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The following history is from the April 1928 issue of Transportation News which was the company
newsletter of the New York State Railways. A map is referred to in the first paragraph but there
was no map in the article. The date of incorporation is listed as October 19, 1901 but the correct
date is January 21, 1901. This history is incomplete because it was written before the end of the
company. The last day of operation was July 31, 1930.
THE ROCHESTER & EASTERN RAPID RAILWAY, AN INTERURBAN LINE RUNNING
AND GENEVA, WAS CONSTRUCTED IN 1902.
The Rochester and Eastern Rapid Railway Company was incorporated on October 19,1901. The
incorporators were John Winter, A. Lindsley Parker, Frank C. Andrews, and Oliver L. Lau
Michigan. The original stockholders included these and several well known citizens
A contract was let to Messrs. Haigh, Comstock, & Walker for the construction
of the road. As shown
on the map, the road went out Monroe Ave. in Rochester through the
villages of Pittsford, Victor,
Canandaigua, and Seneca Castle to the city of Geneva.
A spur from Pittsford to Fairport was contemplated. Tracks were laid in the village of Fairport
considerable grading was done on this spur, but cars never operated over this spur track
The power house and car house with offices were constructed at the foot of Main Street in the
village of Canandaigua. Two 1,000-pound Williams vertical, cross compound engines built by the
Quincy Engine Works of Quincy, Illinois, were installed. These were directly
connected with two
Westinghouse 650 K.W. 25 cycle, 380 volt alternators of the revolving
field type. These generators
together with other electrical apparatus for the power house were furnished by the Westinghouse
Electric and Manufacturing Company. There were three 500 K.W. transformers and two rotary converters.
The boilers consisted of three 1123 H.P. "Cahill"
horizontal, sectional, water-tube boilers.
The car house was 170 feet by 110 feet and was divided into two parts, one for car storage
other for shops. The car storage side contained four tracks and was capable of storing
cars. The office rooms were over the shop portion.
There were three sub-stations constructed, one at Pittsford, one at Victor, and one at Gates east
of Seneca Castle. Owing to their locations they were designed to answer for freight and passenger
stations as well as electrical distribution stations. These sub-stations are built of brick with slate
roofs. Many passenger stations or shelters were located at all points where
needed along the line.
From Rochester city limits, the road runs along the north side of Monroe Avenue for about 2 1/2
In the village of Pittsford it runs for about 500 feet in Main Steet. At Bushnell's Basin
mile of the public highway is used. Through the village of Victor the road is exclusively
right of way. In Canandaigua two miles of Main Street is traversed, and in Geneva
about two miles
in Castle Street to the late front. All the rest of the line is on private right
of way, owned
absolutely and exclusively by the Company.
When the Rochester and Eastern line was being built many interesting construction problems
with. Mr. W.R.W. Griffith was Superintendent of Construction, and Mr. W.C. Kuppinger
assistant. Much of the track was laid through swampy ground where it was necessary
underneath with corduroy and brush. At many of the cuts and underpasses quicksand was
In some places, such as the undergrade crossing at Seneca Castle, narrow gauge
cars drawn by two
teams were used. These cars were filled by hand with sometimes as many
as 35 men working at the
same time. Sometimes when quicksand was encountered, as at the
Seneca Castle underpass, it was
necessary to install 15-inch drains to keep the water out.
Later, steam shovels were used in some
locations. When abutments and bridges were
constructed pumps were used to pump the water out of the
excavations, which in places
like Bushnell's Basin were below the bottom of the canal.
Mr. Kuppinger, who now lives at 233 Kislingbury Street in Rochester, remembers and recites many
interesting adventures of the construction days. Men received only 16 1/2 and 17c an hour, and teams
were paid for at the rate of 35c per hour. The cost of cement was $2.35 a barrel, but in spite of all this
the costs ran fairly high because of the quicksand, swamps, and the deep cuts
which were encountered.
The line is single track throughout, but it has many long sidings. At the time the road was
constructed the city of Rochester had a population of 175,000, Canandaigua 7,300, and the city of
Geneva 11,500. It is estimated that the total contributing population was 19,640.
The distance from
Rochester to Geneva is approximately 43 miles.
The track was constructed of 70-pound A.S.C.E. rail with wood ties and gravel ballast. Since
of the line has been ballasted with crushed stone and most of the ties changed to the
Nearly all of the bridges are of steel construction built on concrete abutments.
In the construction
of the road all the grade crossings with important steam roads were
eliminated by going over or under.
The entire road is operated by an overhead trolley system,
the trolley wire used being four-naught
grooved copper. Feeders were made of stranded
aluminum equivalent to 500,000 and 400,000 c.m. copper
during the war. This aluminum
feeder was replaced by copper. The transmission line was constructed
of No. 1-7 strand
When the line was first built, the transmission line was carried on poles on the east side
Street, Canandaigua, from the Orphan Asylum to the power house.
In 1908 this section of the line was removed and a line was built around the city of Canandaigua
from the Orphan Asylum to Phelps Street near the Canandaigua lake outlet and then carried
then existing poles into the power house.
In 1927 the section of the line from Chapinville Road to the power house was changed from
to No. 2 copper.
The Rochester and Eastern Rapid Railway purchased 16 modern passenger coaches, 12 of
which were 52
feet long and 4 of which were 45 feet long. They also purchased 2 52-foot
express cars, 1 36-foot
construction and repair car, all of which were equipped with telephone,
electric lights, and all
other modern appliances. Cars were equipped with General Electric
No. 73 four-motor equipment with
L control. They had Westinghouse air brakes. The road
continued to operate as a separate road until
it was purchased by the New York State
Railways on March 22, 1909. A few miles of track in the
village of Canandaigua over which
the Rochester and Eastern operated was owned by the Ontario Light
and Traction Company, and
the New York State Railways still leases these tracks, operating a local
shuttle car on Main
Street in Canandaigua.
A very serious washout occurred on the R. and E. line near Bushnell's Basin on May 19, 1911,
section of the Barge Canal gave way. This washed away a section of the R. and E. tracks
nearly half a
mile away and it was several days before service could be resumed.
When the New York State Railways took over the R. and E. line they ceased using the power
Canandaigua for regular current supply and purchased power from the Rochester
Gas and Electric
Corporation, using the power plant at Canandaigua only as a standby in case of
July 1, 1919 however, the use of the steam plant at Canandaigua was
In 1913 the R. and E. line was equipped its entire length with automatic block signals made by the
General Railway Signal Co. The current for the operation of the signals as well as the
current is obtained from the 60,000 volt Niagara Falls transmission line which
passes through a
sub-station in the city of Rochester. The New York State Railways
maintains a three-phase, 25-cycle,
16,000-volt transmission line which extends from
this sub-station across country to their line at
Pittsford and from this point along their
right of way to Gates sub-station. The automatic block
signal system was put into effect
February 10, 1914. It is a complete automatic track circuit block
signalling system and
follows very closely the approved standards of high speed steam railway signalling
practice. In installing the signals it was necessary to make many of the sidings single-end which had
previously been double-end.
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