The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
THE LINE CAR ARRIVES
Almost all electric railways had at least one indispensable unit in its roster of rolling stock: a line car for maintaining its overhead wire. Now, NYMT joins that group with the arrival of line car 2.
When we hosted Winterfest 2009 in February, NYMT representatives were approached by Scott Becker, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, with a proposition: for seven steel roll sign boxes, a roll sign and a K-75 controller in our collection, would NYMT like a line car body? PTM's line car 2, former Philadelphia Transportation Co. snow sweeper C-125, was available, minus its motors and broad-gauge trucks. After due deliberation, the NYMT Board of Trustees decided to take up PTM on its offer. The section of railroad running down the hill block to the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum’s depot probably can not be built without using mostly rail equipment, and surely ongoing overhead maintenance would be easier with a line car instead of having to resort to a bucket truck.
Funds for transporting the car from Washington, PA to NYMT were spared greatly as Silk Road Transport could make the move as a minimal-cost backhaul at the end of a Cleveland-to-Washington run it was making for PTM. Silk Road has handled several moves for us in the past, and their Arkport, NY-based fleet of specially-designed tractor trailers are in heavy use transporting transit cars from far-flung cities to Hornell, NY for rebuilding. The agreed-on date for shipping was set as May 8, 2009.
Line car 2 has one more hurdle, our driveway grade crossing, before its arrival is official. Photo by Bill Shattuck
Although the truck was supposed to arrive around 1:00 in the afternoon, the driver was able to get an early start and drove up East River Road at 9:30 in the morning. This gave us a few extra hours to unload the line car, and it ended up making the difference in getting the job done that day. Using a great quantity of 6" by 6" blocking accumulated for the
purpose, and two 15-foot-long sections of 90-pound Subway rail, the car was carefully raised and blocked in a position which permitted the truck to drive out from under the car body.
(Top) Two stacks of blocking plus a length of Subway rail are ready to support one end of the car body. (Above) Our crew stands back as the Silk Road driver carefully lowers the car body onto blocking at the other end.
A combination of track jacks and the hydraulic lifts of the trailer made this possible, along with a lot of cooperation from the Silk Road driver, Greg Aguglia. A large group of museum volunteers rallied for this important work day, including Jim Dierks, Dick Holbert, Tony Mittiga, Bob Nesbitt, Bob Achilles, Carlos Mercado, Al Emens, Don Quant, John Ross, Paul Monte, Rand Warner, and Charlie Lowe.
Charlie Lowe strikes a pensive pose in the front window of line car 2, contemplating the job ahead to make it complete and operable.
And so, the line car body took its rightful place at the museum. However...the deal was not completed yet. The controller, roll sign and roll sign boxes offered in trade to PTM had to be delivered there, and, in addition, NYMT needed to transport two Brill 50E2 truck frames…the correct trucks for the line car. Bob Achilles and Carlos Mercado agreed to take on the truck driving duties, traveling to PTM on June 8 and returning to NYMT the next day with the two truck frames wedged into the cargo area of a rental truck.
Arriving at NYMT at about 4:30 in the afternoon, the assembled crew was flabbergasted at the job ahead. PTM had been able to load the heavy truck frames with a long-reach fork lift, delicately fitting them into the cargo area of the rental truck with only about an inch to spare on either side. But we had to extricate them without benefit of such equipment, and without damaging the cargo area.
Charlie Lowe provides guidance as Rand on the bucket loader eases the first truck frame out of the rental truck.
Photo by Carlos Mercado
Fortunately, the Chapter loader was at NYMT, as it was playing a critical role in a track project going on at the same time. It was also a Tuesday, traditional work day at the Chapter, so we set off to find an operator there. Again it was Rand to the rescue. We enlisted his aid as the loader operator and, by chaining the truck frames to the loader’s bucket, were able to cantilever the truck frames off the end of the bucket, something like a 1930s cigarette girl’s tray. Rand eased the frames out of the cargo area and set them on the ground in one smooth move. We even were able to get the rental truck back to its yard on time, avoiding any late or damage fees in the process.
