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The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation

Summer 2013

by Charles Lowe

On October 5, 2013, NYMT will mark its 40th year of physical presence in the Town of Rush. Prior to the arrival of Rochester and Eastern car 157 on October 5, 1973, no large artifact had yet been placed inside the hay barn of the former dairy farm that has since grown to become NYMT. To celebrate this watershed, we revisit how car 157, the crown jewel and “mother car” of the NYMT collection, survived abandonment and came to Rochester.

The Rochester and Eastern interurban, built to Canandaigua and Geneva during 1902-04, suffered the loss of its wood car 157 in 1914. A replacement 157, made of steel, was ordered from Niles Car and Manufacturing Co. in Ohio and placed in R&E service later that year. R&E crews adopted the new car as a favorite since its lighter weight allowed it a slightly higher speed than the other cars. After only sixteen years, though, car 157 was withdrawn from service in late July 1930, just before R&E operations ceased. By a lucky coincidence, Rochester railfan Wallace Bradley made a classic “grab shot” of the car on its final trip to East Main Station where it and the other cars would be stored pending formal abandonment of the R&E in 1932.

Shortly after the official abandonment, the body of car 157 was sold to Father (later Monsignor) Louis W. Edelman to serve as an addition to his cottage. Knowing that B. G. Costich and Sons, a Rochester Moving firm, advertised that “We Move The World”, Edelman hired Costich for the difficult move to the steep slopes on the Webster side of Irondequoit Bay where his cottage was located. The car, placed on a concrete block foundation, was perfectly preserved over the next three decades.

Eugene and Anne Faust purchased the cottage in early 1964; Edelman passed away soon thereafter. In 1968, Illinois Railway Museum briefly considered obtaining the car but decided the move would be too difficult. Two years later, the Fausts having decided to raze the old cottage to build a new structure, made 157 available to trolley museums. Shore Line Trolley Museum, for example, thought about obtaining the car but in the end decided it would concentrate on cars it already owned.

By 1970, with no museum willing to take on the car, the Fausts decide to scrap 157. The Fausts’ contractor tried to demolish the car, taking an ax to the interior wall in the smoker, but was stymied by the car’s stout construction.

Gene Faust’s railfan brother Ed then contacted Ed Blossom of Magee Transportation Museum. MTM had an operating trolley line at its Bloomsburg, PA site. Blossom visited 157 in May 1970 and the decision to move the car to MTM was soon made. A full month of effort made 157 ready to travel. When it came time to load 157 onto a trailer, the load was so heavy that one of the outriggers of the large crane used to lift the car

punched right through the Fausts’ driveway. During the middle of the lift, it was discovered that the water pipe had not been cut, forcing Blossom to venture under the precariously suspended car to disconnect the pipe. Car 157 was then lowered onto a neighboring yard, and later transferred to a trailer. The run up the steep service road to the highway was made only with the assistance of a bulldozer. Finally, on June 10, 1970, car 157 made its one-day trip south to MTM.

There, car 157 was placed on blocking so that it could serve as a “billboard” car facing nearby Interstate 80. The car was repainted into its final yellow-and-cream paint scheme, but the lack of trucks and under-car equipment was keenly felt. Blossom soon arranged to scrap such parts from Philadelphia Suburban Transportation car 63, a broad-gauge car then stored out of service. A stupendous struggle resulted in these critical parts being used late in 1970 to cosmetically restore 157’s exterior to a semblance of its former self. In just seven months, Ed Blossom had rescued 157 from certain destruction, and set it up as a respectable display at MTM.

For the 1971 season, 157 sat on broad-gauge trucks at Magee Transportation Museum in a position visible from nearby I-80

Car 157 spent the 1971 season greeting visitors to MTM, but just as the 1972 season started disaster struck. Hurricane Agnes hit the northeastern U.S. with a week of heavy rains. Fish Creek in Bloomsburg flooded MTM with over three feet of water. Car 157 had its short section of track undermined by flood waters, and the car nearly tipped over. It was only by good fortune and immediate efforts to stabilize 157 that the car again avoided destruction. Several weeks after the flood, MTM founder and guiding light Harry L. Magee passed away, and the family soon decided against reopening the museum.

These events coincided with the founding of NYMT. MTM’s four New York State cars, including 157, were obtained for display at the fledgling NYMT. The last payment for 157 was made by NYMT promoter Henry Hamlin on May 8, 1973. On October 5, 1973, nearly 40 years ago, R&E 157 became the first car to arrive at NYMT. While much has changed since those early days of the museum, car 157 has been one of NYMT’s premier exhibits and a constant focal point for all those years.


