Headend in PDF

The New York Museum of Transportation


Volume 34, Number 2 April 2020


"New York Pause" to Continue to May 15

Governor Cuomo has recently announced that "New York Pause," which severely limits activity at non-essential businesses such as NYMT, will be continued until at least May 15. In accordance with this, NYMT remains closed to visitors and volunteers. The only exception is for occasional Board-mandated inspections performed by designated Board members. You can read about these in the Shop Report.

As part of weathering the coronavirus storm, the Board has created a revised budget limiting museum expenses to about 20% of what they might normally have been. This is necessary since no visitor revenue is expected for at least several months, and perhaps much longer. Work has begun to boost NYMT's presence in the community. You will notice new offerings on the museum's Facebook page and extra editions of HEADEND.


By James Dierks, Archive Manager

[This report is one in a continuing series of reports by NYMT's Area Managers to let NYMT's friends and volunteers understand the inner workings at the museum. Ed.]

The Archive of the New York Museum of Transportation preserves documents and artifacts that illuminate the history of moving people and things. This wealth of information is available for research and much of it can be accessed on-line. Photographs, books and other published material, letters, personal memorabilia, maps, posters, blueprints, business records, and post cards are just some of the soft goods that populate the Archive. They are accompanied by drawers and cartons full of films and transparencies, uniform buttons, ticket punches, horse car bells, brakeman's lanterns, model automobiles, uniforms, streetcar tokens ... and the list goes on. As much as possible, items are contained in the Archive room which is temperature and humidity controlled.

This complete point-of-sale card with leather streetcar token cases is one of many artifacts contained in the museum’s Archive. Photo by Jim Dierks.

The vast majority of the Archive contents have come to us by donation. Such thoughtfulness demonstrates a respect for preserving history as much as a desire to help NYMT and is appreciated on both counts. Every donation goes through a system guided by a 23-point Collections Management Policy. Once the donation is received, the Archive Manager provides a written acknowledgment for the donor, listing the items along with the donor’s information and the date the donation is received. While most donations can be enumerated on the form, some collections run into multi-page attachments. Museum copies of the acknowledgement forms are kept in annual folders in chronological order, and these files are the primary record for the Archive.

The second step for a donation requires time and knowledge on the part of volunteer staff. A decision is made to place each item in one of three filing arrangements: the numbered accession system, the vertical file, and the library. In the accession system, each item is listed on a form, providing a sequential accession number and key words to help in later searching the Archive. Once this information is entered into the computer, researchers can quickly identify items that pertain to their interest. This system is especially appropriate for items that contain information of interest in several ways. For example, a photograph of a streetcar having collided with an auto could be identified by car number, destination, cross street, make of automobile, etc. The image would be found by an antique car restorer interrogating the Archive for the make of auto, or by someone doing family research entering the cross street. Just filing streetcars by car number in this example would not make these other discoveries possible.

Soft goods in the accession system are kept in archival sleeves in storage cartons labeled with the range of numbered items contained therein. Large soft goods such as maps and posters are kept in a "flats" cabinet. Tokens, ticket punches, dining car china and other similar items fill a six-drawer file cabinet, while long-play records, films and videos rest in their own file drawers. A large collection of vintage technical books, textbooks and rail-road journals are on shelves in a steel bookcase. Glass negatives and large film reels find a place in the safe, and the enormous Tom Kirn Collection of photos occupies two large file drawers. Large items such as lanterns, signs and toys are kept on shelves outside of the Archive room, with some finding their way into exhibit cases throughout the museum. Our current count is well over 3,500 items recorded in the accession system, and easily hundreds more occupy the receiving shelves awaiting the accession treatment.

The vertical file is contained in nine file cabinet drawers arranged alphabetically and is primarily used for items unique to a certain railroad, trolley line or subject. The origin of this file was a donation of an individual's personal collection of paper goods from trolley lines, all in file folders in alphabetic order, but over the years we have added numerous other folders as new items have arrived. A typical item in the vertical file might be a Baltimore and Ohio employee magazine from the 1920s or a New York Central brochure promoting travel to the 1964 World's Fair. The vertical file could use another file cabinet, but space in the room is limited at present.

