The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
DINOSAURS INVADE MUSEUM
A lot of the trolley cars and other vehicles in our collection could be considered “dinosaurs”, so when the good folks at WXXI-TV called with an offer, we couldn’t refuse. We’ll be hosting them on ride season opening day, Sunday, May 15, in celebration of the popular PBS Kids TV show Dinosaur Train.
Buddy the Dinosaur and his pals are on the train and about to enter the Time Tunnel to learn more about dinosaurs.
Throughout the day kids will enjoy Dinosaur Train crafts, having their picture taken in front of a 6-foot tall free-standing Dinosaur Train standee, watching an all-NEW episode of Dinosaur Train in the museum gallery, and collecting Dinosaur Train giveaways.
Jim Henson Company has figured out that the two things that most
capture the imagination of young people are trains and dinosaurs, so
it looks like they (and we) have a winner here. If there’s a
child in your family or neighborhood, be sure to join us for this
special event! That’s Sunday, May 15, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m….our
ride season opening day.
THE HISTORY LIVES ON
There’s much more to fulfilling our mission of preserving and presenting area transportation history than our popular trolley and track car operations at the museum. A recent request for historical assistance is a case in point.
Stantec, Inc. is a full-service engineering consulting company with 160 offices around the U.S. and Canada, and employing over 10,000 engineers, architects, environmental specialists, and many other technical experts. Several years ago their Rochester office had grown to fill two separate locations, and they wanted to consolidate and provide room for further expansion. With the City’s help, they settled on the idea of repurposing a former Rochester Railway Company structure that had previously been the home of Jillian’s entertainment complex at 61 Commercial Street in the High Falls area.
“The old trolley barn” as it’s often erroneously referred to was originally built as a power house to supply electricity for the city’s streetcar system. It’s not clear if the adjacent Brown’s Mill Race whose water power originally drove the flour mills in the area figured in the generation of electricity. The building did house boilers and “dynamos” for some time, and once trolleys began operating on purchased commercial power the equipment was removed and the building became a storage facility for line trucks, materials and maintenance equipment. Around 1915 to 1920 a new roof was constructed on the building at 61 Commercial St., probably as part of the conversion to maintenance storage. Despite the streetcar track visible in the lower left of the photo, the bricked-in arch over the entry door confirms trolleys were no longer involved here.
In 2009, Stantec architect Dan Edgell asked us for any information we could provide to help them make a case with local historical preservation authorities for the work they planned. We were able to share a copy of an original linen drawing in our archives showing the building after being emptied for storage use, as well as another view showing the layout of the electrical generating equipment that once occupied the building. We also directed Dan to several photos in our archive available on our website. These photos were helpful in understanding the construction of the building, but also provided material for a lobby display.
Once Stantec’s plans were approved, work commenced, and the building is now complete and occupied. A recent visit hosted by Stantec Administrative Assistant Vickie Menz revealed a spacious, contemporary office surrounded by the character and patina that would be expected from a structure that’s 130 years old.
The Commercial Street facility today adds to the historical charm of the High Falls area. Note the arched doorway that originally provided overhead wire clearance when the building had trolley access for equipment and maintenance purposes.
materials were retained as much as possible, and reused as well.
For example, new, energy-conserving windows seen in the photo above
were installed, but the old ones were saved and used as partitions
and light emitters for upstairs offices. The industrial atmosphere
is appropriate to the many lines of business Stantec is involved in,
including their 2008 addition of Rochester Signal, Inc. specializing
in railway signaling systems.
Our archive photos have a prominent role in the visitor entrance lobby in a display highlighting the history of the Commercial Street building and the forward thrust of Stantec’s work.
Vickie Menz shows off our photos.
pleased to have played a part in helping the company breathe new
life into a Rochester transportation landmark, and we wish them
ALL ABOARD IN THE GIFT SHOP
Gift Shop Manager Doug Anderson’s tireless work has finally brought the overhead G-gauge train project to operating status. We reported some time ago that the train once ran overhead at a Tops super market, and when the store closed, Doug was able to get the train, track and supports donated. It took a lot of design consideration and manual labor to get the system suspended from the ceiling in our gift shop, but it’s now up (literally) and running for the enjoyment of our visitors.
