New York Museum
Photograph of Archive Accession No. New York State Railways Car 157
History of New York State Railways Car 157
In 1914, New York State Railways purchased model #648 electric interurban trolley car from the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company in Niles, Ohio to replace the original 1903 Stephenson-built 157 that had been destroyed in a fire. The new car was put in service on the Rochester & Eastern division between Rochester and Geneva, New York. Second 157 was the only known copy of that model interurban built, according to Shelden S. King, noted railway historian.
Compared to the all-wood car it replaced, 157 had a steel underframe and steel side panels below the window sills, making it lighter, faster, and safer.
The interior had mahogany paneling and trim, with plush seats in the main section and leather or rattan in the smoking section. A Peter Smith coal-fired stove provided hot water for the baseboard heat in the colder months. There was also a small toilet room adjacent to the furnace closet.
On the exterior, decorative opal glass panes glazed into mahogany sash adorned the area over the operating mahogany windows. The car exterior was originally painted an olive green with gold leaf lettering, numbers, and striping. The roof was a mid-tone gray as were the truck sideframes. The windows were varnished.
In 1926 the Rochester & Eastern cars were painted a bright yellow and cream with black lettering, numbers, and striping. This was done for better motorist visibility, and to impart a more "modern" appearance.
157 was in two accidents that are on record, both occurring between 1926 and 1930. One caused minor damage to the front end. The other was a major accident in which the car derailed at the carbarn and broadsided a supporting column, creating damage to the left side of the car about mid-section.
New York State Railways abandoned the Rochester & Eastern on July 31, 1930. Overhead wire was removed shortly thereafter, and rails were removed in 1932. In 1930, the Rt. Rev. Mon. Louis Edelman of St. Louis Church in Pittsford, New York purchased 157 and moved the car to Stony Point on the east side of Irondequoit Bay, near Webster, New York, as an addition to his cottage.
Objects were removed to make the car livable. The seats and parcel racks were removed to allow for furniture. The toilet was removed and the room converted to a linen closet. The operating appliances in the motorman's compartment were removed to create an entryway. All the interior woodwork remained intact and the coal stove continued to be used for heat. The trucks and other underbody mechanical and electrical components were disposed of so that the car could be placed on a cinder block foundation.
Rev. Edelman painted the car a cranberry red above and below the window line, with the area in between done in a cream color. He also had a gable roof built over the car, which preserved the integrity of the carbody roof.
After Rev. Edelman's death in February, 1964, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Faust purchased the property. Over the ensuing years, they sought someone to take 157, as they wanted to develop the property, but they received no offers. At the eleventh hour, just before destruction was to begin, a group led by Ed Blossom of the Magee Transportation Museum in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania stepped in. In June, 1970, Blossom arrived with a crane and a flatbed truck and hauled 157 to the Magee museum. There, a fund drive was initiated to purchase a Philadelphia Suburban Railway car, number 63. This car, built by Brill in 1925, was equipped with trucks and operating equipment similar to those originally on 157 and long since scrapped.
The Magee staff immediately launched a face-lifting of 157, and in the summer of 1970 the canvas roof was repaired, and the car was painted in its 1926 yellow and cream scheme. The car was placed on the Brill 27MCB2X trucks from car 63, and plans were laid for complete restoration of the car.
In June of 1972 Hurricane Agnes struck the northeastern United States, and flooding severely damaged the Magee museum and its many antique vehicles. The museum was closed, and in October Mr. Magee died.
In October 1973 Henry Hamlin of Rochester, New York, one of the founders of the New York Museum of Transportation, brought 157 and its necessary components to its present site on East River Road in the town of Rush, New York. The car has been stored indoors since its arrival, thus avoiding any further major deterioration.
Due to the rarity of the car, the very good condition it is in, the fact that it is a Rochester-based car only a few miles from home, and its status as the only surviving piece of equipment from the Rochester & Eastern interurban line, the New York Museum of Transportation feels a thorough restoration of 157 is well deserved. That restoration is now underway, with the eventual goal of operating 157 on the museum's rail line.
Rebuilding Car 157
History of the Rochester & Eastern
The Rochester & Eastern Rapid Railway was incorporated on October 19, 1901, to build a high speed interurban trolley line from Rochester to Geneva, New York, via Pittsford, Victor, and Canandaigua. Construction began in 1902, with service between Rochester and Canandaigua beginning November 15, 1903. The line was completed into Geneva and officially opened June 15, 1904. Entry into Canandaigua had been gained by leasing the local streetcar line affectionately known as the "Dinky".
Combination station/substations were build at Pittsford, Victor, and Gates, all of which still stand. Other stations were of the storefront variety or roadside shelters. A powerhouse and carbarn were located in Canandaigua.
Hourly departures were maintained by the fourteen passenger cars. Connections were made with the Canandaigua Lake steamboats at the south end of Main Street, and through ticketing was arranged with the Geneva, Seneca Falls and Auburn trolley line at Geneva. Twice a day, package express cars provided light freight service for industries, farmers, and commercial firms located along the line.
On March 22, 1909, the Rochester & Eastern Rapid Railway was consolidated with several other electric railways in Rochester to form New York State Railways. This was a corporate consolidation that grew to include other electric railways in central New York. New York State Railways was controlled by the New York Central railroad.
In 1914, trackside signals were installed by General Railway Signal Company of Rochester, allowing for faster and safer operation. Due to public pressure to stop operating the big interurban cars on city streetcar tracks, New York State Railways began using the newly completed Rochester subway on December 1, 1927. The interurbans entered the subway at Rowlands loop, near the present-day junction of Monroe Avenue and I-590. Downtown, the terminus was moved from the street level station at Court and Exchange Streets to the underground City Hall subway station.
Fierce competition from automobiles was greatly affecting the profits of interurban lines throughout the U.S. by the mid-1920's. The October 1929 Stock Market crash and subsequent Depression crippled the nation's economy and forced New York State Railways into receivership. The company filed for abandonment of its Rochester & Eastern line, and a permit to end service was granted July 26, 1930.
On July 31, 1930 at 10:15 p.m., car 158 left Geneva for the last trip to Rochester, its whistle blowing long and loud in a farewell salute, thus ending service on the Rochester & Eastern.