The New York Museum of Transportation, located near Rochester focuses on not only the State of New York's rail history but also its transportation history in general as well. Its exhibits range from railroading equipment and trolley cars to historic vehicles and carriages. In terms of their on-site rail equipment, they have mostly preserved rare interurban cars, some of which are operational and the museum provides rides aboard them. Whatever you may be interested in there’s a good chance you will find it at the museum. Along with train rides (including trolleys) they have available the museum also features a large operating HO layout, gift shop, and other events ongoing throughout the year.
The New York Museum of Transportation is open year-round. However, if you're interested in catching a ride to the nearby Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum these trips, which cover a distance of just under two miles, are only available during the summer season between May and October. Along with track car rides the museum also offers rides on its two restored trolley cars, #161 and #168, originally owned by the Philadelphia & Western Railroad. These trips cover about a 1/4-mile of track and can be taken as many times as you would like during your visit.
Interurbans and trolleys were most successful from the late 19th century through the 1930s and can best be characterized by the "Dot Com" boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s, they flourished for a moment and then died out. Being regional and local in nature trolleys and interurbans simply could not compete with the automobile once it debuted in the early 20th century and then was aided by the development of better highways and roads. By the 1950s most interurbans were out of business due to high capital costs and low ridership, although some were able to hang on until the early 1960s.
Aside from the two operating interurban cars the New York Museum of Transportation's fleet of railroad equipment includes a gasoline-powered Plymouth locomotive, a Whiting trackmobile, an ex-Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company snow sweeper, two ex-Rochester Railway Company interurban cars, an ex-Northern Texas Traction Company interurban car, an ex-New York State Railways interurban car, an ex-Elmira, Corning & Waverly Railway interurban car, a 0-4-0T steam locomotive, a former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad caboose, and several various rail "speeders".
The New York Museum of Transportation began life in the early 1970s to preserve former Rochester interurban equipment, which was in need of a home after a museum in Pennsylvania closed its doors. The collections slowly began to grow and the museum was able to acquire unused rails and ties from the former Rochester subway system to use on the grounds. Through the 1980s restoration work continued and by 1993 the museum had completed a small two-mile stretch of track connecting it with the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum. Both facilities now greatly benefit from this new connection, which has become a popular attraction within itself.
Later in the 1990s the museum was able to acquire three interurban cars, two of which were still in operation. Those two which are still in operation, #161 and #168, regularly ferry visitors back and forth on the restored 1/4-mile electrified track on the museum's grounds. While the museum does not carry a large collection of "traditional" railroading equipment such as freight cars or locomotives it does have a fine collection of interurban equipment if you are a historian or interested in such. The bottom line is that it is quite impressive what the New York Museum of Transportation has been able to accomplish when it began life as little more than a means to save a few interurban pieces back in the 1970s. For more information about the New York Museum of Transportation please click here to visit their website.
In any event, below is a current equipment list of the museum containing locomotives and interurban cars and equipment. For a complete list of their railroad equipment please click here.
Steam and Diesel Locomotives
* New York State Railways Plymouth switcher, #L-2, partially cosmetically restored.
* Solvay Process Company 0-4-0T #47, cosmetically restored.
Interurban/Trolley Cars and Equipment
* Buffalo, Lockport & Rochester Railway interurban car, #206, built by the Niles Car and Manufacturing Company.
* Elmira, Corning & Waverly Railway interurban car, #107, built by the Jewett Car Company.
* Hornellsville Electric Railway snow plow, #34, built by the J. G. Brill Company.
* New York State Railways interurban car, #157, built by the Niles Car and Manufacturing Company. Restored and on display.
* Northern Texas Traction Company interurban car, #409, built by the St. Louis Car Company, restored.
* Philadelphia & Western Railroad interurban cars #161 and #168, both built by the J. G. Brill Company and operational.
* Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company trailer car, #2, built by the J. G. Brill Company. Under restoration.
* Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company snow sweeper, #C-130, built by J.G. Brill. Restored and on display.
* Rochester Railway city car, #162, built by the John Stephenson Car Company.
* Rochester Railway city cars, #437 and #1402, both built by the G. C. Kuhlman Car Company.
* Warren Street Railway city car, #33, built by the G. C. Kuhlman Car Company.
For more reading on perhaps New York's most famous railroads, the New York Central System, consider New York Central Railroad from Brian Solomon and Mike Schafer. While the book is just a brief history on the railroad it is very well done and will at least give you a general overview and history of the Central (and it is filled with many, excellent, historical and colorful photographs) at which point you can decide if you are interested in further books of study on the railroad (there are hundreds out there!). Even if you are a historian and/or fan of the NYC and have not seen this book I'm sure you will enjoy it! Also, for more information and reading about excursion trains and railroad museums you might want to consider picking up Tourist Trains Guidebook from the editors of Kalmbach Publishing's Trains magazine. The book lists and reviews over 400 excursions and museums found throughout the country and is an excellent resource if you're looking for one to visit. In any event, if you're interested in perhaps purchasing either (or both) of these books please visit the links below which will take you to ordering information through Amazon.com, the trusted online shopping network.