest early in February, and continued on most Saturdays through March. Scott Gleason and Dan Waterstraat, both from RGVRRM, led the effort, with steady help from Bob Achilles, Dick Holbert, Tony Mittiga, and Charlie Lowe. The pole locations had been staked previously by Charlie according to his plans, and the RGVRRM auger truck made short work of drilling the 18” diameter holes six feet deep. Anyone who’s had to hand-dig a hole at the museum grounds can appreciate the job done by the auger truck!

Scott Gleason mans the controls as Dick Holbert looks on.

With the drilling done, the truck changes roles and lifts the half-ton pole to place the butt end in the hole…just like that.

Dick, Scott and Bob Achilles see another pole get lifted….

…and set in place. At this location, the design calls for a span wire, hence two 28-foot poles, one on either side of the track.

The final step is creating another hole and setting a ground anchor at most pole locations. We’ll have more views in the Summer issue of HEADEND as the overhead work gets up to speed. Until then, your friendly neighborhood line crew says hi, and thanks for your support!

Left to right: Tony Mittiga, Scott Gleason, Dick Holbert, and Bob Achilles. Charlie Lowe is behind the camera; Dan is absent..


A few issues ago, we acquainted our readers with the names of passenger trains that polished the rails over half a century (ahem) ago. Post-World War II prosperity had brought new competition to the railroads, and they applied names to their trains that projected a degree of pizzazz whether or not they invested in all new coaches, sleepers, lounges and dome cars.

Freight trains, too, got some spiffing up. Trucking and air transport were benefiting from war-developed technological advances, traffic controls and roadways, and the railroads were feeling the heat of competition as never before. Names for freight trains did add some dash that might help a traffic manager choose rail over truck, or one railroad over another, but the naming tended to be more descriptive than romantic.

For example, the Southern Pacific and the Rock Island cooperated on a run from the southwest to Chicago that they dubbed the “Arizona-Mexican Perishable”. Nothing says “move it” like the thought of a trainload of vegetables rotting away on a slow freight. The Canadian National ran “The Paper Trains” from North Bay to Toronto, and we can guess what the cargo was. SP’s “Livestock Special” was another pretty descriptive run, while the Chicago & North Western’s Council Bluffs (Iowa) to Chicago “Packer” reflected the fate that awaited those SP cattle from the stock yards of Omaha.

Speed did tend to be a popular concept in freight train names, as suggested by the Louisville & Nashville’s Cincinnati-New Orleans “Silver Bullet”, the Southern’s “Southern Flash” between Potomac Yard and New Orleans, and the “Kansas City-Chicago Redball” between you-know-where and you-know-where on the Rock Island. The Rock actually had a number of “Redball” freights, and the speed connotation probably comes from 19th century signals that often featured a red ball, raised high on a pole to indicate a clear track. This became known as a “highball”, still railroad slang for “get going”. “Redball”…perhaps the line was afraid “highball” came too close to popular drinks at cocktail time.

Freight train namers apparently were given plenty of room for their imaginations to roam. While the Pennsylvania had “The Derby”, appropriately named for its Chicago to Louisville run, The New York Central called train WB-3 (from Weehawken to Buffalo) “Bananas”. Was it a fast train loaded with the yellow fruit, or just a nutso crew with a train run amok? The Central also had a freight numbered LS-5 running between two places that didn’t start with either L or S but was nevertheless dubbed the “Long Suffering”. They even had an operation officially named “The Thing”, between East Buffalo and DeWitt Yard in Syracuse. This was a dimension car train for special loads.

EMD FT A-B #1600 displays an early lightning stripe design, highballing under Goodman Street in Rochester. R. Freese photo

As with passenger train names, there’s a feeling that arises with the names for freights that just isn’t there with buses, trucks and airplanes. The “Valley Merchandise West”, the “Blue Streak”, the “Speed Witch”, “The Dividend”…all seem unique to rail freight. What other industry would name its operations “The Dog”, “Uncle Sam”, “The Bug”, or the “Bean Train”?

And those are all “official” names. The train crews usually came up with their own nicknames for runs on the line, and the list includes “The Double Iron”, the “Sally Rand”, the “Blue Goose”, the “Ike Elston”, the “Skillet” and the “Zipper”.

