The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation



And the operative word is “track”. There’s just nothing like it if you want to run a train or trolley car. The joint rail line at the museum was built over almost a twenty year period by volunteers from both NYMT and the Rochester Chapter, NRHS, and almost all of the rails, ties, hardware and supporting ballast were donated from sources that no longer needed the materials, such as rail and ties from the Rochester Subway.

Much of these materials were old and nearing the end of their useful life when we installed them at the museum, and the intervening years have had their effect too. The wooden crossties, especially, are of concern, and we’ve reported in past issues about our continuing selective replacement of ties and switch timbers. Ties not only support the rails but are also critical to maintaining the location of the rails, keeping them in gauge. The stone ballast beneath the ties does its job by providing support and drainage, and also keeps the ties in place both vertically and sideways, which in turn keeps the rails where they ought to be. If there’s a low or weak spot in the ballast, the rail will dip there. If tie ends aren’t surrounded by ballast, rail could shift to the side and get out of alignment. If the ballast fills up with dirt and weeds, drainage is impaired and the wooden ties rot all the faster.

This year as we devoted all available volunteer hands to a dramatic leap forward in electrifying the rail line, we decided that the condition of the track in the electrified zone deserved attention too. The work needed included some new ties, a lot of additional stone ballast, suitable equipment, and professional guidance. A budget was created and we contacted Nick Giambatista, a Syracuse railroad contractor who had done tie replacement for us in the past. Important advice came from Pete Gores, a longtime friend of the museum, former volunteer, and now retired and returned to the Rochester area from a career in railroading. Dick Holbert’s training in railroad construction and maintenance made him a valuable contributor as well, as he inspected the line and prepared the work plan. After several on-site reviews of the track in question and of Dick’s detailed description of the needed work, we contracted with Nick.

After much discussion and last-minute efforts by Ted Strang, Rand Warner, Dave Luca, Pete Gores, and others, the Chapter’s hi-rail boom truck was taken out of contention for help in distributing ballast. The Chapter’s front end loader, however, entered the picture and proved to be the choice for powered equipment, not only to move the ballast around, but to adjust the alignment of the track as well.

We ordered 140 tons of ballast from Hanson Aggregates, of Honeoye Falls, and arranged delivery by Ray Dreimiller. Nick and his gang arrived on the morning of June 24 and worked through the week, starting with the BOCES crossing which required realignment of the southern half of the curve to

provide an increased and consistent radius. This required additional ballasting to allow the track to be shifted outward by several inches and proper elevation to be established.

(top) Nick and crew check the gauge after alignment work. (above) Changing out rotten ties calls for a strong back.

Designated ties were replaced, shoulder ballast added, and track gauge, level and curve elevation corrected as Nick’s crew continued north, up to the loop switch. Per Dick’s plan, a major misalignment needed to be corrected at the switch and just south of it, and a dip there needed to be minimized. Nick raised the track considerably here, installed two new head blocks (the long switch timbers that hold the switch stand to operate the switch), and replaced many ties as part of a general rebuild of the switch point area.

Continuing north, more ties were replaced, more ballast deposited where needed, and surface issues corrected, with Nick’s gang (Nick too…he’s over 80!) hand-tamping the stone to fully anchor the ties as the work progressed. At the curve north of Giles crossing, another kink was smoothed out, at least to the extent it could be. A “kink” in our definition is an abrupt change in what should be a smooth, continuous curve. The gang worked on north, up the back straightaway including adjusting the old barn lead switch for easier operation after replacing two ties critical to proper point alignment. Work continued through the curve at the driveway, and even managed to start track leveling from there to the boarding area before time ran out. Ballast was spread along part of this last stretch and the outer rail was raised.

The cost of this effort, not counting the volunteer time to plan, arrange, monitor and assist, was kept as low as possible. Both the ballast and the trucking were at reduced rates; the Chapter’s loader avoided an expensive rental; and Nick gave us a break on ties and the two head blocks.

We especially thank our friends at Alstom Signaling, Inc. for the generous donation of over $3,000 worth of rail bonding materials—a critical part of the extension of our electric line. This wonderful gift, along with savings we were able to effect in other areas of the overhead work, allowed us to partially pay for this important track reconstruction out of the proceeds of the electrification fund drive.

The ride is noticeably smoother now, and we’re confident that we’ve got a railroad that will stand up to the use we expect it to get, as we increase the length of the only museum trolley ride in the state. Come experience it for yourself!

Ira Dancil, Leomar Gomez, Nick Giambatista, Roosevelt Freeman, and Mike Giambatista…still smiling at week’s end.