At present, the train is turned on by gift shop personnel to run “on request”. From our experience, those requests will be made loud and clear by the younger patrons of the shop.
Doug does a lot for NYMT through his gift shop work, which incidentally brings in several thousand dollars of profit each year that gets devoted to track and other improvements. His completion of the overhead G-gauge train is a great milestone. Thanks, Doug!
A New York Central SW9 switcher and freight cars now roll overhead around the periphery of the gift shop.
CAN YOU HELP US?
Speaking of the gift shop, we are getting desperate to find enough volunteers to staff the ticket desk and sell in the gift shop. It’s really fun interacting with our visitors, and sharing the joy the kids (and oldsters) feel as they discover our trolleys and trains. It’s easy work. If you can give us a Sunday of your time each month, we’d happily give you the training you need. Please…give us a call: (585) 533-1113. Thanks!
The “train bug” bites softly and early for most of us, and such is the case with our Spotlight victim this time. Chris Playford tells us his dad, Charlie, took him when he was about three years old on a walk from their home on Eaglehead Road in East Rochester to the South Lincoln Road crossing of the New York Central mainline. The effect was lasting, although Chris can’t really remember any details of what he saw there. It seems that more happened at that crossing too. Read on.
Chris was born in Rochester in 1954 and lived in that house on Eaglehead Road for his first few years. Before the family moved to Pittsford, however, Chris was able to capture a few memories at that crossing. Back in those days, some grade crossings were still “manned” by a railroad employee who manually lowered crossing gates or just walked out into the road with a “stop” sign whenever a train was coming. Our Bill Chapin tells us the South Lincoln Road facility actually had pneumatically operated gates and was a busy place with the switcher at the car shop constantly working there.
For the operator’s protection from the elements, there was usually a small structure such as the 6-sided shed at NYMT’s Forest Road crossing. These little buildings were all set up with a chair, potbelly stove, and windows to see both ways down the tracks.
The crossing shanty at South Lincoln Road was in the charge of “Tubby” according to Chris, and he recalls one evening being taken by his mother, Rachel, to Tubby’s domain to have supper! Chris remembers the building as larger than ours, although we all know how big things appeared when we were small. His one complaint was he was too short to see out the windows at the passing trains. That must have been one memorable feast with 1950s New York Central freights and passenger trains roaring by a few feet away from the dinner table! And, no, Chris has “no clue” what the meal consisted of.
Chris now wishes he had asked his father about more of his experiences growing up in Rochester. His dad lived on what is now Crossman Terrace in the neighborhood close to where the Rochester Subway (nee Erie Canal) passed by. Memories from those eras and the transition from Canal to Subway to Interstate 490 would have been good to capture, he says.
Chris does recall his dad’s remembrances from his days as a newspaper delivery boy. Seems he would ride the Monroe Avenue streetcar to the Gannett building downtown to pick up his papers, then ride back to his neighborhood to make the deliveries. He had a deal with the motorman to leave some of the papers on the trolley as it continued out to the turning loop at Cobbs Hill, allowing him to make the first part of his deliveries without toting around the whole batch. He’d then meet the car on its return trip toward downtown, take off the rest of the papers and finish his route. In exchange, the motorman got to keep a paper. As Chris says, from his own childhood as a paper delivery boy, those Sunday papers were heavy, so especially on that day it must have been a big help to his dad not to have to lug the whole lot around. In another “gone but not forgotten” detail, finishing the paper route meant stopping at the Angelus Bake Shop on Field Street to pick up some freshly made donuts!
Like a lot of us, Chris kept his eyes open as a youngster, on the lookout for anything related to rail transportation. Riding the bus to school, he’d watch for any trains passing by the trailer park near Lincoln Avenue (and hoping the bus wouldn’t get hit by a car at that blind New York Central underpass.) He recalls checking out the “graveyard” east of North Lincoln Road (at the Despatch car shops) and remembers seeing a “dark, dirty switcher” with a box car or two. His grandma’s house on Greenaway Road was close to the NYC tracks and was a favorite place to visit, for obvious reasons.
