Saturday, March 1, 2014

This Month in Rochester History

Clarence Bigger meeting his last passenger train in 1964
Half a century ago, in March 1964, the Rochester Clarion reported that 80-year-old mail messenger Clarence M. Bigger was out of a job.  Bigger was newly unemployed because the New York Central railroad had just discontinued passenger train service in Rochester.  The last passenger train pulled out of the depot on East University Drive on March 19, 1964, leaving Bigger without a job after 57 years of meeting every passenger train to send out or receive mail.  He had won the mail messenger contract in 1912 and had met every train - except for a handful of days of illness - ever since.  The Clarion related his story:
Except on Sundays when there is no mail delivery, and a few times when he was ill, Clarence has met every passenger train coming into Rochester. "Never once have I been late meeting one," he says with pride.

Abiding by postal regulations, he has been required to carry a gun, but has never once had to use it. Once, when accepting a large shipment of money here aboard a Detroit United Railway (DUR) car, he was surprised to learn that seven armed guards had put it aboard the car at Detroit. "I used to handle all the money shipped into the Rochester National Bank," Clarence recalled. "Some days there would be as much as 32 bags of silver."

The New York Central/Penn Central continued to run freight trains on the line through Rochester until 1976; at that time the line was abandoned and the old railroad bed became the Paint Creek Trail.

1 comment:

  1. The very last train to operate over the Penn Central (old New York Central/Michigan Central) passed through Rochester on March 27TH, 1976. The train had ran South from Bay City to Rochester and turned there on its mission to pick up all remaining freight cars on the line. It came down from the North rather than from Detroit because the bridge had washed out the previous week at Yates. Rochester's other railroad, the Grand Trunk Western continued service through town for two more decades, lasting into the mid 1990s.