Last issue we talked about the great work done by Charlie Lowe and his overhead crew, installing poles farther down the rail line. Not wasting any time, the guys are just about finished with the line extension which will soon give our visitors a 2-mile round trip trolley ride!

Let Charlie tell it: Once May arrived, the overhead crew set to work, meeting every Saturday. Work was concentrated in sections, the first being between the present end of wire at pole 26 and the span wire between poles 31 and 31A. In just four work sessions, all the necessary downguys, backbones, bracket arms and span wires were in place over this entire 400-foot-long segment of the railroad. In late May, the crew tackled the section in the vicinity of BOCES Crossing. Working hard, they finished preparations for trolley wire to a point just south of the Diesel Days Transfer Station by the end of the month.

Efforts during June were focused on the 12 bracket arms on the 0.2-mile tangent just south of BOCES Crossing. Here, ten-foot-long bracket arms are used instead of the 12- or 14-foot arms needed on curves and at points where poles are intentionally placed farther back from the tracks. Since most of our remaining bracket arms are significantly longer than 10 feet, four lengths of 1 ½-inch galvanized schedule 40 pipe were purchased, and the few remaining extra bracket arm fittings were used to create new bracket arms. The last of the arms on the long tangent were set on June 21, and by early July, all the remaining arms were in place.

In preparation for placement of the wire, it was necessary to load the next spool of wire onto another track car trailer. Mike Dow was able to make this happen by a skillful use of the Chapter’s forklift.

Easy does it, as Mike Dow and the Chapter fork lift lower the heavy reel of trolley wire onto its track car cradle

During the week of July 21-25, the new overhead was entirely set in place, with the overhead crew working every day that week. On Monday, the wire was hung from snatch blocks on curves and wire ties on tangents. On Tuesday, the wire was placed in the HS-clamps at each bracket arm and in the one span wire. Wednesday saw the installation of the pullovers in the area between pole 26 and BOCES Crossing, and on Thursday the pullover installation was completed at BOCES Crossing and Scanlon’s Curve. That afternoon, a test run of the trolley was made as far as the rail bonding extended, about halfway between BOCES Crossing and Reid’s Crossing. On Friday, the trolley wire was given its final tensioning at Pole 52 and secured in place, and a lightning arrester was placed at pole 52. As if that wasn’t enough, the crew placed several rail bonds on Saturday, July 26. Later that day and early Sunday, crew training culminated in the successful use of the new overhead as far as BOCES Crossing to permit regular trolley runs to that new point on Sunday, July 27.

During august, the overhead crew turned its attention exclusively to rail bonding. Proper bonding of both rails assures a low-resistance return path for the electricity that powers the trolley. By mid-month, about half of the 90 required bonds had been placed. Several technique issues had to be solved, including ignition of the bonding charges and proper methods of grinding. The crew installed a total of 20 bonds on Saturday, august 16, with 800 feet of track still to be bonded.

The overhead crew: Bob Achilles(in the cab), Bob Sass Dick Holbert, Charlie Lowe, Jack Tripp and Tony Mittiga (not pictured).


Tell the children to go in the other room…we have another life experience to relate, from a time when kids (and adults) got away with a little more than they do today. This one comes to us from recent museum visitor and Chili resident Robert E. Darmer, who used to volunteer at the museum and who has always liked trains.

Bob grew up in Pierre, South Dakota, capital of the Mount Rushmore State, where both the Missouri River and the Chicago & North Western System pass through to break the monotony. It must have been pretty slim pickin’s for a young teenage rail enthusiast back in the 1950s, as the only passenger service was supplied by C&NW’s trains 514/515 operating between Chicago to the east and Rapid City in the far western end of the state.

The name of this train, “Rochester-Minnesota Special and Minnesota and Black Hills Express”, was probably longer than the train itself, although it did boast an 8-section, 5-double bedroom sleeping car in its consist. Interestingly, a 1954 Official Guide notes that this sleeper was handled between the Windy City and Mankato, Minnesota in numbers 514/515, then carried on to Huron, S.D. by the road’s streamliner “Dakota 400”, and then returned to 514/515 between Huron and Rapid City. This arrangement provided convenient sleeping car service to more towns along the line…but it must have kept the switch crews busy.

Unfortunately for our young railfan, the all-stops local made its Pierre appearance both westbound and eastbound in the wee hours when all good kids should be fast asleep.

But there were freight trains! The land west of the Missouri was ideal for cattle grazing, and farmland to the east was also productive for the railroad. When young Bob got the “itch to travel”, but didn’t have the “scratch” for a ticket, those freights passing through town took on a special appeal for him. One summer day, facing the alternative of his job as an usher at a movie theater in town, Bob snuck off to the local freight yard, climbed aboard a box car on a waiting train, and was soon off on his first big adventure.