Chris has been deaf since birth. He attended the Rochester School for the Deaf through twelfth grade, and went on to get a business degree at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., a liberal arts school for the deaf and hearing impaired. Despite his supposed “handicap”, Chris is a contributor at the museum doing a great job as a track car operator. For safety reasons, our thanks go to Dave Teague who always accompanies Chris when on TC duty, not only to provide an extra set of ears but especially for radio communications. Chris is a smooth, reliable operator on the cars, and we appreciate Dave’s help too.
Chris has been a letter carrier for the U. S. Postal Service for the past 26 years in a route that has him down by Lake Ontario. He and his wife, Cassandra, have two children—23-year-old son, Adren, and 19-year-old daughter, Kiernan. The family is supportive of Chris’ activities at the museum.
Railfanning isn’t a major deal for Chris these days, but he’s an accomplished photographer and does get out occasionally for local rail shots as well as some terrific nature photos we’ve seen. The Lakeville, Avon & Livonia’s Alco diesel fleet is one of his favorite rail targets, but he also gets a lot of good shots at the museum. These paid off last winter when the Henrietta Post published some of his Holly Trolley photos, no doubt helping with the record turnout we enjoyed for that event.
Chris first discovered us in 1979, then returned for a Diesel Days event many years later. He’s been operating track cars for the past four or five years, and offers special thanks to Harold Russell and Bob Achilles for the extra attention they give him in the annual training classes. Chris even says thanks to “the kind folks at both museums for putting up with me”. You’re the kind of volunteer up with whom we’re happy to put, Chris! You’re a model for us all, and a great help as we continue to tell the story of transportation history at our museums. We’re glad you’re a part of all that.
ON THE 20TH CENTURY. . .part 2
Since railroading is a thing of the past and not too familiar to the present generation, perhaps I should acquaint you with the makeup of this famous train.
The train was pulled by the Hudson type engine, in railroad circles called the 5200’s, because the engines were numbered from 5200 on up, the most powerful engines up to that time, 96 feet long, and called “the thoroughbred of the rails,” eating up four tons of coal between Harmon and Albany.
The classic lines of the Central’s Hudsons are on display as #5291takes on water from the track pans at Churchville, NY.
Ed VanLeer photo, collection of the New York Museum of Transportation
Water in the engine would be replenished with a slight decrease in speed, to about 45 miles an hour, by way of a water trough almost a mile long, which enabled the engine to pick up the needed water without stopping. During the winter this water was heated to prevent it from freezing. The speed of the train forced the water up through a scoop into the tender, instead of having to pause in a wayside tank as most engines had to do. This saved time. As I recall, only the 5200 engines could do this.
Next came the club car which housed a baggage compartment occupying about one-third of the car, then came the barber shop and shower, the club car attendant’s working space where soft drinks, ice, mixers, etc. were kept, and the refrigeration; then four booths where many groups played cards or discussed the events of the day and a goodly number of individual upholstered chairs for the comfort of the passengers. Smoking was permitted in the club car. Toward the back of the car was space allocated for the stenographer where a typewriter was kept and a chair next to the desk for anyone wanting to dictate could sit. Next to our desk was a writing desk where passengers could write letters, telegrams, etc.
The latest popular magazines, bound in leather covers, were available here and stock market quotations were posted in the club car, as well as the results of sporting events, such as baseball scores of both National and American leagues, principal football games and other important sporting events of the day.
You could get a haircut and shave from an experienced barber for $1.50 and valet services were provided. A 3-piece suit would be sponged and pressed for $1.25 and a woman’s skirt for 75 cents, and you could take a shower for 50 cents.
Another feature of the train which appealed to women traveling alone or accompanied by children was maid service who were experienced manicurists.
Immediately in back of the club car came the sleepers. The ordinary Pullman sleeper contained 12 upper and lower berths with a drawing room at one end of the car. A drawing room required two railroad fares and could sleep four and had a long lounge that could be made up into a bed, and it was not unusual to have a family unit occupying drawing rooms.