The two truck frames rest comfortably after their arduous trip and await the rebuilding process.Photo by Carlos Mercado
The line car now sits in front of the museum with its intended truck frames next to it. Plans call for lowering the body this summer and, if possible, placing it on shop trucks. Rebuilding the Brill truck frames will take some doing, but many of the needed parts are potentially available. Before long, line car 2 may very well become a familiar sight as it patrols the overhead for trouble spots.
What are the odds of this photo? The unknown photographer has captured, on September 6, 1959, both C-125 and, at left, C-130 in the same shot. This photo was made at Philadelphia’s Luzerne Depot. How incredible is it, then, that these two cars would be reunited 50 years later at NYMT. Sweeper C-130 has been inside the NYMT display barn since 1975 while line car 2, formerly sweeper C-125, arrived on the property in May.
Original negative owned by Charles R. Lowe
We’re doing all we can to keep our museum in the public eye and we’re seeing the results at the ticket desk. So far this summer ride season, attendance has been strong. Headcount for the first half of 2009 is up almost 9% over the same period last year. Sunday attendance has been a particularly good contributor, up almost 16%, due to the growing interest in trolley rides and the slow-down in group tours (due most likely to school and organization budget cut-backs).
We redesigned our ad in the Democrat & Chronicle’s Community Connection that appears each Saturday as well as in the Our Town section with a $1-off discount when the visitor brings the ad in. The discount applies to every person in the party. We have a small stack of these ads that have been clipped and brought in, and we’re sure the resulting attendance more than makes up for the discount. Advertising is expensive, and even with the low price of Community Connection, shared with the Chapter, we watch carefully to be sure we’re getting our money’s worth. The D&C is very helpful in doing the layout of our ad per our design sketch. Chris Hauf’s nice shot of families boarding the trolley conveys all that the reader needs to know. As with all advertising, it isn’t just the folks who see the ad and decide to visit the following Sunday; a continuing presence is important to keep reminding potential visitors until they finally decide to come. The ad will run through the first week in September.
Jesse Marks created a sharp looking poster for our first event of the season, "Despatch Shops Revisited", and Rich Carling printed up a batch. Harold Russell walked the length of downtown East Rochester to convince shop owners to put the posters up where village residents will see them. We were comfortably busy that day, and although only one visitor took advantage of the admission discount for East Rochester residents, we’re sure the posters had an effect.
A release was sent out for our "Trolley Time" event, and we were mentioned in City Newspaper, as well as in the area papers that are so helpful to us, such as Golden Times. A reporter for the Democrat & Chronicle interviewed Jim Dierks and posted a nice article at the D&C's RocEarth website.
The Rush-Henrietta Post sent a reporter to talk with us on Friday of the two-day French Road School group tour, and we got a front-page photo of the day’s trolley crew plus an article. This material was shared with some of the other Messenger-Post papers, too, so the word is out.
Many of our visitors tell us they found us on the internet. Otto Vondrak has come up with some great suggested redesigns for our own website to spiff it up and make it easy to navigate. We’ll be working with Otto over the next months to refine his ideas and add interesting new things to our site.
Former teacher Kevin Griffith is right at home dazzling the kids with the history of Northern Texas Traction car 409.
As we mentioned in our Spring issue, Jim Dierks, Kevin Griffith and Harold Russell have worked hard to promote group tours this year. In the past we’ve been satisfied with word-of-mouth to attract group visits, but as budgets get squeezed we find group attendance dropping, so we feel it’s time to be proactive. Jim developed letters describing group tour arrangements for senior centers and homes; for day care facilities; and for Scout leaders. Several visits have resulted from this mass mailing, and we hope to see more of this in the months to come. With Kevin’s help, we sent a mailing to all the area schools, but we may have missed the field trip deadline as no tours resulted before school ended for the summer. We'll be following up on that earlier next spring.
We are always delighted to host the French Road School 5th grade classes over two days each spring. Coordinated by museum member Mary Dubois, this annual event relies on a customized plan, with volunteers, teachers and parents all working to such a precise schedule it would do the Pennsylvania Railroad proud! It takes about 18 volunteers to manage the event-tour guides, model railroad, gift shop, track cars, trolley, shuttle bus rider, and depot-and they can all take a bow for a great job.
A part of any visit for groups is a stop at the gift shop. Here, Bobbie Corzine and Bob Moore sell to the French Road kids.
