Headend in PDF


The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation

Winter 2011


A Wally Bradley rendering of the Sodus, NY station reminds us that snowy winters are nothing new in New York State.

Jim Dierks Collection

All that pretty white stuff can be a burden on homeowners and driving can be dicey as well. At the museum, we have our problems too. Just like at home, we pull the snow off the main barn roof to avoid a surprise snow slide, plow our own driveway and parking lots, and shovel the entry sidewalk. Ted Strang, Dave Coon and Bob Achilles have kept us plowed out, and Al Emens has been a regular on the business end of the sidewalk shovel. But wait…there’s more.

Bob Achilles draws “snowplow” duty on a bitter Dec. 9, 2010.

“Holly Trolley Rides” are great fun, but when the snow drifts too deep we have to shovel out on the tracks. A little snow ingested by the traction motors on our trolley cars can cause serious damage that would cost thousands of dollars to repair. So each day of winter operation, the first order of business is to walk the line, inspecting for places where the snow has drifted. We manually shovel these areas down to rail-top level and give the same treatment to all of our grade crossings. The driveway crossing gets special attention as we have to clean out the flangeway from all the ice and packed snow from vehicles passing over it. Without this care, the flange on a trolley car wheel could ride up and derail the car!

We’re grateful for our trolley crews who handled some of this work during the 2010 winter ride season, and to Tony Mittiga for his dedication to cleaning the flangeways.


As an update to our year-to-date report in the Fall issue of HEADEND, we’re happy to say that the final tally for 2010 is even better. Total headcount for the year topped out at 7,149 for an increase over the previous year of 12%. Group tours contributed about one fifth of our visitors and this part of our business grew by 22% over 2009.

Thanks to some fortunate local publicity (free!), our “Fall Foliage by Trolley and Train” event attendance enjoyed a real boost, clocking in with an increase of 39% over last year’s series. As you know, we are blessed with a scenic ride that’s even better in autumn hues. Our unique trolley-and-diesel train offering is growing in popularity among the leaf-peepers and with just about anyone seeking one last outdoor spree before winter sets in. On some of our busiest “Fall Foliage” days we came very close to maxing out our capacity to provide rides for all comers!

Then again, some visitors aren’t deterred by winter’s wrath, and that’s why we came up with “Holly Trolley Rides”, with this year’s event spanning four weekends. The chance to ride in a heated trolley through the fields of snow and maybe stop at Remelt’s Evergreen Acres next door for a Christmas tree proved irresistible to over 900 visitors, providing a 22% increase over last year’s event. The “Holly Trolley” event also benefited from some nice publicity in the local media.

All in all, we can look back on a great year of progress and growth, with more and more people becoming aware of the exciting and unique experience to be had at NYMT.


Our increased popularity brings more visitors and also more opportunities for our members to help out. As we look to more days of operation and busier crowds, we can see a clear need for more help at all positions…gift shop, tickets, trolleys, and track cars. We’d like to include you. Give us a call at (585) 533-1113 and you’ll find out what a great time you can have helping out.

In our Fall issue we mentioned the generous donation of some of the late John Remelt’s personal effects, including a circa-1927 panoramic photo of the neighborhood around South Avenue and Court Street in Rochester. We didn’t have room to show it to our readers then, so here’s a chance now. In fact, this is just part of the full 4-foot-long print. The side street beside the Lehigh Valley Railroad station is full of early flivvers and closed sedans, and the newly created Broad Street atop the former Erie Canal aqueduct can be seen at the far right. A Lehigh Valley baggage car and day coach are at rest at the stub-end station, while open-platform commuter cars are just barely visible across the Genesee River at the Erie Railroad station. We always marvel at the wonderful details revealed in these old prints and we’re grateful to Parker Remelt for adding this great photograph to our collection.


The old axiom says, “If you want something done, give it to someone who’s already too busy”. That truly applies to our Spotlight star this time. We don’t know how he finds time for all the activities in his busy life, but we’re grateful for the things he does for us. Meet Dave Coon.

Dave was born in February, 1951, and planted deep roots in our area right from the start. He’s lived his whole life on West Henrietta Road in homes within 1500 feet of each other. It seems Dave’s early childhood was spent with an extended family arrangement in his grandfather’s house, and when Dave was 5 years old, his folks built their own place just down the road where Dave and his family still live.

There’s a little more to that family housing story, though, and it has to do with one of Dave’s many involvements: fire fighting. In the mid-1930s, his grandfather had a chicken incubator in his basement (hey…it was the Depression), but a boiler explosion and the resulting good performance of the West Brighton Fire Department caused Grandpa Staub to join as a volunteer. Mr. Staub’s son moved in after serving under Patton in World War II. Both daughters married (one of them to become Dave’s mom) and the two couples moved in too. The husbands then joined Grandpa Staub in the WBFD. With all those volunteer firemen in the house, years later when Dave was old enough, he joined up too…he felt he pretty much had to!