Sometimes all it takes is a 2-year-old grandson who likes trains, and the next thing you know you’re a trustee of a transportation museum. That’s the story of our latest spotlight subject. Let’s meet Bill Randle.

Bill’s story goes back before grandsons, of course. A life-long Rochesterian, he was born in the city in 1950 and through his early childhood lived on Parsells Avenue. Bill says being the middle child in between two girls wasn’t as bad as it sounds, although he admits his older sister liked to dress him up and play with him as one of her dolls when he was very young.

Dad worked at IBM in the city, and Mom was a nurse in private practice, most notably caring for Percy Oviatt, founder of local law firm Woods, Oviatt, Gilman. In 1957, the family moved to Henrietta and Bill’s been a resident of that part of the county ever since.

Taking an early liking to sports, Bill started playing baseball in grade school and continued for over 36 years. He was a star player at Rush-Henrietta High School, and after graduation and joining IBM, played in the industrial softball league. Bill played third base and shortstop, and was recognized a couple of times with season MVP awards, as well as some golden gloves trophies for outstanding defensive plays. Although there were plenty of double plays throughout his ball career, Bill says he was involved in a triple play just one time. Being part of that rare event was a thrill.

Bill loved the sport so much that he joined more than one team. At one point he was on the roster of seven teams, which meant seven nights a week playing ball! That he could make such a commitment to baseball speaks volumes for the patience and understanding of Bills’ wife, Patty Ann, an Elmira girl he married in 1972. She was the best friend of Bill’s younger sister, but Bill didn’t meet her until after returning to Rochester from military training. Bill and Patty Ann have two daughters and five grandchildren.

In 1970, Bill joined the National Guard, taking basic training at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky with the 101st Airborne. This was followed by artillery school at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, after which he was stationed at the Main Street Armory here in Rochester.

Work continued at IBM, and his early job installing typewriters led to administrative positions in various areas. Eventually he settled in facilities management for the company’s local operation, retiring in 1992 as their Facility Manager. Bill says his “last hurrah” was being in charge of the build-out at Clinton Square, involving the first four floors at that complex, and managing the move from IBM’s State Street office (“the big black box on stilts”) to the new quarters at Clinton Square.

Upon leaving IBM, Bill’s “retirement” led him to the Nichols Team, a construction firm that was just starting up a facilities maintenance division. Bill took the position of Director of that division, which was eventually spun off as Facilicare. Bill became Vice President in this new outfit, and is now President and Chief Operating Officer there.

The company takes care of all aspects of facility management for local firms—landscape maintenance, snow plowing, janitorial services, repairs, etc. When companies “outsource” such tasks they can better concentrate on what they do best, while leaving the maintenance work to the specialists at Facilicare, for a win-win arrangement.

As we mentioned, we can thank one of Bill’s grandsons for his involvement at NYMT. “Billy” came for a visit with Grandpa at the ripe old age of 2, and has been a frequent visitor ever since. The big HO-gauge layout in Bill’s basement keeps things humming in between Sundays at the museum. The two are settling in on modeling the New York Central and local favorite Lehigh Valley. The layout occupies a quarter of the basement and is in the shape of a capital “E” (so, Bill admits, he can have a lot going on but still be able to reach any part of the layout).

Bill credits NYMT volunteer Kevin Griffith for tutoring Billy as they worked together recently on the nicely detailed extension of the museum HO layout, and Billy is now working on a farm scene on the home pike. The young man enjoys bringing his trains to the museum to operate them on the layout, and he was a big help during “Trolleys at Twilight” with some of the many tasks that night.

In our interview, Bill casually—and modestly—mentioned his 29 years coaching basketball for the Catholic Youth Organization which led to the position of Athletic Director there. “I think it’s important to give back to the community”, says Bill, and his time at NYMT is another manifestation of that. He has helped with the snow plowing job during the winter, keeps the trains running in the model railroad room, and has recently been named co-manager of facilities at NYMT with Dave Coon. We’re sure there will be plenty of opportunity in that position, and as a member of the Board of Trustees, to achieve his goal of keeping the museum looking and performing at its best for our visitors. Welcome, Bill, and thanks Billy!

Wouldn’t you look good in the Spotlight!

It’s easy…just let us know you’d like to help out, in the gift shop, doing track work, operating the trolley, maintaining and operating our track car. Just give us a call at (585) 533-1113.

ROCHESTER STREETCARS......................... No. 67 in a series

New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 243
Photographer unknown

by Charles R. Lowe

Several features of our photo, provided by NYMT Trustee Bob Sass, are hauntingly familiar. We are told that this scene is on Main Street in Canandaigua, New York, in the early to mid-1910s and, sure enough, the store fronts on a companion photo confirm the locale. So, this little single-truck car has come in on the Rochester and Eastern from Rochester, and is running out a few final miles of passenger service as one of the two or three cars kept at the Canandaigua car house for local service in that community.