Today, unit trains of coal or containers roll by, pulled by multiple unit diesels commanded by youngsters and controlled by dispatchers half a continent away. The computer-language train numbers sometimes give a clue to their origin or destination, but they don’t appeal to the senses the way those old names did….”Western Steel Special”, “Silk Train”, “Jack-Pot”, “The Texas Fast”, “The Invincible”, “Spark Plug”, “Speed Witch”, “Broadford Hog”, “Ace”, “Sunset West”.


Our archives contain several thousand photographs depicting transportation history, most of it in our local area. We’re especially blessed with the beautiful 8 x 10 black and white prints that comprise the Tom Kirn Collection, with images of the Rochester Subway, city streetcars, and other views.

When Tom was amassing his collection, he realized that many shots of city autos, trolleys and buses also captured the changes that have taken place in our city over time. This led him to create a special exhibit, “Main Street…A Look Over Your Shoulder”, a retrospective covering almost a century…from the 1860s to the mid-1950s. It’s our good fortune to have this exhibit in our collection, and it’s the good fortune of our members and visitors that the show is currently on display in the museum gallery.

Looking south on Clinton Avenue, we see one of Rochester’s finest doing his best to keep traffic flowing smoothly at the busy Main Street intersection, circa 1915. The complex street-car track arrangement is known as a “grand union”, and it permitted trolleys entering the intersection to exit in any direction…left, right or straight ahead.

Eleven trolleys show up in this late teens view of the “triangle” bounded by Main, Franklin and North Streets. While Sibley’s department store dominates the scene, McCurdy’s electric sign peers down defiantly from across the street. The lunch crowd has a choice of Buckley’s Restaurant, the Triangle Café, and a doorway labeled “chop suey”. The streets are brick, the sidewalks are full, and all’s well downtown.

In over sixty photographs, Main Street is revealed in its many seasons, highlights and low points. We marvel at rare views showing the Genesee River flowing through buildings and over the street in the floods of the 1860s. Happier moments are captured as commemorative parades decorate our downtown. All manner of vehicles…bicycles, horse-drawn wagons, buggies and sleighs, horsecars, trolleys, autos and buses…can be seen, with plenty of pedestrian traffic too. In the background, of course, are the signs and windows of long-forgotten stores, quaint early traffic control devices and street signs, and throughout, the sense that here was a vibrant, thriving city, full of commerce and business, matching the dynamic growth of our many prosperous industrial firms.

“Main Street…A Look Over Your Shoulder” has been bringing this history to life through the winter season, and we expect to have it up well into summer. From mud to paving blocks to trolley tracks and asphalt, Main Street has borne witness to the growth and changes of our city. The exhibit records this evolution in all the moods, motion and vitality of life on Rochester’s central thoroughfare, and tempts the viewer toward hopes of the future for our city’s downtown. Come and see!


Our museum is entirely run by dedicated volunteers, and this is your invitation to join the fun. Here’s a list of the areas that can benefit from your volunteer time; without enough staff, we can’t be open to serve the public. Give us a call at 533-1113 to let us know what you would like to do to help. It’s fun and for a worthy cause!

Track car operators: The training sessions are finished, but there’s always room for a truly interested man or woman to get qualified in special, one-on-one training. You’ll learn how to operate our antique speeders, the schedule of operations, and how to deal with your passengers smoothly and safely.

Trolley crew: Three people trained and certified to serve as conductors and motormen are needed on each Sunday when trolleys operate. We also want to expand our weekday group tours to include trolley rides, as soon as we have enough available operators. As with the track cars, the scheduled annual training sessions are complete, but we’ll go out of our way to bring you on board if you are ready for this unique opportunity.

Gift shop staff: 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.

Maintenance and construction: This covers a variety of opportunities, if your interest is more toward manual labor. Teams of volunteers are extending our trolley overhead line, maintaining our fire truck, restoring the Genesee & Wyoming caboose, mowing the lawn and surrounding fields, and generally “being there” when something breaks or needs sprucing up.

If you have a talent or interest that you think we can benefit from, don’t be shy. There are plenty more areas that can use your help. Exhibits, signs, public relations, group tours, the model railroad and even this newsletter are just some of the things to consider. Give us a call!


