ROCHESTER STREETCARS.............................. No. 63 in a series
by Charles R. Lowe
One of the most unusual of car reconstructions undertaken by the St. Paul Street shop were those in 1914 for a group of seventeen open cars. These cars, numbered 25-29, 31-37, 39-42 and 44, had been built by G. C. Kuhlman Car Company of Cleveland in a lot of twenty cars (25-44) during 1904. By 1913, the transverse-bench open car configuration was considered dangerous for street operation, especially when considering the conductor had to walk the running boards of moving cars to collect fares.
Three cars—30, 38 and 43—of the original group of twenty cars had been rebuilt as standard closed cars. For the remaining seventeen cars, though, the answer was to enclose the sides except for a center door on the curb side. Since many of Rochester’s streetcar lines had finally been rebuilt for single-end cars with the addition of loops at the ends of the lines, the formerly double-end open cars were rebuilt as single-end cars. This shaved some weight as only one set of controls was needed. The cars remained summer-only cars since side windows did not have glazed sashes. Our photo of rebuilt car 26 dates from about 1914.
Alas, the hopelessly outdated Brill 22E maximum traction trucks were retained. These seventeen cars served for a few years but the onset of World War I diminished the need for summer-only cars operating to resorts such as Sea Breeze and Ontario Beach Park. In 1920, all seventeen semi-open center-entrance cars were rebuilt as unpowered trailers. A total of eleven such cars, numbered 1400-1410, served Rochester while six others, 1411-1416, were sent to Syracuse. All were withdrawn from service by the early 1930s.
Rochester’s only surviving open cars came from the 1400-1410 group. One car, its number unknown, still serves as part of a cottage. Car 1406, once a resident at NYMT, survives to the extent that its front end was saved. Car 1402, lacking its front end (that 1406 can provide) rests quietly under a green tarp along the loop track at NYMT.