This page from a 1950s Pullman Company advertising booklet looks back at the delights of sleeping car travel in the late 1920s, highlighting the introduction of “ice-actuated” air cooling. The photos illustrate a section in day use and at sleepy-bye time.
A timetable illustration from the era shows a drawing room in its daytime arrangement, and made up for a good night’s slumber.
Drawing rooms were the final word in Pullman luxury, referred to by some as “an apartment on wheels.” It had individual toilet facilities, an upper and lower berth and the lounge I referred to.
A compartment was slightly less roomy but also had private toilet facilities and an upper and lower berth. This required two railroad fares also. In the newer cars a clothes closet for personal belongings was included.
In the early thirties a new single room called a “roomette” was introduced that required only one railroad fare. This type of accommodation became very popular and many passengers, particularly those traveling alone wanting a little privacy, preferred it to the compartment.
The drawing room, compartment and roomette cars were generally placed near the dining car, both before and after it. The dining car was the last word in luxury. Meals were served a la carte and passengers desiring to eat in their accommodations were required to notify the porter the hour when they wished to be served. Each dining car was staffed by a steward, two chefs trained in European and American cooking, and six waiters.
A full menu of cooked-on-board delights issued forth from the tight but efficient confines of the dining car kitchen.
At one end of the car was a modern, up-to-date kitchen which housed the refrigeration, food supplies, dishes, tablecloths, napkins, etc. The steward was top man in the dining car. Neckties and coats were a necessity before being admitted to the dining car, even on hot, sultry days.
The observation car was generally referred to as the train’s living room and contained a drawing room and one or two compartments at the head of the car. The rest of the car was luxuriously furnished with comfortable upholstered chairs, an observation-lounge room with spacious windows and a writing desk with plenty of 20th Century stationery, souvenir postcards to send to relatives and friends, and blank telegram forms, lighted with the latest form of ceiling lights and, in addition, several reading lamps, and here also all the leading popular magazines of the day for the passengers’ reading enjoyment.
The schedule of the Century in both directions provided daylight trips along the Hudson River. The observation car permitted full enjoyment of this and other scenic attractions along the way. The observation platform outside could hold four chairs comfortably where the passengers could enjoy the fresh air. Lap robes for use on the platform could be obtained from the porter upon request.
A unique experience…fine dining as the world passes by at speed.
The doors of all Pullman cars were constructed with a special anti-pinch shield to protect fingers from being caught between the door and the frame. Each car had an overhead ventilating system and fans were located throughout each car and dust and cinder deflectors were installed at each window.
After each trip every car was inspected as to mechanical and electrical condition and then the cleaners took charge, scrubbing the outside and inside, polishing the windows and metal work, vacuum cleaning the rugs, checking the mattresses and blankets for defects or tears, and then restocking with new linen and towels. The Pullman Company operated its own laundries and repair shops and often was referred to as “The world’s greatest housekeeper”.
Of course a status symbol for the celebrities, particularly stage and screen stars, and other famous people, was to have their photographs taken standing on the platform of the observation car with the lighted 20th Century sign prominently displayed. Newspaper and newsreel photographers were always on hand at the train to take pictures.
Mention of riding the Century became an accepted topic on Broadway, in Hollywood and in high society, and columnists in their daily press and radio broadcasts frequently mentioned gossip overheard in the Century dining car, club car or observation car.
Jimmy Walker, when he was Mayor of New York City, often accompanied movie and stage celebrities, partying with them as far as Albany, where he would get off and return to New York.
Occasionally a passenger, usually a personality of some reputation, requested the pleasure of riding in the cab of the engine between Harmon and Albany. This privilege created such excitement in some persons it reminded you of a little boy with a new toy on Christmas. I once overheard a man who made such a trip joyfully remark, “The engineer let me blow the whistle.”