Local folk singer Allen Hopkins is a regular with the French Road group, providing an interlude among the various tours.
Summer is our busy time serving visitors, but it also is the time when we work on maintenance to our facility, railroad and vehicles. Mowing is one obvious need, with the fields and front lawn areas needing weekly attention this time of year. And, there's "maintenance of the maintenance", when you consider that some of our pretty ancient equipment ought to be in a museum of its own. Thanks to Bob Miner and Ted Strang for keeping our Ford field mower and our John Deere riding mower moving forward, and to the guys who ride these vehicles in mowing duty: Paul Monte, Bob Miner, Al Emens, Steve Huse, Roger Harnaart, Dave Peet, Bob Moore, and Jim Dierks.
Sometimes maintenance is stop-gap...or maybe we should say "stop-drip". Don Quant and John Ross, our Thursday team, have put up sections of household gutter to divert rain water that is starting to find its way through the 50-year-old roof above our fire truck and other vehicles. Speaking of gutters, we hope to get some re-installed over the entrance door and the door leading to the trolley platform soon.
And, speaking of our Thursday team, here they are hard at work rebuilding TC-1’s trailer car. Since the track car equipment stays outdoors 24/7, the weather is taking its toll. We discovered several rotted planks on the trailer and the car is now back in shape for our riders.
Don Quant drills some mounting holes for the carriage bolts to secure the footboard on TC-1's trailer as John Ross looks on.
Charlie Lowe takes responsibility for keeping the foliage along the railroad right of way down to a dull roar. He wants particularly to be sure that we don’t over-manicure the ROW, as that wouldn’t properly represent the lineside conditions on a true interurban railroad. This work is accomplished thanks to the endurance of Charlie's 1940s-era International Farmall A tractor with its Mott flail mower (as well as to Charlie's continuing maintenance of the rig).
A thing of beauty...probably wouldn't mow very well. Here's Charlie examining the new knives he just installed.
By now you're probably wondering what about the trolleys and the railroad. For the latter, see a whole separate article in this issue (it merits a whole separate article because it costs so much). For trolley maintenance, a team has been assembled to pull together what we can learn from other museums plus what we are already doing to come up with a rational, complete maintenance program for our two operating trolleys, P&W cars 161 and 168. A significant part of our goal in this effort is to "get it written down" for the benefit of those who will come after us. Believe it or not, it's been 13 years since the cars arrived at the museum. Much maintenance work has been done in the intervening time, but there’s more that must be done. The team consists of Charlie Robinson, Bob Miner, Jim Johnson, Dick Holbert, Charlie Lowe and Jim Dierks.
GALLERY EXHIBIT'S A "DRAW"
Model railroad enthusiasts the world over have long been the beneficiaries of the talent and dedication of a man whose works have graced the pages of Model Railroader magazine and many similar publications. And, that man not only lives here in the Rochester area but is a steady volunteer at NYMT. Harold Russell’s name is familiar to modelers as the draftsman who describes in scale drawings the many cars, locomotives and structures incident to railroading. These thoroughly researched works provide scratch builders with the details and dimensions they need to complete their equipment roster and add authentic detail to their model pike.
Harold's prolific work spans almost 50 years, but it’s a tough job to get him to talk about it as he wants to avoid the limelight and any suggestion of exaltation. But we have our ways, and the happy result is a gallery exhibit that will be up soon, presenting many of Harold’s works along with interesting tidbits about the effort behind them.
Harold turned to writing articles and publishing engineering drawings as part of the National Model Railroad Association’s Master Model Railroader achievement program. Since his first submission was published in the early 1960s, he has written or drawn close to 700 works. The income from the published works was always welcome, but the fun of creating something that helped others (and sometimes seeing the models that others built from his drawings) has always had important value to Harold as well.
Some time back we found Harold demonstrating a link-and-pin coupler for his grandson, John Harris. The Pennsy hopper car they are standing next to was one of Harold's many projects.
While his modeling skills, fine draftsmanship, and writing talent are important to his success over the years, a key part of Harold’s process is capturing the information in the first place. Finding candidates involves exploring back roads, tracking old railroad rights of way, and following up on suggestions of friends and fellow model railroaders.
