ROCHESTER STREETCARS......................... No. 37 in a series

Rochester Transit Corp. 48
Charles R. Lowe Collection

© Charles R. Lowe

In not-so-long-ago 1956, Rochesterians and railfans prepared to say farewell to the Rochester Subway. The onslaught of the private automobile after World War II had rendered the 8-mile line unnecessary, and the clamor for a modern expressway from the east into downtown Rochester had planners eyeing the perfectly oriented Subway right-of-way. With the State Department of Public Works considering routing the expressway along University Avenue, City Council finally bowed to the inevitable on September 14, 1954, and voted to end passenger service.  Several delays in the development of proper highway plans permitted the Subway to continue on a short-term basis but finally, in December, 1955, City Council decided that the Subway would continue its passenger service to the end of June, 1956 " . . . and no longer." The long, slow end to Subway passenger service allowed railfans ample opportunity to document the unique railway. While many fans still used black-and-white film exclusively, a few venturous railfans had moved into making color slides. Those fans who used Ektachrome film had the unpleasant experience of seeing their precious slides fade in just a decade or two, but those who shot with Kodrachrome film have given posterity the most life-like of all Rochester trolley scenes.

Witness, then, our glorious Kodachrome view. Our unknown photographer has set his camera to an aperture opening of f/6.3 and a shutter speed of 1/50th of a second, such information dutifully recorded on the slide mount. Car 48 has reached the front of the car house, located near the western terminus of the line. A stop was always made at this point. A safety stop seems to have been required before cars entered the yard area at the west end of the line. At this point, operators could easily avail themselves of rest facilities inside the car house, if needed. This was also a convenient point for operators to change their roll sign early, as car 48's operator has done.

At the extreme left of this scene, a mother and her son are seen wandering through the Subway yards. A youthful curiosity has no doubt provoked this trip, but the mother's possible worries about being accused of trespassing would be needless. In those more trusting days, railfans were generally not challenged in their ventures through the Subway yard.

Car 48 will soon be run west several hundred feet to the General Motors stop to begin another run. Following car 46 will await its turn to do likewise. It is the afternoon of Tuesday, June 26, 1956, and the Subway has just four more full days of operation remaining.