It was not unusual for a big business tycoon, a celebrity or just a plain ordinary passenger to ask where we were, if we were on time, how long before the next stop, and various other questions. Occasionally we would be invited to sit down and talk, usually about some friend or business associate, or the events of the day. They would spend considerable time reading newspapers, magazines, books or business reports and seemed anxious to relax and talk to someone, preferring us rather than a stranger. I recall many such moments of just small talk with many of these people. We were well informed on scenic, industrial, historic and business interests along the right of way, which we gladly discussed with them.
Competition between the Century and the Broadway Limited, Pennsylvania Railroad’s 20-hour train, was keen. They tried to outdo each other in advertising for the cream of traffic between New York and Chicago, but the most important single contributing factor was the Century’s reputation as a train which was patronized by the most enviable names in the world of finance, business, fashion and professional celebrities of the stage, screen and trade. To travel on the Century was a hallmark of importance with wide-spread implications. The train was considered “The Rolls Royce of the railroads,” said Lucius Beebe in his book “The 20th Century Limited.”
Speaking of the Broadway Limited, near Gary, Indiana, the tracks of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the new York Central ran parallel and it was not an uncommon sight to see the Century with its 14 to 20 cars and the Broadway Limited with its 6 to 9 cars racing side by side toward Englewood, a Chicago suburb and the next stop for both trains.
In 1929 the Pennsylvania Railroad began advertising four 20 hour trains daily westbound from New York to Chicago and five eastbound from Chicago to New York, but none of them were able to take from the Century’s list of regulars.
Just west of Buffalo the east and westbound Centuries would meet almost at the same exact spot. We could always tell if one or the other train was running late.
The Century was called the fastest train in the world covering 960 miles between New York and Chicago. The Broadway Limited covered somewhat fewer miles because it had a more direct route while we followed the water level route from the Hudson River, along Lake Erie and Lake Michigan.
Christopher Morley, in an article in one of the leading magazines of the day, said it was more than a train; he said “It was the velveted corridor between New York and Chicago.”
SHOP REPORT by Charles Lowe
Cleveland Transit System tower car 021: Lumber for replacement of one rotted vertical post on the tower has been obtained and cut to size for installation. To be able to access the area needing repair, both lift sections were jacked up about 5 feet by Charlie Lowe and Steve Holmes. After the repair pieces were carefully fit in place, numerous wood screws were used to attach the wood to the steel angles on which the moveable sections of the tower ride. Don Quant, John Ross, Bob Pearce and Jim Dierks assisted in the lengthy cleanup process on April 21 by returning the massive amount of blocking and tools to their proper spots. The tower car is now in service and ready for use this spring in tree trimming and overhead line inspections.
Track: Bob Achilles and Charlie Lowe marked a total of 111 ties requiring replacement in the S-curves in mid-March, just after snow had melted. This will be the main effort of this year’s contract railroad repair job. Another 10 ties, needed to hold the Remelts-Giles curve in good condition until full repairs can be made in 2012, were also marked. Several sections of rail were retrieved from along the right-of-way in April so their angle bars can be salvaged and stored. The rails were discarded during completion of the rail line because they included rail joints, and have been lying along the line since at least 1992.
Is it really over? This view of the graceful S-Curve in snow brings back chilly memories. Now, with spring allegedly upon us, this part of our rail line is getting much needed attention.
Photo by Jay Consadine
New York Museum of Transportation TC-1: The crew of Bob Achilles, Jack Tripp, Dave Coon and others removed the roof of TC-1 since its corner posts were badly rotted. These were replaced with steel angle bar stock, and the roof was reinstalled on March 20. Following work sessions were devoted to installing corner braces for the new posts, and priming the entire car in preparation for repainting. Ted Strang has obtained and delivered heavy plastic for the end panels and windshields.
The Headend staff photographer catches Bob Achilles and Dave Coon taking a break from their work on TC-1.
Philadelphia and Western 161 and 168: Bob Miner is obtaining a supply of spare parts for the master controllers and line switches. He removed the critical parts and Charlie Lowe drew detail drawings so Bob could obtain the parts from a supplier. These parts require occasional replacement since they are used to make and break electrical circuits and are therefore prone to burning. Car 161 was oiled in early April by Bob and Tony Mittiga. Bob reinstalled Car 168’s cleaned line switches soon thereafter.