By A. H. Barben

Reprinted from Brightwork, the journal of the Finger Lakes Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society, courtesy of Dick Sherwood, Editor

Background: Near the northern end of Cayuga Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes, there stretches a railroad line that connects the village of Cayuga on the lake’s northeastern shore with Seneca Falls and points west. Before the opening of the “new and improved” Barge Canal in 1918, that east-west rail line crossed a now-abandoned and filled-in waterway leading from Cayuga Lake to Old Lock 10 on the Cayuga portion of the Old Cayuga & Seneca Canal which flowed north to the Erie Canal. At that crossing a lift-bridge was built to raise the railroad tracks up out of the way of boats passing below. A bridge tender was employed to manually crank the lift-bridge into the proper position as oncoming boat and rail traffic dictated.

The story: The bridge tender hired in the summer of 1915 was something less than dedicated. He had been known, on occasion, to slip away to a nearby tavern for “the cup that cheers”, leaving the bridge unattended.

One day, anticipating the arrival of a boat, he raised the lift-bridge and repaired to his “club” with a thirst that demanded immediate attention. Unfortunately, what he forgot to anticipate was the arrival of the train. It chugged through right on schedule and right off the end of the open lift-bridge into the water below!

It took railroad crews over a week to rescue the locomotive from its watery resting place, leaving both the channel and the railroad blocked for the duration.

The bridge tender must have had some very good connections, because for some unknown reason, he retained his position at the bridge. Later that summer, a great thirst again descended upon him, and again he ambled up to the tavern for a little restorative, leaving the bridge in its elevated position to accommodate passing boats.

Shortly thereafter, the same engineer, driving the same locomotive, again approached the bridge. Unable to clearly see the position of the lift-bridge from the cab of his engine, but having no reason to suspect the same dereliction of duty by the bridge tender for a second time, he chugged along with confidence—and over the edge he went! This time, handily enough, a barge happened to be passing through the entrance to the old canal and slowed the falling engine in its downward plunge.

Apparently, no one was seriously injured in either incident, but it was believed that the bridge tender “went south” immediately after learning of the second mishap. He was never seen or heard from again around Cayuga.

Epilog: Cayuga village historian Florence Pharis McIntosh records that there were a total of four train wrecks at the bridge, with all but one of them occurring on a Sunday!


If you’ve been to the museum lately, you’ve seen the nice display in the corridor of some of the sixteen “modules” Donovan Shilling has donated. The late Ted Thomas built the display table, which is enclosed in acrylic, to protect the modules from dust and curious fingers, and features “lazy Susan” turntables to rotate the miniature scenes at one revolution per minute. This lets visitors see all sides of these intricately detailed recreations of life in an earlier day.

Don has been delivering his modules one at a time, including sturdy plastic racks to store them on. Each one comes in a specially made box to keep the modules safe and clean. As new modules are delivered, they go on display for the enjoyment of the public and our own museum volunteers.

Don recently brought out “The Vinegar Works”. Like all the other modules, this one is in HO gauge (roughly 1/8” to the foot) and is complete to the tiniest detail. Those details tell a story, too. Let’s let Don tell us about this one:


As we look down on the little village of old Fairport in September of 1915, we notice several activities happening in that sleepy hamlet. Most of our attention is on that large, yellow structure with the green trim. It’s the Fairport Vinegar Works. The aroma that’s seeping from that building is so strong we can almost taste the vinegar that’s being processed there.

Look there…! There’s a truck now that’s just unloading its cargo of crates of fresh apples. And if we look closely at the scene we can find Henry, the Vinegar Works foreman, getting those loads of apples delivered to the conveyor belt. We wonder how many gallons of vinegar it will take to fill that big, silver tank car that’s sitting on the rail siding at the Works.

Oh look…! Down South Main Street a small crowd has gathered. Can you hear that? The crowd’s attracted to Jimbo Jenkins’ piano playing and Willie Martin’s fiddle music. Both musicians are on the porch of Lilly’s Pleasure Palace where the mistress has assembled several of her talented girls who make her establishment so popular. We understand that within the smoky confines of the Palace the liquid libation is just about drinkable, but the entertainment’s top rate.

Down the dusty street past the rows of local merchants’ stores is a secluded corner where a large oak tree took root. That’s just across the tracks. It’s a place where the kids love to play in that tree…climbing it, jumping from it, or just using the old tire attached to a convenient limb for a dandy swing.

It’s not widely known, but Robert Douglas, owner of the Vinegar Works, discovered that his squeezed apple pulp was loaded with “pectin”. That’s the special ingredient that makes jelly gel. An early user announced, “Yep, it’s SURE TO work.” So, Douglas named his discovery CERTO! He sold out to General Foods in 1928 for 29 million dollars. CERTO is still available today.