Harold's subjects have been as close to home
as the depot and collection at our neighboring Rochester &
Genesee Valley Railroad Museum, but he’s found others throughout
the northeast, the south, the Midwest and beyond. The subjects
range from small signs and signals to the huge Pennsylvania Railroad
coal trestle at Sodus Point. They always involve field measurements
of the prototype to assure accuracy, a process that comes with tales
of tribulations and enjoyment.
Harold has encountered all kinds of obstacles to getting the photos and measurements he relies on for his drawings. Some are physical, like poison ivy and decaying, abandoned bridge planks, and others include rare run-ins with unfriendly dogs, snakes, 4-legged wild animals, spiders, bees, and the even rarer uncooperative human. The right approach almost always wins over the reluctant railroad worker or dubious librarian, according to Harold, and watching him schmooze the visitors at our ticket desk or when he's a track car operator, we can imagine he's pretty good at gaining access after an initial denial.
There’s also the weather to contend with. He can’t always pick a fair, 72-degree day in springtime for his field research, and sometimes has to tack it on to another activity. While vacationing near Kingston, RI, Harold scouted up a classic interlocking tower from the New Haven, but by the time he got around to doing his measuring, it was pouring. We can’t imagine working with a water-logged camera and the saturated sheets on his clip board, but the job got done.
Back at home, armed with pages of sketches and dimensions and wads of photographs, the task of creating the detailed drawings begins. We note that until the early 1990s, these drawings were done in ink, using drafting tools like some of us remember struggling with in high school drafting classes. Since then, computer programs have taken over, speeding the process, especially where a line of rivets or a succession of similar features needs to be repeated many times. In ink, that adds up to a lot of repetitive work, but with the computer a click of the mouse takes care of it. For those of us who find a well-executed engineering drawing a work of art, gazing at Harold's work, either done in ink or by computer, is a treat.
The name of Harold Russell is known throughout the world from his many drawings published in modeling and railroad magazines. We’re pleased to be the beneficiaries of his friendly manner and engineering thoroughness as he holds forth in the gift shop and manages the training and scheduling of our track car operators. We know museum visitors will enjoy getting to know more about Harold and his drawings in the gallery exhibit Paul Monte is preparing, due to open later this summer.
ROCHESTER'S PAGEANT MAN
With Rochester's 175th birthday now hard upon us, we are reminded of the City's centennial celebration, a signature feature of which was the "Century on Parade" pageant, a novel show created by a Rochester man known far and wide for his books on railroads, Edward Hungerford.
Hungerford was born on December 21, 1875 in Dexter, NY, near Watertown. He attended Syracuse University for two years, but then set out to pursue a career in journalism. He first came to our city at age 20 for a job as a reporter on the Rochester Herald. Two years later he moved on to New York City for a short stint at the New York Sun. The urge to combine his love for railroads with his talent for writing soon
took him to the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, where he was appointed press representative, and after leaving that post in 1912, he took up a number of career positions, including director of publications of the University of Rochester and assistant vice president of the New York Central Railroad.
All during this time, though, Hungerford was turning out an abundance of books on railroads. "The modern Railroad" was published in 1911 and eventually went into 17 editions. Among his more well-known works were 1938's "Men and Iron" (the history of the New York Central), and "Men of Erie" which came out in 1946. Hungerford was clearly a fan of railroading. He collected model trains, and reportedly averaged 50,000 miles a year traveling around the U.S. and to Europe, always collecting data and information for his extensive research.(continued)
In 1927, the Baltimore & Ohio chose Hungerford to direct events in celebration of the line's centennial. In addition to writing the two-volume "The Story of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad", he created a pageant, "The Fair of the Iron Horse", to present the road's history using actual historic vehicles and many replicas. He prepared a grandstand alongside a railroad track that had access to several yard tracks at each end. This enormous "stage", with assorted equipment waiting "in the wings", was used to tell the story of the development of transportation in the U.S. and the B&O’s role in that story. For readers who never had the good fortune to see one of Hungerford's later iterations of this idea, here's how it worked: With an announcer reading a script over the public address system, the tableau would begin as a Native American family trudged from one side of the huge stage to the other, their horse dragging a plains indian travois. This introduction was followed in succession by early explorers, then settlers, and then stage coaches, each representing the growth of our country and corresponding development in transportation.