The train rattled along for hours, and finally reached Wyeville, Wisconsin, a major junction of several C&NW lines. As time dragged on with no further progress toward Chicago, Bob decided getting to the city was more attractive than sitting in the freight yard, so he bailed and headed for a nearby highway. He hitchhiked on to Chicago, and with his only dime called his father, who came forth with words Bob had never heard his father use before, and who refused to call the theater for him. “For some indiscernible reason, no one at the theater wanted to accept a collect call from me!”, Bob says. He used his thumb all the way home to Pierre, and eventually convinced the theater management to take him back.

That didn’t satisfy Bob’s appetite for travel, however. In the spring of 1960, when he was now an ought-to-know-better 18 years old, he headed out on another hitchhiking adventure. He was on his way home to Pierre from Minneapolis, and his ride had dropped him off on a pretty deserted part of U.S. Route 14 west of Brookings, S.D., still a long way from his destination. Let’s let Bob tell the story from here:

“As I recall, the snow started pouring down very soon, and the temperature was very close to zero, with one of those awful north winds that are very prevalent in eastern South Dakota. It was well after dark. There was absolutely NO traffic until a South Dakota Highway Patrolman pulled up. At that point I would have happily gone to the Brookings County Jail and let the county taxpayers cover my lodging expenses, but the highway patrolman had no desire to drive some 20 miles in a blizzard, especially with undesired company, and proposed an alternative means of transportation.

“He drove me to a small C&NW yard where a not terribly warm but at least covered-from-the-blizzard cattle car was right in front of us, with the door open, on a train that the wise officer assured me would soon head west. There were no cattle in the car that night, but there was a lot of straw which provided minimal warmth. The train did leave soon, and it took me where I wanted to go”.

Bob was in for a pretty drafty ride as he headed home in a stock car somewhat like this much earlier BR&P example.

Bob says he didn’t meet any “professional or otherwise” hoboes, and that he didn’t encounter any other railroad or community police on his frigid trip (they were probably all somewhere out of the weather, nice and warm!).

He adds, “both the track car and the trolley car are more comfortable than boxcars/cattle cars…” Thanks for that assurance, Bob, and for sharing your story with us!


1942 – 2008

We are sad to report the passing of one of the museum’s earliest contributors. Bill Reid died July 15, 2008 following an extended illness. Bill was very active at NYMT when our rail line was built, and although he felt at home in the cab of a road grader or bulldozer, he wasn’t above plain hard work. He took charge of spreading the sixty or so loads of stone ballast, first with machinery to lay the base stone, but later when ties and rail were down, he hand shoveled the ballast from the stockpiles onto speeder flat cars, then shoveled it off to distribute it along the line. Also known for arranging several valuable donations of rail and hardware, in later years Bill was most active at RGVRRM. In both organizations, however, he won’t soon be forgotten.


Last issue we said that our former web server had fallen down on us, and we had transferred to a new server. At the time, the status of our on-line archive was in doubt, as it had been “lost” by the old server. We also didn’t have a working email connection from the website, and as a result visitors to our site couldn’t access the archives, and if they chose to email us with a question, it wouldn’t go through. Happily that’s all changed.

Recent new member Bob Sass has joined our volunteer ranks, bringing with himself a pretty impressive knowledge of computers. After some sleuthing, he was able to recover all the work the late Ted Thomas did to computerize our archive and put the various images on the website. Thanks to Mike Roque, the email contact button is working now, too, and we’re back in business sharing our area’s transportation history with researchers around the world. Most recently, Bob has brought up to date the archive of past issues of HEADEND, which he’ll be making searchable as well.

Bob isn’t resting there, however. For the past three years, new arrivals in the archive have only been acknowledged to the donor, and not accessioned (the important process of cataloguing, record keeping, storage, etc.). Bob and Jim Dierks are now tackling this backlog that includes so many photos and artifacts, many of which have been reported on in these pages.

Shelden King still makes periodic treks from his home in far off Alloway to help us with archiving. Shelden’s especially valuable for his encyclopedic knowledge of all things rail and trolley.


Worth repeating: Our museum is entirely run by dedicated volunteers, and this is your invitation to join the fun. 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!

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.

We are always seeking qualified volunteers for trolley crew and for track car operators. If you’d like to get involved, let us know so we can include you in the important training programs that begin in early spring.

Rather work “behind the scenes”? Maintenance and construction covers a variety of opportunities. Teams of volunteers are extending our trolley overhead line, maintaining our fire truck, restoring the G&W caboose, mowing the lawn and surrounding fields, and generally “being there” when something breaks or needs sprucing up.