New York Museum of Transportation track car trailer: Jay and Todd Consadine replaced a rotten step board on March 20 with pressure-treated lumber. In following weeks, a flurry of activity included installation of other new boards and spot priming and painting the entire car. Looks great!
The elder half of the Jay and Todd Show reflects on the work they’ve been up to, readying TC-1’s trailer for the season.
Pit: Several NYMT members, including Ted Strang, Jim Dierks, project manager Bob Achilles, Charlie Robinson and Charlie Lowe have been pooling their ideas to create a pit design which will be within the museum’s ability to build. Plans for the 4-foot-deep by 28-foot-long oiling pit are being drafted by Harold Russell.
New York Museum of Transportation line car 2: The track for the sliding door on the north side of the car was re-installed after some interior wall repairs were made. The coupler on the west end of the car was reattached to the car.
& Wyoming caboose 8: The return of warmer weather has seen
the resumption of work on the caboose. John Ross, Bob Pearce, and
Don Quant have made additional repairs to the roof structure.
Several areas of the roof contained voids that had to be filled with
a wood composition made with a waterproof glue. The years of
in-service use of the caboose had allowed some of the boards to warp
unacceptably and these had to be sanded down to provide a smoother
surface for the new roof covering to lie on. A padding of roofing
felt has been added to the roof to provide a compliant surface over
which the canvas can be stretched. Flashing at the eave edge of the
cupola has been bent and clamped down to the new flashing previously
installed. More work needs to be done in this area to make it
conform better to the eave boards. Cover strips for the flashing in
the cupola area have been procured and will be installed after the
re-canvassing of the roof is complete.
A challenge to the “rapid” part of rapid transit comes in the financial transaction that has to take place if one expects to take a ride. The company has to get the passengers on in quick fashion, without delay caused by the fare process on boarding. In today’s high-tech world there’s no end of systems to expedite things. The “exact fare” requirement avoids bus drivers having to make change (and provides a measure of security too). Most light rail systems use a pre-ticketing arrangement, selling from a kiosk that accepts coins, bills and credit cards…and to eliminate interaction between boarding passenger and trolley crew, an “honor system” is used with random checks to assure riders have a valid ticket with them (and pay a hefty fine if not). Most bus systems sell multiple-ride passes that are quickly scanned on boarding.
In the low-tech world of yesteryear, the problem still existed, especially after the change to one-man operation of streetcars such that fares couldn’t be paid to a conductor on exiting from a rear door. The solution lay in a version of today’s pre-paid pass, in the form of cardboard tickets and metal tokens. In either system, all that had to be done was to hand over the item to the operator of the vehicle (or drop the token in the right slot).
Ah, but handling the little tickets and tokens could be a problem. How could we avoid the delay as a student paws through his pocket full of nickels, pennies, and aggies or as a lady rummages in her large handbag in pursuit of a token? The answer was to provide devices to contain these items so that they’d be kept separate from other things, and at the same time aid in dispensing them.
Exhibit A in this effort is a ticket holder/dispenser that was probably given away to loyal J. R. White Co. customers at no charge for the free advertising value. The size of a small match box, the device incorporates a spring-loaded platen that presses beneath a pile of cardboard tickets inserted by the transit patron. As J. R. White helpfully instructs on a ticket-sized piece that comes with the dispenser:
And it works great. After sliding the cover half way out, closing it causes the first ticket in the pile to eject smoothly so it can be grasped and handed to the collector. Slick. The ticket in our sample, by the way, is a school ticket for New York State Railways, Rochester Lines.
Tokens are a more durable device, and they come in various sizes and designs. The history of tokens just for the Rochester area is worthy of a small book. There are two products in our museum archives aimed at keeping track of tokens, making it easier and quicker in boarding.