Then, the rails started to hum. First, a horse-drawn box with tiny windows rolled across the stage. Not a wagon, this was an early railroad car. This was then succeeded by the revolutionary arrival of the steam locomotive…the first form of land transportation that didn’t involve one’s own feet or those of an animal. Puffing across the stage came one of the early steam trains we are all familiar with—ladies in petticoats and gentlemen in frock coats and top hats riding on double-deck coaches, showered with soot and sparks. With the B&O's vast collection of antique equipment, supplemented by numerous replicas built at the company shops specifically for the event, the pageant continued.
The Tom Thumb, the Thatcher Perkins, the Camden & Amboy John Bull, even a replica of Stephenson's Rocket...a parade of early locomotive designs brought rail history to life. Eventually, bringing the enchanted audience up to date, huge modern steam locomotives advanced onto the stage, enveloped in steam, loud whistles blowing. What a sight!
Built in England by Stephenson in 1851, the John Bull derailed often on early American track until front pilot wheels were added-the first known use of such a feature.
Hungerford had made a new name for himself as a showman with this successful pageant, and he was immediately tapped to put on a similar show in Chicago at the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition. His "Wings of a Century" was one of the highlights of the exposition.
The planners for Rochester's 1934 centennial celebration, aware of the role transportation played in the City's development from the Erie Canal to modern railroads, asked Hungerford to put on a pageant to tell the story. His "Pathways of Progress" took place at Edgerton Park as part of the city's "A Century on Parade" exhibition, August 11 to September 9, and featured an array of vehicles, including a clever canal "boat" on hidden wheels passing in review for the appreciative audience.
The cover illustration on the souvenir program for "Pathways of Progress" highlights transportation in Rochester's history.
The Hungerford railroad pageant format reached its zenith at the Chicago Railroad Fair of 1948 and 1949. There, "Wheels A'Rollin'" was a big hit. The grandstand looked out on a large stage with Lake Michigan as backdrop, and a mile of track and 18 locomotives were required for the extravaganza. Scripted by Hungerford, and including an orchestra and chorus to enhance the experience, the usual assortment of pre-railroad vehicles paraded by, followed by the familiar antique trains. A recreation of the golden spike meeting of the locomotives at Promontory Point was performed, and the parade of trains proceeded toward modern times. And, as the years progressed, accompanied by faster train speeds, the pageant kept pace, with full-length trains thundering across the stage at speed! Hungerford’s show lasted throughout both summers, and the spectacle thrilled thousands.
From 1941 to 1944, a recently widowed Hungerford returned to the Rochester area to live in retirement in Pittsford, but he then moved back to New York City to continue writing. He died there on July 29, 1948. As noted in the New York Herald-Tribune, the Chicago Railroad Fair gave the regular four performances of his pageant that day "to audiences to whom the railroad is one of the wonderful experiences of life".
We can imagine Edward Hungerford would agree with that sentiment.
A SWITCH IN TIME...
An important part of the visitor experience we offer is an authentic interurban trolley ride, and fundamental to a safe and reliable trolley operation is a sound railroad. Over the past several years we have spent almost the equivalent of our annual income purchasing and installing new crossties and rail hardware as part of a concerted effort to upgrade our line and keep it in good condition. Remember that the salvaged Subway ties we installed on the northern half of our shared railroad were not only put in over 30 years ago, but were old even then, so we have our work cut out for us.
There are precious few of us physically up to the task of replacing ties, and even the effort in dragging out all the heavy equipment can be exhausting. Furthermore, these few guys have been wisely devoting their volunteer hours to extending and maintaining the electrified portion of our line. So, for the third year in a row, we recently engaged Nicholas Giambatista, a railroad contractor in Syracuse, to attack priority areas.
The Giambatista crew start pulling ties on our barn lead switch as Dick Holbert (left) and Tony Mittiga remove a gauge rod.
First on the hit list was the barn lead switch, built on a curve and suffering from over a dozen and a half rotting switch timbers. Switches are critical elements in a railroad, and due to their size and shape they involve a large number of extra-long ties, called timbers. Nick’s yard is well-stocked with all the materials needed to maintain and repair the track on local railroads and industrial sidings. He selected the timbers we’d need from his inventory, based on a personal inspection of the line, and on June 9 he and his crew arrived to start pulling out the bad timbers and replacing them with good ones.