ROCHESTER STREETCARS................................ No. 47 in a series

New York state Railways, Rochester Lines 1402
Company Photo

by Charles R. Lowe

In the mid-1920s, car 1402 was chosen to represent its class, 1400-1410, in this company photo. No doubt happenstance took a role in this choice, 1402 probably being the only 1400-series car in an open part of the Lake Avenue yard when the company photographer decided to make his photo.

Built in 1904 as one of twenty 12-bench open cars (numbered 25-44) for the Rochester and Suburban Railway, car 1402 was changed to a center-door open motor car in 1914. Seventeen of the cars of this class (25–29, 31–37, 39–42 and 44) were so rebuilt; the other three were rebuilt as closed motor cars with end doors. Open cars with bench seats, by 1914, had fallen into disfavor because of safety and economic reasons.

Six years later, the seventeen center-door opens were again altered, this time to center-door closed trailers of the 1400-series as shown above. Six (1411–1416) were sent to Syracuse while the remainder (1400–1410) stayed in Rochester. Throughout the 1920s, the homebuilt trailers served well during rush hours, but the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 led to a drop in streetcar ridership, which permitted the discontinuation of the 1400-series cars. After several years of storage, the 1400s were scrapped or otherwise removed from the property.

At least two of the Rochester 1400s escaped destruction in the 1930s. Car 1406 became a farm building and was brought to NYMT in the 1970s to serve as a pattern car for an open car that was never built. It was in such poor condition that after a few years it blew over in a windstorm and only a few pieces could be salvaged. Car 1402, meanwhile, became a cottage in the Times-Union Tract on Honeoye Lake. In fair condition, it was donated to the museum and moved to NYMT in 2005. In an incredible stroke of luck, the missing front end of 1402 can someday be replaced with the salvaged front end of 1406, thereby preserving both cars. Today, though, 1402 rests outside under a heavy tarp, awaiting the day it can be restored to service on the museums’ joint railroad.


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

* TC-1 continues to show its age, most recently with the demise of its 6-volt generator. You’ll recall Ted Strang just installed a new transmission in the track car; his latest effort has converted the car to 12-volt operation.

* Chris Hauf has restored two of the marker lights we received from Fred Perry for P&W cars 161 and 168. They looked great at Chris’ recent night photo shoot, attended by both cars and staffed by Carlos Mercado and Dave Mitchell.

Photo by Chris Hauf

* John Corzine added plywood panels to several wood sliding doors on the main barn, and included sheet metal end pieces to keep stray vermin out. John Ross did the nice paint job.

* Rich Carling has been keeping us well stocked with our great-looking brochure to help promote our joint museums.

* Our gift shop is edging closer to modern times with the installation of a new cash register that will be compatible with bar code scanning. Right now, Doug Anderson is debugging the machine and training gift shop volunteers in its operation.

Doug Anderson goes over operation of our new cash register with one of our faithful gift shop volunteers, Sue Baker.

* Janet Dittmer took care of our IRS Form 990 income tax return for us. No, we don’t pay taxes, as we are an IRS-registered 501(c)(3) non-profit museum, but we have to file…and each year it gets more complicated. Thanks Janet!

* Rand Warner has been donating trolley “jewelry” (pocket watches, coin changers, ticket punches, etc.) to provide the details that make our operation authentic. He invites all our readers to consider donating trolley paraphernalia to enhance the collection.

* The late Fred Perry was so helpful in our acquisition of P&W 161/168 and initial construction of our trolley overhead system, and we were pleased to host a visit from Fred’s son, Chris, and family on the weekend of our “Trolley Follies” event, held on Father’s Day.

* A familiar figure at NYMT is Rob McCulloch, accompanied on his weekly visits by his stepdad, Kevin Griffith. Despite some significant learning challenges, Rob is now helping out with dusting and sweeping around the exhibit hall. With Colleen Dox-Griffith at the ticket desk, we’re benefiting from a real family activity!

Rob and Kevin dust the pilot on R&E 157. The cleaning they’re doing really has the main exhibit hall looking a lot better!


By now just about everyone within earshot knows that Rochester has a tunnel under Broad Street. Originally the route of the Erie Canal when it came right through downtown, the “tunnel” is really the space under a mile-long bridge deck, dating to the construction of the Rochester Subway in the late 1920s. The City has finally decided to fill in a portion of this tunnel, and is searching for responsible ideas to use the rest of it (from Main Street to the aqueduct) to help revitalize that part of downtown.

Recently, your editor had the opportunity to “explore” a little-known other tunnel beneath the streets of Rochester.

