Headend in PDF

New York Museum of Transportation


Volume 34, Number 7 November-December 2020


A plan for re-opening NYMT for public visitation has been approved as part of the 2021 budget process. While it is impossible to predict the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2021, the plan now in place can be modified to suit COVID conditions when public visitation at NYMT resumes.

The intent is to open NYMT for the public in mid-May, assuming COVID conditions are satisfactory. Museum operations would be limited to five hourly trolley runs on Sundays, starting at 11:30 a.m. This will permit enough time for car cleaning to take place between runs. Entry into the museum would be through the gift shop where ticketing will take place. Ticket sales will be on-line and limited to 25% of the 52-seat car capacity, or 13 visitors per hour. Museum operations for the year would conclude at the end of October.

It may be possible to host a few events, including our annual Halloween event, and the long-running Holly Trolley event. Adding any additional events into the schedule will mostly depend on COVID conditions and on the level of volunteer availability.

Cleaning and sanitizing will be an important part of any operations for the public that take place in 2021. As planned right now, it is envisioned that volunteers and visitors will wear facemasks when inside the hay barn, the milking parlor, the trolley, and when close to each other, such as when walking to or from the trolley. Hand sanitizing stations will be set up at useful locations throughout the museum, and bathroom sanitizing will take place on a regular schedule during the times of operation for the public.

By being open only once a week, it has been determined that it will not be necessary to perform a professional-level cleaning of the museum during the week. Group tours, therefore, will be on hold for now.

Springtime will bring a new perspective on operation plans, at which time the Board will reconsider its details and match our operations to COVID realities.


Cars 161 and 168 Transformed NYMT
and Boosted Electrification

On August 20, 1996, cars 161 and 168 were photographed while in storage at Keokuk, Iowa. Soon, they would begin their journeys east to Rochester. Photo courtesy of Scott Becker.

Almost twenty-five years ago, NYMT’s two operating trolley cars, ex-Philadelphia and Western 161 and 168, were obtained for NYMT. While many individuals were involved in this epochal event, Scott Becker, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Trolley Museum and NYMT’s Jim Dierks were the first to consider these cars for NYMT. Scott suggested to Jim that NYMT consider obtaining one car in a group of the four Strafford cars (161, 163, 165 and 168) then in Iowa and newly available. This discussion took place just about the time this photo was made.

As events unfolded, the two cars shown above, cars 161 and 168, were obtained and brought to NYMT in late 1996. Acquiring these two cars set NYMT firmly on the way to providing what is now New York State’s only trolley ride experience.


Philadelphia and Western 161 — Car 161 has had its defective coach heat system removed by Project Manager Bob Sass. Over 60 pounds of rust from defective heater frames has been removed from the car.

This project began in March 2020. The idea was to replicate the car 161 coach heater system in car 168. Close examination of the heaters on 161 revealed that the system was in poor condition. One quarter of the system was not working because of defective wiring. Heater frames were loose and very rusted. Charing of wood strips used to hold the heater frames in place was noticed. This investigation may have saved 161 from disaster.

Bob Sass has been separating the heater bars from the old heater frames. The heater bars are held in place with very rusted bolts. Ceramic insulators separate the heater bars from the steel heater frames, and these must be removed and stored for reuse. So far, 15% of the heater bars and their insulators have been freed from the old heater frames, with none of the heater bars or insulators already removed being mangled beyond use.

This photo, taken under the car seats in car 161, shows the area alongside the inside wall of the car which holds the heater system. The heater frames and their heater bars have been removed, but several sections of the stainless-steel covers are visible behind the seat posts. Photo by Bob Sass.

Jim Wiesner has prepared the shop drawings needed for building the replacement heater frames. Using the completed drawings, Jim will locate a fabrication shop capable of making the needed 36 heater frame assemblies.

During the winter months that lie ahead, all heater bars and insulators will be removed from their heater frames. Any heater bars or insulators found to be defective will then have replacement parts ordered. Meanwhile, the heater frames will be fabricated.

