Older Meetings from 2003-2013
December 2015 Featured Our Annual Auction
Large number of books, and other railroad memorabilia raised money for the chapter
Former Cornell Railroad Historical Society President John Marcham Died
For November 2015 Robert Congleski Helped Us Travel from New Jersey to Buffalo
Through his collection of old postcards, Gongleski brought the CRHS along the Lehigh Valley from Aldene to Buffalo for the November 2015 meeting.
October 2015 Meeting Viewed Panama Canal DocumentaryBuilt With Rail Techniques
A Nova (PBS) documentary on the construction of the Panama Canal showcased the variety of construction techniques that were used in making the canal in record time. The screening also pointed out the need, once the Americans took over the failed (abandoned due to lack of financing) French effort of bringing in workers who could live and avoid the deadly diseases which had caused previous attempts to cease.
Steve Peck Brought Back More Alaska Adventures for September 2015 Meeting
Steve Peck, our illustrious vice-president, spent the month of June in far northern Alaska on a construction project and growing a few more gray hairs as he rode a jet boat up a wild river near the North Slope of our largest state. On the way back, he once again rode the Alaska Railroad, with an exclusive seat in the first dome car. He shared those adventures and more with us at the September meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society, on Tuesday, September 8 at The History Center.
August 2015 Meeting, As Usual, Was Not Held
July 2015 Picnic One of "Best Ever"
Sounds of Trains at June 2015 MeetingThe CRHS June meeting, on June 9, 2015, was presented by our Secretary, Gene Endres, speaking about the history of recorded train sounds. Endres, who has spent parts of his career as a recordist, broadcast engineer and audio technician/engineer has been an avid collector of train recordings for many years. This relatively specialized corner of the railfan market began for him with the release of one of the first high fidelity train recordings "Rail Dynamics", by Emory Cook, in about 1952. From there, it was onward and upward, with the first commercially released stereo recording from Audio Fidelity which featured train sounds, through the history of the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, started by Brad Miller, which put out extremely high quality train recordings and eventually led to the popular line of "Original Master Recordings. As Endres noted, history is where you find it.
Movies Returned for May 2015 MeetingThe May 2015 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society featured another train movie this one of a different era and quite a different story. Danger Lights is a film from the early 1930s and uses the melodramatic kind of storytelling that was popular at the time. Of most interest to railfans and historians, however, is the setting. Much of the film was shot along the Milwaukee Road main line across Montana, a line that has been abandoned in large parts.
The movie was released in 1930, in both a regular and a wide-screen format, but that wide scope version only showed in two theaters. The widescreen version appears to be lost. Louis Wollheim, who stars, went to Cornell University, and had his nose broken while playing football. He often ended upplaying "heavies" but in this film he is a good guy.
Our normal-screen version was shown at the May 12 meeting at The History Center in downtown Ithaca. It had lots of steam action, authentic railroading of the 1920s and a race across the prairies near the ending.
April 2015 Meeting Viewed One Long Train [Movie]Our April 14, 2015 meeting presented the movie "Silver Streak" made in 1976. It starred GeneWilder, Richard Pryor, Jill Clayburgh and other familiar actors. Lots of train action, a plot that combines romance, comedy, disaster, mystery and more, but it does last more than 2 hours. Oh, well. It was still fun.
Dan Armitage Returned for March 2015 Meeting with More Slides and Stories of the LV In Dryden and FreevilleDan Armitage, who became a friend and casual co-worker with crews on the LV in Freeville, starting as a kid, came back with more amusing and instructive stories of how and why the railroad operated on the former Auburn Division. Meeting was on March 10, 2015, at The History Center, downtown Ithaca.
February 2015 Meeting on Cold and Slushy Night: Railroads of Western New York and Pennsylvania and Some Show and Tell
Thanks to the difficult winter weather we have been having (e.g. cold, very cold, snow, bad roads, not to mention half our members seem sick of something, perhaps winter) we had a mild turnout of only about eight for our February 10, 2015, meeting. Still, we welcomed Ian Mackenzie, author of the new book "Railroads Remembered a History of Railroads in Western New York and Pennsylvania". Mr. Mackenzie spoke on the contents of his work and brought forth a number of intriguing facts and points of the history of railroads, especially in these parts. For example, John Roebling, noted for engineering the Brooklyn Bridge, originally made wire rope to be used in the planes built for the canal railroads of Pennsylvania. Following the talk, Bruce Tracy showed some rare Lehigh Valley items, including a "Conductor's Box" as well as a switch-cleaning tool. Dan Armitage explained how engineers in the diesel era had special tools to make their jobs easier. Bob Travis had some rare old Lionel and tinplate train catalogs. Gene Endres brought some route guides from the 1950s.January 2015 Meeting With Frank Barry: His Early Adventures Chasing Steam Our meeting on January 13, 2015 at The History Center had guest speaker, Frank Barry, noted photographer and chronicler of the last days of steam in North America telling of his early efforts to see operating steam locomotives in Germany and then in Mexico. It was in Mexico that he met his wife, Barbara, and began to really tell the story of the final steam operations in all of North America. Since that time, Frank has also traveled as far as Patagonia and East Africa, taking excellent black-and-white photographs. For many of these he has been honored by the Center for Railroad Photography and Art.
John Marcham, former president of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society died in Ithaca in December, 2014. John was a real railroad enthusiast, a good friend and a top-class editor. He oversaw the production and printing of several notable rail books put out in association with The History Center [museum] in Ithaca. Among them were: Lehigh Valley Memories, The Gangly Country Cousin, Ups and Downs of a Rural Line [history of the Elmira, Cortland and Northern]. John also edited, revised and updated, with additional photographs and maps, A History of Railroads in Tompkins County.
Over the years, John ran his own newspaper, was an editor at the Ithaca Journal and then at the Cornell University Press. He was involved in many activities around Ithaca, and always gave generously of his time and treasure to many projects. John was an avid modeler, especially in the somewhat rare S-scale (American Flyer).
We will miss him very much.
December 2014 Meeting Brings the Excitement of Our Annual Auction
At our December 2014 meeting, persuasive auctioneer Steve Peck sold a variety of rail-interest items. Some came from hidden attics and basements, others were flown in especially from secure vaults in the mountains of Colorado and Outer Mongolia. This was everyone's chance to acquire things they never thought they would need, or to finally buy items they had desired all their life. The CRHS Auction happened on December 9, 2014 at The History Center in downtown Ithaca.
John Taibi Took Us on a Trip from His New Book on "The D&H - Oneonta to Binghamton" at Our November 2014 Meeting
The November 2014 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society convened on November 11, 2014 at 7 PM at The History Center in downtown Ithaca. John Taibi, noted central New York rail author talked about his new book in the Roads, Rivers and Rails series from Depot Square Publishing. The Delaware and Hudson's Susquehanna Division Heritage Trail; Volume 2: Oneonta to Binghamton. Taibi personalized his story of the D&H and its connection to all of the towns served between the "City of the Hills" (Oneonta) and the "Parlor City" (Binghamton) in the form of a drive along the railroad. The book contains more than 600 first-generation color, sepia, and black & white illustrations - from vintage stereoviews and post cards to color photographs of current owner Canadian Pacific Rail sharing the steel ribbons with Norfolk Southern. John proved an exciting and engaging speaker and we excitedly await his next visit, probably about the next work he is researching: the Adirondack Railway.