Pig & Whistle, by Ron DeGraw

The Philadelphia and Western was to have become the eastern anchor of a vast transcontinental railroad, but such grandiose plans fell apart once the line had been built to a meager length of but 11 miles. Its third-rail electric system made it noteworthy among the interurban lines of the first third of the twentieth century. After several brushes with abandonment, the P&W has survived to the present day as one of only two interurbans still active (the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend line is the other).

The late Ron DeGraw’s Pig & Whistle is the definitive history of the Philadelphia and Western from its conception in 1902 to its merger into the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company in 1954. The 224-page book, published by Chicago-area Central Electric Railfans’ Association as its Bulletin 140, consists of a fluid and enjoyable text explaining all aspects of the line. Nearly every page has at least one photo in addition to the fine text, enough to sate but not overwhelm the reader. Maps abound, and a special fold-out map shows each siding and crossover on the line. In addition to the line’s railway passenger operations, details concerning feeder bus lines, freight services and the vital use of the line by Lehigh Valley Transit cars are all given solid treatment.

P&W 161 will eventually find its way to our museum, but here we see it on a railfan trip, April 25, 1954, leading car 165 at a photo stop at Wayne-St. Davids station. The fan trip covered all Philadelphia Suburban Transit lines that day.

Photo by William J. Rugen, Collection of Charles R. Lowe

NYMT members will be especially interested in this book. Both of the operating cars at NYMT are former Philadelphia and Western cars. Readers of Pig & Whistle will learn why these cars were purchased and how they were modified once the famous Bullet cars arrived on the P&W in 1931. Another interesting connection of the P&W to the Rochester area is the fact that some of the P&W’s first cars, none of which were ever delivered to the line, came to be used on the Erie Railroad’s Rochester—Mount Morris electrified railroad between 1907 and 1934. This line, now part of the Livonia, Avon and Lakeville, is the nearest rail line to the museum and runs past our partner museum, the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum.

Pig & Whistle is recommended reading for all NYMT members and is available from CERA (http://www.cera-chicago.org/books/book_catalog.htm).

Charles R. Lowe


After our winter issue, it seems we’re on a roll with father-and-son teams in the volunteer ranks at NYMT! This time, we’d like to introduce you to two guys who help keep our trolley rides going…meet Dave Gardner and his son, Ken.

Dave got his start in the world at St. Mary’s Hospital back in 1945, and has been a Rochester-area resident ever since. He grew up in the storied 12 corners area of Brighton, which figures in his interest in trains and especially trolleys. Dave’s Uncle Larry Mooney was a fireman in the Brighton F.D. when the gas explosions made headlines there. Dave remembers all the kids being sent home from school that day and hearing sirens all afternoon. He says he thinks about that tragedy each time he passes the museum’s Brighton fire truck since it played a big role then.

Dave’s father was Director of Engineering for “clear channel” radio station WHAM until the late 1940s when he transferred to their TV operation, designing and building the Humboldt Street studios that Stromberg Carlson sold in the late 1950s to become WROC. Dad had at least a modest interest in trains, as Dave recalls going to Brighton Station, at the junction of the New York Central’s Auburn Branch with its main line, near Winton Road, for train watching when he was little. One time they got invited up into the cab of a diesel switcher there, and dad even popped for a trip to Buffalo for Dave and two of his sisters, back in the days when train service was frequent on the Water Level Route.

An interest in history grew out of Dave’s reading Arch Merrill’s history column in the local newspaper. One day he found a pair of “then-and-now” shots of his 12-corners home area in Bill Gordon’s “Route of the Orange Limited”, and a light bulb went on: there’s history in things, and it’s all around us. Dave went to see Bill, and they became friends, with Bill passing photos to Dave to start his own collection. Bill also put Dave onto other sources, and that led to an official New York State Railways print of the Monroe/Highland intersection, from Pittsford Town Supervisor, Paul Siegel. Dave’s “parallel museum” also contains an R&E destination sign given to him by the postmaster in Fishers, NY. We can all probably relate to the sense of discovery Dave felt as Bill’s book explained the existence of mysterious relics like bridge abutments, and the origins of places like the ice cream parlor in Pittsford.