Then there is the car number. On close examination of the photo, at first it looked like “249”, which was exciting enough in that this 200-series car was not previously known to have operated in Canandaigua. Given the chance to practice his computer skills, however, NYMT motorman Dave Gardner confirmed a hunch and demonstrated that the car number actually is “243”.

At this point, car details start to enliven the story. Nine side windows between doorways is a lot for a short single-truck car, and much more than the six found on the Gilbert-built 200-299 cars from 1890-91. The rare three-quarter elliptical springs on the ends of the truck frame are a giveaway that this is a MaGuire Columbian truck of the 1890s. The deck roof on 243 is not at all like the railroad roof on the Gilberts, either. This led to an inspection of the 1941 railfan photo of sand car 0243, which is identical to 243.

Thus, it turns out that our photo of car 243 is the earliest known photo of NYMT’s sand car 0243. In 1918, the lone survivor of the 161-165 series of Pullman city cars built for Rochester Railway about 1893, was converted to a sand car, charged with taking loads of dry sand out to boxes at end-of-the-line loops where conductors could refill sand boxes on their cars during their layovers there. It seems that this car must have been renumbered from its original car number of 162 about 1908 to vacate numbers which were to be used by R&E interurban cars. As the 200-series was then dedicated to single-truck cars, 162 was assigned its new number, 243, from a Gilbert car which had already been scrapped. As such, 243 was repainted in the yellow paint scheme of Rochester cars from 1904 to 1916; evidence of this can be seen on surviving parts at NYMT. It is possible that 243 was used until the 1917 arrival of new cars for Canandaigua, or simply was kept in storage in the vast recesses of the Canandaigua car house as a backup car. The car’s 1918 rebuilding—which included the installation of large sand bins, roof holes for filling and a repainting—curiously did not result in affixing the preceding zero to sand cars 243 or Gilbert-built 240, a practice employed to denote most work cars in Rochester. This addition would not take place for over a decade, probably when the two little service cars were finally repainted for the last time.

So, our photo is the rarest of all photos: an in-service shot of a car preserved at a museum. What’s more, this may well be the very oldest such photo of a museum car anywhere; offhand, none older readily come to mind. To think that a 100-year-old snapshot shows one of NYMT’s first four cars in service is just amazing.


We’ve reported earlier on the donation of artworks and information files from William Aeberli, a local railroad and history enthusiast. Bill was especially interested in the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railroad and the New York Central’s “Hojack” line, formerly the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad. He wrote an extensive series of articles on both of these lines for the Greece Post many years ago.

While thumbing through the many folders of raw research he had collected for his articles, we came across a typewritten copy of reminiscences of Charles Perry, Waterport, New York, found in the Swan Library in Albion, New York, and dating to the early 1940s. Mr. Perry’s recollections cover aspects of life in western New York State in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Nestled in this document was a paragraph recalling the attempt to create a unique railroad from Batavia, New York, to Lake Ontario. It was nicknamed the “Peg Leg” line, perhaps as it was intended to be a stub, jutting off the New York Central’s main tracks. Attempts to learn more about this line from the historical agency in Batavia didn’t bear fruit, but we eventually were able to uncover some fascinating information about this odd railroad and its inventor/promoter.

A Batavia resident named Lina Beecher, around the turn of the last century, proposed construction of a railroad from his town to the lake. According to the Perry document, he was able to drum up some financial support and actually built a line starting “west of the depot, about 60 rods [about 1,000 feet], 18 feet above the ground, on wooden stiles well braced”. What?!

More curious, it seems this wasn’t an ordinary railroad. Mr. Perry tells us the carriage was powered by that new marvel of the late-1800s—electricity. It rode on a one-rail track, with a ton of batteries hanging over the two sides.

To fully grasp the concept and guess at why this unusual railroad was attempted, we have to dig back over the years to the first human to discover the fun of sliding down an icy hill without getting hurt. Early roller coaster rides can be traced to organized ice slides in Russia and France with small cars in guide ways sliding down frozen slopes.

Bear with us now. Here in the U.S., a coal mine was started in the early 1800s high atop Mt. Pisgah, in Pennsylvania. To transport the coal nine miles to the Lehigh River docks below at Mauch Chunk, a gravity railroad was constructed. Loaded cars, hopefully with some kind of reliable braking system, would roll down the line to the bottom of the mountain, and mules would pull the empty cars back to the top. History doesn’t record whether or not the mules enjoyed the free ride downhill with the loaded coal cars, but there were occasional human adventurers who found the trip fun and exciting.