The rail is jacked up to relieve the load as Ira Dancil (left) gets a grip on a timber and drags it out. That's Nick on the right.
As can be imagined, this is both difficult and exacting work. Nick’s son, Mike, and the younger guys in the crew did the heavy work, and Nick’s practiced eye provided the guidance to get everything back together in gauge and on a smooth curve. We can tell you that Nick, at 86 years of age, puts his share of manual labor in on jobs like ours. His main man on alignment, Roosevelt Freeman, also an octogenarian, was in there pitching too. We marveled at the unerring accuracy with which Rosie stabbed the stone ballast, just skimming along the side of a timber so that the stone could be loosened and the timber freed for extraction.
(Top) That's Roosevelt in the foreground making sure the newly-tied rails are properly aligned. (Above) Mike Giambatista gets a spike started as Jeff Johnson supports the tie and Ira waits to finish the job with the pneumatic hammer.
The barn lead switch was a major part of the 3-day effort, and when it was done, we had a stronger foundation for the switch, a smoother curve, easier action of the mechanism, and a relocated switch stand to provide more clearance with the side of a passing trolley. Nick even straightened a "bulge" in the track just downhill from the switch in the process. But he wasn't done yet. 25 ties had been identified by our track supervisor, Dick Holbert, as necessary to replace at priority locations. That work, plus raising part of the loop switch and leveling a part of the track just south of the loop switch, made for a full three days for the Giambatista crew. We'll see you again soon, Nick!
|Rochester and Syracuse RR 112|
|photo by Smith,Lindsley & Arnold, Syracuse, NY|
by Charles R. Lowe
Chair cars of the Rochester and Syracuse Railroad undoubtedly offered Rochesterians their most deluxe regular-service interurban rides. In the 1920s, the R&S sought ways to retain its passengers in the face of threats from improved automobiles, buses and highways. Some modest track improvements were made. In 1922, the company bypassed several busy streets in the village of Lyons by constructing new track in the bed of the abandoned Erie Canal to avoid busy streets. The creation of the Chair Cars was another effort made by the company to retain its ridership.
In 1925, company officials began designing alterations to be made to regular R&S cars to transform them into Chair Cars. Car 112 (Niles, 1906) was selected as the first to be rebuilt. The walkover seats were removed and replaced with individual double-cushioned bucket seats. In the main compartment at the rear of the car, seats were arranged in 2-1 style, with the aisle offset slightly from the center of the car, a system required since two bucket seats were slightly wider than one walkover seat. Eight rows for a total of 24 seats, plus one seat each in the front corners of the compartment, gave non-smoking riders 26 bucket seats from which to choose. These seats were upholstered in a maroon striped plush. Forward of this was the smoking compartment. Three rows of four gray-colored leather upholstered bucket seats, plus two more in the rear corners of the compartment, provided 14 more seats. Five bench seats in other areas of the car gave a total of 45 seats. The fact that this was slightly less than the original 58 seats was offset by the deluxe character of the seating.
Other alterations were undertaken. Widened side windows were created by the removal of the post under each arch, giving riders an unparalleled view of the passing Upstate New York scenery. Rubber flooring deadened the noise of the motors and the roadbed. The interior of the car was entirely repainted in light colors. Modern light fixtures provided a soft, restive lighting instead of the glare of the car's original lighting.
Chair Cars were distinguished by being named and repainted. Car 112, for example, was named Newark after the home of the company's shop and offices. Rich orange paint, with black lettering and numbering, and red sash trim, created a classic interurban look for the Chair Cars. Six other cars were also rebuilt into Chair Cars: 110 ( Lyons ); 111 ( Palmyra ); 122 ( Rochester ); 123 ( Syracuse ); 126 ( Clyde ); and 129 ( Weedsport ). Cars 110 and 111 were 1906 Niles products while the others were built in 1910 by Kuhlman.
