Notes on Meetings of 2018-2015


July Picnic Held under Mostly Sunny and Warm Skies at Clyde, New York
On a sunny Saturday, July 14, 2018, a smattering of Cornell Railroad Historical Society members gathered under the Route 414 underpass in Clyde, New York, for our annual picnic. Despite getting there in time for the proposed 11 AM start, some members arived earlier, and were able to tell the members who were prompt that they had already missed four trains! Traffic was good on the CSX main line, with some oil tank trains, autorack trains, container trains and plenty of CSX diesel power. Amtrak also contributed three more passenger runs to the show. About 30 minutes after the picnic folded its tables, chairs and barbeque, roughly 100 cars of a westbound "garbage train" also passed the site.
June Meeting Showed "Miniatur Wunderland" is REALLY BIG!
Program Director Bob Travis obtained several videos of the huge model railroad theme park in Hamburg, Germany, clamed to be the world's largest. Few would doubt the claim, when all it takes is to view a few of the sampler videos available on the "Miniatur Wunderland" [the name in German] website. So we put on your conductor's hats, avoided the €15 (Euro) entry fee and settled in for a remarkable program. The meeting was held at The History Center, downtown Ithaca, on June 12, 2018.
Allegheny Portage Railroad Shown and Pictured at May Meeting
  • The May meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society on May 8, 2018, was a presentation by VP Tim Lynch on the Allegheny Portage Railroad, a very early historical railroad located near Johnstown, PA and run as a National Historic Site by the National Park Service.
    As Tim described the Allegheny Portage: [It] was a critical piece of the Pennsylvania Main Line of Public Works - the Philadelphia to Pittsburgh transportation link that opened in 1834. The Main Line cut travel time between the two key cities from over three weeks to just three days. Most of the Main Line was canal, but the 40 miles over Cresson Mountain, the backbone of the Alleghenies and the eastern continental divide, was managed by an ingenious collection of rail and incline planes: the Allegheny Portage Railroad.
March Meeting at The History Center, March 13, 2018
Our March 2018 featured some videos from the History or Activities of interesting railroads. Since our meetings are open to the public, anyone is welcome to come and see what we will be showing. It's also a chance to hang out with other like-minded railfans, and even to participate in our monthly auction of railroad books, magazines and items donated to the Cornell Railroad Historical Society.
February Meeting Showed Video of the Last Years of the Lehigh Valley
Our February 2018 meeting showed Guy Wicksall's complete collection of movies of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, shot between Sayre , Pennsylvania and Manchester, New York. These movies showed the LV from 1964 to the Conrail takeover on April 1st, 1976, and some of the transition, with the last seenes shot in 1978.
He had no means to record sound, so there was no sound except a little commentary, based on memories going back over 40 years. The video may still be available from:
Guy J. Wicksall
21 Maple Street Geneva, NY 14456

Frank Barry to Show His Historic Steam Photos at January Meeting

The January, 2018 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society will have Frank Barry, noted photographer and honoree of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art in Illinois, showing his historic and recent prints of his quest for steam locomotives in the US, Canada and Mexico during the 1950s and 1960s. The meeting will be held at the History Center, foot of State Street in downtown Ithaca. The date is January 9, 2018 and the doors of the Center will be open at 7 PM with the meeting beginning promptly at 7:15 PM. We will also hold the election of officers and Board members during the meeting. Voting is only for members of the National Railway Historical Society, but all are welcome for the meeting.
December Auction Featured Many Books, Other Items
The December 2017 meeting of our Cornell Railroad Historical Society had a large number of rare books from the collection of William (Bill) Caloroso, who has been ill. In addition, a number of interesting models wer placed on the block, though few sold, since times have been tight and fewer members are working in the fields of HO railroading. It was a successful evening for the chapter, with several hundred dollars raised.
November Meeting: A Hair-Raising, Bear-Raising Trip on Alaskan River

The November 2017 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society had our president, Steve Peck, returned from one of his adventures in Alaska to show a non-rail but terrifying video of a unique trip up the Newhalen River from Lake Illimani. This stream, flowing out of rugged mountains near the Alaskan Coast, has a whole series of "Class 5" rapids and has never been paddled or kayaked successfully (read: fatalities). Steve remarked that he was grateful to be alive. The vessel used in this stream is a powerful motorboat run by a man whom Steve has gotten to know while working on building structures in far northern Alaska.

While Steve felt imperiled during the first trip, he actually agreed to do it again, but still felt that death lurked around every corner of the stream.. The video made it clear that what are called "rapids, are more like waterfalls, and the fact that the boat could make it either up or down this thundering cascade was something like a miracle of daring and skill.

Bruce Tracy Showed New Photos and Research along the Route of the Auburn Short Line at September Meeting
Armed with new photos discovered during his research and from aerial drone shots along the long-abandoned right-of-way, Bruce Tracy gave a talk on September, 2017, on the remnants of the Auburn Short Line (otherwise known as the Central New York Southern) at the CRHS September meeting. The line was known for operating one of the first McKeen motor cars in this part of the world, but their deficiencies helped the line to its demise in the 1920s.  
No August Meeting for August, 2017
For most years, there has no meeting by meeting meetings during August.This was true for August, 2017, with most members taking the summer meeting to have other activities during the late summer meeting.