With growth of the coal trade, a second and more efficient line was built up the mountain, utilizing steam and cable power. The line also installed a ratchet system to prevent cars from rolling backwards out of control. This was a precursor to the similar device used on roller coasters as they get pulled to the top of their run.

A fire started in the mine in 1832, and continued to burn for years. This led to the closing of the mine in the 1870s. But there were no tears for the operators of the gravity railroad as its popularity as a tourist attraction had continued to grow. By this time, the whole experience including the pull to the top and the ride to the bottom took a little over an hour, and included a passing view of the burning mine as an added attraction.

A “gravity ride” was installed at Coney Island, directly inspired by the Mauch Chunk line, in 1884. It featured a gentle, wavy series of small hills and a modest top speed of 6 miles per hour. This attraction is considered the first modern roller coaster.

Keep in mind that at this period in American life, creativity was on a bender. The first powered automobiles were being developed, the Kodak Camera, the telephone, the light bulb…what next? Well, how about more exciting amusement park rides? Enter our Lina Beecher.

Beecher lived in Toledo, Ohio at the time, and in 1888 designed, built and tested what he called the “Flip Flap”, the first American looping roller coaster. This was a pretty racy amusement considering the rather tame gravity ride of just four years previous.

In the Flip Flap, a track was built in the shape of a vertical circle with a long, downhill ramp leading to the bottom of the circle. From a 30-foot height, a 2-person car would scream down the ramp and, if all went well, would make the complete circle, inverting the car and its occupants as it topped out and came roaring down the other side of the circle, leveling out and stopping on a straight braking section. The Flip Flap was sold to Coney Island in the late 1800s.

Of course, with sufficient speed, centrifugal force would keep the car on the track as it went upside down, and that speed was more or less assured by the 30-foot drop. All this was done without seat belts, by the way. But soon there was a spate of complaints from riders over neck and back injuries. The centrifugal force was calculated at 12 G’s (twelve times the force of gravity) and was enough to cause a rider to black out. The Flip Flap was abandoned at Coney Island in 1901 or 1902.

Replacing the Flip Flap was a much gentler design—Edwin Prescott’s elliptical “Loop the Loop”. Use of an ellipse provided a smooth transition from the straight downhill run to the curved portion of the ride. In railroad and highway design, transitions from a straight line to a curve are “spiraled” to avoid a sudden change of lateral acceleration (rate of change of acceleration is called “jerk” if you’d like to know). Similarly, the ellipse on the Loop the Loop reduced the sudden “jerk” of the Beecher Flip Flap with its damaging forces.

What does all this have to do with the “Peg Leg” rail line out of Batavia, you ask? Beecher had decided to consider another solution to the problem of those neck and back injuries. If centrifugal force was being used to keep the car from falling out of the circle, maybe some other means could be used…one that didn’t involve so much speed and therefore reducing the force and injuries.

An 1899 issue of “Engineering News” mentions “Captain” Lina Beecher’s Monorail Railway Company at 233 Spitzer Building, Toledo, Ohio, and shows a sketch of a vertical loop track. The article describes the track as having a central carrying rail and two side guide rails, under-riding. Wheels on the car would ride on the under side of these guide rails, thus avoiding derailments and keeping the car from falling from the peak of the loop in the event of insufficient speed. Nothing is said about keeping the occupants from a disastrous fall, however!

On March 11, 1902, the Beecher Construction Company of Batavia, New York was issued patent number 695,137 for such a system, with additional patents on January 26, 1904 (numbers 750,246 and 750,247).

In this cross section view, Beecher shows a drive wheel, E, and the two under-riding wheels, G.

It is our surmise that by this time Beecher had long ago moved on from the world of amusement park rides and into bigger things. The monorail system he devised was likely what he wanted to build from Batavia to Lake Ontario. But as described earlier, there just wasn’t enough investment money to cover the high cost of this complex rail system. It would be years later in places like the Seattle World’s Fair and Disneyland where monorail lines would be built, still expensive and, ironically for Beecher, mostly as a unique transportation amusement.

Ever the creative entrepreneur, Beecher turned his attention to the growing infrastructure needs of cities and organized a company to sell Horse Shoe Lake water to the City of Batavia. The New York Central protested, however, as the railroad used water from nearby Godfrey’s Pond to supply steam locomotives after the climb up the Byron Hill grade, and they feared the effects from tapping Horse Shoe Lake. Beecher soon gave up, after failing to sell his water idea to Batavia and both Medina and Lockport as well. Some time later he moved out of the area and we haven’t heard from him since.