Dave’s father got his first job as a teenager assembling track for Gargraves on Dewey Avenue. “Tinplate” model train enthusiasts may recognize the Gargraves name. Their main product was (and still is) Lionel-type three-rail track in long, flexible sections that offered more realistic curves on one’s layout. Although Dad moved on to the Film Manufacturing Division at Kodak, the model train hobby continued and when Dave came along the bug bit him too. Dad’s layout was HO gauge, and while Dave was just a toddler, he was allowed to participate in running the Varney F-3 on the circle of TruScale track in Grandpa’s basement.

When Dave’s father built a house for his family down the street, the model railroading expanded. Dave got an A.C. Gilbert HO set for Christmas in 1957. Dad was a full-fledged railfan by now, and the decision was handed down that while Dad modeled the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, Dave would do the Erie. So true to prototype were they, that after the two lines merged in 1960 to form the Erie-Lackawanna, the father-and-son team did likewise two years later, physically connecting their two basement layouts.

Dave graduated from St. Ann’s 8th grade in 1965, and attended Rush-Henrietta High School before moving on to St. John Fisher College. He met his wife Carol there, and graduated with a degree in business management in 1973. Dave immediately went to work with the insurance agency run by his mother and grandfather. He started right out of the gate as a Vice President (“just like a bank”, Dave says). He was familiar with the business as he had been writing claims back when he was only 14 years old! Dave’s mother passed away in 1983, and his grandfather died four years later at age 86. Now, the business is run by Dave and his sister, Pat. With an office at Commerce Drive and West Henrietta Road, they specialize in personal lines—home owner policies, autos, and small business.

As we noted, Dave joined the West Brighton Fire Department, but he is only kidding when he implies he was forced into it by all the volunteers in the family. The desire to be part of the fire fighting fraternity was real, and he joined when he was 18 years old. He quickly rose through the ranks at WBFD and became the youngest chief in Monroe County at age 23! About this time, he and Carol were married, and the one stipulation she set down was that he not be Chief for ten years (while their kids were growing). So Dave stepped down as Chief and became President. After two years, he went back on the line as Deputy Chief in charge of training, then moved on to Vice President and finally Treasurer from 1985 to 1989.

Dave was able to secure non-profit status for the department while serving as Treasurer, which settled a long-running “difference of opinion” with the Internal Revenue Service, one that affected most volunteer fire departments. Dave is currently an Assistant Fire Coordinator for Monroe County, responsible for an area from Rochester to the county line and from the Genesee River to the Town of Mendon, handling mutual aid calls. He joined the Monroe County Hazmat team in 1987 and is Safety Officer for them today. And, as if all this isn’t enough, when the alarm rings he still goes and fights fires.

Apparently all that is not enough, as Dave is also a member of the Rochester Model Railroad Club, where he’s currently (surprise, surprise) President. Dave notes that he was Treasurer for the club in 1987 when he held the same job for both the WBFD and the Monroe County Fire Chiefs Association. Talk about multi-tasking! His model railroading continues at home where his layout recreates the Erie-Lackawanna line from Rochester to Avon. Membership in the E-L Historical Society helps keep his model pike accurate, and we’ll bet Dave makes plenty of contributions to the society’s knowledge base too.

Dave’s father, who passed away last year, was a big rail influence in Dave’s life. They went on train rides and excursions together, including to Toronto where his dad liked the PCC streetcars. Now, Dave is in training on our museum trolley operation. But in true Dave Coon fashion, that isn’t all he does at NYMT. He has come through for us several times with his snowplow-equipped pickup truck; is one of our field mowing crew; has helped with track projects on our rail line; and works with Kevin, his 26-year-old autistic son, in our model railroad.

Asked what he sees for his participation in our museum’s future, Dave wants to operate trolleys, help keep the tracks safe, and do “any work that’s needed”. Just the kind of volunteer we like. Thanks, Dave…we’ll be sure to keep you busy!


We often hear from visitors about one of their relatives who worked on the railroad, but we don’t always get such detailed remembrances as we find in the following. With thanks to Jim and Mary Carroll, we are pleased to present excerpts from “I Had a Trainload of Bosses…Memories of Life on the 20th Century Limited”. Mary’s father, Joseph B. Komonchak, put down his recollections in this small booklet to share with his family. His memories of service as a stenographer on the New York Central’s flagship train illuminate a different time in our history and certainly a different style of travel. Enjoy.

My introduction to the 20th Century Limited came about in a rather unique way in January of 1927. I was busy at my typewriter as secretary to the Vice President and General Manager of the Pullman Company when the boss came rushing into the office. This was on a Saturday afternoon. In those days we worked half a day on Saturday and once a month you had to work to five o’clock. This was my turn to work Saturday afternoon.

In an excited voice, he said, “Get your hat and coat; you’re on your way to Chicago. We’ll call your parents and tell them of our emergency and that you’ll be back Monday.”

Not knowing what this was all about, I took my derby and overcoat (I also wore spats in those days) and went with him to Track 25 where the train was getting ready to pull out at 2:45. I was told that I would get my instructions as to what my duties were from the Pullman conductor. Prior to that the only knowledge I had of the 20th Century was that it was a train. I had no idea beyond that as to what I later learned was “The greatest train on earth”.