The Midtown Plaza complex in the heart of downtown was developed in the early 1950s, to provide a unique shopping destination. Although not generally recognized today, the post-World War II suburbanization of our area was in full cry by that time and didn’t bode well for stores in the city center. Officials of McCurdy’s and B. Foreman’s department stores put together a plan to create a unique, enclosed shopping plaza, including an office tower, hotel, and restaurant/night club. This venture covered most of the area bounded by Main Street, South Clinton Avenue, Broad Street and Euclid/Atlas/Elm/Chestnut Streets. It also took a chunk out of Elm Street and obliterated Cortland Street, a north-south thoroughfare that had provided access to the stores for delivery of goods.

In order to serve the needs of the businesses and buildings in and around the plaza, the decision was made for a truck tunnel, with an entrance on the east side at Atlas Street. Tall enough inside to accommodate large trucks, the tunnel abuts the upper levels of the Midtown parking garage. It also contains numerous overhead utility lines. Over the years, the tunnel was extended farther west to serve Chase Tower, with the most recent extension giving access all the way to the east side of the Rochester Convention Center.

Roughly paralleling Main Street (at top of map), the tunnel stretches over a quarter-mile from the Atlas Street entrance (on right) to the Convention Center.

While most Rochesterians are unaware of the “big dig” below their city, in the past half century countless trucks have used the tunnel for deliveries. Museum member and former driver for Consolidated Freightways, Rick Holahan accompanied us on the tour and recalls that in the days of brisk business downtown, the tunnel could get congested with semis backing into loading docks, running afoul of height limits in certain areas, and struggling to climb back to street level when the ramp was coated with ice and snow.

The doors are open to accommodate delivery trucks in and out.

Our recent visit was in the company of Rick Rynski an engineer with the City of Rochester, and we were able to drive the entire length of the tunnel as well as explore the many side accesses. Interestingly, the floor assumes several levels, dropping down for example under the utilities of South Clinton Avenue. We found poignant signs for McCurdy’s and B. Forman’s at their former loading docks, proclaiming “no parking” where it no longer matters. There were numerous mysterious personnel doors in dark recesses that peaked our imagination. There is even a small, gated parking garage off to the side of the tunnel. At the far end, the relatively newer construction at the Convention Center was evident, and the dock there reminded us of the siding off the Rochester Subway tracks that accessed the basement of the War Memorial to provide unloading for circuses and other events that traveled by rail.

The wide tunnel rounds the southwest corner of McCurdy’s basement, then goes north for a bit before heading west again.

These days the Midtown service tunnel is pretty quiet, with only a few vehicles in evidence during our tour, such as an Office Max delivery van probably dropping off a load of copy paper at Chase Tower. By chance, the next day the Midtown Plaza auction sold off a lot of what was left over, including Santa’s Throne and a lot of store fixtures, and with the plaza stores all closed there’s good reason for the reduced traffic level.

After looking into the various side alleys of the tunnel and getting some pictures for future reference, we drove up the wide, brick-paved entry/exit ramp (almost as wide as a four-lane highway), through the doorways guarded by two enormous roll-down doors, into the sunlight—leaving behind the dark, cavernous tunnel and a lot of memories of a time when Midtown was the place to go, and city downtowns around the country were alive and well.


It’s no surprise, but if you scratch the surface of this issue’s volunteer, you’ll find railroad tracks…of several different gauges and extending way back in time. Meet our latest spotlight victim, Dave Mitchell.

Dave was born in Auburn, NY in 1938, and by the time he was 2 years old he had an electric train. The Marx Commodore Vanderbilt soon gave way to Lionel trains and a pretty good sized layout, until about 1950 when an older neighbor boy sold Dave his HO cars and track. Two train layouts in the basement was a bit too much, and eventually Dave’s father laid down an ultimatum: choose one or the other. Dave opted for the smaller gauge and has been with it ever since.

Don’t get the wrong idea about Dad, though. While not a railfan himself, Dave’s father understood his son’s fascination with trains and even with the severe gas rationing of the World War II days, each Sunday he drove Dave to Weedsport, on the New York Central, to witness the passing of the Great Steel Fleet in all its steam-powered glory.

Dave Mitchell alights from a Rochester Subway car at Winton Road during a family visit to the city in 1949 or 1950. While his parents visited with Dave’s aunt on Dorchester Road, he was given a dollar to ride the Subway as long as the money lasted. “Good guy” motormen didn’t charge another nickel at the end of the line; “Bad guy” motormen insisted on a new fare.

As Dave grew up in Auburn, he felt the presence of rail history all around him. In fact, in high school, it was right under his feet! The school was built on land donated to the city by the man who bought the remnants of the Auburn & Syracuse interurban trolley line, land where the A&S’s car house once stood. Dave says that for his high school class’ 50th reunion, he wrote the yearbook for the event and decided to start their history way back at the formation of the trolley line!