July Picnic at Clyde, New York

July 15, 2017

Our annual picnic, held again this year at Clyde, New York, on the CSX main line, featured more trains than ever, and possibly longer ones. Amtrak provided two passenger trains, and there were mixed freights, long double stacks, a couple of eastbound tank trains (one with UP and another headed by rival NS power) and even a couple of mixed trains with lots of stinky garbage.
The May 9 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society featured the video, from National Geographic, "Inside Grand Central". It showed some of the hidden places the public never visits in the gem of our national rail stations.
May 2017 Meeting Explored "Inside Grand Central" Video
March/April 2017 Meeting: Moving the Station at Aurora
Our March meeting at The History Center (March 14, 2017) had to be canceled on account of winter weather. The April meeting then showed the program originally scheduled for March: Moving the Aurora Station, about moving and rotating the Aurora railroad station on the Cayuga Lake line and turning it into a private residence.
February 2017 Meeting of CRHS Showed Buster Keaton "Railrodder"
At The History Center on February 14 we viewed the humorous and informative adventure of Keaton as he journeys across Canada by handcar in "The Railrodder". In addition, we watched a National Film Board of Canada docmentary on how the Keaton movie was made, which also included many aspects of Keaton's life as a silent film star.
January 2017 Meeting Was Canceled Because of Dire Weather Forecast.
Actual storm predicted for the evening of January 13 turned out to be less severe, but with the possibility of snow, icing and other effects threatening to make driving hazardous, it seemed the best idea to cancel the meeting.
Auction at December 2016 Meeting — Full of Fun but Scarce on Goodies
The December meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society involved our annual auction meeting. President Steve Peck presided as auctioneer, cracking jokes and trying to stir up the bidding. Unlike some previous years, pickings were rather slim, so the auction ended quite early. Members are asked to ransack attics and basements for a better trove of items for the next auction.
November 2016 Meeting Followed Cornell Crew Races by Train
Our November meeting was entertained by a program given by Bruce Tracy about the observation trains that followed crew races between Cornell and other colleges and universities along the shore of Cayuga Lake, from 1898 to 1935. Bruce has rare postcard and other photos, as well as memorabilia and operational details he has uncovered in his researches. Attendance at these races, both on rails and on the shore, during the first decades of the 20th century brought tens of thousands to view the sport. The picture at right shows the heavy road traffic and some of the people on the observation train.
October 2016 Meeting, Tuesday October 11 at the History Center

Our October meeting was held at Ithaca's History Center, downtown Ithaca. We had a video program, with some surprise showings. Doors open at 7:00 PM. Meeting begins at 7:15 PM. Parking (free) behind museum building.

(Photo illustration by Gene Endres — N&W 611 starting off from Atlanta in 1976.)

Cornell Railroad Historical Society Picnic Held Under Perfect Conditions on August 6, 2016
Brand-new CSX diesels head a double-stack train through Clyde, NY during the Cornell Railroad Historical Society picnic, originally scheduled for July 11, then postponed and held on August 6, 2016.  
A Trip Across Canada Was Our March 2016 Meeting
Our newsletter editor and historian, Gene Endres, presented our March program on Tuesday, March 8, 2016. He showed slides (Powerpoint) of his first rail trip across Canada, via the Canadian Pacific Canadian, in 1973. During the program, he also had a few clips of audio recorded during that trip, where he had kept an audio diary. One particular adventure was a ride on the FP7 diesels across the Kicking Horse Pass and through the famed "Spiral Tunnels". Gene apologized for the condition of some of the photographs, saying that a combination of poor storage, less than stellar processing and just the ravages of time had deteriorated some of the photos. His favorites were shot during a lengthy stop at Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, on a blistering summer's day, where the next day's train was more than 8 hours late due to a derailment up the line.
February 2016 Meeting Saw the Construction of Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan
Our February meeting, on Tuesday, February 9, 2016, featured a video produced for "The American Experience" series on Public Broadcasting on the building of tunnels under the Hudson and the erection of the magnificent Pennsylvania Station. It was all done under the aegis of Alexander Cassatt, president of the PRR, who forged ahead despite the enormous costs involved. The show comes to a sad end, however, when the station was demolished to be replaced by a somewhat tawdry sports arena in 1963. The two tunnels under the Hudson are still in daily use, with trains often operating through them on five-minute headways. While some politicians think augmenting them is "too expensive", it has become obvious that, for the safety of the millions of users of the current station, this station and its 100-year-old tunnels need to be augmented or replaced.
January 2016 Meeting Catch-As-Catch-Can
With Winter something of a fizzle (one member saw Santa and Mrs. Claus kayaking on Christmas Day!), our January meeting was not planned far ahead of time. Nonetheless, despite some absences due to colds and flu, we had a good meeting on January 12 and got in some planning for our future meetings. Keep watching this space for news of further meetings!
December 2015 Annual Auction Scheduled for December 8 at The History Center
The CRHS December meeting will be our annual auction — fun, excitement, jokes, silliness, good deals. Steve Peck will act as our auctioneer. Members are invited to bring railroad-oriented items to sell, either for their own profit or for the benefit of the Society. Anything is a possible item, assuming it will fit into our space at The History Center and not exceed the floor loading rating. Doors open at 7 PM and the festivities begin at7:15 PM.
November 2015 Guest Speaker Robert Gongleski Shared His Vast Postcard Archive to take us from New York to Niagara Falls on the Lehigh Valley Railroad
Robert Gongleski has been assembling a postcard collection for some three decades. He brought part of his excellent array, many including postcards of stations and sites along the Lehigh Valley Railroad, ranging from locations in New York City to rare station postcards many in our group had never seen before. His pictures and comentary were detailed, colorful and interesting. The meeting took place on a special date, November 17, 2015, since our normal November meeting date had to yield to a special awards ceremony at The History Center.

Page revised by Gene Endres, January 3, 2020