After the train got under way from Grand Central Terminal, I was briefly informed as to my duties; that I was to follow the Pullman and train conductors who collected the tickets, introduce myself as the train stenographer and ask them their name and what their space accommodations were, and hand them a card, acquainting the passengers as to my services, which read as follows:

The Twentieth Century Limited train Stenographer will, upon request, register your name in case a telegram may be received by you, write letters or telegrams that you may wish to send, make reservations of Pullman space beyond Chicago or New York, or reservations for return trip, arrange for transfer of hand baggage from train to residence, hotel or elsewhere, in Chicago or New York.

One thing the card omitted was that at some stations, such as Albany and Syracuse westbound and Toledo and Cleveland eastbound we would have a telephone hookup where occasionally a passenger might want to make a phone call to his office or home. On rare occasions we would have an incoming call and with the aid of the passenger register we were able to locate the passenger in a hurry.

I was fortunate in that the Pullman conductor on that first trip was Arthur Hoffman, a gentle natured man but one who lived by the book of rules. He was a strict disciplinarian and he expected you to do whatever you had to do efficiently and in a courteous manner.

The reason for my hurried assignment that Saturday afternoon was that the train stenographer regularly assigned had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. He died shortly thereafter and that left a vacancy. So, every Saturday after that I made a round trip, leaving New York in the afternoon at 2:45, arriving in Chicago the next day at 9:45 a.m.; then making the return trip on the Century leaving Chicago the same day at 12:40 p.m. and arriving in New York at 9:40 Monday morning, after which I would go to the office and start my regular duties as secretary to the Vice President.

It was only after I made a few trips that I became aware of the reputation of the Century. Never having been exposed to anything connected with railroading but commuting on the West Shore between Haverstraw and Weehawken, I knew nothing of the elegance of this world famous train whose reputation was praised in poetry, prose, numerous newspaper and magazine articles and even a big hit Broadway play, in the early thirties, by the name of “20th Century Limited”.

It was then I began to take note of the luxury that surrounded this famous train, the elegance of the décor on the interior of the cars, a cuisine in the dining car that was comparable to the restaurants of the Waldorf-Astoria, the Plaza, St. Regis and other fashionable and high class hotels; in fact, some of the columnists who frequently rode the train called it “The Waldorf on Wheels”.

This weekend assignment continued until that Spring when I resigned as secretary to the Vice President, where I was making the magnificent salary of $26.00 a week, which was considered a fairly good salary. The salary of office secretaries in those days ran between $18.00 and $22.00 a week. The salary of a train stenographer was $175.00 a month, plus tips.

Luckily I was assigned to the first section of the Century, which was the first train out in the parade of Centurys making the trip. A section is a complete train—sleepers, dining car, club and observation cars. This was the section the big shots, the leaders of the business world, finance, stocks, bonds, politicians, Hollywood celebrities, stars of stage and screen, sports, arts, etc. were generally assigned to. In fact, one man in the reservation office tried as best he could to get the important people assigned to the first section.

Mr. Komonchak let’s us in on details of the Century’s boarding process and demonstrates his willingness to go the extra mile for his customers:

The westbound Century was known as Train No. 25 and left Grand Central Terminal at 2:45 p.m. At two o’clock the station maintenance men rolled out a red carpet for each section of the Century leaving that day. If there were three or five sections, all the passengers would enter through the gate at Track 25 and the ticket taker would tell them where their accommodations were located and what section they were assigned to.

The porters assigned to carry passengers’ luggage to the Century were hand-picked men, trained by the Head Porter Jim Williams, who wore a contagious smile exposing pearly white teeth that seemed to extend from ear to ear. It was rarely that his well-trained personnel had to be reprimanded.

The train crew reported for duty at 2 p.m. and at 2:15 we began to receive passengers. We were stationed at the rear of the train near the observation car where the “20th Century Limited” light shined “like a bouquet of flowers”, according to one of Christopher Morley’s articles.

The crew, consisting of the Pullman and train conductors, train stenographer, and the porter stood outside on the platform; as the passengers went down the platform we smiled and if we recognized any personality or celebrity, we generally said, “Welcome aboard,” or “Glad to have you with us today.” Later on I learned how much such a greeting built up the ego of businessmen, celebrities and just ordinary people. To be recognized was sort of a status symbol, and when I got to know some of the regular riders, I never missed the opportunity to greet them by their name.

Also, before departure, we would receive a letter from the New York Central stating “Commander Eugene McDonald, President of Zenith Radio” or some other personality high in the business world, the entertainment field, or person of some reputation would be occupying such and such a space, giving the car they were assigned to. It was not unusual on some days to receive as many as seven to ten such letters. It was through this manner that we got to know who the persons were, who they were associated with or what their reputation was.