Shelden King's detailed knowledge of trolley history guaranteed accuracy when identifying and accessioning vintage photographs. Photo by Jim Dierks.

The library has been roughly organized into general railroad books, railroad-specific books and trolley books. The trolley books are arranged alphabetically by state. In some cases, such as Rochester-area trolley books, a duplicate copy is kept in the library.

Rochester and Eastern freight motor 925 is seen at the interurban union freight terminal at State Street Station (now a parking lot for Eastman Kodak headquarters). Photo probably by William G. Amer.

An advantage of the accession system is the ability to include it on the museum website. Research can take place without visiting the museum and physically handling the items in the file. Years ago, volunteer Ted Thomas added an archive section and search process to the website he had built for NYMT, and spent many hours posting items on the website. He accompanied each item with digital photos he took of the items. The result is a visitor to our site can enter terms in the Key Words section and obtain a list of pertinent items with thumbnail images which can then be enlarged to screen size. As an example, entering "eastern" (without the quotes) in the Key Words line produced 36 hits, among them being the above photo of Rochester & Eastern freight car 925.

Some highlights in the Archive are worth mentioning. The Tom Kirn Collection contains hundreds of large black-and-white prints featuring the Rochester Subway and city streetcars. Another large collection is New York State Railways official photographs made by company staffers for equipment inventories, accident records and to record work methods and equipment (the photo of car 925 is one of these; note the record number in the lower right). Recently we were given a large collection of official engineering drawings from the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad and the Erie Railroad. These drawings, many more than 150 years old and mostly in ink on linen, record track diagrams and property agreements in Hornell, Elmira, and western New York State. Several large volumes contain records of accidents, derailments, injuries and deaths on the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway. Reading through the entries in these journals, written in flowing script, one recognizes the dangers inherent in railroading and appreciates the many safety measures that have taken place over the years.

Preserving the history contained in our Archive and making it available for research are important responsibilities for NYMT. Challenges include a lack of space, a need for improved containers and archival shelving, and most importantly knowledgeable volunteers with the time to keep up with the rush of incoming material and to carry it through the whole process. If we can find the means to do all that, we'll be fulfilling the Archive's role in the mission of the New York Museum of Transportation.


Museum Inspection — A comprehensive inspection of NYMT was performed by NYMT President Charlie Lowe on Monday, April 7, 2020. Hay barn roof repair was observed, and buckets underneath were emptied. These will be checked during the next inspection to ensure the leaks are truly repaired. Many electrical appliances were disconnected to save power. The railroad and over-head were inspected; no damage was seen.

ROCHESTER STREETCARS......................... No. 98 in a series

J. F. Collins, Jr. Photo;
Tom Brewer Coll.; used with permission.

This month's photo came to ROCHESTER STREET-CARS from NYMT member Tom Brewer. While the photo shows Rochester Transit Corp. car 2010 during a fan trip on September 5, 1949 (part of the NRHS annual convention, which was in Rochester that year), our story is more about the background and the photographer.

In addition to the underground section downtown, there was another tunnel which originally carried Rochester and Syracuse cars as they entered and left the Subway. The R&S tunnel was a clever triple crossing that carried R&S cars under the grade crossing of East Avenue and New York Central's Auburn branch. The outbound Subway track and the East Avenue loop were also carried over the R&S by the tunnel. Our photo is looking east, and 2010 has carefully backed down to the tunnel. After the R&S was abandoned in 1931, the R&S tunnel lost its purpose. Tom recalled the situation recently:

Back in 1955 when I learned the passenger service on the Subway was ending in June 1956, I started riding every Saturday I could. I would take the Lake Ave bus to Main and State and walk up Exchange Street to the City Hall Station. I would board there and make one round trip and take the Lake bus home. On my ride on the subway we would pass the RS&E tunnel but being 11 years old I had no idea of its history. I do remember that sometimes there would be a tank car parked down at the tunnel entrance. Some times there would be a tank truck parked on the road above the tunnel with a hose down to the dome on the rail tank car....