Dave went to Clarkson University to study electrical engineering, but admits that his study habits managed to stretch his time there to about seven years (let’s just say math wasn’t his strong suit). He took advantage of his semesters off by working for professors and creating the test rigs they needed for experiments—for example, modifying the woofer from a hi fi speaker to vibrate a pencil-sized concrete test piece to determine material strength. Dave also worked for a speech therapy lab in Syracuse, due to a slight stutter that he still has. One assignment there was to place a phone call and convince the person called about something. Creative Dave called the head of the Engineering Department at Clarkson, and convinced him to take Dave back for another try at his degree…and he succeeded!

His speech lab training came in handy after college when he was seeking employment. After several unsuccessful attempts around the state, he came to Kodak, but concerned about his poor grades, he decided to go after an electrician’s position, rather than a full engineering job. In his interview with Fred Sill, chief of maintenance for the part of the company dealing with magnetic tape and film slitting/perforating, the boss pointed out that he thought it was strange that a graduate of one of the finest engineering schools in the country was only looking for an electrician’s job. Well, harking back to his speech therapy research work, it seems that one of the things Dave was trained in was coping with extended periods of silence (sometimes it takes a while to get the words out, and it helps to keep the stress level low). So, since Mr. Sill hadn’t put that in the form of a question, Dave just sat there. Several minutes went by, and Sill finally broke the impasse by asking Dave his goal in life. Dave looked at Sill’s desk nameplate and asked Sill how he liked his job. Sill turned to the personnel rep and said, “This guy will do just fine”. In his first year, Dave managed to snag a lot of overtime, and was proud to discover that he made more that year than the valedictorian of his engineering class.

Dave spent his career at Kodak in electrical maintenance at Kodak Park, mostly as an electrician and always in web-conveyance work. Electrical control is critical to the continuous processes in film making. Consider for instance that there are 36 drive rolls along 4,000 feet of machinery in film sensitizing, and they all have to be in sync to assure uniform emulsion and no defects. In the paper mill, the wet web is fragile at the start, and as the web is compressed by rollers to squeeze the water out, it goes faster. Keeping all those rollers running at their respective speeds is a challenge.

Dave enjoyed using the compensation days off from his overtime work to take train trips, and he traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as to an NMRA convention in England. Steam had a special appeal, and he took several fan trips too. In the fall of 1972, Dave actually proposed to his wife, Sue, in the cab of a Shay on Bald Knob at the Cass Scenic Railway! They had met through a young people’s club at Third Presbyterian Church in Rochester, and they were married in February, 1973. They lived on the small farm in Hilton, NY that Dave had purchased back in 1966, and 15 years later when their son was approaching kindergarten age, they moved to West Webster. This was a help to Sue, as she was teaching in Brighton, but for Dave the commute distance didn’t really change that much. The couple now live at Candlewood park, in a home that has a 24’ x 24’ basement. The first job after moving in was to put his shop in there, and the second was to build a home theater. He’s now on his third task—building a model railroad to recreate the New York Central’s Adirondack Division from Utica to Malone and Lake Placid. The layout will feature hidden staging where track goes into a tunnel and then a 5-turn spiral down to a storage yard.

Model railroad clubs have been a part of Dave’s life since his junior membership in Auburn’s Cayuga Valley Model Railroad Club. At present he’s a member of the Rochester Model Railroad Club (look for a feature on their model pike in the September issue of Model Railroader magazine), where fellow member Harold Russell corraled Dave about six years ago to be a track car operator. Dave and Harold had known each other since the early 1950s when they would go to model railroad conventions in Canada with their dads.

One thing leads to another, of course, and Dave is now a licensed trolley motorman/conductor, as well as holding the position of Qualified Operator, which empowers him to energize our substation. Dave’s electrical knowledge has come in handy in other ways, too. He helped with installing conduit and pulling wire for the remote substation control, and installed the corridor lighting for the Shilling modules.

Dave says his hope for the future is to see trolleys operating all the way from NYMT to the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum. That goal is officially blessed by both of our organizations, so with effort we should be able to satisfy him. He also thinks it would be a good idea to research paint colors and finish the side of our Elmira, Corning & Waverly car 107. As he points out, it’s the first thing visitors see when they open the doors into the main exhibit hall. We’ll have to think about that one, but in the meantime, we’re certainly glad to have Dave aboard for all his valuable contributions. Maybe wielding a paint brush will be one more!