October 2014: Return to the Bath and Hammondsport
The October 2014 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society welcomed back Greg Dickinson, our member/expert on all things rail equipment and history. Greg has been photographing the resurrected Bath and Hammondsport in its new incarnation serving the Steuben County Industrial Development Area and other industries along the line north and south of Bath. He showed us slides taken a few years ago of operations on the B&H, including what must have been the final freight run from Rheims and the last remaining wineries on the line. It was just one freight car, but he caught the turn on a beautiful fall day, just appropriate for our October meeting.
Steve Peck Toured Our Chapter Over the Alaska Railroad in September 2014
At the September 8, 2014 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society, our vice-president Steve Peck spoke and showed a video of his trip along the Alaska Railroad in June. Peck spent part of the month working on the construction of a fishing camp north of the Arctc Circle, and then returned to Fairbanks and took the train south to Seward. He also had a stop-off in Denali National Park, but did not go into that in detail. His video, shot on the train, showed many aspects of the trip and gave our members a good idea of what the trip was like. Some will be booking for next summer shortly!
No Meeting Scheduled for August 2014
he past year. Like our esteemed Congress, we repair to various hideouts to raise money, talk to friends who know nothing about trains, and prepare for the coming busy fall season. In reality, we usually cannot convince anyone to come and present a program in August, so some members merely head for the nearest railroad line to see what's passing by.
July 2014 Picnic Meeting Held in Fine Weather
On a bright, relatively mellow and sunny morning of July 12, 2014 in Weedsport, New York, the Cornell Railroad Historical Society gathered for their annual picnic. The spot is an overpass of the CSX main line across central New York. Members arrived shortly before 11:00 AM, and already spotted a couple of trains before the official start time. A gas gril was set up, and picnic foods put out around noon. One unusual train was a welded rail train heading west at fairly slow speed. It stopped with the Fred end in view, apparently waiting before the crossovers west of Town Line Road, so that other freights could get around it. Once it moved on west, there was a lull, allowing time for the linch. Later operations saw the eastbound Lateshore Limited, running some 3 hours behind time, and the westbound Empire Service, just about spot on time. The group later adjourned to the Town Line Road crossing, and enjoyed several more freights passing.
June 10, 2014 Meeting: Greg Dickinson Explains It All
We had hoped that John Taibi, noted rail author with many books to his credit on the railroads of the central New York region, would visit the Cornell Railroad Historical Society for our June meeting. He has recently released his second volume in the Roads, Rivers and Rails series on the Delaware and Hudson. These books, sumptuously printed by Depot Square Publishing of Ohio, cover the history and operations of the D&H from Oneonta to Binghamton. Unfortunately, due to editorial confusion and absence from the meeting, we instead had Greg Dickinson, our member noted for his detailed knowledge of operations in and around Elmira, giving a presentation with numerous photos on the railroads in that area. Greg, as usual, did a great job in providing information no one else has such a grasp on.
May 2014 Meeting Viewed Photos of the Current Bath and Hammondsport
Our May 2014 meeting, held at the History Center on May13, was conducted by Steve Peck and Greg Dickinson. They showed photos of the current short line, Bat and Hammondsport, which operates a portion of the old Lackawanna line between Bath and Cohocton. The original line ran from Hammondsport, on Keuka Lake, to Bath, connecting with the Erie and the Lackawanna. THAT was the "Champagne Trail" but with the demise of the wineries, much of the line's business evaporated, like the bubbles in a glass of champagne. We did get to see a video of current operations, and Greg also showed some somewhat related slides, since his main presentation was inadvertently left behind.
Special Date Was Set for April Meeting: APRIL 1, 2014
In cooperation with our host venue, The History Center of Ithaca, New York, the April 2014 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society was held on April 1 instead of our usual second Tuesday. We enjoyed a new video on the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The date change was to allow the museum time to mount their ambitious new display on the creation of the Moog Synthesizer in Trumansburg, NY: "Switched On"
The Hard Coal Roads What Went Wrong?
For the March 11, 2014 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society, we viewed a new video on the "Anthracite Roads" the coal-hauling railroads operating out of the area of Pennsylvania where the rocklike, hot-burning fuel was mined. The Lehigh Valley, Reading, Erie, Lackawanna, Delaware & Hudson, as well as short lines like the Lehigh and Hudson River and Lehigh and New England were made wealthy by their coal business and then were impoverished when that business disappeared. It was a well-photographed and colorful look at the trains on these lines, though the analysis of how things went bad was on the thin side.
Rail Photographer Frank Barry Returned in February 2014
The February 11, 2014 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Societywelcomed back Frank Barry, who is working on a book of photographs of his marvelous work following steam in Mexico during the 1950s. Barry was able to document the last days of steam on the federally-owned Mexican railroads during that time. His unique pictures have been honored by the Center for Railroad Photography and Art, and his stories of how he came to obtain the images make for fascinating story-telling. It was a special evening of rarely seen pictures and stories of the little railroads that were hardly noted in their day and are virtually forgotten now. Frank managed to catch the last mainline operations of steam in Mexico on the oddly double-track but separated line between Mexico City and Queretaro.
January 2014 Meeting:How Central New York Was Populated by Rail
In the January 14, 2014 meeting our editor and historian Gene Endres presented his Powerpoint program on how people arrived in central New York via the railroads. The presentation included a thumbnail history of railroads and steam locomotion, and contained several startling revelations from the US Department of Commerce about how little the population of rural New York counties changed over the railroad era. The meeting was on January 14 at The History Center in downtown Ithaca.
Annual Auction in December 2013
The December 2013 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society had our annual auction. Members contributed items of a railroad nature and Steve Peck acted as auctioneer. There were the usual remarks from the audience, some humorous or enlightening. It was a fun event and helped raise money for our chapter. We especially thank John Marcham who contributed a number of valuable books that brought high bids.
NRHS Convention and Varied Show and Tell
The November 2013 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society featureed a report by Dave Flinn NRHS Global Director on his experiences at the annual NRHS Convention in Alaska. Following that we had the chance to share objects, pictures, videos, stories and other railroad-related objects for a "Show and Tell" session. Greg Dickinson had a number of railroad lanterns, some quite rare. John Marcham showed a rare book. Bruce Tracy one of his usual mysterious rail objects.
October 2013 Meeting Featured Historian John Taibi
Noted local rail historian John Taibi presented his program on the Oneida Electric Railway, which ran from Utica to Syracuse. The first road operating with under-running third rail electricity in New York State, this line had many unique features. Taibi's talk demonstrated many of them, and was filled with intriguing and humorous anecdotes. Taibi is offering his 280+-page book on CD as a PDF file for just $20. It will be a departure from previous books, but, as Taibi notes, "It would cost over $80 as a printed volume."
Richard Palmer Brought the Black Diamond to Cornell Railroad Historical Society in September 2013
September, 2013: For the September meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society, historian Richard Palmer covered the history of the "Black Diamond Express" of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Once known as "the most beautiful train in the world", it ran from New York to Buffalo and Niagara Falls from 1896 until 1959. His topic was a story in pictures of the Lehigh Valley's famous train that operated for about 63 years. Richard has written a book entitled "The Handsomest Train in the World" which was published by the Sayre Historical Society. He provided detailed commentary along with his CD slide program.
June 2013 Meeting Showed Video from Internet and Old Railroad PR Films
The June 11, 2013 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society viewed rail footage gathered from the Internet. These include items like the "Black Diamond" in Geneva, NY and snow plowing in New Zealand. Then we also viewed some vintage railroad public relations films, such as the classic "Flight of the Century" from the New York Central, explaining how that premier train was made up and sent over the road during the 1920s and 1930s.
