ROCHESTER STREETCARS................................ No. 54 in a series

New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 568
Photographer Unknown


by Charles R. Lowe

We are in the yard at the rear of the main car house at East Main Station. Our railfan photographer has found a rare subject in car 568. The car’s sign reads WEST on the top line and MAIN EAST on the lower line. That should date this photo to 1932 or before, an extremely early date for railfans to be out with their folding Kodak cameras. However, the date of the photo is April 5, 1936, so this is yet another case of the railfans turning a car’s sign to a line no longer in operation. WEST—MAIN EAST had its last run as a through route on March 22, 1932; the next day, the WEST—UNIVERSITY and MAIN EAST—ARNETT routes began operation on Main Street.

The 550-579 cars were built in 1904, the 550-559 cars by Brill (in Philadelphia, Pa.) and the 560-579 cars by Brill’s then-newly-purchased subsidiary Kuhlman (in Cleveland, Ohio). As was the normal practice of the era, these cars were double-end cars. They were rebuilt in 1917, and received new trucks at this time or shortly thereafter. Workhorses throughout their careers, the 550s gained notoriety late in their careers when they became among the last of Rochester’s two-man double-end cars (most of the low 500s were also double-ended, too).

By the mid-1920s, nearly all of Rochester’s streetcar lines had loops at their ends, permitting use of single-end cars. Only the DRIVING PARK (abandoned in 1929), JEFFERSON and CENTRAL PARK lines never had streetcar loops (DRIVING PARK had a trackless trolley loop from 1929 to 1932). In the 1930s, the 550-579 cars ran many miles on the CENTRAL PARK—JEFFERSON route. A 1935 photo shows 572 on the WEBSTER—LYELL line at Culver Road. Both lines in this route had loops, but the loop for the WEBSTER line was two blocks from the end of the line at Culver Road. Use of the loop on Webster Avenue was discontinued so that WEBSTER—LYELL cars could provide streetcar service all the way to Culver Road. Another reason might have been that there were more than enough double-end cars for two routes in Depression-era Rochester.

Once the use of streetcars on the CENTRAL PARK—JEFFERSON and WEBSTER—LYELL routes was abandoned on August 29, 1936 (along with many other lines), the 550-579 cars were hustled off to Blossom Road Yard for scrapping.