Running the museum like a business is essential to our survival, despite the fact that its operations are totally in the hands of dedicated volunteers, and we all do it because we enjoy it. We’re happy to say that our attendance this year is holding up well, especially given extraordinarily high gas prices that are causing motorists to cut back on driving (and staying closer to home). Overall attendance is up 3% year-to-date, and the annual 2-day “Diesel Days” event brought in 648 people…a 10% increase over last year.

Also, this year we decided to take advantage of a reasonably priced advertising program with the Democrat & Chronicle. The weekly color ad features our unique trolley rides, and runs Saturdays and in the mid-week Our Towns section and in “Neighbors”, the D&C’s free mail-out to non-subscribers. No matter what the reason…ads or gas prices or maybe the word is finally getting around about our trolley rides…we’ve had several Sundays with over 150 visitors so far this season.

Boosting attendance is important, as we have many expenses we’ll be visiting down the line. We are required to perform further testing on our well water, even though preliminary tests show it safe to drink, and if dissolved solids or other contaminants are detected, we may have to install expensive treatment equipment. Also, as we work to further extend our trolley line, we’ll need more poles, rail bonds, and support hardware, with a final push to the R&GVRR Museum possibly involving significant costs for rail, ties, and ballast.

SHOP REPORTby Charles Lowe

Electrification: Dramatic progress has been made extending the overhead wire. All the details are covered in a separate article in this issue.

Philadelphia and Western 161 and 168: After a test run of car 161 over the newly extended overhead, it was noticed that neither of the trolley wheels was rolling freely on the trolley wire. The overhead crew completely disassembled the wheels and cleaned and lubricated them with powdered graphite.

New York Museum of Transportation 04: This trailer car was built several years ago from parts of a completely broken down predecessor with the idea of making it into a tower car. With the Chapter making a bucket truck routinely available, it was decided not to pursue the tower car. The tower was removed and a bed of plywood installed over the decking so the car could be used as a ballast car during the June track project. Once those duties were completed, 04 had the second arbor installed and the second spool of wire loaded.

Track: A separate article in this issue reports on work done by our contractor to improve our rail line for smoother, safer operation. Dick Holbert has agreed to continue his vigilance, routinely inspecting the track within the electrified territory.

Car house: One problem with steel-sheathed car house doors is the worry that stray currents may reach the doors if they somehow come into contact with the live trolley wire. As a result, it has been our rule to leave the doors open all day during trolley operations, which is an open invitation to birds to enter and nest. The resulting mess is unsightly and a potential health hazard. To minimize the electrical risk, Dick Holbert and Jim Johnson agreed on selected insulation materials and obtained the needed items. Jim Dierks, Bob Miner, Don Quant, and John Ross did the installation, adding special insulating material to the door edges and replacing the door latches’ steel cables with non-conductive nylon cord. Now, the track 1 doors can be operated safely whether or not the trolley wire is energized. Track 2 doors will be done soon.

NYMT platform: The wooden platform originally built by John Corzine for trolley rides in 2001 has been raised to car floor height by Don Quant, John Ross and Jim Dierks to permit boarding at the high-platform doorway of car 161 on the side facing the museum. When the bus door was used, at the other end of the car, passengers had to navigate a narrow area on the stone platform. The location of the raised platform, completely off the stone boarding area, eliminates the need to move the trolley after unloading passengers in order to make room for arriving track cars.

Pole 51 platform: With the completion of the overhead to pole 51, and rail bonding in progress, attention has turned to construction of a transfer facility at the end of the wire. Since pole 51 is the last pole at which the trolley wire is centered over the track, this is the location of the new transfer station. Already, the section of platform between the track and the ramp leading down to the ground on the east side of the track have been constructed. A platform on the west side, for access to 161’s bus door, as well as the facilities for the track cars, have yet to be built. Once these are completed, passengers will continue their rides to RGVRRM by transferring at this point to waiting track cars…until the remainder of the railroad is under wire.


Most of the additions to our collection over the past few months have been in the media category, which is good because room to inventory artifacts has become tight lately. As noted elsewhere in this issue, we haven’t kept up with proper storage of incoming donations in the past few years, but are now making progress on the backlog.

Several additions to our library arrived in the past months, including a monograph on Buffalo Central Terminal; the recently published “Conquering Gotham” about construction of Pennsylvania Station in New York City and the effort to tunnel under the North and East Rivers to reach it; “Canadian Pacific’s Transcanada Limited 1919-1930”; and the three-volume “Streetcars in New Jersey”, by Joseph F. Eid, Jr. and Barker Gummere.

