ROCHESTER STREETCARS................................ No. 45 in a series

Rochester Transit Corp. 035
Photo by Stephen D. Maguire


by Charles R. Lowe

Snow sweepers in action seem to have not caught the attention of the fair-weather railfans who visited Rochester in the 1930s and early 1940s. Not so with Steve Maguire. He often braved the elements and, protecting the leather bellows in his folding camera, made some of the only surviving trolley snow scenes. One of his photos shows an Atlantic City and Shore RR snow plow, the excessively numbered car 498181, in a blizzard so intense one can hardly see the car on the pure white background.


Our photo is perhaps the best extant view of a Rochester snow sweeper at work. In this view, probably made on January 12 or 13, 1939, a northbound sweeper is brushing aside a recent snowfall on State Street. The automobile at extreme left is parked on Platt Street, and standing behind the sweeper is the Rochester Button Company building. This building still stands, and has served in recent years as a restaurant in the High Falls district.

The trolley fan always strives to find a car number in trolley photos, much as the young coin collector hopes to divine a date on a worn Buffalo nickel or to somehow coax a year from the pedestal under the feet of the goddess “Liberty” on an aged Standing Liberty Quarter. On our photo, absolutely no trace of the car number can be seen through the snow pasted onto the car body. However, careful comparison of such features as the position of the roof bell, window spacing and damaged car body boards with the summertime photos of sweepers made by the fair-weather fans can be powerful evidence. In the manner of the youthful numismatist, I proclaim this a view of car 035.