Gary Reinbolt Discussed NRHS at May 2013 Meeting
Gary Reinbolt discussed plans and prospects for the National Railway Historical Society at our May 14, 2013 meeting. Gary has held various positions in the Ithaca area, including, for a time, director of the History Center, where we meet. This should be an interesting time. An aging population of railfans, increasing invisibility of trains and railroads to the general populace, and financial difficulties have dogged both the NRHS and other rail history organizations. However, ridership on Amtrak continues to increase, and freight loadings on most major roads are at or near peaks. So some things are going right, while others need attention, some of them desperately.
Richard Palmer Brought Old Stations to Life in April 2013
The April, 2013 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society on April 9, 2013 had a return visit by historian and journalist Richard Palmer. He showed many rare pictures of rail stations from around the region. Dick has been a frequent visitor at our meetings and is active in the Central New York Chapter of NRHS in Syracuse. A number of his pictures had never before been seen by members, an it was overall a fine evening.
Greg Dickinson Explained Lehigh Valley Railroad Colors at March 2013 Meeting
At the Cornell Railroad Historical Society meeting on March 12, 2013, CRHS Member and "detail" expert Greg Dickinson gave a short course in all the colors the Lehigh Valley Railroad used in painting their locomotives, especially during the diesel age. Greg brought lots of pictures, ranging from the earliest yard "goats" to the last locomotives running on the LV. He even covered the eventual fate of some of these engines, which wore their colors into the Conrail era. It was an interesting and enlightening program. He even answered the question "What, really, is Cornell Red."
Dan Armitage in February: Growing Up as "The Kid" from Freeville
Meeting of February 12, 2013
Dan Armitage grew up in a house by the tracks in Freeville, New York, hard by the five lines of the Lehigh Valley that came through town. At an early age, he was noticed by the crews of the trains, who soon befriended him. Later, his mother became a sort of "den mother" to the workers, serving up coffee and sandwiches (even in the early hours of the morning at times). Dan learned the ways of the trains, where they went, and who the crew members were. At our meeting, he told stories of the colorful characters who worked the "Valley" in the 60s and 70s. To close, he showed a raft of slides of many of the stations and people who inhabited those stories.
December Auction: Then Steve Peck The Engineer
Meeting of December 11, 2012
The December meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society at The History Center in downtown Ithaca featured an auction of rail items, in what is now an annual holiday tradition. People walked away with items such as various model train pieces, some rail books, including an Official Guide and other goodies. The second part of the program featured a video shot mostly by a friend of Steve Peck's, who accompanied him as he spent a whole day at the Western Maryland Scenic, and GOT TO OPERATE THEIR STEAM LOCOMOTIVE over their line. Steve apparently did really well on incorporating the professional engineer's instructions, eventually being left alone to run the engine, caring for the boiler, steam pressure, throttle, braking and all that operation entails. For anyone who thinks this is an easy task, think again. It is so easy to do things wrong. Congratulations to Steve on his ability to run real steam! We all enjoyed the vicarious experience.
November Meeting: History of Hayts Corners, Ovid and Willard Railroad
We welcomed Peter Allen to Talk About His New Book on the Hayts Corners, Ovid and Willard Railroad The Willard Branch came off the Ithaca Branch at Hayts Corners (MP 44.8). The branch crossed the Seneca Freight Line on a bridge compass south (LVRR TT direction east) of the NY Rt. 96A overpass (now a fill). The location was known as Gilbert Cut. During the winter one could still see the bridge abutments as of a few years ago. The Willard Branch Ovid-Willard, 2 miles, was abandoned in 1936 and Hayts Corners-Ovid, 2 miles, in 1959. Peter has compiled a complete history of this fascinating short line and brought copies of the book to sell.
October Meeting Visited the Ithaca History Center Archives
October brought the detective qualities of Cornell Railroad Historical Society: members' memories and knowledge to bear on more photographs from the archives of The History Center. This is always a fun meeting, where we can identify locations, details and special aspects of prints in the vast files of our local history museum. We hope our efforts add to the historic knowledge of railroads in the Ithaca area.
Frank Barry Showed Pictures of Mexican Steam in the 1950s.
Our September meeting welcomed back Frank Barry, nationally recognized rail photographer and historian of the final years of steam in North America. Frank read selections from a book he is writing including his photographs of the last days of steam in central Mexico, with fascinating images of the locomotives in various exotic settings. His stories are as enjoyable as his wonderful photos. The meeting was on Tuesday, September 11 at The History Center, downtown Ithaca.
Cornell Railroad Historical Society annual picnic was held at the Oakland Road Overpass north of Weedsport, NY on July 11.
It was a really hot day (so what else is new?), but clear with plenty of trains. Initially, there was little traffic on the CSX main line, due to the freight traffic "holes" provided for the eastbound Lakeshore Limited and the westbound Empire Service. After that, the freights came thick and fast, with only enough time between to clear the blocks. One rare bird spotted early was the all-white RailEx vegetabloe train, headed west, empty.
Special Meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society/
Public Lecture by Robert Archer was held on June 8. According to members who attended, it was "the best program of the year!"
Mr. Archer spoke and showed slides about the Lehigh Valley Railroad and the Erie Railroad.
May Meeting Welcomed Richard Palmer
The May 15, 2012 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society featured Richard Palmer, familiar to many members from our meetings and the Central New York NRHS chapter in Syracuse. He presented
"Within our Memory: the Lehigh Valley and Erie-Lackawanna in the Southern Tier," a slide program.
Palmer was a newspaper reporter and editor for more than 40 years and still remains active in writing, with a new volume published by the Sayre Historical Society on "The Black Diamond, Handsomest Train in the World".
He has written 17 books on local history topics (mostly local railroads). He is archivist and librarian for the Central New York Chapter, NRHS.
April Meeting Showed Track Cars with Greg Dickinson
The April Meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society convened at Ithaca's History Center in downtown Ithaca on April 10. We saw a program from Greg Dickinson on "Travels by Track Car".
March Meeting Viewed Pictures from The History Center, Ithaca
The March meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society, at The History Center in downtown Ithaca, was another session evaluating pictures from the museum's collection. The pictures were from mostly paper prints and were projected using Steve Peck's clever video camera arranged to act as a projector pickup. The meeting took place on March 13, 2012.
February: Steve Peck's Reconstruction of Trumansburg Lehigh Valley
The February meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society welcomed our Vice-president, Steve Peck, who told how he unearthed the pictures, maps, diagrams and details of the structures at the Lehigh Valley Railroad's station site in Trumansburg so that he could reconstruct the complete location in HO-gauge detail. His work also features an exquisite backdrop printed by Jay Hart of EarthPattern.com in Trumansburg.He had previously given this lecture to an audience of over 130 at the Ulysses Historical Society in Trumansburg. Several members of the audience had been on the class trip in 1947, and could name others who were in Steve's pictures. Subsequently, Steve gave an open house at his large layout, and invited members of the audience and our CRHS to come and view it in operation.
Another January, Another Fine Program from Trencansky
Our January program brought back Tom Trencansky, with pictures of the start-up of the new tourist railroad the Saratoga and North Creek and a number of pictures taken over the past 25+ years on expeditions with members of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society. Tom has photographed railroads all around the state, the United States and Canada and even in China, and was in instrumental in starting our society and NRHS chapter. The photo shows an Arizona Eastern diesel which is being returned to that road, and will be replaced by E-Units obtained from the Central new York Chapter, NRHS.