In case you’re wondering, the Loop the Loop was itself only a modest success. It tended to attract more “watchers” than “riders”, and the amusement park actually began charging to come and watch. But the ride eventually succumbed to heavy losses and was closed around the time of World War I.

As for the Mt. Pisgah gravity railway, it finally closed in 1938 in the depths of the depression. Coincidentally, the NYMT archives contain a black and white film made in the 1920s or 30s featuring the line, showing the cable system and treating the viewer to a downhill ride. It’s quite fun.


With all the volunteer effort in the background that goes into maintaining our rail line, museum facility, and equipment we tend to forget the business of the museum is out in front serving the public. Our visitors come in all shapes and sizes, from toddlers already enthralled by trucks and trains, to their grandparents who often have interesting memories to share from the world of transportation.

We’re always pleased to get feedback from all these folks, and that often shows up in the “comments” section of the guest register in the gift shop. Here are some of the recent listings:

In the “from” column, this family listed “Okinawa, New York, Delaware and Turkey: “Interesting; liked when allowed in different and multiple trains, and fun. Clean also.”

From a Rochester resident: “It’s really cool! I loved the trains and I’m going to love the buses!”

From various contributors: “Awesome”, “Fantastic!”, and “Awesome”. (We seem to have a lock on awesomeness…)

Some folks know the learning process lasts a liftetime: “Great! I had 3 new, exciting experiences.”

Apparently it really is more than the ride: “Wonderful displays…great time.”

And our volunteers get a well-deserved pat on the back: “Great work, great museum and very friendly people. Thanks for keeping the history alive.”

And we really are known around the world:

(“Great! I’m glad that I came here”.)

SHOP REPORT by Charles Lowe

Track:Three ties just north (railroad south) of the NYMT loading area were replaced in early May by Rich Fischpera, Rick Holahan and Tony Mittiga. These were tamped June 8.

In early May, the 300 Dudley track bolts, made for NYMT by Master Bolt of Elyria, Ohio, were picked up at the Estes freight house by Bob Achilles and Rick Holahan. The first installations of these new bolts took place on May 27. Twelve bolts were installed just south of the compromise bars just south of Reid’s Crossing by Charlie Lowe and Bob Achilles. In early June, Charlie obtained a 12-point socket which can be used to tighten nuts which lie under traction bonds.

On May 16, Tony Mittiga oiled all switches at NYMT. In late May, Rich Fischpera and Rick Holahan applied weed spray to the railroad. Special attention was paid to the east leg of the loop track to prevent the wild weed growth which has occurred here in recent years. Weed growth was minimal in the succeeding weeks after this treatment. A second treatment followed in August.

Charlie Lowe identified the ties to be replaced on the sharp curve just south of the Main Entrance Road and contacted our railroad contractor in May. The Board of Trustees approved the purchase of ten double gauge rods at its May 21 meeting to insure that the proper gauge would be held on this curve. The 10 push rods and a keg of spikes were obtained by Rich and Rick on June 5. On June 8, a large crew placed all 10 rods snuggly but did not alter gauge. Tie ends of twenty old ties were excavated to ease removal. Participating in this day of work were Rich Fischpera, Rick Holahan, Tony Mittiga, Jay and Todd Consadine, and Vin Steinmann and Vin’s daughter Mikala.

The June 8 work party is glad to take a break and smile for the camera. OK, folks…back to work!Rich Fischpera photo

Tony and Charlie set nine gauge rods to 56-7/8” +/- 1/8” on June 15. On June 19 and 22, work crews dug out the remaining areas around tie ends and on top of ties near the entrance road. One additional gauge rod was installed near the grade crossing, and all were re-set to gauge.

As part of the Entrance Road Curve project, the guard rail at this location was repaired. Five of the six blocks were too large for the rail, resulting in tips of wheel flanges striking parts of the blocks. Bob Achilles and Charlie Lowe removed the block bolts on July 5 for reconditioning and removed two of the oversized blocks.

During a line inspection on July 7, Charlie Lowe noticed a sheared bolt at a rail joint about 200 feet south of Giles; a replacement bolt was installed immediately.

Jay Consadine, in early July, began work on cutting back brush along the north property line. The vegetation in this area along the railroad constantly produces branches that strike the trolley as it passes by.

On July 27, a large work party finished preparing the Entrance Road Curve site for the upcoming contract work. The guard rail was properly bolted in place, two ties inserted, one gauge rod installed and the entire area re-gauged with rods already in place. Date nails from 1923 and 1928 were found on ties in this area; these 85- and 90-year-old ties were indeed ready for replacement. This work was performed on July 27 by Bob Achilles, Dave Coon, Rick Holahan, Dick Holbert, Charlie Lowe, Tony Mittiga, Vin Steinmann and Jack Tripp. Dick and Dave also buried a cross bond at Midway.