When I boarded at City Hall, the car was headed to Rowlands. Charlie the operator, after a couple of trips, put me to work. I would change the roll sign from Rowlands to Gen. Motors and then walk the down the inside of the car, checking each seat to see if passengers left anything. Meanwhile Charlie would sit and eat a sandwich and drink from a thermos. At GM loop, I would change the sign and do the seat check. The first few weeks I would pay another fare and ask for a transfer. Once Charlie knew me, he would not say anything but smile and put his hand over the top of the fare box so I could not pay another fare.

The tank car, marked JJWX 100 and leased by the city, was used for weed spraying operations. The photographer of this photo was Jack Collins. Tom met Jack through model railroading. Jack's father was a professional photographer with the Franklin Car Co. in Syracuse and, later, Kodak, and Jack probably learned about photography from his father. Over the years, Jack made many excellent railfan photos. As a teen, Jack attended Edison Tech for drafting, and after serving as a New York Central ticket agent in Rochester was able to join New York Central's engineering office in New York City.

The fan trip journey of car 2010 may well have been the only time that car ventured down to the R&S tunnel. How fortunate we are that Jack Collins was there for us.

In this snippet from a 1935 plat book, the R&S tunnel's two tracks end at Rockwood Street. The tunnel crosses two plates of the plat book. The penciled line work shows a 1940s concept for the Eastern Expressway, later known as I-490. Note that this alignment could have preserved the Subway. The Outer Loop was to have interchanged with the Eastern Expressway with a cloverleaf interchange a little east of Rockwood Street.


Volume 34, Number 2 April 2020

HEADEND is a publication of New York Museum of Transportation, © 2020. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.
www.nymtmuseum.org (585) 533-1113


Editor Charles R. Lowe
Associate Editor James E. Dierks
On-Line Publication Bob Sass

Board of Trustees

President and Trustee Charles R. Lowe
First Vice President and Trustee Carlos Mercado
Second Vice President and Trustee Jack Tripp
Third Vice President and Trustee Nancy Uffindell
Secretary and Trustee Jim Dierks
Treasurer and Board Member Bob Achilles
Trustee Doug Anderson
Trustee Jim Wiesner
Board Member Bob Sass

Department Leaders

Archivist Jim Dierks
Chief Engineer Charlie Lowe
Chief Lineman Charlie Lowe
Exhibits Manager Jim Dierks
Event Manager Nancy Uffindell
Facebook Managers Nancy Uffindell and Doug Anderson
Facilities Manager Dave Coon
Gift Shop Manager Doug Anderson
Group Tour Manager Jim Dierks
Historic Car and Building Manager Charlie Lowe
Information Technology Manager Bob Sass
Marketing Manager Jim Dierks
Master Mechanic Strafford Cars Charlie Lowe
Model Railroad Manager Kevin Griffith
Membership Manager Bob Sass
New Volunteer Manager Carlos Mercado
Officer of the Day Manager Jim Dierks
Substation Manager Bob Sass
Trainmaster Charlie Lowe
Water Quality Manager Jim Wiesner


The most important job of our volunteers and members right now is to do all that is possible to remain well. Everyone will be needed once we start to think about reopening NYMT. Please feel free to contact Board members, or me, with your thoughts.

Charles R. Lowe, Editor


The New York Museum of Transportation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit museum chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York. We are managed and operated entirely by volunteers, and the welcome mat is always out for anyone wishing to join our work. Open for visitors all year on Sundays only, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., we also welcome group visits during the week by appointment.

We are located at 6393 East River Road in the Town of Rush, and our mailing address is P.O. Box 136, West Henrietta, NY 14586. www.nymtmuseum.org is the place to find us on the internet and learn much more about us. Also, you can visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NYMTmuseum.

Want to contact us? Call us at (585) 533-1113 or send us an email at info@nymtmuseum.org. And, remember to tell your friends!

Consider becoming a member www.nymtmuseum.org/Membership.php .