December 2009 Auction Fueled Cornell Chapter
The December meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society was an auction of railroadiana and model railroad items. Members and the general public brought things for sale and there was spirited bidding on many items. It was generally a good time for all, and we thank the many people who brought merchandise and books. A percentage of the proceeds will go into the Chapter funds.
November 2009 Meeting: Locked Out! John Taibi's New Book is A Ride through the Countryside on the Syracuse & Chenango Valley Railroad
John Taibi, was to join the Cornell Railroad Historical Society for our November meeting to tell the tale of the Syracuse and Chenango Valley Railroad. This is Taibi's ninth book about railroading in and around central New York and his first collaboration with co-author Jim Georges. Unfortunately, due to a confusion with the History Center, we were locked out of the meeting room. John owns and lives in a restored railroad station in Munnsville, while Jim's Erieville homestead abuts the Chenango Branch right-of-way. Unfortunately, due to a security snafu at The History Center, the meeting had to be canceled. Check John's website for more book information. http://tinyurl.com/yfwh9x2The successful building of the Syracuse & Chenango Valley Railroad during the post-Civil War era followed a previously failed attempt to bring rail transportation to the upland regions of central New York between Syracuse and Earlville. The inspiration and need for this railroad was provided by its lineside communities of Fayetteville, Manlius, Oran, Cazenovia, Rippleton, Ballina, Erieville, Georgetown, and Lebanon to enhance their prosperity by becoming directly connected to the larger railroad systems at Syracuse (New York Central Railroad) and Earlville (New York, Ontario & Western Railway).
October 2009 Meeting Featured Tom Stackhouse and the Hippo
Our October 2009 meeting at Ithaca's History Center on October 13 had guest speaker Tom Stackhouse from the Buffalo area. Tom spoke and showed slides on the effort to save and restore a Pennsylvania Railroad "Hippo" (Decapod-type) steam locomotive. The engine is now stored on a former Erie Railroad branch at Hamburg, NY. Members on a tour of Buffalo-area railroad interest in 2008 were able to see and photograph the engine, but finding out the problems of moving such a massive artifact and how they were solved made for an informative and intriguing program.
September 2009 Meeting Informs about Coal and Cayuga
At the September meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society, at Ithaca's History Center, September 8, 2009, we greeted John Cooper, Operations manager of the AES Cayuga power station. AES, a major international power generating company took over the plant from New York State Electric and gas Corporation (NYSEG) in 1999 as part of the deregulation of the power industry. Mr. Cooper described the operation of the AES Cayuga power station, on Cayuga Lake, which is a customer for the large trainloads of coal that travel through Ithaca to the plant. He showed pictures of the operation, and told how the coal went from the rotary car dumper through the stages of crushing and pulverizing to combustion as a "face-powder fine" spray into the 13-story high boilers. There, the burning coal heats water to steam, which is compressed and becomes superheated, finally driving huge turbines which then spin generators. The exhaust gases are also "scrubbed" of Sulfur dioxide, creating gypsum as a by-product. Oxides of nitrogen are also removed by catalytic converters, so the exhaust from the plant is largely water vapor. It was an interesting and instructive presentation.
August 2009 Meeting: Pot Luck, No Food
The Cornell Railroad Historical Society August meeting was held at the History Center, downtown Ithaca, on August 11, 2009. Members, since this is a casual summer meeting, brought items to show and tell about. We watched an older film (via video) on the New York 3rd Avenue elevated (El), as well as some maps brought from the Cornell map collection with detailed views of where the Elmira, Cortland and Northern ran from Elmira through Breesport and Erin to Spencer and Van Etten, NY. There were also photo items and discussion of our upcoming field trips including to the AES Cayuga Station (former Millikan generating station) and to Steamtown in October.
Successful Picnic by the Lake in July 2009
Our annual picnic meeting was held on July 14, 2009 at Stewart Park in Ithaca. Between the waters of the lake and the Ithaca Secondary tracks,was a good time with food supplied by individuals, train courtesy of Norfolk-Southern and plenty of time to spin yarns, complain about the weather or swap tales of past rail trips.
Show and Tell Makes for June Show
The June 2009 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society featured a variety of short presentations by various members. Held on June 9 at the History Center in downtown Ithaca, we saw everything from detailed models built by Art Wilcox to a Journal Brass and a Whatzit Tool (later revealed to be a flattened hook for detecting cracks on the surface of a journal brass) shown by Bruce Tracy, to a photos slide show from Doug Flanagan. We also had a talk on "Steam Locomotive Types of the Lehigh Valley" by Greg Dickinson. All told, an evening of great variety and interest.
For our May meeting, we viewed two videos from the "Tracks Ahead" series. One, in particular, showed operations at the marklin model factory in Germany. Sadly, this company, a pioneer in the model railroad business, which originated toy trains (so reported) in 1892, has declared insolvency, and over 400 workers have been laid off.
April 2009 Meeting
The April Meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society was held at The History Center, downtown Ithaca on April 14. We were to view a video of the last mainline steam operation in the world. This line in China, featuring giant 2-10-0 steam over the Jing Ping Pass, attracted railfans from all over the world including our own railfan extraordinaire, Tom Trencansky. Tom was unable to appear, due to family matters, but an intriguing video of the operations in China was substituted.
March 2009 Meeting
The March meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society was held at the History Center, on East State Street in downtown Ithaca. Tom Trencansky showed (via computer) many fascinating slides of the Delaware and Hudson, in and around Binghamton, NY, as well as other locations on the line. The D&H was one of the oldest corporations in America, having started with a canal to bring coal from the early Pennsylvania coalfields to the Hudson River.
February 2009 Meeting
Our February meeting at the History Center featured the final installment of the video on how railroads were involved in war, particular attention being paid to how the Allies attacked the Axis railroads during World War II.
January 2009 Meeting
Our January meeting was held on January 13, 2009 at the Ithaca Sciencenter. It was announced that we will be holding future meetings at the History Center in downtown Ithaca. We appreciate the Sciencenter for giving us a home over the past several years. The History Center is the museum for Tompkins County history, and seems to be an appropriate place for our future functions, since we are, after all, the Cornell Railroad Historical Society. The remainder of the January meeting included two videos from Mark I Video of "Memories of the Lehigh Valley Railroad". Several members were able to add commentary to the scenes shown.
November 2008 Meeting at The History Center, Ithaca November 2008
The November meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society was a joint meeting with Ithaca's history museum, The History Center, in conjunction with the new exhibit at The History Center: Riding the Rails. This show featured photos from the museum's collection, along with illustrations and text from the newly revised edition of A History of Railroads in Tompkins County. Our speaker was Thomas D. Simpson, who represents the Railway Supply Institute in Washington, D.C. spoke on his lifetime interest in railroads starting as a youth in Ithaca, and continuing to this day. He supplies information to our elected representatives from this international association of suppliers to the nation's freight and passenger rail systems and rail transit authorities. He also presented to The History Center a ledger book for the East Ithaca station (on the Elmira and Cortland branch of the Lehigh Valley Railroad). The new edition of A History of Railroads in Tompkins County, updated and augmented by our own long-term member, John Marcham, was available for sale as well.