Although “not a fanatic”, Dave admits to the occasional railfan excursion, and enjoys magazines and books about railroads. Son Ken always knows Christmas or birthdays can be taken care of with a gift certificate to a local book store. Dave took Ken along as a little kid for railfan activities, and both men share the familiar regret that they couldn’t “latch onto” what they experienced back then…photos not taken, trains not ridden, collectibles not saved. Dave is especially fond of the older, first generation diesels, and his favorites are Alco and Fairbanks Morse. He “drooled over” the FM Trainmaster in the Lionel catalogue as a boy, and as an adult he has a piece of that company in the form of a 6 horsepower, 1-cylinder Fairbanks gas engine. Ever mindful of local history, Dave points out the Alco connection through their engine plant in Auburn, NY.

Dave’s 3 years in the Army were spent behind a desk (after being trained as a bulldozer operator, of course), and following that he worked in a gas station operating their AAA tow truck service among other tasks. He married Sandra in 1968. Since 1973, he’s been employed at Gleason Works in Rochester. He started there in the arbor department, operating a grinder, then worked his way up through programming the department’s first CNC machine, handling the scheduling, and now doing computer design of arbors. Dave explains that Gleason makes the exotic machines that automatically cut gears of all types, and the arbors are the critical interfaces between the machines and the work piece. As a result, they have to be extremely accurate in all their uses...in grinding, lapping, cutting, and testing.

We’re glad Dave brings that dedication to quality to our trolley operation, as does Ken. The younger Gardner was born here too, in 1971, and his train interest probably can be blamed on the former-NYC mainline visible from the kitchen window of their Fairport home. Like Dad, Ken had toy trains, this time on three 4 x 8 tables. His favorite engine was his Penn Central GP-7 diesel. The family enjoyed trips to museums and rail meccas like Horseshoe Curve, but one memorable event was following the local freight train on the branch from Marion, NY to Newark, NY. Ken recalls the brakeman standing on the front porch of the diesel sprinkling sand by hand as they came down the steep grade into Newark. GG-1 #4881 was the star of an adventure from South Amboy, NJ to New York City and back…just about the last rail excitement Ken recalls before the music bug took over.

There was always music at home, mostly just on the radio, but it clicked with Ken, and at a young age he was given his first keyboard, a “Portasound” electronic synthesizer. Computer technology in music is what has always intrigued him, and Ken soon graduated to a 2½-octave Moog synthesizer. All kinds of music interested Ken, and in 11th grade, his group won the Battle of the Bands at Wayne Central High School. He was also into rap music, and for the Great American Smoke Out, he and his buddy won a WDKX rap contest!

Ken’s education background includes a bachelors degree in electrical engineering from RIT, and an MBA from St. John Fishers. He worked in engineering for Kraft in Avon, NY for six years so he could save up enough to pursue his true love…being a “starving musician”. Today he plays keyboard for the “Poison Whiskey Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute”, a 1970s southern rock genre with gigs around New York and adjacent states. Since 1999 he has been doing arranging and equipment maintenance for Nick and the Nice Guys (“my day job”, says Ken).

When he’s not working, he enjoys biking on the many rail trails in our area, taking him to Farmington, Mt. Morris and the city of Rochester. This reacquaintance with railroads and their history has reawakened the interest that waned in the teen years. Now, Ken enjoys hanging with his father, exploring remnants of the Rochester & Eastern, and…fortunately for us…operating trolleys at NYMT!


Unfortunately, when many of our visitors see all that’s involved at NYMT they express their surprise to discover the many things we offer the public, despite 35 years of free local publicity. They are surprised, and so are we, since our local newspapers and TV stations have come to our aid time and again, often with lengthy articles, color photos, and great video coverage of our events.

Such coverage doesn’t come out of the blue. Each year, in addition to sending copies of HEADEND to several dozen local outlets and sister museums, we create press releases for each of our special events, plus others for gallery exhibits and noteworthy happenings. We maintain our entry in the events calendar of Arts Rochester, keep our listing up to date in the Weekend section of the Democrat & Chronicle, participate whenever possible in special opportunities, such as the Rochester Business Journal’s spotlight on non-profit organizations, and maintain a national presence through the Association of Railway Museums.

On the internet, our website (www.nymtmuseum.org) and that of the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum (www.rgvrrm.org) tell all about our events, collections, and how to find us. A number of websites around the country have links to ours, and we maintain a presence on several local sites that list family activities and volunteer opportunities.