Once warm weather returns, installation of the new heaters can begin. This work will take several months. The hope is that the car’s coach heater system will be ready for use by October 2021 to provide warm seating for passengers in hoped-for late fall operations in 2021.

The cost estimate for this project is $13,800. Donations to the “Philadelphia and Western 161 and 168” fund is an excellent way for members and friends of NYMT to help push this project forward.

Philadelphia and Western 168 — Friends of Philadelphia Trolleys, a group seeking to preserve surviving cars from that city, has donated $500 to NYMT for use in maintaining 161 and 168. Bob Achilles has volunteered to lead a project to replace the side window plexiglass in car 168 with tempered glass, using this funding.

Archives — Bill Gordon’s last archives, containing many materials he used in publishing his books, has been donated to NYMT. Bob Achilles arranged for this donation to be made to NYMT.

Buildings — Taylor Reed and Rick Holahan, after noticing animal droppings inside the milking parlor and the hay barn, plugged several points where animals were entering inside areas.

Inspections — Bob Achilles is performing weekly inspections inside the main buildings at NYMT this winter, combining this with his once-a-week trip to pick up museum mail at the post office.

Mowing Crew — The mowing crew of Dave Coon, crew leader, and Rick Holahan, Taylor Reed and Rand Warner wrapped up their season-long efforts by giving NYMT’s grass a last cut before winter in early November.

Overhead — The single pullovers to be used on the east leg of the loop track are being changed from wood strain insulators to ceramic insulators. So far, 12 of the 23 single pullovers needed for the east leg have been rebuilt. Ceramic insulators will not require maintenance in future years whereas wood strain insulators require re-varnishing every few years. Use of ceramic insulators is historically accurate; they were used on the Rochester Subway.

Board — At its meeting on December 16, the Board approved a budget for 2021 but decided to remain on its current austerity mode for now. The budget provided for the purchases of a new lawn tractor and of a new push mower, both being for volunteer use in keeping the grounds in good condition. Separate motions included making appropriations for replacing the coach section heater system in car 161 and for 2020–2021 membership in “Visit Rochester.” Approval was granted for investigations to begin on installation of a modern, fob-style security system at NYMT.



Solvay Process Company made soda ash at its plant near Syracuse, N.Y. The company operated a quarry at nearby Jamesville, beginning in 1909, to supply limestone needed in the manufacture of its product. So busy and important was the limestone that the initial locomotives of the Jamesville Quarry railroad were replaced in the 1920s with modern engines. Quarry trains were powered by small, compact 0-4-0ST locomotives. Four driving wheels were powered by steam-operated pistons and connecting rods on each side of the locomotive. Coal was carried in a small bunker at the rear of the locomotive, and water was carried in a tank that wrapped around the boiler. The “ST” in the wheel arrangement refers to the “saddle tank” that carried water for the boiler.

One of the 1920s engines was 47, built in 1920 at the Alco-Cooke plant, in Paterson, New Jersey, of American Locomotive Company. The steam era at Jamesville ended on April 15, 1954 when diesels were introduced. Dr. Stanley Groman, then assembling his “Rail City” museum at Sandy Creek, N.Y., purchased 13 of the diminutive Solvay locomotives, a train of quarry cars and a steam-operated crane car from the quarry. Rail City opened in 1955 but closed in 1974. Soon thereafter, Solvay 47 was purchased by NYMT.

Locomotive 47, purchased in operable condition by Rail City, spent years in storage at Sandy Creek. At NYMT, any idea of operating Solvay 47 was abandoned and it was reconditioned as a static display. The rusted saddle tank was removed and discarded to better show the underlying parts of the locomotive. A new wooden cab was built, and the resulting user-friendly steam engine has been a favorite exhibit inside the main exhibit hall for many years.

Steam engine 47 was built by Alco-Cooke in 1920, making it 100 years old in 2020. While it was impossible to properly celebrate locomotive 47’s centennial in 2020, perhaps visitors in 2021 will once again marvel at NYMT’s century-old steam locomotive.