September 2008 Meeting: Railroads At War: Video
Our September meeting showed a video of historic footage of "Railroads at War" beginning with the Civil War and continuing up to post-World War II. This video had some extremely different and rarely seen footage of preparations for war at the front during World War I, including the assembly in France of steam locomotives that were designed and built in the United States.
July 2008 Our Annual Picnic Meeting
On July 8 we held our annual picnic meeting at Stewarts Park in Ithaca. People were free to arrive any time, and there were hot dogs and rolls, salads and drinks by before 6 PM. A charcoal fire for grilling was in place thanks to Steve Peck. The location, the northeast corner of the park, is near the Norfolk-Southern tracks, and the freight to the salt plant at Myers headed north around 4:30 PM. It came back through the park by 7:10 PM and members still in attendance enjoyed its progress.
June 2008 Meeting Copes with Numerous Unexcused Absences
We viewed some videos provided by John Marcham at the June Meeting, . Due to the lack of our usual tech operators, the mysterious operation of the projection system at the NYSEG Meeting Room had to be deciphered by some of those attending. They did this successfully and members enjoyed the results.
May 2008: We Viewed an Excellent History of the Construction of Grand Central Station
Member Andrew Diamond provided an exceptional video on the construction of the current Grand Central Terminal which provided numerous memories of members who had traveled by train from that marvelous structure.
April 2008 Meeting Viewed History of the Southern Tier Presented by Greg Dickinson
One of our long-standing members and our resident expert on all things locomotive and freight-car related, Greg Dickinson, covered the history of rail lines in and radiating from Elmira, NY. Greg grew up in Elmira, and has expert knowledge on historical and current-day aspects of the original rail line from the Hudson to the Great Lakes, as well as lines from the south and to the north, including the Northern and Southern Central, the Lehigh Valley and all their successor lines.He showed us a detailed overview, with maps and pictures, of how the railroads we have come to know in the Elmira area evolved.March 2008 Meeting Sees Snow Inside, No Snow Outside
Our March meeting had sign-up sheets for working at our April Railfair (see above) and then a fine video provided by Larry Parmelee covering snow-fighting on Donner Pass. Dating from 1993, when Donner was still in the hands of Southern Pacific (though the merger with the Denver & Rio grande Western had taken place) the DVD was continuously fascinating.. Starting with amazing pictures of how the huge machine known as a flanger clears snow from both sides of the tracks, the video immediately chanced to include a derailment of one flanger and one of the four diesels propelling the work train. Later scenes showed how marksmanship brings down large icicles from tunnels and snowsheds. Finally, the increasingly heavy snow brings out the famous rotary snow plows, which hurl snow up to 200 feet from the tracks. Surprisingly, this year, with the Union Pacific in charge, the line got blocked for a time by a stalled Amtrak train. We didn't see that, but the snow was so cinvincing, members had to check the windows outside the Ithaca Sciencenter, to make sure we would get home easily!
February 2008: Summer in Duluth in the Winter
February Meeting: Jim Torgeson presented pictures of rail, marine and industrial sites around Duluth, Minnesota. Our chief executive brought photos he shot during the NMRA meeting at the one-time hub of the iron ore industry at the western end of Lake Superior. The meeting on February 12 was lightly attended due to predicted snow. However, the weather held off and Torgeson gave an excellent presentation. Members who missed it will regret this one.January 2008 Meeting: Calendars and Art
January is the start of the year, and our program was a brief history of the railroad calendar by Gene Endres, along with a number of pictures of calendar paintings by two of his favorites: Ted Rose and Howard Fogg. Several members contributed comments on the railroads and locomotives shown. We also viewed some fine rail photos by Dave Sommers, shot in the New York Metro North area and also of rail action in Ithaca.
December 2007 Meeting: Video at the Fair
Our December meeting had a visit to the Central New York Chapter's 33rd Annual Model Train Fair. Steve Peck shot comprehensive video of this event, and allowed members to revisit or enjoy the premier fall railfan event in central New York.
November 2007:Frank Barry Returned With Pictures of Central Mexico
The November meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society saw a return appearance and a new lecture and slide show by Frank Barry, of Lansing, New York. Frank traveled extensively in Mexico during the late 1950s, chasing the final operations of steam locomotives on the (then) National Railways of Mexico [Nacionales de Mexico or N de M]. Frank caught some of the last steam trains from Guanajuato (just north of Mexico City) up to Aguascalientes, Durango and Torreon. He rode on the trains, photographed people along the way and the crews working on their trains. His superb black-and-white prints were carefully scanned into a computer slide program, and it wasa very special program, made even better by Franks' skills at telling the stories behind the pictures.October 2007 Brought Don Jilson Back- This Time
With His Trip on the White Pass & Yukon Railway
The Cornell Railroad Historical Society October meeting enjoyed a program of slides taken by Engineer Don Jilson and a friend from a trip to the White Pass and Yukon Railway out of Skagway, Alaska. The meeting was held on October 9, 2007 at the Ithaca Sciencenter
Finger Lakes Railway Was Featured for September 2007 MeetingA good audience was on hand for our September meeting on September 11. Featured speaker was Deb Najarro, who represented the Finger Lakes Railway and the Finger Lakes Scenic Railway. We had originally scheduled FLRy President Mike Smith for this meeting, but Deb proved an able substitute. She showed some shots of operations on the railroad, taken by herself, and then covered some of the background of this successful local shortline. We thank Deb Najarro and the Finger Lakes Railway for a fine show.
August 2007 Meeting Was An Informal Affair At Sciencenter
The CRHS August meeting was a come-as-you-are, bring-what-you-have gathering at the NYSEG Public Meeting Room at the Sciencenter. Attendance was astonishingly large for the usual August meeting. Steve Peck showed a video of our Buffalo Harbor Tour, and various members added commentary on what was shown. Jim Torgeson was especially valuable, since he had planned and organized the tour. Following that showing and a break, we watched a DVD provided by Gene Endres, which had been assembled from a variety of older 16 mm. films and thence copied to 3/4-inch videotape. That now obsolete format was finally dubbed to DVD. The images ranged from pictures of the Pennsy Elmira branch, to a brief scene of the ALCO PA-led Black Diamond in Ithaca, to even some old Castle Films for kids about dreaming of being a railroader. Other news from President Torgeson was that we are planning additional excursions in the future, with possible destinations of Steamtown in Scranton, and perhaps the Strasburg Railroad or Horseshoe Curve in Altoona.
Buffalo Harbor Excursion Proved a Memorable Trip
Our bus tour of Buffalo Harbor on Saturday, July 21 began at 7 AM at the mall parking lot just off Route 13, Ithaca. We had a full complement of passengers and a perfect, clear morning. We pulled out right on schedule and everything went perfectly, with the arrival at the Buffalo Marina around 11 AM. Some members kept track of all the existing and abandoned rail lines passed over on the way. (Those with a rail atlas -- the one covering New York State Railroads in 1946, for example -- were able to spot these points. The tour schedule provided by our President, Jim Torgeson, gave locations to the exact tenth mile, however. Bravo, Jim!)
At shortly after noon, our cruise boat, the Miss Buffalo left the landing near the marina and cruised up a channel still serving the giant General Mills elevator. It then turned back when the channel became too narrow, and was able to loop into the Buffalo River,, which itself twists and turns several times while heading past a whole assemblage of largely abandoned elevators. All these were served by lake freighters, carrying grain from various points in the Midwest. They were also served by a huge array of rail trackage, as the grain was trans-shipped to either local mills or to other mills in the area or on the east coast. Near the drawbridge still used by the CSX main line, we again had to turn back. Beyond this point was the vast Republic Steel plant, now completely gone and a storage yard for wind turbine parts.