Recently, thanks to Mike Roque, we have transferred the NYMT website to his server and (finally) reactivated the “contact us” feature. The former service managed to mess up our site, including losing our on-line archive. With promised help from Mike and Otto Vondrak, we’ll be updating our site, and maybe someday we’ll be able to restore the on-line archive too.

Check out our site, and while you’re on line, be sure to enjoy the YouTube video of our trolley operation, courtesy of Chris Hauf. You’ll find it, along with lots of other interesting material, at www.youtube.com/rgvrrm.

We can always use your help in spreading the word about all that we do and are working hard to become. As the only museum trolley operation in New York State, we think we merit the awareness and support of everyone in our area. If you aren’t able to help with our many publicity tasks, be sure to talk us up among your friends. Our research shows that one of the primary reasons visitors come to us is we were recommended by a friend.


Winter 2008 might not be over yet; after all, it’s still only May. But, plans are already being made for NYMT to host the annual get-together known as Winterfest on President’s Day weekend, 2009. Winterfest is a gathering of volunteers from trolley museums from the northeastern U.S. and Canada. The event rotates among the several museums in this region, and the 2008 Winterfest was at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA. With great interest now focusing on NYMT’s own electrified railroad—soon to be a full mile in length—the NYMT Board has decided to host next year’s event.

More information will follow in successive issues of HEADEND. Volunteers are eagerly being sought for this event, which will help publicize NYMT greatly.

ROCHESTER STREETCARS................... No. 46 in a series

by Charles R. Lowe


One of the most fascinating streetcar operations in Rochester was the Dewey Avenue surface-Subway line. The outer end of the Dewey line was a loop on the east side of Dewey Avenue near West Ridge Road. This was near the “back door” to Kodak Park, the Lake line serving as the primary transit line to what was Rochester’s most important manufacturing center. In addition to such benefits as removing interurbans from streets, allowing easy interchange of steam railroad freight cars and providing a local passenger service, the Rochester Subway was intended to serve as a rapid-transit entry to downtown for some surface streetcar lines. While several ramps were built which could have been used for such purposes, only one, near Emerson Street for the Dewey line, was so used.

In the late 1920s, Dewey was still through-routed with the Park line to form the Dewey-Park route. In the early 1930s, Dewey was paired with the Portland and Sea Breeze lines. Before 1936, when the Sea Breeze line was bused, some cars made the long journey south on Dewey with the jog at Driving Park; another jog on Lyell and turning south onto Plymouth Avenue North; east on Main Street; north on North Street and Plymouth Avenue to Ridge Road; east on Ridge Road to a private right-of-way; and north on the private right-of-way to Sea Breeze Park. What a railfan’s delight that trip would have been! After 1936, Portland-Dewey cars turned on the Portland loop at Norton Street.

On March 18, 1929, a new service on the Dewey line was instituted. During rush hours, several Dewey runs were operated on Dewey between Ridge Road and Emerson Street at which point they accessed the Subway via connecting tracks. From here, express runs were made to the downtown stations on the Subway. Cars were turned at the South Avenue loop just south of Court Street. This loop was located on an elevated concrete structure and was reached by a ramp; Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo Railroad interurban cars also used this loop. In the days of the Dewey surface-Subway operation, a five-and-a-half-day work week was the norm. To accommodate this, the Dewey surface-Subway line was run mornings and afternoons, Monday through Friday, and on Saturday morning. Regular 2000-series cars were used in this service; this remained the case after the arrival of the 46-series subway cars in 1938.

The 2000s were former Utica Lines cars built in 1902 and rebuilt as center-entrance cars. In 1927, ten such cars were transferred to Rochester for subway use. After some rebuilding at Rochester’s St. Paul St. shop, all then entered service in early 1928. Electric railways in Rochester, Syracuse and Utica comprised New York State Railways from 1909 to 1938, so shifting equipment between divisions was commonplace.

In our present view, we see car 2010 signed COURT STA. and making its way south at an unknown location on Dewey Avenue. Based on the car’s paint scheme, this photo seems to date from about 1940. The barren trees give the photo a late winter setting, a fitting background, as the line was soon to be abandoned. While the Dewey surface-Subway line was at first intended to be retained after the end of all other surface streetcar lines in 1941, the attractive image of being America’s largest city with no streetcars may have been tempting to local officials. Thus, when the Portland-Dewey line was abandoned, so too were the Dewey surface-Subway cars. The last Portland-Dewey cars ran in the early morning hours of Tuesday, March 11, 1941; the last Dewey surface-Subway cars ran during the evening rush hour on the 10th. Some of the 2000s were scrapped shortly thereafter, having been preceded by a few others in 1938. Car 2010, though, remained in service on the Subway with a few other 2000s, became the last survivor of the series and happily evaded scrapping until 1956.