NYMT’s motorman No. 1 passed away on December 21, 2020 from complications of contracting COVID-19. Charlie is survived by his wife Carol and two children.

In 1996, Charlie had been the leader in the effort to bring Northern Texas Traction 409 from Rochester’s Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant to NYMT. Being a native of Texas, Charlie just could not stand idly by while car 409 was threatened with destruct-tion after the restaurant closed. This project cul-minated with moving the car inside the hay barn in 1997.

Charlie shared his interest in operating trolley cars, serving as our first leader of trolley operations in 2001 during our "Trolleys Return to Rochester" when NYMT began running trolleys for the public. His years of operating trolleys at Seashore Trolley Museum made Charlie an ideal choice for this position.

He trained a small cadre of motormen in the art of operating NYMT’s Strafford cars, and wrote NYMT’s first trolley rule book. Safety was paramount in Charlie’s efforts in establishing trolley operations at NYMT, and many of the safety practices initiated by Charlie remain a part of our operation today. Once regular NYMT trolley operations began in 2006, Charlie served as a conductor and motorman for the next decade. Our photo shows Charlie at the end of the first day of regular operations on Sunday, July 15, 2006.

Charlie was the consummate trolley fan to the extent that, one day when I visited him at home two years ago, he wanted to know all about highway and pavement design. Highways had supplanted trolley lines, and, as a highway and bridge engineer, I was happy to be a means of expanding Charlie’s understanding of the engineering details of public-financed paved roads and highways.

I rode with Charlie on his last visit to the museum in 2019. We had the "visitors-blow-the-whistle" session at NYMT since RGV was running that day. Charlie somehow instinctively remembered how to blow the whistle and did a masterful job, just as he always did. I think I’ll remember Charlie that way, giving his all for the good of the museum. Charles R. Lowe

ROCHESTER STREETCARS......................... No. 103 in a series

Rochester Transit Corp. 54
Photo by Ted Jackson

New York City was one of the original hotbeds of trolley fan activity. The Electric Railroaders’ Association was founded in New York City in 1934 at the very beginning of the entire railfan movement. New York City, though, began losing its very extensive streetcar network in the mid-1930s. After the end of World War 2, which delayed the conversion of streetcars to "stink cans", the loss of streetcars became nearly complete by 1956 when the last PCC-operated lines in New York City were converted to bus operation. (The very last streetcar line in New York State, New York City’s Queensboro Bridge line, ran its last full day of service on April 6, 1957.)

The New York City fans of the mid-1950s saw what was happening and looked outside of New York City. Although Upstate New York had lost its surface streetcars and interurbans in the 1930s and 1940s, Rochester still operated its Subway with standard street railway equipment. With the end of Rochester Subway passenger operations growing near, the New York City fans decided to host a "last day" fan trip. Rochester Transit Corp. car 54 was used for the charter, and it shows up in many of the "last day" photos that have survived.

Our photo, provided by NYMT member Tom Brewer, shows the New York City railfan trip about to begin. The date is June 30, 1956, a Saturday. The fan trip car, shown here in front of the Subway car house, is ready for the charter. Based on the sun angle, it is a morning hour. The fans have begun to gather. It looks like a nice day, not too hot and not too cold, with some blue sky and high, wispy clouds. At least Rochester railfan Ted Jackson, who made our photo, was loaded up with Kodachrome. Coming up for the fans will be a full afternoon on the Subway, with lots of photos stops and rare mileage runs onto freight sidings. Perhaps a shop tour is already underway.

While it would have been great to join this trip, at least we get a look into the past thanks to Ted Jackson for making the photo, and to Tom Brewer for sharing it.


Volume 34, Number 7 November-December 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 Vacant
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
Trustee Cody Catlin
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 Vacant
Officer of the Day Manager Jim Dierks
Substation Manager Bob Sass
Trainmaster Charlie Lowe
Water Quality Manager Jim Wiesner


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.

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 .