ROCHESTER STREETCARS................................ No. 52 in a series

Rochester Railways 341
company photo


by Charles R. Lowe

The car in our present photo, Rochester city car 341, is a bit of an enigma. This company photo and an accompanying 1909 scrapping report are the only surviving records of this car.

From the photo, the car appears to have been a company-performed reconstruction, made by splicing together two high-120/low-130 single truck cars from 1891 to form one double-truck car. Note the distinctive ironwork, typical of these single-truck cars, at the corner formed by the car body ends and the underside of the platform roofs. One odd feature of this car, though, is how closely the trucks are located toward each other. Scaling off the photo gives us a truck center-to-center distance of 12'-6", much less than the 16'-0" on NYMT's car 437, originally equipped with the same type trucks (Brill 27G) shown under 341. On 341, no thought seems to have been given to equipping the car with the compressor and air tank needed for air brakes; these normally would have been placed between the trucks. This lack of consideration for air brakes suggests an early date for the reconstruction, but it’s odd that the car has a high 300-series number which would be typical of later cars. The 300-400 cars were similarly spliced cars but had room between the trucks for equipment; they were built from old single-truck 100- and 200-series cars about 1901-03.

Something appears amiss until a close examination is made of the side panels interior to the numbered panels. Here, figures can be seen under a fading over-painting. With a little imagination, we can read across the car from left to right 341 ]2 4[ 341. Eliminating the present car numbers gives ]2 4[ or, if we place these groups in opposite order, 4[ ]2. Translating further, we see the original car number of 402!

No car 402 is known on any Rochester Railway roster, but cars 400, 401 and 403 are documented early-day double-truck cars. All of Rochester Railway's original low 400s had to be renumbered in 1904-06 when the 355-449 cars were purchased, explaining why 402 received an "add on" number in the low 300s. Mystery solved!