After I was regularly assigned to the Century, I had a loose-leaf book in which I kept, in alphabetical order, the names of the prominent people, what their business was and who their business associates or friends were, which I made good use of later on. With a train made up of from 10 to 16 sleeping cars, a dining car, club and observation cars, there were many occasions when friends and associates were occupying space on the same train unaware of each other.

If, for example, U.S. Vice President Charles G. Dawes was aboard, who was a frequent rider (they didn’t have secret service protection for Vice Presidents in those days, because he always seemed to be traveling alone, at least on my train), usually occupying a drawing room or compartment, I knew from my loose-leaf file that he was friendly with such people as Eugene McDonald, President of Zenith Radio, Julius Rosenwald, the head of Sears, Roebuck, George B. Everitt, President of Montgomery Ward, or Marshall Field, head of one of the big department stores in Chicago, Col. Robert R. McCormack and Joseph Patterson, owners of the Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News, I would acquaint him or one of the others of the presence of the other parties, which was always good for a tip. They would generally wind up together in the club, observation or dining cars spending the waking hours of the trip together. None of the other train stenographers rendered this kind of service but it turned out to be a lucrative thing for me.

The March 1, 1937 New York Central timetable featured this promo for the Century, appealing to well-heeled businessmen.

After going through the entire train, I would then go to the cubbyhole space assigned to us in the club car where our typewriter was kept and proceed to make up the passenger register with as many copies as there were sections that day, and at Albany I would leave the copies for the other train stenographers following us so they could compare the register to see whether telegrams were delivered. Of course, in taking the passenger register we had a few practical jokers who would give you such names as Bigby Hind, I. P. Standing, I.P. Freeley, Ophelia Ash, etc.

What made the job so fascinating was the fact that you never knew what to expect; perhaps some dictation from a business tycoon, a Hollywood celebrity, making up a salesman’s itinerary, or a love letter from a homesick man to his wife, having been away from home for a period of time. Sometimes some of them would write and rewrite a telegram several times so as to confine it to the ten words, and in the event the eleventh word was “love”, many times they would delete the word.

If telegrams were received after the passenger had retired for the night, it was our custom to open the message and read it. If, in our opinion, the contents were not important, we would wait until the passenger awoke the next morning and deliver it. However, if you received a black-bordered telegram, it indicated death and the telegram had to be delivered immediately. Only in two instances do I recall having to deliver such messages. In those cases I would first confer with the conductor and ask him to hold up the train until I delivered the message because the passenger may want to make a return trip as fast as he could. Neither of these occasions were at Nighttime and on the one occasion the passenger got off the train so as to catch the first train back.

Mr. Komonchak delights in sharing what he calls “some of the unusual experiences and episodes” that befell him during his time on the Century :

Once we were receiving at the LaSalle Street Station in Chicago when down the platform came Maurice Chevalier with two big wolfhounds on a leash, accompanied by a swarm of photographers, who at that time used the powder flash for taking pictures. With so many flashes going off, it looked like a Fourth of July celebration. The Pullman conductor was Arthur Hoffman, the man who lived by the book of rules. As Chevalier proceeded down the platform to his drawing room and two compartments, Mr. Hoffman asked me to come along. Any time anything unusual happened we were instructed to bring someone along as a witness to whatever went on.

After much picture taking, the smiling Chevalier started to climb the steps with his two wolfhounds when he was interrupted by Mr. Hoffman, who told him that no animals were permitted to ride with human beings, according to an ICC ruling. Mr. Chevalier pleaded that he had reserved two compartments especially for the dogs and that the animals would be confined to the compartments and there was no need to worry about them getting out. Mr. Hoffman insisted that the dogs go up to the baggage car where the animal pets were usually placed. Chevalier was outraged and he appealed to Clair Hardigan, the Stationmaster at the LaSalle Street Station for some assistance. When Mr. Hardigan tried to placate Mr. Hoffman, Mr. Hoffman pulled out his watch and said to him, “Mr. Hardigan, you have ten minutes to get another conductor, if those dogs don’t go up to the baggage car.” A more frustrated Frenchman you never saw as he escorted the dogs to the baggage car where he spent a good deal of the trip with the dogs.

A frequent traveler on the Century was Clarence Barron, at the time publisher of the Wall Street Journal. He was a rotund, bearded man who looked every part of belonging to Wall Street. He was usually accompanied by two male secretaries to whom he alternately dictated for a good part of the trip, with telegrams and messages being dispatched at almost every stop. I never had occasion to do any work for him.

My attention was called to him by one of the dining car stewards telling me about his tremendous appetite. He would sometimes eat the equivalent of two complete dinners. Russian caviar was expensive in those days and cost something like $18.00 a pound and the dining cars only carried a pound because there wasn’t much call for it. There were times when he would consume the entire pound and then go on to eat a dinner after that. He was a good tipper so he was always given special treatment, which was one reason to remember him.

This Depression-era equipment consist for the Century shows the train is still extra-fare and all-Pullman, but not yet fully equipped with all private rooms. Several cars have accommodations in sections (upper and lower berths).