A track survey made on July 30 of weak ties south of Giles revealed wide gauge and many fully worn-out ties. Arrangements were made to have RGVM provide 50 ties which could be installed here by NYMT’s railroad contractor. On August 17, a crew consisting of Bob Achilles, Vin Steinmann, Steve Davis, Dick Holbert and Charlie Lowe installed 18 gauge rods in the area south of Giles to stabilize the track for now. At its August 20 meeting, The Board of Trustees approved installation of the 50 ties south of Giles, with this work to be performed by the contractor along with the work at the Entrance Road Curve.

Philadelphia and Western 161 and 168: In June, Tony Mittiga assisted Bob Miner in topping off oil in journals and motor bearings.

Northern Texas Traction 409: Bob Achilles and Charlie Lowe moved stored rail away from this car’s trucks on August 11 so that Charlie Robinson can make his annual inspection of the tarps covering the trucks.

New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 243: A small cleanup project in the area surrounding NYMT’s “Sand Car” is underway. The residue of several long-completed projects, unceremoniously dumped in this area, is being either re-purposed or discarded. One fascinating discovery is that this car had “over-truss” bars. These were used to hold up the long overhangs of the car body and platforms extending beyond the truck ends. Diagonal holes in the rebuilt frame were visible, and four bent plates serving as anchors at each corner of the car were found. But, what might have happened to the 20-foot-long over-truss bars? They were found, with some difficulty, in deep storage in the milking parlor.

New York Museum of Transportation Weed Sprayer 02: Ted Strang and Rick Holahan replaced the balky gasoline engine for the weed sprayer pump on July 27.

Overhead: On May 27, Charlie Lowe and Bob Achilles began work on the Loop Track overhead, and drilled one hole for a span wire, but were then stymied by a hydraulic failure on the bucket truck. Later that week, Ted Strang took a look and saw that a hydraulic hose had ruptured. On June 22, Ted was able to replace the burst hose and return the bucket truck to service.


We’re well past mid-year, and autumn will be here before we know it, but there’s still lots of fun in store at the museum. In addition to regular Sunday trolley rides, our event days add special features. Be sure to join us, and tell your friends!

September 15, 22, 29; October 6, 13, 20, 27; November 3 (Sundays) – FALL FOLIAGE BY TROLLEY AND TRAIN

Enjoy the beauty of autumn in western New York State from the window of an authentic 86-year-old electric trolley car. A diesel locomotive with two cabooses will meet the trolley each day for the continuation to the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum

(note: we plan to have a display of local fire trucks at the September 15 kick-off of “Fall Foliage”)

November 10, 17, 24 (Sundays) – TROLLEY RIDES

What better way to enjoy the beautiful Genesee Valley countryside than with a trolley ride!  The museum is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the 20-minute rides depart at 12:00, 12:30, 1:00 and 1:30.  Reduced admission prices prevail:  $5 adults, $4 kids under 12, ride included.

November 30; December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22 (Saturdays and Sundays) – HOLLY TROLLEY RIDES

Santa may still use reindeer power, but museum visitors can enjoy a ride on an authentic 86 year-old electric trolley car, recalling another time when families rode the big interurban trolleys from their rural homes to do their holiday shopping in the city.


We’ve had quite a few so far this year. We began our joint ride season with our partners at Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum on May 19, and visitors that day got a rare look at two vintage buses. Regional Transit Service agreed to bring out their beautifully restored “old look” GM transit bus decked out in the 1950s livery of red, cream and white. With thanks to RTS communications execs Jake Ziegler and Mike Tedesco, we were able to bring back memories for many visitors.

In many areas, buses took over the former rail passenger routes…in this case the interurban on the left and the city streetcar on the right.

Along side the RTS bus was Bob Malley’s knockout Flxible coach, painted for the Blue Bus Lines that used to provide suburban and local town service…basically taking over for the interurban railways after their demise in the Depression. Bob came in uniform and graciously slipped us in between a visiting antique car club that came to see his collection of vehicles and a family birthday party. Thank you Bob!

“Scouting Day” on June 2 didn’t produce a tidal wave of scouts (just as well…we don’t handle tidal waves well), but there were some scouts and their leaders. One result later on was an overnight event at RGVRRM with the young men of Kirkville, NY Troop 210 doing some clean-up tasks at that museum in return for their campout. We should put a plug in here for the Boy Scout Railroad Merit Badge, currently under the tutelage of ace model railroader Ray Howard. NYMT has benefited from eight Eagle Scout projects over the years, and the Railroad Merit Badge program is one way to introduce young scouts to the opportunities at our museum should they decide to aim for Eagle rank.