Back at the landing, we boarded the bus again and were taken on a tour of rail points of interest around Buffalo, once the second-largest rail center in the country. High point was a stop at Buffalo Central Terminal, which was the location of an antique car show on this day. The main terminal concourse was open for visitors and proved magnificent. Restoring the station is an ongoing and massive job. One hopes it can be carried out, though it will take years. Click on the panoramic view of the concourse dizzying (Flash) view.
The final leg of the tour took us past the former Bethlehem Steel plant in Lackawanna, right along the lakeshore southwest of Buffalo. It is striking to see all this departed industrial might. There is still significant rail activity in Buffalo, but in years past it was far more so. Exhausted but exhilarated, we arrived back in Ithaca by about 10 PM. Thanks and gratitude go to our faithful Swarthout bus driver Jody and to Jim Torgeson for a magnificently planned tour.
July 2007 Picnic in Stewart Park, Ithaca
Our annual informal picnic meeting was held at Stewart Park in Ithaca, New York on Tuesday, July 10. We met at the northeast end of the park, near the Norfolk-Southern tracks. The day was warm and somewhat hazy, but right for a summer picnic. Shortly after 6 PM, the N-S train was spotted coming down the lake shore with a set of salt cars from the Cargill mine. It was operating push-pull, one supposes for ease in switching. A number of members fled the picnic table to grab pictures, and no TSA or local cops sprang from the bushes to stop this public photography.
Our June 2007 Meeting Showed Slides of Rail Action from the Mid-1940s
Chris Wolff's grandfather had a long history, from exploring in the Goldrush towns of the Sierra Nevada in California in the 1930s, to working with early aircraft pioneers in that industry, to supervising the construction of Liberty ships during World War II and then working in labor and work efficiency with for the government and private industry such as the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad after the war. By the way, he also took slides. Some of these have been scanned and restored, and Chris and his father were on hand to narrate and explain the rail scenes shown.
Doug Flanagan Took Us Forward into the Past During May 2007 Meeting
The May meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society had a slide show presented by Doug Flanagan. Doug has held most positions at the Cornell Railroad Historical Society. He currently is crucial in getting out newsletter sealed and mailed on time. But for the May meeting, he brought along an assortment of slides taken by both himself and his parents, starting with trips they took when Doug was but a child, even before he knew he liked trains. Among the places shown were the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and the Royal Gorge of the Colorado River, once home to the Tennessee Pass line of the Denver and Rio Grande Western.
The meeting also was a post-Railfair wrapup of what had happened at our Railfair, with some planning for next year. We discussed, in addition, the CRHS Auction, scheduled for May 15 in Dryden, New York. Late news says the auction was a vibrant success, with many bidders and buyers, a good time had by all and generally a fine time, thanks to Tom Trencansky's organizing, Peggy Haine's excellent auctioneering and participation by many members.
Fireman to the Rescue of April 2007 Meeting
The April 2007 meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society was scheduled to have Jim Torgeson, our president, showing his pictures and giving his descriptions of the NMRA special interest group convention last summer in Duluth, Minnesota. Unfortunately, Jim was called out of town at the last minute, but long-time member Ken Reeves saved us from a complete conflagration and meltdown with a fine slide show of rail photos he's taken over the years. It was much appreciated.
How to Move a Large Layout Fascinates Our March 2007 Meeting
Steve Peck, known as "The Wood Doctor" of Trumansburg, New York, brought a video to our March meeting, showing how he managed to cut up, move and reassemble the large HO layout built by the late Carl Schmidt of Rock River Hobbies in Interlaken, New York. Thanks to careful planning and measurement, Steve managed to cut the roughly 25 by 25-foot layout into pieces that could be fit through an 80-inch high door. He essentially turned this large life-project into a modular layout. When re-assembled in its new location, the cuts were virtually undetectable, and everything worked perfectly: trains ran, signals lit, control panels indicated and worked! Steve's video shows in some detail how he did it, and, if you're interested, contact the CRHS and we can put you in touch. The meeting took place on Tuesday, March 13 at the NYSEG Public Meeting Room of the Ithaca Sciencenter, and had an appreciative full house audience.
Dickinson and Trencansky Brought Photo Guns To Bear on February 2007 CRHS Meeting
Greg Dickinson, our Program Director and Tom Trencansky, our President Emeritus provided plenty of photography power for the February meeting. They combined for a dazzling show, that ranged from Tehachapi to Essex, Montana to freight car detail in the yards of Buffalo, and all the way to Jilin, China. Despite the threat of a heavy snowstorm, the meeting went off well, and the snow was held at bay until late in the evening.
January 2007 Meeting Featured Don Jilson's Photos of Heber Valley and Nevada Northern Winter Photo Freights
On January 9, 2007, Don Jilson, long time railfan and real railroader (currently with Norfolk Southern), presented a program of slides he took at the Heber Valley Railroad and on the Nevada Northern in Ely, Nevada. These were captured during their Winter Steam Spectacular last year. Jilson's photos were spectacular! These two railroads still operate steam, and the Nevada Northern is the location for the western version of the NRHS Summer Rail Camp.
December 2006 Brought Back Frank Barry ***Mexican Rails in the 1950s***
Frank Barry, known for his articles and photographs published nationally (Narrow Gauge steam in Chama, New Mexico in Classic Trains magazine last year) returned with a computer-based slide show of photographs he made in 1959 of steam trains on the National Railroads of Mexico (N de M). Most of the lines shown were in central and southern Mexico. Frank traveled from Mexico City to Puebla, then on a train that ran first standard gauge and then everyone switched to narrow gauge for the trip to Tezuitlan. Then back to the main line at Oriental for the traint toward Jalapa and Veracruz. Through a stroke of luck at Las Vigas on the edge of the slope down to the Gulf of Mexico, Frank got a ride with some section hands on a non-functioning track speeder to "las curvas" [the curves] where the line passes through a series of horseshoe curves as it climbs to the 8000 foot plateau. Frank's camera captured workers, local residents, kids and, of course, the trains and desert scenery. Later, he and some friends traveled from Veracruz in the direction of the Guatemalan border, but were stopped by local police. They returned to Oaxaca, and Frank managed to get photos of the now-defunct line through Tomellin canyon with remarkable results. It was a remarkable display of pictures not seen anywhere else except for Mexico, where Frank presented his program this September and again in November.
November 2006 Meeting: 25 Years of Cornell Railroad Historical Society
During informal ceremonies at the November meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society, the chapter was presented with a certificate from the national organization marking the 25th year of the CRHS as an NRHS chapter. In addition, 25 year pins were presented to members who were among the original group who joined as national members.
October 2006 Meeting Viewed Remnants of the Erie Lackawanna
The October meeting, scheduled at the Ithaca ScienceCenter on the evening of October 10. Doors will open at 7 P.M had a number of business items discussed. Nominations were entered for officers of the chapter for the coming year. David Flinn will step aside as President, while remaining Regional Director of the National organization. Jim Torgeson will stand for President, with Shawn Karney as Vice-president. Greg Dickinson will be stepping down as program chairman, and his place taken by John Marcham, who will leave the Board of Directors. Other officers will remain as at present. The nominations remain open, however, and these changes will only take place after the official election in December. Following this and further chapter business, we viewed a videotape provided by Bob Sowers of E-L Encore! fragmentary films of the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad in its last days, from Revelation Video of Tallmadge, Ohio. Some members may have been seen quietly weeping at the end of the noble gray-maroon-and-yellow road [not].