Another bearded man was Monty Wooley, who played character parts in many movies requiring a man with a beard. He always carried a book, which he never seemed to read. It wasn’t until I saw him open the book that it wasn’t a book but that it contained a bottle of Jack Daniels, his favorite bourbon. This was in the days of prohibition when liquor was not sold on the trains.

Another notable passenger who made frequent trips was Spencer Tracy; sometimes we thought he commuted between Hollywood and New York. At times he would get so intoxicated the porter couldn’t awaken him to make up his bed, and he would sleep through the night in his seat. In the morning he drank countless cups of coffee.

Famous musical personalities all traveled by train in those days, especially the Century. Mr. Komonchak recalled that he would often step out on the observation car’s open platform for some fresh air before retiring for the night, and one time was joined by John McCormack, the famous Irish tenor, who “exercised his vocal chords with an aria from one of the operas”. A different part of the music world could be found at the other end of the train in the club car:

The club car, at the head of the train, was a place where many people congregated to relax. This was during prohibition, as I mentioned before, when liquor wasn’t dispensed on the Century, but many people brought their own in silver or gold flasks. They would order their mixers from the club car waiter and socialize in the club car. There were four booths where some people would be playing cards or just conversing. Many people would come up to the club car while their beds were being made and then return to their berths, while others stayed to make revelry.

On one occasion Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor happened to be on the same train. They came up to the club car where they had some refreshments after many of the passengers had retired, and as the evening wore on and the liquor flowed they started singing. I remember Al Jolson singing “Mammie” and “Sonny Boy”, and perhaps a few other songs, while Eddie Cantor sang “If You Knew Susie Like I Knew Susie”, and some other current popular hits.

Some of the “revelry” aboard the Century would surprise present day travelers:

Commander Eugene McDonald, President of Zenith Radio, was a handsome executive type man. He was supposed to have been associated with some Arctic expedition. He was the owner of the Mizpah, the largest fresh water yacht in the world at that time. He had a sharp eye for good looking women and would generally wind up in the club car socializing with them.

At some of the shooting the breeze sessions that we occasionally had after a trip, we would tell some of our experiences and episodes that we encountered. I remember one that was told by one of the stenographers about McDonald. He had gathered with some friends in the dining car after the dinner hour and after some kind of discussion between themselves, he pulled out a gun and shot out six of the dining car lights. Those who didn’t get excited and run from the car applauded his marksmanship!

We’ll close this portion of Mr. Komonchak’s memoirs with two more Century patrons, representing two extremes:

We had one passenger, if my memory serves me correctly, by the name of Nathan Rothstein, who made frequent trips on the Century. He would receive a telegram en route and after the receipt of the telegram would call the Pullman conductor and tell him that he was sick and wanted to get off at the next station. This always seemed to be on the westbound trip from New York. This happened to me several times, and the other train stenographers said they experienced the same thing. In reading the undelivered telegrams from the other sections, we found nothing to indicate anything unusual, just some sort of greeting. Then at Buffalo some railroad detectives and other men would inquire if Mr. Rothstein was aboard, and, of course, we would tell them he got off the train not feeling well.

One night when we got to Buffalo around midnight, as the train came to a stop two railroad detectives and two other men immediately sought me out and asked for my passenger register, which they literally ripped out of my hands, and then went looking for Rothstein. Of course at this time of the night all overhead lights in the car were extinguished and only the small night lights provided just enough light to see where to walk. Mr. Rothstein’s accommodations were in Lower 6 or 8. In the dark it was hard to distinguish between a 6 and an 8.

The detectives, and what I later learned were two men from the Treasury Department, in their anxiety to arrest Mr. Rothstein, went to the wrong berth and literally yanked the man from his berth and took him and his luggage to the men’s washroom where they proceeded to go through his baggage. The man was protesting that he was not Rothstein, that his name was so and so and that he was an officer of one of the banks in a Chicago suburb. When he proved to them who he was, they went to the correct berth and took Rothstein out of his berth, had him get dressed and took him and his luggage off the train.

It turned out that Mr. Rothstein had been a big narcotics peddler and that they had been trying to nab him for over a year. The telegrams he had previously received en route were tip-offs that they would be waiting for him at Buffalo or Chicago.

Another frequent passenger was a man who always identified himself as “Hairpin Goldberg”. He was supposed to have been the largest hairpin manufacturer in the world and would make hairpins of every description, even gold ones for some of Europe’s royalty as well as rich American women. He was a funny looking little man, giving you the impression of a monkey, but was a very generous soul. As he would come strolling down the platform, we would always welcome him with “Glad to see you again, Mr. Goldberg” or some such friendly greeting, and he would just beam from ear to ear. Some time during the trip he would go to the stenographer and ask him how many porters there were on the train. After getting the number he would give us money for each of the porters exclusive of the car in which he had accommodations, and would give us $5.00 for ourselves, even though you never did anything for him.

On my very last trip I had occasion to have him as a passenger, along with his wife, a short, dumpy woman and two beautiful children. I couldn’t understand how two such homely looking people could have such beautiful children. He was on his way to Saratoga Springs where he had purchased a big mansion from some well known editor, whose name escapes me now.