The E. J. Bosworth Specialty Co. was located on S. Water Street in Rochester, just off Main Street. The company is listed in an early Rochester Chamber of Commerce booklet as a manufacturer of leather goods and novelties. Their idea for a leather token purse can be seen in the accompanying photo. The small pouches, per the company’s claim, would not only keep one from mixing tokens with coins, but wouldn’t wear out your pockets and would avoid the nasty surprise of a metal container failing to function at the critical moment. Given that all the purses in their various colors and textures are still on the stand-up display card suggests that the public might not have been totally sold on the concept.
Perhaps they were happier with a spring-loaded token dispenser like the one pictured below. Working like a Pez dispenser or the coin holders we often have in our cars, one only had to slide out the top-most token from either side of this double-barreled beauty to be ready for action. At only about an inch in length, we wonder how easy it might have been to find the dispenser itself among all the other things in a pocket or purse.
this reminds us that the museum has a new ticket format for the 2011
ride operating season. Designed to be more like interurban era
tickets, it will continue our tradition of meeting the needs of “the
company” while allowing the visitor to leave with a souvenir
of their ride. No, we’re not planning to start issuing tokens
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ROCHESTER STREETCARS................................ No. 58 in a series
by Charles R. Lowe
[This is the second installment in a tribute to Kodachrome, the railfan’s choice of film for decades. Kodachrome was discontinued in 2009, and the final photo shop still handling the film, Dwayne’s Photo of Parsons, Kansas, ceased processing, as planned, on December 30, 2010 when its supplies of color dyes and chemicals were exhausted.]
Railfans were slow to adopt Kodachrome in the years just after its introduction for home use in 1938. A flaw in the product’s chemistry, which turned slides red with time, was not corrected until mid-1939. During World War II, many railfans were busy fighting the war or, if at home, could not obtain Kodachrome. After the end of the war in 1945, though, railfans began using Kodachrome in ever increasing numbers.
Among the earliest of Kodachrome slides is a series probably made by an A. O. Wilson who apparently was on a visit to Rochester in 1947. At least, Wilson’s name was on the processing envelope for the slides.
One of the best of Mr. Wilson’s slides shows car 56 approaching Rowlands loop. Just beyond the car is the track used by Rochester and Eastern interurban cars between 1927 and 1930 as they left the Subway. In the foreground is the concrete platform for the Rowlands terminal station.
What makes this view fascinating is that we have a great look at the green color scheme used on Rochester Subway cars from sometime during World War II to early 1951. Gone are the pinstripes of a previous green paint scheme, and the fancy Art Deco scheme applied to some Subway cars, all victims of wartime austerity.
The paint scheme on car 56 is the work car scheme used for years in Rochester. A rich green body color is accented by sienna-colored doors and window sashes. The roof canvas remains the barn red used since the late 1916 introduction of green-and-cream as Rochester’s street railway color scheme. Detail colors used on car 56 are the golden yellow of its car numbers, the bright red “safety first, be careful” design at the doorways, and basic black for equipment such as the headlight, trolley pole and under-car apparatus.
Although car 56 is moving slowly, Wilson’s bright sun light condition was not enough help in freezing the action. So blurred is the front of car 56, where its movement is most registered by the film, that we can hardly read the number. But, such a defect is of little importance in such an important view, and we can be grateful for Mr. Wilson being our man on the spot.
We didn’t receive any objections to the color scheme we guessed at for the museum’s Batavia Traction Company 33 in our Fall issue, so we’ll stick with our presumed orange and mahogany design, based on literature and paint samples found on the car. We ran out of room to include this black-and-white version of 33, and we offer it here in case there’s someone in the family who would like to try their hand at coloring. Trolleys in the early days featured a variety of bright colors, and perhaps if the Batavia line had had more money to spend they would have tried something even more eye-catching. So, get out those crayons, colored pencils, markers, etc. and offer the company some suggested schemes. Send us your best effort and it just might find its way onto our entryway bulletin board for all to enjoy.
HEADEND is published four times a year by the New York Museum of Transportation, © 2011. All rights reserved. No portion of this newsletter may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. www.nymtmuseum.org (585) 533-1113
and photographer - Jim Dierks