Since the bucket seats were fixed in a forward-facing position, the Chair Cars had to be turned at the ends of runs. In Rochester and Syracuse, Chair Cars were looped on city streetcar tracks. After the R&S started using the Rochester Subway in 1928, Chair Cars were turned on the Oak Street loop. A new wye was built at the Newark shops in 1927; turning could also occur at the Lakeland shops and at the West Belden Avenue freight house in Syracuse.
Starting in February 1927 when car 112 was brought into service, the Chair Cars were used in limited service between Rochester and Syracuse. No extra fare was required; as on regular cars, the fare between termini was $2.50 one way, $4.00 round trip. On weekends, the round trip fare dropped to just $3.40. A brochure promoting the new service carried a Chair Car Schedule dated April 17, 1927. Seven Chair Car runs each way, essentially at two hour intervals between 7:00 a.m. and 7:15 p.m., left each terminal city and were intermixed into the normal hourly schedule. The Chair Cars stopped for passengers only at the larger villages, leaving those wishing to use wayside shelter stops to ride on the local cars.
The deluxe serviced offered by the Chair Cars was doomed to be short lived. The onset of the Great Depression in 1929 and the steady rise in the use of private automobiles combined to force the R&S to give up all service, including that of its Chair Cars, on June 27, 1931. Our photo, though, gives us a last look at a happier era. Seen here on the loop at Lakeland shops near Syracuse just after being rebuilt in 1927, car 112 gives us a fine display of the grace and beauty of an interurban car ready to hurry passengers on their trips.
The sparkling interiors of the Chair Cars met company expectations of embodying “the beauty and easy riding qualities contained in the private automobile, steam road chair car and the deluxe bus. The left view shows the offset aisle of the main compartment, while the right view shows the leather upholstery required in the smoking compartment.
readers will be especially pleased to know that Central Electric
Railfans' Association will soon publish James R. McFarlane's
TRAV E LECTRIC, The Story of the Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Railroad and Associated Lines. As CERA Bulletin No. 142, TRAVE LECTRIC is expected to be published late in 2009 and will cover all the Beebe Syndicate interurbans of Central and Western New York State.
SHOP REPORT by Charles Lowe
Electrification: Four poles and three ground anchors were set along the east leg of the loop track on May 2. Unfortunately, a hydraulic hose on the auger truck burst at the end of the day. Repairs were made over the next month.
Philadelphia and Western 161 and 168: A car maintenance committee has been formed (see MAINTENANCE CONTINUES, pp. 3 and 4). Charlie Robinson has re-oiled all the motor bearings while Bob Miner has been topping off the journal boxes.
Philadelphia Transportation Co. C-125/Line Car 2: We have a new line car (see THE LINE CAR ARRIVES , pp. 1 and 2).
Philadelphia Transportation Co. C-147: This car was the Chapter’s sweeper, once intended to become a line car. It has been scrapped, but not before a great store of parts was obtained by NYMT. Included in the haul was a large supply of tongue-and-groove boards, many fittings, several air cylinders and two GE80 40-horsepower motors. These motors were once used to power the brooms on C-147. Many of the parts obtained will be used to support NYMT’s sweeper C-130.
Track: Gauge rods were installed at the main barn lead switch as a temporary measure, and parts were staged there in preparation for work by NYMT's track contractor Nick Giambatista (see A SWITCH IN TIME , p. 7). Attention soon turned toward rebuilding the loop switch with a fixed frog and spring points instead of its present spring frog and unsprung points. This will permit turning movements around the loop without reversing car ends at NYMT. Recently, Tony Mittiga, Bob Miner and Luther Brefo, with great difficulty, cleaned and made moveable an ex-Subway Racor 20B spring points machine in storage at NYMT. It had been stored outside for many years and was frozen in position by heavy rusting. Tony, Dick Holbert and Jim Dierks spent a Saturday morning repairing problems at the loop switch frog, installing 4 gauge rods to maintain gauge at this troublesome point. A special slow order is in effect here for track cars and trolleys until the new frog can be installed.
Track cars: The trailer car for TC-1 is undergoing selective replacement of rotted running boards (see page 4). Bob Miner installed a battery shut-off switch on RGVRRM’s TC-3 motor car to avoid battery drain due to a faulty ignition switch.