September 2006: Off to a Slim Start with Many Members Out of Town
The September meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society, usually the first of the academic year, was somewhat sparsely attended. Most of our Board of Directors seemed to be off on holiday or business, and a substitute program was found just in time. The video tape shown was "Towers: CSX's Living Relics" from Revelation Audio-Visuals, copyright 1995 -- which these days must make it practically an antique! Shots of some Armstrong-type levers being thrown,
some views of 100's of feet of pipes being shoved back and forth to mechanically operate remote switches and signals. Some overly long (time-duration) shots of trains going by a tower. Nonetheless, a once-crucial part of railroad operation and history, which is becoming extinct or nearly so.
August 2006: Casual Gathering with Railroading Around Mt. Shasta
Our August meeting, generally unscheduled and informal, proved to be that as only 10 or so members turned out on an otherwise beautiful evening. There was little regular business conducted, so we turned on a videotape from Pentrex about Southern Pacific's Shasta Division, from Redding north through Dunsmuir and north through the upper reached of the Sacramento River. From there, after a hard climb, the line curves most of the way around beautiful Mt. Shasta, a typical volcanic cone, snow-covered most of the year. This was railroading in remotest California, scenic but busy. The program dated from the early 1990s, so it was all Southern Pacific. Now, the line is part of the Union Pacific empire, and Armour yellow would be the norm, but then it was all red noses and quite a few engines needing maintenance. Nonetheless, a scenic trip, and recommended to anyone taking Amtrak to or from Portland and Seattle.
July 2006 Picnic at Lyons, NY, With Lots of Trains and A Real Hot Time
A smaller turnout than we usually had, perhaps due to various members flitting about the countryside on other errands, the annual Cornell Railroad Historical Society picnic at CSX trackside in Lyons, New York, was still lots of fun and those attending witnessed lots of rail activity. Herewith, a few pictures, courtesy of Larry Parmelee, who was there.
Z from A to Z in June 2006, a Month Without an R
Our special guest for the June meeting was Ed Wolf, a former director of the Cornell Nano Scale facility and developer of the "Gene Gun", who is also interested in a far larger world, that of Z-Scale "micro-trains". Z is the smallest production scale, at least as far as most people car concerned, and Mr. Wolf gave a fascinating presentation on the development of these tiny trains and what's available now.
May 2006 Meeting Brought Rail Author and Expert William S. Young to Ithaca
William (Bill) Young, noted rail author and historian, presented some vintage slides of rare and intriguing railroad scenes at our May meeting. Young, who lives south of Ithaca near Susquehanna, PA, has edited various rail publications over the years and is author of a number of rail books. He is particularly knowledgeable on the history of both the Starrucca and Tunkhannock viaducts. The first is one of the oldest major rail bridges in the country, and the second is the largest concrete arch bridge anywhere. Young showed slides of railroads as varied as the Wellsville, Addison & Galeton, the Grasse River and the Norwood & St. Lawrence.
April 2006 Meeting:Railfair and More
The April meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society involved planning and sign-ups for our upcoming Finger Lakes Railfair. In addition, we had some video on how the Norfolk-Southern Railroad coped with the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The N-S responded quickly and efficiently to the disaster, while other agencies had difficulties, to say the least. Then we were treated to the second part of the video on the Lackawanna Railroad: The West End, which particularly featured a ride on the Ithaca branch! Local aficionados were happy to see this one!
March 2006 Meeting: Right Railroad, Wrong End
Our March meeting featured a Mark I video on the Lackawanna Railroad, provided by program director Greg Dickinson. Unfortunately, in his rush here from faraway Elmira, Greg picked up the wrong end of the Lackawanna: the East End. Thus, we were treated to archival films of the Lackawanna ferries, the Hoboken terminal, the Newark station and operations about as far as the Scranton. Some members were thrilled to see these memorable sights, having ridden the Phoebe Snow in its day. Others were hoping to see the DL&W upstate, and will get the chance at a future meeting.
January 2006 Meeting: The Mystery Box
The first meeting of 2006 was a mystery box which appeared under our tree (the one next to the railroad tracks). As soon as we find the notes we took (which also mysteriously disappeared), we'll post the news right here.
December 2005 Meeting: Frank Barry And His Ecuador Trip
Our December meeting featured the redoubtable Frank Barry from the wilds of Lansing, who brought in his slides, taken this summer, of steam action in the precipitous Andes Mountains of Ecuador. Frank was featured in the November issue of Classic Trains magazinewith the lead article, and his photos, taken back in the early 1960s, of the last winter of steam activity on the Cumbres Pass to Chama, New Mexico stretch of the Rio grande narrow gauge operation are among the best ever taken there. He related stories, great descriptions and photos of the former Guayaquil to Quito railroad in Ecuador. This line, no longer carrying freight, has become a tourist attrraction of sorts, and Frank has been there.November 2005 Meeting Visited the Syracuse Rail Show at the NYS Fairgrounds
Thanks to Steve Peck, we watched a video of activities at the Syracuse show.
October 2005 Meeting Featured An Auction!
The October meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society had an auction of a large collection of HO-gauge equipment which was donated to the chapter by the estate of Bud Miller, a man from New Jersey who came to our Rail Fair and admired the group and our activities. We will also sold off a portion of our chapter video collection at bargain prices. (We have been alerted that production of VHS video tape machines has ceased in the Orient, so get your tapes and stand-by machines now, while there's still the chance!) Anything not sold was offered for sale at the Central New York Chapter's Syracuse Rail Show, in early November.
September 2005 Meeting Welcomed New Members: Students, New Residents
Our September meeting was held on September 13 (Second Tuesday, as usual)at the Ithaca ScienceCenter. Our program this month was the video "Hudson River Thunder" from Kalmbach Video, featuring trains on both the east and west sides of the mighty Hudson River. CSX, Metro North and Amtrak trains are seen immersed in the fine scenery of one of the East's most scenic routes.
CRHS August 2005 Meeting Scheduled Member Materials
The August meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society was held at the Ithaca ScienceCenter on August 9 at 7 P.M. This meeting was our most informal of the year meaning: show or tell, slides and videos for an August evening. We saw some rail history, some photos of our July picnic and had some good conversation. Attached to this notice is a picture showing how unaware most Ithacans are of the trains that prowl the streets of our town.Take care when crossing. You never know when a big N-S diesel might be coming at you!
July 2005 Picnic at Lyons
Our usual July meeting was in the form of a picnic trackside at Lyons, NY, on Tuesday the 12th. Not a large number of members showed up, since we had already met in late June at the Finger Lakes Live Steamers grounds in nearby Marengo (between Waterloo and Geneva). The evening was quite warm and humid, but CSX provided a near-constant stream of trains, aided by Canadian Pacific and Amtrak. Some members spent part of the time at the highway bridge over the S-curve a few miles west on Route 31. Others were delayed by having to stay at work until quitting time. Despite all, it was a good time and we have posted some pictures of the passing traffic.
June 2005 Meeting featured Hobos
The June meeting of the CRHS featured a video made for Public Television about the large numbers of people who took to the rails during the Depression of the 1930s. Titled "Riding the Rails", it was produced by WGBH in Boston, with interviews with various people (men and women) who had, for one reason or another, left home to travel the country during those impoverished days. While not specifically a "railfan oriented" program, it was a tremendously interesting connection between our history and our interests.