A most interesting collection of 16mm films was donated in April, part of the estate of Earle Ainsworth Gardner, owner of the locally well-known hobby shop, “Gardner the Train Doctor” and co-creator of 3-rail GarGraves track. The films vary from old-time movies that happen to feature trains, to some nice color shots of local action in the late 1930s (such as a special train of early Union Pacific diesels and antique rolling stock passing through on its way to or from the 1939 New York World’s Fair). Mr. Gardner was especially fond of recreation in the 1,000 Islands, and in the late 1920s he shot black and white footage from tour boats there. The 45-minute reel shows period views of Clayton and Alexandria Bay, New York, with many speed boats of the era. The “Kingston” side-wheel steam cruise boat makes several wonderful appearances too. We are working with members of the antique boat museum in Clayton to make this reel available on DVD for sale in our respective gift shops.

A G-gauge RDC car was donated by the Genesee G-Gauge Railway Society for service in Doug Anderson’s planned around-the-room overhead line in the gift shop.

Maybe we’ll be able to build our own Pullman car someday, starting with some items that came from a gentleman in Hornell, NY. We received three wood fold-up tables of the type used for playing cards or enjoying a meal in one’s compartment; an ornate wall sconce with shade; a mirror; and a heavy, green, aisle curtain once used to provide privacy to occupants of a sleeping car “section” (upper and lower berths). Some of the items are labeled “Cohocton” and “Chenango”, which we surmise were heavyweight sleeping cars on the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western. The DL&W did have cars with those names, but they were built in the 1950s, much later than the ornate period of our items. Research continues.


The unique visitor experience of two transportation museums connected by a ride has been a reality since late summer 1992, with the driving of the final spikes on our joint rail line. During the ensuing 16 years, we’ve cooperated on public operations and shared the income as well as the volunteer effort and financial expense of maintaining and growing our operation. Now, with the long-held dream of operating trolleys all the way to the depot coming closer to reality, managements of the two entities have formally agreed on the future.

In a letter from the NYMT Board describing the goal of trolleys operating to the depot, we invited the trustees of the Rochester Chapter, NRHS, to reaffirm the shared objective. In a return letter from Dave Luca, President of the chapter, they have done just that.

Further, our two organizations have agreed to establish a “vision team” to provide a framework for decisions between us that affect our long-term plans, and to assure constancy and continuity as we progress toward our common goals over the years to come.


Some special “thank you” gifts were created as part of our recent fund drive for the extension of our electrified line, and thanks to members Rich Carling and James Root we have extras for sale in the gift shop. You won’t find these things in any other museum shop.

The “History of New York State Railways” is a compilation of a series of articles in the NYSR company magazine Transportation News intended to acquaint employees with the histories of the company’s component street railways and interurban lines.

Throughout most of the 1920s, Leon R. Brown, editor of the magazine, published over 50 articles in his series. Our own Charlie Lowe has drawn them all together and added some special features, including a never-before published final article that, according to Charlie, survives as “a flimsy carbon copy of Brown’s own typed draft manuscript, found in the archives at NYMT”.

There are perhaps only four complete sets of Transportation News in existence, so having the series of history articles all in one 152-page book is a rare opportunity for students of the company and fans of trolley operations. Produced on a copier at 150 dpi, the soft-cover book brings forth the information that could only be obtained by a contemporary with full access to company records. Copies are on sale in the museum gift shop for $24.95.

Also available is an art print showing Rochester & Eastern car 157 pausing at a rural way station to board a passenger. Prints are available in 8 ½” x 11” for $2, and 12” x 18” for $5. Come by soon…these and many other fine books and souvenirs are waiting for you in the NYMT gift shop.


A new addition to the museum’s library came as a gift from the author. Craig R. Semsel’s newly released Built to Move Millions examines the manufacture of streetcars and interurbans within the state of Ohio between 1900 and 1940. In addition to discussing the five major car builders, the book also covers producers of the many components and accessories that went into these cars. As the book points out, Ohio not only had several large-city streetcar systems, but also had the most interurban trackage of all the states.

The 293-page hard cover book is published by Indiana University Press (http://iupress.indiana.edu), and contains numerous photos, tables and footnotes to enhance the text. From car bodies and trucks to fare registers and marker lights, the contents will be of interest to students and fans of electric traction well beyond the Buckeye State.

NYMT is mentioned in the book and represented in several photos. Just as gratifying is Craig’s cover letter that accompanied the book, in which he offers the opinion that our trolley line scenery is “breathtaking”, suggesting it’s the finest he’s had the pleasure to experience. We hope he’ll come back soon to enjoy it with us.

No sooner had the overhead crew returned car 161 to the barn after a test run on an extension of the line than the heavens opened up. The main barn roof produced a waterfall, and the hail on the roof was deafening…

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