ROCHESTER STREETCARS................................ No. 57 in a series

Rochester Transit Corp. 2010
Photographer Unknown


by Charles R. Lowe

Kodachrome slide film, the railfan’s choice for color images since 1939, passed from the scene on December 30, 2010 when the world’s last photo lab ceased developing the film. A year earlier, the Eastman Kodak Company had ended manufacture of the product. Dwayne’s Photo of Parsons, Kansas developed the film for another year in a planned run-down of the medium.

Kodachrome has now followed into history the streetcars and trains that railfans used it to record. To honor this era, ROCHESTER STREETCARS will devote its next several installments to Kodachrome images of the Rochester Subway. In an ironic twist of fate, we can start with the car numbered the same as the last year of Kodachrome.

Car 2010 had its origins in Utica as one of a series of open cars numbered 1—59 (odd numbers) built in 1902 by J. G. Brill as single-end 14-bench open city cars. These unusual cars had open right sides and closed (up to the bottom of the windows) left sides. While still in Utica, 14 of these cars (310—336 even numbers) were converted to closed front-entrance center-exit Peter Witt cars. Of these, cars 312—318, 324—328 and 332—336 even (ten cars total) were transferred to Rochester in 1927 for use on the then soon-to-be-opened Rochester Subway.

The ten cars sent to Rochester were converted to center-entrance center-exit cars and were renumbered 2000—2018 (even). Car 2000 was first to enter Subway service, on January 2, 1928; the balance of the cars were brought into use by April 15 of that year.

The 2000-series cars provided all local passenger service on the Subway until 1938 when cars 46—68 (even), also from Utica, were placed in service. Soon several 2000-series cars were withdrawn from service with the remainder used mostly on Dewey surface-Subway runs. After the Dewey surface-Subway service ended in 1941, cars 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2010 remained available for rush-hour Subway service. Regular use of these two-man cars ended in 1949 when the 46-series cars were one-manned as an economy measure. Cars 2000 and 2002 were scrapped about this time, but 2006 and 2010 were retained. Car 2006 was set up behind the Subway car house as a crew room for motormen while they waited for their runs; 2010 was stored for a time inside the original section of the Subway car house. Car 2006 accidentally burned to its trucks on February 28, 1952, whereupon car 2010, the lone surviving 2000-series car, became the crew room. This arrangement lasted until the end of passenger service on June 30, 1956, after which car 2010 was scrapped along with all of the 46-series cars (except car 60) later in 1956.

Our photo of 2010 dates from April 30, 1956. The original portion of the Subway car house is seen at left with the 1942 concrete block addition to the right. The car’s pole is down, indicating that the day must have been warm enough that car heaters were not needed. The colors of the car can be seen in amazing detail, even on a lightly overcast day. The dark olive green car body, the sienna window sash and roof, the golden yellow car numbers and the black underbody equipment show as cannot even be imagined in a black-and-white print. Such is the beauty of Kodachrome that we can see these rich colors accurately over half a century later.