ROCHESTER STREETCARSNo. 18 in a series
by Charles R. Lowe
Before electricity powered streetcars, horses toiled in city streets drawing lightweight wooden cars on flimsy track. Rochesterís streetcar system began operations as a horsecar railway when the Lake-Mt. Hope line was opened in 1863 by Rochester City and Brighton Railroad Company. Within just 25 years, over one hundred horsecars were operated by RC&B on several lines including the "NORTH & WEST AVENUES" line car 69 operated along.
Car 69 was known as a "bobtail" car as there was no rear platform. Passengers boarded and disembarked by means of steps at the rear of the car. An ingenious method of fare collection was employed on these one-man cars. Upon entering the car, passengers were required to supply a nickel into the inclined trough seen in car 69ís side windows. A coin receptacle was positioned at the front of the car where the driver could easily examine the fares so deposited.
Turning bobtail cars at the end of the line was accomplished by use of an ingenious turntable. Car 69 is shown on the West Avenue turntable at Hague Street; the muddy street in the foreground is uneven from horses walking around the turntable as they turned their cars. This turntable was built about 1885 when the West Avenue line was extended from Genesee Street to Hague Street where the exclusive German Tract was located. Here, oversized lots with large houses and the luxury of full carriage houses predominated. The house behind car 69, on the north side of the street, is a German Tract home.
Use of the turntable ended when Rochester city streetcar lines were electrified between 1890 and 1893. By 1900, the West Avenue line, still single-tracked, had been extended to a siding between Garfield and Depew Streets with a tail track extending to Lincoln Avenue. During the 1910ís, the line was fully double-tracked and a loop between Garfield Street and Lincoln Park was built. Service on this line ceased in 1937, but car 69 had long since passed from the scene.