ROCHESTER STREETCARS.............................. No. 59 in a series

Rochester Transit Corp. 54
Photographer unknown


by Charles R. Lowe

[This is the third installment in a tribute to Kodachrome. The last shop still handling the film ceased processing it on December 30, 2010.]

Kodachrome slides are sometimes the only way left for historians to answer tough questions.

When a recent request came in to ROCHESTER STREETCARS as to the exact colors of 1950s red-and-cream Rochester Subway cars, quite a flurry of activity resulted. No RTC color diagrams are known to be extant, and Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum’s Subway car 60 was known to have been repainted somewhat incorrectly while at Rail City in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

This exceptionally clear and sharp Kodachrome slide of car 54 was made in April 1951, soon after the car was painted into the red-and-cream then used on RTC buses. It is seen in the small yard area behind the Subway car house. A bright red main body color was set off by a very pale yellowish cream upper body color. Other colors, though, remained as they had been: golden yellow for car numbers, sienna for doors and window sashes, brownish red for the car roof, and black for under-body equipment. Later Kodachrome slides confirm that these colors were used until the end of passenger service in 1956.

Oh, and the answer to the question: the RTC logo was indeed in that very pale yellowish cream upper body color. Thankfully, it was Kodachrome to the rescue, once again.