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History of the Rochester & Eastern Rapid Railway


Calling this article "history" is too ambitious since there are books written on the subject. All I am endeavoring to do is to tell the story of the trolley in Pittsford.

One of the fastest interurban lines ever to operate in New York State was the Rochester and Eastern, an electric trolley route, which connected the Flower City (Rochester) on the banks of the Genesee with Geneva, Queen of the Finger Lakes, on the shore of Seneca Lake.

The Rochester and Eastern was organized on April 26, 1900. It was chartered in 1901. Final approval to construct was granted October 30, 1901 after much opposition from the steam railroads. Construction of the Rochester and Eastern was begun in 1902, the first grading being done north of Canandaigua and on October 1902, the line was finished as far as Victor. Passenger service was started at this time between the two towns. Building and equipment of the road was estimated to cost about $2,000,000.

Nothing was spared in the use of good materials. The car bodies were shipped to the Canandaigua car house. The seats were made of crimson plush with walk-over high backs. The smoker seats were made of rattan or cane and were in a separate car. The first cars had arch windows but the second order of cars had railroad type windows. The car bodies were eight feet, six inches in width and nine feet in height from undersell to peak of roof and the entire length of each car was fifty=two feet. Cars were illuminated by twenty-six bulbs of sixteen candlepower, which made the new brass parcel racks glisten like gold.

The following is taken from a manual dated 1904.

"This is a private right-of-way, high speed electric interurban, designed to serve the prosperous and heavily populated communities between the Genesee Valley and Canandaigua, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes, covering the territory which is the cream of western New York and in many respects the finest country in America.

Starting at the "Four Corners" of the City of Rochester, the line runs easterly over the tracks of the Rochester Railway Company to the present city limits at Highland and Monroe Avenues.

From the city limits to the hamlet known as the "Twelve Corners, in Brighton, the line is located upon the northerly side of Monroe Avenue, which is an improved, macadamized roadway, and one of the finest in the state. A short distance from the Twelve Corners, the line passes upon private right-of-way and into the village of Pittsford, the hamlet of Bushnell's Basin, the Village of Canandaigua, and the City of Geneva, until it reaches Seneca Lake, its present easterly terminus. The line in Pittsford passes under the steel bridge of the West Shore Railroad over North Main Street in Pittsford, and through the center of the Village for 800 feet on Main Street from Penn Street (Washington Road) to the station located where today is located the Pittsford Pub and the restaurant, Jo-Jo's. Frank Shearer was the stationmaster.

From Pittsford, the main line passes easterly through the famous Shetland Pony Farms, and the lands owned by the late Duane Guernsey (Pittsford Farms) to Bushnell's Basin, where it passes over the Erie Canal on a steel truss bridge 123 feet long."

This manual goes on to describe Pittsford as a beautiful suburban village with fine shade trees and many handsome residences and is the trading center for a large rural community. Quite a large number of people living here have their business in Rochester and go to and fro by the cars of the Rochester and Eastern Rapid Railway and the number of daily patrons of this class in rapidly growing. The fare at that time was 14¢.

With the advent of many automobiles and the Great Depression, the rapid railway suffered a great loss of passengers. The last run of the Rochester and Eastern was on July 10, 1930. Bodies of the big interurban railroad were sold for $25.00 to $30,00 each. One was purchased by a well-known Pittsford priest, Rev. Louis Edelman, who used it as a cottage on Irondequoit Bay. One was used as a laundry and storehouse, and another as a chicken coop. Thus a long and illustrious service was humbled.