ROCHESTER STREETCARS......................... No. 42 in a series
© Charles R. Lowe
When the Rochester and Sodus Bay was pushed eastward from Rochester between 1898 and 1900, interurbans were a new concept. Running a trolley line through rural areas had been attempted in only a few locations in the United States at this time, and standards for interurban car design had not yet been established. Therefore, the deck roof and generally light construction of Sodus car 113, typical of initial orders for cars for the line, are quite different from that of later interurban equipment.
A total of 14 passenger cars in two groups were purchased in 1899 from Jackson and Sharp in Wilmington, Delaware: cars 50-57 (later 100-107), which were combination baggage and passenger cars; and straight coaches 70-75 (later 110-114, one car previously having been lost in a wreck). Featuring Taylor EH (Extra Heavy) trucks, among the heaviest trucks then available for interurban service, and four mighty GE67 (38 hp. ea.) motors with K6 control, the Sodus cars proved exceptionally durable and well-suited to the line. Additional cars (115-118) purchased in 1909 were moved to other lines in the 1920s because they ultimately proved impractical for the line’s hilly route at Irondequoit Bay, its tortured side-of-road alignment along Ridge Road, and gradually diminishing ridership. In the end, the surviving 1899 J&S cars, along with five similar cars (108, 109, and 170-172), carried Sodus passengers until the end of service in 1929.
Our photo of car 113 is made from the original company negative, now a part of the NYMT archives. It shows 113 in the yard at East Main Station. A damaged journal box at right seems to have been the reason this late 1920s photo was made.
What had been the very zenith of interurban car design in 1899 had become an anachronism on the streets of Rochester by the late 1920s. The wonder is that the line, with its antiquated cars and its roadside track, survived so late in the interurban era. After the end of service, the line’s cars were herded to East Main Station for disposition. As occurred with other Rochester Lines cars of New York State Railways, several Sodus car bodies escaped scrapping in the 1930s by being sold for other uses. Car 110 served as a shed in Pultneyville until finally succumbing to time just a few years ago. Car 113 has had the happiest fate of all Sodus cars. It was rescued from its Webster-area farm in the mid-1980s by Seashore Trolley Museum at Kennebunkport, Maine, where it now safely resides under a heavy tarp awaiting its turn for restoration. Dating as it does to the very beginning of the Interurban Era, Sodus car 113 has become the oldest extant interurban car anywhere in North America.