The Rochester & Eastern Rapid Railway

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by Joel Richter 

The Rochester & Eastern Rapid Railway provided high-speed electric interurban service from Rochester to Geneva, through Victor and Canandaigua.

The Comstock, Haigh & Walker Company of Detroit started construction in 1902 north of Canandaigua and regular service between Canandaigua and Victor began later that year. The line officially opened on June 15, 1904 with 14 cars providing hourly service. The R&E’s express car service, the Orange Limited, travelled from Rochester to Geneva in less than 1 hour, 30 minutes. In 1904 this was very fast indeed.

1905 R&E System Map

A large bridge was built to carry R&E cars over the Lehigh Valley Railroad west of Swamp Road in Victor (now known as State Route 251). Today, the trolley bridge supports can be seen on the Victor Hiking Trails Black Diamond Trail.

R&E bridge over the Lehigh Valley RR

The larger trolley stations, a few of which stand today, can be found in Victor at 97 Maple Ave, in Pittsford at 6 Washington St, and at 1501 County Road 4 (between Seneca Castle and Geneva).

R&E Trolley Station, Maple Ave, Victor NY

In March 1909, the Rochester & Eastern Railway was consolidated with other area interurban lines to form New York State Railways, which was controlled by the New York Central Railroad.

R&E Car 157, the last remaining R&E trolley car, now at the New York Museum of Transportation, Rush, NY

By the late 1920’s, competition from automobiles, the 1929 Stock Market crash and the Depression forced the R&E and most other trolley companies into bankruptcy. A permit to end service was granted and on July 26, 1930, the last trolley car left Geneva for Rochester and the end of service.

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