ROCHESTER STREETCARS................................ No. 55 in a series

Rochester Railway Company 511
Photographer Unknown


by Charles R. Lowe

Jack Tripp, one of NYMT’s intrepid motormen, made our present photo available to ROCHESTER STREETCARS. It is a classic crew photo with motorman 215 on the left and conductor 376 on the right. The duties of these men are known by the buttons on their coats: the conductor has the fancy double-breasted coat while the motorman is relegated to the plain single-breasted coat.

The “R R Co” lapel pins of the crew date this photo to before March 1909 when Rochester Railway Company was consolidated into New York State Railways. Cars 510—513 were built in the St. Paul St. shops in 1904 as duplicates of recently-delivered Brill-built 500—509. Therefore, with the trees having leafed out, the photo probably dates to the summers of 1905 through 1908. The sign on the car’s dasher reads “Mil??? Carnival at Glen Haven Starting ??nday, August 27.” The day can only be Sunday or Monday, based on the letters we know. The only Sunday on August 27 in the 1905-1908 era was in 1905, but the car looks a bit too banged up to be only one year old (note the fender, especially). However, Monday, August 27 occurred in 1906. The car has about enough damage for two years of service, and Monday seems more likely a day than Sunday for the start of a carnival in the era. So, perhaps this photo dates to mid-August 1906.

Parsing out the location is a bit tougher. We are on the St. Paul—South route, according to both the roof-mounted sign and the train number “513” in the right front window. The “5” in the train number is the route number and the “13” is the number of the train on that route. Since this number is less than 50, we know this is a morning train so sun angles tell us the car is generally pointing east and south. The guard rail on the farthest rail from the photographer and the lack of such a rail under the car tells us the car is entering a curve to the left. Such guard rails were used on the inside rail of a curve to lessen wheel wear. Except for terminal loops, all of St. Paul—South was on streets and double-tracked, unlike this view which features a single open track in a forest setting.

Based on the lone track visible in the photo, and the fact that the crew had time to pose in front of the car, this photo was probably made at a loop. St. Paul—South had five loops. The St. Paul loop (at the branch-off into Seneca Park) and the loop at Crittenden and Mt. Hope were built in 1921 and 1920, respectively, long after this photo was made. The loop at the end of the line at Crittenden Boulevard was built in 1904, but the surrounding area did not have the tree growth as shown in our photo. The loop at Summerville was built in 1893 and did have the tree growth shown. So, too, did the loop at the end of the Seneca Park branch-off, built in 1901. My vote would be for the Seneca Park line; readers are invited to chime in with their thoughts.

Car 511 led a long life and was not scrapped until the 1930s. St. Paul—South, converted to bus operation on May 23, 1939, remains a strong component of today’s Regional Transit Service bus system.