He told me he would not ride on the Century unless he could get accommodations in a particular porter’s car; as I remember it, the porter’s last name was Washington. He told me the story that when he was just starting out in business he was traveling on the Century when he got terribly sick and thought he was going to die.

The Pullman Company for years conducted programs for training their personnel in first aid, which were not compulsory to attend but which they encouraged their employees to participate in. Porter Washington was one of those who attended faithfully and learned how to meet certain situations and administer to sick passengers. Goldberg was apparently suffering from some kind of stomach disorder, so Washington took him to an empty compartment and gave him, as I recall, some wintergreen, which apparently did the trick. Goldberg would delay his trip until he knew Washington would be making the trip, either from New York or Chicago, he thought so much of him.

Immediately after this incident, he wrote to the company to find out who the porter was, came east and bought him a home some place on Long Island, then asked him if he had any money to invest. Washington gave him $1,000 which Goldberg invested in his hairpin business, which he told me at that time was worth in the neighborhood of $25,000.

He also told me that in the mid-twenties he almost went bankrupt when bobbed hair, first introduced by some Hollywood actress, became the rage and made hairpins useless, but then he invented the bobby pin, which put him back on his feet again.

The 20th Century Limited passed through Rochester each night without stopping, but its fame is part of our area transportation history. We’ll share more of Mr. Komonchak’s interesting experiences on the train in an upcoming issue.

SHOP REPORT by Charles Lowe

Track: A plan has been devised for this spring’s track repair project. Again, Giambatista Railroad Contractors will be hired to do the work. A culvert at the S-curves has failing timber headwalls and will have to be replaced so the embankment can be widened. Then, at least 100 ties and sufficient ballast will have to be installed so the Giambatista crew can smooth out the kinks in the track here. Once the job is done, trolleys will still have to go slowly through this sharp curve, but it will be a much smoother ride with proper banking and, hopefully, less wheel wear and more rider comfort.

Meanwhile, Tony Mittiga and Jay Consadine have worked overtime cleaning up scrap wood piled in the trackwork tool corral. The refuse is slowly disappearing a few boards at a time in Tony’s car. This cleanup will greatly reduce the amount of time now needed to search for track tools.

Philadelphia and Western 161: To check for jammed journal boxes, Master Mechanic Bob Miner with Tony Mittiga jacked up and eased off truck frames to insure that all journal boxes were riding freely. One had been jammed several years ago, but none were found to be jammed on this inspection. The connections for the cables on the roof were inspected for tightness; all were tight. In the past, loose connections have caused arcing and burning at these connections.

Philadelphia and Western 168: During the winter months, while both P&W cars are sealed in the car house by heavy snows, maintenance tasks are undertaken. This year, Bob Miner is focusing his efforts on car 168. Car 161 already received much attention while it was out of service last summer. So far, Bob has replaced the last of 168’s old Westinghouse S-6 air regulators (one for control air and one for brake air). Now, both 161 and 168 have trouble-free rebuilds. A great many air leaks have been repaired in recent months, increasing the cycle time of the air compressor from 3 or 4 minutes to a much more respectable 7 or 8 minutes. Overworking a compressor by making it overcome leaks in the air system unnecessarily shortens the time between major repairs.

In January, Jim Johnson inspected and tested a spare contactor assembly which Mike Dow had completely rebuilt in 2009. Bob removed the two contactor assemblies from 168 which are the line switches LS-1 and LS-2. These contactors make and break the 600-volt power connection each time the master controller is used to apply or shut off traction power. So, the actual electric contact points in the contactor assemblies see lots of arcing which burns away the bronze forming the contact points. While the contact points in the line switches are still serviceable, Bob will be searching for a supply of replacement contact points.

Pit: The NYMT Board of Trustees has authorized the preparation of a preliminary design and estimate for a 28-foot-long by 4-foot-deep cast-in-place concrete pit for electric car maintenance.

New York Museum of Transportation TC-1 and trailer: Jay and Todd Consadine have taken on the task of repainting TC-1’s trailer while Bob Pearce has agreed to fabricate a replacement for a rotten corner post on TC-1. In early February, Bob Achilles and Jack Tripp removed the roof of TC-1 as part of the rebuild and the team is currently reviewing alternate design options.

New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 437: The roll sign box selected from NYMT’s collection for car 437 was cleaned, adjusted and oiled. The coil spring wrapped around a central shaft inside the rewind roller was broken. The rewind roller is unlike modern window shade rollers in that it has a coil spring sufficient to rewind the entire ten- or twelve-foot length of a roll sign, so it was vital that the old rewind roller be repaired. The roller was disassembled and the spring was luckily found to be broken at one end, so it was reattached to the shaft without too much trouble. The missing glass for the side of the box which would be inside the car was replaced. The roll sign cloth, which has routes from the 1932 to 1936 era, was torn in one spot. It was repaired with a patch sewn onto the back side of the roll sign, just as was done during the trolley era. Notations on the roll indicated that it was salvaged from car 562 in the 1930s by an unknown railfan but may also have been used previously on car 505. Cars 505 and 562 had the same width side windows as 437. On 437, the roll sign box was located in the upper area of the rear-most side window in the car’s right side, adjacent to the entrance door at the rear of the car.

