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Rochester Interurbans

Maps and Details on the Interurbans Systems in New York

Rochester and Eastern Rapid RailwayRochester was one of America's first "boomtowns." By the mid 1800s, it was already a burgeoning industrial hub. It rose to prominence initially as the site of many flour mills along the Genesee River and then as a major hub of manufacturing. Often referred to as “Flour City”, by 1838, Rochester was the largest flour-producing city in the United States.

By the early 1900s, its interurban system was well connected to both the ports and popular Lake Ontario beaches to the north and to its neighboring cities to the east and west.

Did you know?

Rochester Area Map

Pan and zoom in and out on the map below for a detailed understanding of the various trolley companies in service in 1924.

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Interurban Timelines - Predecessors/Mergers/End of Life

New York State Railways

  • Rochester-Sodus Point (1900-1929)
    Rochester-Geneva (1903-1930) a.k.a. Rochester and Eastern Rapid Railway
    Utica-Syracuse (1907-1930)
    Rome-Utica-Little Falls (1902-1933)

Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo Railroad

  • 1909-1919 - Buffalo, Lockport and Rochester Railway
    1919-1931 - Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo Railroad

Rochester and Syracuse

  • 1906-1913 - Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern Rapid Railroad (Beebe Syndicate)
    1913-1916 - Empire United Railways
    1913-1931 - Rochester and Syracuse Railroad
    1931 - Abandoned

Lines to the Lake Ontario Beaches
(changed ownership and names frequently)

  • Rochester and Manitou Railroad
    Rochester and Irondequoit Railroad
    Rochester and Lake Ontario Railway
    Rochester and Suburban Railway

Further Details

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New York State Railways - Post 1924

As roads improved, fierce competition from automobiles was greatly affecting the profits of interurban lines throughout the U.S. by the mid-1920's. The October 1929 Stock Market crash and subsequent Depression crippled the nation's economy and forced New York State Railways into receivership. The company subsequently filed for abandonment.

-1- The Rochester Subway

When the subway neared completion in 1927, agreements were reached for the New York State Railways to operate the system. In 1928, (a) the Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo, (b) the Rochester and Syracuse and (c) the Rochester and Syracuse interurbans all began using the subway.

The use of the subway by interurban cars one of the reasons the system was built. But it was short lived as all of the interurban lines were abandoned by June 28, 1931.

-2- The Rochester Transit Corporation

In 1938 the Rochester Transit Corporation (RTC) began operating the remaining active subway and surface lines. Surface lines in the city of Rochester were abandoned in 1941 and the last streetcar ran in the city on April 1, 1941. The 8 1/4 mile subway lost money consistently from 1938 and the Rochester Transit Corporation finally won its plea for abandonment in the mid 1950's. The last day of service was June 30, 1956.

Source/Credits

Woodman

The Electric Interurban Railways in America
by George Woodman Hilton, ‎John Fitzgerald

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

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