RGVRRM has the spotlight for the annual “Railroad Day”, and they bring railroading “up close and personal” with demonstrations of coupling cars, switchman’s hand signals, Morse code and all the many aspects of railroading that are a mystery to the average citizen. Operation Lifesaver was an important part of this day, and Bob Gabby had a table at NYMT with souvenirs and handouts to present the important messages about safety around trains.

Another new addition this year was “Baseball Day”. We had a good crowd, including Spikes, the mascot of the Rochester Redwings. We credit Otto Vondrak for pumping up our event lineup, and as he says, baseball and trains have gone together in the past—fans going to a game, teams traveling to distant cities, and for that matter, there’s the CSX mainline visible from the Redwing’s home turf, Frontier Field.

Even team mascots need a ticket to ride the trolley, and Beth Adams is only too happy to oblige.

“Trolleys at Twilight” is our annual recreation of the ambience of an old time trolley park. Back in the days before air conditioning and the five-day work week, city dwellers in the summer longed for recreation and a break from the heat. The trolley companies accommodated with amusement parks such as Glen Haven and Sea Breeze in our area. These parks were more than a collection of entertaining rides, for they often had music and dancing, band concerts, food and beer emporiums, and live comedy acts. A popular time to go was Saturday evening after work, and the way to get there was on the trolley.

This year we were pleased to offer a concert by the Pittsford Fire Department band. It was great music and it added just the right touch as visitors strolled the museum grounds, rode the trolley, and enjoyed the tasty offerings of Harladay’s Hots and Bruster’s Ice Cream.

NYMT’s Doug Anderson is a member of the Pittsford F.D. Band, and was helpful in arranging their concert. Joseph Nugent photo

The threat of rain evaporated just in time for a delightful evening, and as darkness fell, car 161 got to star in some night photography. Otto Vondrak was in charge of this part of the twilight event, and he brought in Steve Barry, Editor of Railfan & Railroad magazine for technical expertise and leadership. Night photo shoots are complex exercises that involve a number of high-output strobe flash units that are carefully positioned to illuminate the subjects in the scene, assuring a well-lit yet realistic result. As can be seen from this example, photos produced in this manner offer a unique view of nighttime operation. And by the way, keep in mind as you enjoy this scene that all the preparation, positioning of light units, cameras and photographers, swatting mosquitoes, stumbling over stuff, etc. is done in pretty much total darkness!

Charlie Lowe and Tom Smith have their Model A Fords waiting at the crossing as Otto Vondrak “hoops up” orders to 161.

Joseph Nugent photo

Events like these make friends for the museums and give us a chance (when the media cooperate) to spotlight all that we have to offer the public. We hope you’ve had a chance to come and enjoy them!


It’s always fun to watch others do hard work, especially when it’s the experienced team from Matthews Building Movers. The family owned firm is fast approaching its 150th year in business in Rochester, and there isn’t much they don’t know how to move. The steam engine from the Hojack swing bridge didn’t phase them either.

As the Thursday crew proceeded with construction of the swing bridge exhibit, it became clear that either (a) the movers would eventually have to manhandle that multi-ton engine into position in a finished exhibit, or (b) the Thursday crew would have to finish construction, working around the engine already in place. It was decided to opt for (b), and a call was put in to Pete Matthews. After a couple of site visits, some measurements, and a little pondering, the plan was settled and a date set for the move.

On August 8, 2013, five members of the Matthews clan arrived with their vehicles full of blocking, casters, dollies, air bags and a fork lift. The fork lift made pretty quick work of dragging the steam engine out of the location it had occupied since last Christmas. This shot shows Dan and Andy Matthews steering the heavy iron dollies by tapping them with sledge hammers…just one of the tricks of the trade in heavy moving.

Andy Matthews directs the show as the swing bridge steam engine enjoys a brief moment in the sun.

With the museum fire truck parked outside, the steam engine was then put on dollies and casters and pushed down the aisle in the milking parlor past the model display cases to the intersection with the main aisle. Making the 90-degree turn there was an issue for a while, but the air bags did a great job of raising and lowering the engine as the turn was made.

A come-along was used to pull the engine now, as there was no room for the fork lift. Once up in the main aisle opposite the final resting place, rotating the machine into position went smoothly. At least the Matthews crew made it look that way. Lastly, the engine was put on blocks to level it out on the sloped floor, and the control lever assembly was slipped into place.

