Despite the best laid plans of those in charge of the Rochester and Eastern Rapid Railway, time after time incidents led to interruptions in trolley service. Less than a year after the trolley began its run, a serious head on collision occurred. Unlike the Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern trolley, which had separate east and westbound tracks, the Rochester and Eastern had just one track. Trains traveling in opposite directions avoided collision by pulling off onto a siding while another train passed. In August of 1904, a westbound train between Bushnell’s Basin and Pittsford failed to utilize the siding as the conductor had been instructed and ran head on into an eastbound train. Newspapers reported no deaths, but 25 persons were “injured sufficiently to require surgical aid.” The most serious injuries were to trolley motorman Fred Borgus and conductor Stephen Melching, each of whom had severe head wounds.
All it took was a boy and his kite to shut down the R & E trolley for thirty miles or more in April of 1909. With winds sufficient to lead a child’s thoughts to kite flying, a little boy and his toy took to the air. After several attempts, his flying machine caught just the right gust, and up it went. His euphoria was quickly interrupted, as reported in the Monroe County Mail of April 15, 1909, “The kite became entangled in the transmission wires, causing a short circuit and the effects were felt clear through to Rochester. All the [trolley] cars between Rochester and Canandaigua were stopped, and traffic was delayed for about a half hour.”
An interruption of far greater magnitude shut down the R & E trolley for an extended period beginning in May of 1911. Newspapers far and wide reported the event, including the Syracuse Journal, with the eye-catching headline, “Canal Bank Near Rochester Goes Out… Rush of Waters Carries Dwelling and Barn and Railroad Bed with It.”
The home belonged to Ernest Daly, whose family barely escaped death as they evacuated the house seconds before it was washed away. Trolley passengers were just as fortunate, as their car had just passed over tracks that were mangled seconds later when the canal wall broke, releasing a flood of water. The Ketchum Road bridge over the canal in Bushnell’s Basin, now called Marsh Road, was washed out. It was in the process of being replaced with a longer bridge to accommodate the widening of the canal that was underway at the time.