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, Michigan started construction in 1903 in Canandaigua with service between Canandaigua and Victor beginning later that year. The line officially opened on June 15, 1904 with 14 cars providing hourly service. The R&E’s express car service, known as the Orange Limited, traveled from Rochester to Geneva in 1 hour, 30 minutes. In 1904, when you traveled locally by foot or horse this was an amazing feat.

1905 R&E System Map

A large bridge was built to carry R&E cars over the Lehigh Valley Railroad about 1/2 mile west of Swamp Road in Victor, NY  (aka NYS Route 251). Today, the bridge supports can be seen while walking on Victor Hiking Trails Lehigh Black Diamond Trail.

R&E bridge over the Lehigh Valley RR

Larger buildings which still stand today can include station in Victor, NY at 97 Maple Ave, Pittsford, NY station at 6 Washington St, and a sub-station at 1501 County Road 4 (between Seneca Castle and Geneva).

R&E Trolley Station, Maple Ave, Victor NY

In 1909, the Rochester & Eastern Railway was consolidated with other area interurban lines to form New York State Railways, which was indirectly owned 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 into bankruptcy. A permit to end service was granted and the last trolley car left Geneva for Rochester on July 26, 1930. Today, the R&E would provide a highly efficient, alternate mode of public transportation.

2 comments to The Rochester & Eastern Rapid Railway

  • David Briggs  says:

    I would like to know what the cement boxes were for along the Victor to Canandaigua trolley line ,which is now the Auburn Trail sections.

  • Joel Richter  says:

    David, sorry for the delay in replying to you. The cement boxes along the trolley right-of-way were bases for signals installed by General Railway Signal in Rochester, NY. It’s my understanding that the signals they installed on the Rochester & Eastern were a test of railroad signal technology developed by the company.

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