Andy, Cole, Skyler, Pete and Dan look pretty happy that the steam engine and control stand are finally in place.

Now, where’d the Thursday team go? They’ve got to finish that exhibit!


A lot goes on at the museum “behind the scenes”…

Steve Huse and helpers have done a nice job of sprucing up Midway station that once served waiting passengers on the Buffalo, Lockport & Rochester interurban trolley line. With some repairs, a new coat of paint, station signs, etc. the transfer point for our summer ride season is an attractive place to await the next track car or trolley.

Steve Huse and Rick Holahan have Midway station’s paint job under way while 161’s poles are reversed on a training run.

Steve credits RGVRRM’s Mark Wilczek for his expertise and quality workmanship in tearing down and rebuilding the roof and shingles. Mark and Steve were aided in the roof job by Mark’s father and Rob Burris. The painting crew included Tony Mittiga, Rick Holahan, Jeremy Tuke, Norm Shaddick and Rand Warner. Jim Otto made the new “Midway” station signs.

Who ever heard of putting gutters inside a building? Well, that’s what we’ve resorted to, in the face of continuing and damaging roof leaks in the milking parlor. Actually, for some time we’ve used sections of gutter to collect small drips over the vehicles, but things got a lot worse last winter with rain and melted snow pouring in by the 5-gallon bucket load.

So, the Thursday team designed heavy steel hangers to suspend a long, 75-foot gutter from a main I-beam so that the incoming water could be transported to a hole in the wall and dumped outside. A sheet metal deflector was designed and installed to direct the leaks toward the gutter. Don Quant, Bob Pearce, John Ross, and Jim Dierks are the Thursday regulars, and they were assisted in this effort by Charlie Lowe who installed the outdoor portion of the system through the glass block wall and down to a splash block. Caulking the many joints in the gutter sections has been a surprising and onerous task, but it appears that all these leaking seams have been taken care of.

Steve Huse has placed the Burma Shave signs, formerly on the right of way south of Midway station, at NYMT reflecting yet another aspect of transportation history.

Memories for some…a new awakening for others.

The electrical duo of Dick Holbert and Jim Johnson have been at it again. This time they’ve completed wiring for the overhead “warehouse” light fixtures at the swing bridge exhibit, and extended the line to the G-gauge model railroad overhead lighting and transformer. Now, one convenient wall switch turns all that on. Once the swing bridge exhibit walls are in place Jim and Dick will wire up a wall socket to power the exhibit’s working model of the bridge.


Our museum is open Sundays-only, all year, but for some groups it just isn’t possible to come on a Sunday. So, we happily offer to open the museum and staff the ride in order to accommodate these situations. We have a flexible array of arrangements to suit the needs, time constraints and comprehension level of the group seeking a visit, ranging from a guided tour of NYMT, to the inclusion of a track car ride with tour of RGVRRM, and expanding that to include a ride on the trolley. The various choices come with different prices and minimum charges.

Sometimes even all those options don’t quite fill the bill, and we have to improvise. Case in point, an organization of mechanical music device enthusiasts was holding a convention in Rochester, and Craig Smith, the organizer of the event, asked if they could visit the museum and hold their own event there.

We eventually sorted out their time limits and settled on a package consisting of: a trolley ride, a guided tour of the museum, a musical presentation by our own Tangley player calliope, a catered dinner in Northern Texas Traction Co. 409 (formerly in the Spaghetti Warehouse Restaurant in Rochester, and still equipped with tables and chairs to accommodate 36), and postprandial entertainment by local Dixieland outfit “The Smugtown Stompers”.

Dixieland music echoed out as night fell at NYMT, entertaining members of the Music Box Society at their regional meeting.

“A good time was had by all”, as is said, and there was plenty of extra food for the museum volunteers who made the whole event possible. Birthday parties, movie shoots, convention parties…we’ll do what we can to fit them in, and we’re waiting for the phone to ring.


The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the election of two additional members to its ranks:

Dave Coon has been heavily involved in many aspects of volunteer work at NYMT. He is currently on the trolley crew, is in charge of mowing the fields and lawns around the property, and recently was appointed co-manager of the museum’s facilities. Dave owns the Staub and Coon insurance agency.

Rich Fischpera was an early museum volunteer and since his retirement has returned to take on many roles with us. He’s a member of the trolley crew, and also is in charge of track car operator training, staffing, and maintenance. Rich has also put his share of time in on track maintenance.

We welcome both of these active and devoted members, and look forward to their contributions in guiding the museum.

HEADEND is published four times a year by the New York Museum of Transportation, © 2013. 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, Bob Sass