We could probably headline this turn in the spotlight “Longtime Trolley Enthusiast Finally Gets Hands on Controller”, but then that would probably apply to many of us. Just the same, we’re glad to introduce you to Carlos Mercado and tell you about his interest in traction history and how he pursues that interest today.
While Carlos can claim a transportation connection in his family through his great grandfather, who was in charge of the Naval shipyards in Philadelphia during World War II, the trolleys on the Chelton-Midvale 52 line were what first caught the eye of Carlos as a boy growing up in the Germantown section of the City of Brotherly Love. He lived just a block from the line and enjoyed watching the 1923 Brill double-enders roll by all day. Carlos remembers that at the Ridge Avenue end of the line, there was a unique arrangement where the tracks were built to pull over to the curb. As we all know, pulling to the curb was one thing buses (and trackless trolleys) could offer.
Carlos says he had no idea others had the same love for trolleys that he did, until as a grown man living in Rochester he was in McCurdy's department store book section and discovered Shelden King's "The New York State Railways"!
Carlos’ dad’s career took him from Philadelphia to Auburn, NY, and then on to Mexico City, Toledo, and to Bendix in South Bend, Indiana. Carlos was by that time attending Colgate University, and he spent a couple of summers working at Joy Manufacturing in Michigan City, Indiana. Hmmm...don't we recall an interurban line operating between South Bend, Michigan City and Chicago...? How convenient.
Cubs games, movies and shopping at Marshal Field’s were handy reasons to take a ride on the South Shore’s big, fast orange-and-maroon cars, and Carlos did that every chance he could. He notes that our former-P&W Strafford cars remind him a lot of the equipment on the CSS&SB, although the latter were equipped with pantographs instead of trolley poles. Seems his most vivid memory of the South Shore, though, is the day he was riding down 11th Street in Michigan City, where the South Shore famously ran their huge cars right down the street (and still do!). His Honda 350 motorcycle got caught in the slippery street rail and over Carlos and the bike went. He says he still gets a twinge in his knee from time to time, and we haven't seen him on a motorcycle.
Recalling his early childhood in Philadelphia, Carlos says he referred to the modern PCC streetcars as "bus trolleys" for their resemblance to city buses, while the older equipment got the proper nomenclature, "trolley cars", applied. Trackless trolleys were "trolley buses", of course. There were trolleys all over Philadelphia then, and they were used frequently. Carlos happily went to school each day that way. On the double-enders, he’d sit on the motorman’s seat at the rear of the car, partly as a fantasy, but also because he wasn’t strong enough to flip the walkover seats. He feels blessed to have ridden and enjoyed trolleys in popular service and thinks that kids today in Rochester are "culturally deprived" by not growing up with this great public transit technology. As a result, he feels NYMT plays an important educational role with our trolley operation.
A career in finance and marketing had Carlos running the international department at Lincoln Rochester Bank for several years. He’s also been VP of finance for DiCarolis Truck Rental and he ran the Greece Chamber of Commerce. He’s now retired, but does some consulting. Retirement hasn’t slowed him down, however, as he is active in Rochester Rail Transit Committee, a public advocacy group, and is the organization's treasurer. Most of his efforts with RRTC are "behind the scenes", speaking with politicians and educating them on the issues, as well as public speaking engagements.
Carlos has a son, Phil, who works at WHAM Clear Channel, and a daughter, Lindsay, who, Carlos proudly reports, rides the "T" transit system daily to and from her job with an educational tour company in Boston. Carlos and his wife, Trina, live in a century-old house on Vick Park A in the city.
Carlos' involvement with NYMT goes back some years. Back in the 1970s, he bid on a Rochester Transit Corporation motorman's cap that had the stipulation that he had to then donate it to the New York Museum of Transportation. Pretty neat trick...we ought to try that again! He got to know Jim Dierks through RRTC (Jim was one of the founders), and when the time was right, Carlos took the plunge...and the training...and became a motorman/conductor with us.
Carlos says he feels very fortunate to live in a community with a resource like NYMT. Besides enlightening the general public, we give Carlos the chance to have one foot in the future, promoting light rail for Rochester, and the other foot in the past, reliving his childhood dream of operating a trolley car. And the good news: at 63 years old he's strong enough now to flip the walkover seats!
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and photographer - Jim Dierks