An extra bonus was that the reddish brown paint on the outside of the roll sign box—the color used on window sashes—was in excellent condition. When a color match was made, it proved to be the Rochester trolley sienna color for which no good sample had previously been known to exist.

The Westinghouse S-6 regulator removed from P&W 168 has been added to the kit of parts being assembled for 437. This was one of the major parts still missing for 437.

New York Museum of Transportation line car 2: Suitable locks have been obtained and installed on the doors of the line car, securing its contents. A key marked “2” has been placed in the lock box.


Sometimes the familiar comparison with a duck applies to our museum: serenely floating along upon the water, but feet paddling like mad below the surface. There’s a lot “below the surface” at NYMT. After the day is done and visitors and volunteers have headed for home, our Treasurer Bob Nesbitt puts his accountant’s cap on and reviews the Day Sheet, credits half the admissions to RGVRRM, divides the gift shop sales by the various categories and even takes care of trips to the bank for deposits and changing bills and coins as needed. The snowplow keeps running because Ted Strang keeps fixing it; the model railroad crew spend their Thursdays repairing and upgrading their miniature empire for reliable operation for visitors; for every item in the gift shop there are hours spent by Doug Anderson selecting, ordering, and shelving; Charlie Lowe, Bob Achilles and Harold Russell create the training materials for our trolley and track car crews; etc.

There’s a lot of “paddling” in our publicity work too. One small part of our ongoing effort to let the world know about us is shown here. Over 100 letters, separately addressed, go out in late winter to day care centers and various facilities catering to the elderly, inviting them to visit NYMT on a group tour. Thanks to Harold Russell for printing and Jim Dierks for the mail-out, we’ll expect to see some new faces among our summer group visitors as the word continues to spread.


We recently lost two museum friends who contributed their unique interests and talents. Their help and encouragement at NYMT will be missed.

Charles E. Lowe was always interested in old mechanical things such as early music machines and his Model A Ford. This love for history has obviously been passed down to his son, our own Charlie Lowe, and the two of them worked to restore the museum’s Tangley calliope which we all enjoyed at last summer’s “Trolleys at Twilight”. Mr. Lowe recorded all the tunes from our 24 calliope player rolls to preserve the music and to make CDs available for sale in our gift shop.

Lew Wallace was an auto enthusiast and collected and restored several cars over many years. He also developed quite an expertise in restoring old toy vehicles which he proudly exhibited in a display area in his garage at home. Lew exercised his skills at NYMT by cosmetically restoring the engine compartment of our 1951 Chevrolet, and sought out the springs needed for the hood so his handiwork could be seen and appreciated.

Our deep condolences go out to Charlie Lowe, Dot Wallace, and their families over a loss that we all share.

ROCHESTER STREETCARS................................ No. 57 in a series

Rochester Transit Corp. 2010
Photographer Unknown

by Charles R. Lowe

Kodachrome slide film, the railfan’s choice for color images since 1939, passed from the scene on December 30, 2010 when the world’s last photo lab ceased developing the film. A year earlier, the Eastman Kodak Company had ended manufacture of the product. Dwayne’s Photo of Parsons, Kansas developed the film for another year in a planned run-down of the medium.

Kodachrome has now followed into history the streetcars and trains that railfans used it to record. To honor this era, ROCHESTER STREETCARS will devote its next several installments to Kodachrome images of the Rochester Subway. In an ironic twist of fate, we can start with the car numbered the same as the last year of Kodachrome.

Car 2010 had its origins in Utica as one of a series of open cars numbered 1—59 (odd numbers) built in 1902 by J. G. Brill as single-end 14-bench open city cars. These unusual cars had open right sides and closed (up to the bottom of the windows) left sides. While still in Utica, 14 of these cars (310—336 even numbers) were converted to closed front-entrance center-exit Peter Witt cars. Of these, cars 312—318, 324—328 and 332—336 even (ten cars total) were transferred to Rochester in 1927 for use on the then soon-to-be-opened Rochester Subway.

The ten cars sent to Rochester were converted to center-entrance center-exit cars and were renumbered 2000—2018 (even). Car 2000 was first to enter Subway service, on January 2, 1928; the balance of the cars were brought into use by April 15 of that year.