SHOP REPORT by Charles Lowe

Electrification: Work on the 0.4-mile-long extension of the trolley overhead to the south toward R&GVRRM continued inside during January as cold weather prevented outside work. On January 20, the 36 remaining bracket arms were pulled out of storage and laid out for restoration, with many other parts being laid out the next weekend. Scott Gleason and Dan Waterstraat led the overhead crew on February 2nd, at which time 5 poles and 2 ground anchors were set. These poles were the first to be set since 2002. On following Saturdays in February and March, all remaining poles and ground anchors were set with the totals for the year being 24 poles and 17 ground anchors. This work was finished on March 29. In addition to Scott and Dan, Bob Achilles, Tony Mittiga, Dick Holbert and Charlie Lowe worked on the overhead crew during this time. Numerous poles were obtained for this work, some as donations from Rochester Gas & Electric and some as purchases from Monroe Contractor’s Equipment. A few 28-foot-long poles were donated, but these can only be used for span wire applications. These 28-footers have been laid out along the steep section of the loop track for the eventual electrification of this segment of the museum railroad. Work on overhead parts restoration has been ongoing. In February, numerous additional wood strain insulators and pullovers were cleaned, primed and painted. In mid-April, Bob Achilles and Tony Mittiga began the same work on the 35-plus bracket arms in stock by sanding the bracket arms before priming and painting work begins.

Philadelphia and Western 161: During the winter, Mike Dow removed some of the power contactors that are used to control the traction motors, and took them home to rebuild them. He found some had broken internal springs and was able to find new replacements. Mike, Jim Johnson, and Dick Holbert installed the rebuilt contactors and updated some of the wiring. Bob Miner cleaned and oiled the motorman’s brake valves and the triple valve used in the train air brake system. He searched for air leaks, but says he can not hear well enough to detect them (any volunteers with sharp hearing?). Bob cleaned and lubricated the reverser and the master sequencer, and checked the brake shoes for wear and the pedestal liners for cracks. Upcoming work includes traction motor journal bearing lubrication and follow-up with WABCO for 12-inch brake piston cups.

Genesee & Wyoming 8: Siding repair on the caboose nears completion, and recent work by Don Quant and John Ross has included replacing deteriorated framing members and the failed impregnated felt under the siding, in addition to the many rotted siding boards. The next step will be to fabricate new sills for all the windows in the main cabin of the car. This effort may have to be put off until next fall as the restoration team may be engaged in other assignments over the summer.

New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 437: The plain steel cover plate for the rear truck’s center pin has been installed. A set of specifications for the car’s resistor grids has been written.

Track: A survey of track needs for 2008 trolley operations has been undertaken by Dick Holbert. It is planned that much of this work will be done by a contractor, since the work crew is presently occupied installing overhead trolley wire. Re-ballasting, track alignment adjustments, and tie replacements are contemplated in this work.


Our Museum has been here for decades. Some of our members have been involved since the beginning, while others have stepped in and played a part, then moved on. Jenifer Jean Snelten-Kazacos was one who was there when we needed her. Jenifer administered the federal CETA grants for us in the mid-to-late 1970s, according to then-Director Michael Storey. These grants provided the funds that enabled the loop track to be built and that kept the museum going in those early years. Although not a transportation enthusiast, she was quick to see the potential of the institution, and was instrumental in helping us achieve that potential. Jenifer died this past February, at age 62, and our condolences go out to her friends and family.


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

* Volunteer Steve Huse always keeps his eyes open and brain in gear, and last fall he took note of the grungy, dark mold growing around the base of our main building’s walls. His efforts with a power washer did a nice job of cleaning things up.

* Doug Anderson is always up to something, and one of his many recent accomplishments was an overhaul of our trolley display unit. Originally constructed as an Eagle Scout project, it now has brighter lighting and some important circuit changes.

* Our track car, TC-1, suffered serious transmission failure last year. Ted Strang and Don Quant are working hard to fit a flat head Ford transmission to the car in time for ride season.

What it’s all about. P&W 161 ambles down a slight grade toward the loop switch on April 13 during a motorman/conductor training run. The interurban era in upstate New York is alive and well!

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

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