The 2000-series cars provided all local passenger service on the Subway until 1938 when cars 46—68 (even), also from Utica, were placed in service. Soon several 2000-series cars were withdrawn from service with the remainder used mostly on Dewey surface-Subway runs. After the Dewey surface-Subway service ended in 1941, cars 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2010 remained available for rush-hour Subway service. Regular use of these two-man cars ended in 1949 when the 46-series cars were one-manned as an economy measure. Cars 2000 and 2002 were scrapped about this time, but 2006 and 2010 were retained. Car 2006 was set up behind the Subway car house as a crew room for motormen while they waited for their runs; 2010 was stored for a time inside the original section of the Subway car house. Car 2006 accidentally burned to its trucks on February 28, 1952, whereupon car 2010, the lone surviving 2000-series car, became the crew room. This arrangement lasted until the end of passenger service on June 30, 1956, after which car 2010 was scrapped along with all of the 46-series cars (except car 60) later in 1956.

Our photo of 2010 dates from April 30, 1956. The original portion of the Subway car house is seen at left with the 1942 concrete block addition to the right. The car’s pole is down, indicating that the day must have been warm enough that car heaters were not needed. The colors of the car can be seen in amazing detail, even on a lightly overcast day. The dark olive green car body, the sienna window sash and roof, the golden yellow car numbers and the black underbody equipment show as cannot even be imagined in a black-and-white print. Such is the beauty of Kodachrome that we can see these rich colors accurately over half a century later.

Check out this issue of HEADEND at:


Our policy is to give our members exclusive access to the most current issue of HEADEND, and to offer the option to read it in hand (sent via U.S. mail) or to read it on line, in color. The latter option also provides a pdf version for printing in color if that’s preferred.

If you’re happy to skip the black-and-white printed issue and just read on line, let us know at info@nymtmuseum.org if you haven’t already so indicated. But if you’d rather read hard copy, we’ll keep it coming in the mail. Either way, we’re glad to have your membership support. Thank you!


As faithful readers know, we have been blessed with the donation of a dozen and a half exquisitely detailed “modules” made by Donovan Shilling. Don uses this term instead of “dioramas” since they are designed to be viewed from all sides. We have gladly accommodated him with a dual-turntable display so visitors can slowly spin the modules and take in all the detail.

The latest two modules on display are “Central City” and “Union Hill Lumber Company”, and they continue in the Shilling tradition of telling a story of life in a simpler time around the turn of the last century. The more you examine the miniature scenes, the more you find, usually with Don’s tongue-in-cheek sense of humor adding unique atmosphere.

From the man tending his pigeons on the roof to the boy peddling newspapers by the curb, all the city details are there.

A long-time museum member, Don is a retired grade school principal and has always had a strong interest in Rochester history. Although he’s written several Arcadia books and a recent work on the Erie Canal, he doesn’t stop at collecting data and facts. His home houses a collection of dozens of 3-ring notebooks containing period menus, ads, bottle labels, newspaper clippings, and other ephemera that illuminate our past. These binders also contain numerous historical vignettes based on his research, offering up amusing and interesting details not commonly known about Rochester people and products. His collection of old tins, post cards, signs, and other small items is something to behold as well.

The roof at a machine shop across the street from Union Hill Lumber is removed to reveal all the inner workings.

Don shares his wide ranging knowledge of all this history in entertaining talks to groups around the area. As much as we enjoy those, for NYMT the culmination of his enthusiasm for history is in his modules, and we are proud to be the site where they can be viewed and enjoyed by the visiting public.

So much more goes on at the museum…and if you’d like to join the fun, we’d be glad to have you! There’s plenty to do, from helping our visitors at the ticket desk and gift shop, to heavier work on the railroad. Give us a call at (585) 533-1113 or email us at info@nymtmuseum.org, and we’ll take it from there.


No, this isn’t an aerial view of the museum parking lot on a busy day. It seems good things do come in small packages, lots of small packages, as we found out in December. When we indicated interest in a visitor’s offer of his “collection of die cast buses”, we didn’t expect it would lead to a fleet of over 1,000 toy trucks, cars, buses, tin toys, books, and HO-gauge trains and track. Who knew so many manufacturers have been so busy producing so many vehicles? While some of these items, with the donor’s permission, will find their way onto our gift shop shelves, the rest will be useful for special exhibits. We all understand the fascination that transportation vehicles hold for young and old, so an exhibit that shows how that fascination is fulfilled in miniature sounds like an interesting exhibit opportunity.

Thanks to a generous NYMT member, we have a sign and a headlight from the Rochester Subway. And, thanks to another generous member who also happens to be in the middle of just about anything involving our trolley operations, we now have a St. Louis conductor’s bell for our Northern Texas Traction car 409 (built by St. Louis Car Company); a Johnson fare box destined for Rochester streetcar 1402; and 600 new street railway light bulbs.

Other transportation related items in this donation were a cast iron New York State Barge Canal sign, two Barge Canal navigation light mark signs, and three Pyrene fire extinguishers. Two oak drafting tables, a chest of drawers for storage, two classroom chairs, and four padlocks to secure line car 2 round out this donation, while a model of the dirigible “Macon” also found its way from this donor’s home to the model railroad room.

The Macon cruises watchfully over the model railroad, keeping the enemy at bay.

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

Editor and photographer - Jim Dierks
Contributing Editor - Charles Lowe
Printing - Bob Miner, Chris Hauf
Publication - Doug Anderson, Bob Miner