May 2005 Meeting with Powerpoint and Real Slides!
Our May 10 meeting was held at the ScienceCenter in Ithaca. Larry Parmelee presented a series of slides (shown as a Powerpoint presentation). They included special late fall runs with the Susquehanna steam locomotive on the Adirondack Railway, fall foliage runs on the Tioga Scenic, more special runs in summer on the Adirondack and some scenes of the Finger Lakes Live Steamers visitors' day. During a break, the Norfolk Southern's salt shuttle came down from Myer's Point, and most members stepped out into the fine spring evening to watch. Then, Tom Trencansky showed some of his classic slides, including a chase of one of the final runs of the Zephyr from Denver to Grand Junction in 1983. We closed out the evening with a DVD video of a short history of U.S. railroads and the classic B&W promotional film "Flight of the Century".
October 2004 Shuffled Back to Buffalo
Greg Dickinson, our Program Director, will show some recent slides and talk about the opportunities for railfanning in the Buffalo area. Look for some special maps in the October newsletter, the Leaky Valley. Meeting will be on October 12 at the Ithaca ScienceCenter, in the NYSEG Public Meeting Room. Doors open at 7 PM, and the meeting begins promptly at 7:15 PM.
September 2004 Meeting Featured a Return Visit from President Emeritus Tom Trencansky
At the Ithaca ScienceCenter September 14 Tom Trencansky showed some of his expertly crafted color slides from both the central New York area as well as photos from all around the country. Tom last showed his fabulous photos of winter steam railroading in China. Our technology bugs plagued the meeting once again, with the projector bulb burning out just as it was turned on. However, Tom had brought another, and the evening was saved!
August Meeting:August 10, 2004
Our August meeting was an informal gathering: Gary France had some videos of CSX action along the Mohawk Valley and in Selkirk yard. After that Dave Flinn showed digital slides of portions of the activities at the NRHS National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. These ranged from shots of the train trip to the Twin Cities via Chicago (in a private car, no less!) to aspects of the old Lake Harriet trolley line, the new light rail system and shops and the doubleheaded steam excursion down the Mississippi valley to Winona. Thanks to all who contributed.
Our Annual Picnic Meeting July 13, 2004
Every July the Cornell Railroad Historical Society has held a "picnic meeting" generally at a location near or along a railroad. For the past several years, we've met trackside at Lyons, New York, along the CSX mainline, and this year was no exception. Some members arrived as early as 2 PM, but most pulled up outside the aging Hotel Iroquois sometime after five PM. While early arriving people saw a couple of freights and an Amtrak train, after five there was little traffic for quite a time. Finally, the jazzy note of an air horn announced an oncoming Amtrak eastbound. This seemed to "unclog" the system, and we began to get a steady stream of trains, the first being led by threeUP engines, two of them with the "American Flag" hood. It was a mixed freight, unusual in this day and age. With passing time, more trains, and when the meeting broke up around 8:30 PM, with the light fading, between six and seven trains had passed. The newsletter editor, after talking with locals such as Sheldon King, checked out the old trolley station in the center of Lyons. This was the local stop for the Syracuse, Rochester and Eastern interurban line, and quite an elegant little building it is!
Meeting of June 8, 2004
Our June meeting included portions of a Green Frog Video called "Rails Around Buffalo", shot in 1992. Considering the end of the school year and the summer season, turnout was remarkably good. If you haven't been to a meeting lately, please come around! We welcome members and non-members alike. New ideas will widen the railroad world we see.
May 11, 2004
Our May meeting was a talk by long-time Ithaca resident Lou Withiam. His dad and mom both worked for the Lehigh Valley Railroad, starting around the time of the First World War. They met while working on the railroad, and mostly worked in Ithaca, and on various stations of the old Elmira, Cortland & Northern and the Auburn Branch. Lou's dad was with the LV for nearly 50 years, while his mom worked as an agent early on, and then later during the Second World War. Both Lou and his brother did stints as station agents and tower operators. Lou's presentation was greeted warmly and we will place some of what he said as a text transcript on this site in the near future. It was real oral history of a kind that is becoming more and more rare. Lou also brought several rail artifacts, including a dispatcher's sheet from 1916, showing the details of the kind of work done by his dad.
April 13, 2004
Our esteemed (steamed?) editor Gene Endres gave a short program on "Railroad Advertising in the 20th Century". It was a limited view (the express version?), mostly covering some of the great rail art used in the 1930s to 1950s. Later advertising will be covered in another session. In addition, President John Marcham delivered a taste of the "Tracks Ahead" video series, in case you don't have cable or your TV receiver is still due to arrive but not yet in the station.
March 9, 2004
Bill Caloroso re-scheduled his visit from January that was postponed due to miserable winter weather. He will show slides of the Lehigh Valley and other roads, and discuss how the railroads did business in New York State during the first half of the 20th century. The meeting willl be at our usual venue, the NYSEG Public Meeting Room of the Ithaca ScienceCenter, located at Franklin and First Streets in Ithaca. Take the Third Street Exit off Route13, turn left and go two [rough] blocks to park behind the ScienceCenter. Doors open at 7:00 PM and the meeting should begin promptly at 7:15 PM. We usually run until about 9 PM.
February 10, 2004
The January program was so well received by the few that could make it that Bruce Tracy agreed to repeat it with some augmentation for our February meeting. Bruce covered the first 200 slides in our permanent collection, with detailed commentary. It was good to see these "blasts from the past", such as the then brand-new ALCO PA cab units, and some trips on the former Elmira, Cortland and Northern branch up to Canastota.We also discussed specific plans for the annual Railfair at that time.
January 13, 2004
Our January meeting was scheduled to have Bill Caloroso give a talk on how the railroads, specifically the Lehigh Valley, did business in upstate New York during the first quarter of the 20th century. Unfortunately extreme cold weather and blowing snow caused us to cancel the planned presentation. Mr. Caloroso will bring his talk to us in March. Since the cancellation occurred at the last minute, not all members could be contacted, and we were able to substitute an informal showing of slides from our archives with commentary by Bruce Tracy.
William Harnden Foster
For our December, 2003 newsletter, we reprinted a picture from the 1925 New York Central railroad calendar, a painting originally done by William Harnden Foster, an American illustrator. Due to a question received at our website, we tried to further research the work of this artist, but without much success. He is not included in a recent book The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000 (Harper-Collins), and there was little information on the Internet. His style is similar to others working in the 1920s, and we have seen additional illustrations featuring trains (The Sunshine Special and NYC's Castleton Cutoff Bridge), but are seeking more information. He did a number of hunting and fishing illustrations for magazines like Outdoor Life.As a result of this small sketch, we had further information from a professor of art history. You can check her note by clicking the painting.
December 9, 2003
Our December meeting was to feature pictures from the large number of Christmas cards (winter train pictures) Howard Fogg created over some 35 years for the Leanin' Tree Company of Boulder, Colorado. Fogg had grown up in New Jersey, but later in life moved out to Colorado, where he was able to incorporate western landscapes into his many paintings. Fogg was the dean of railroad artists in recent years, but he was a descendant of painters like William Harnden Foster, Grif Teller (Teller, virtually a contemporary), Otto Kuhler and Leslie Ragan. Kuhler and Ragan mostly worked in the commercial arena, while Fogg bridged from commercial (making paintings for American Locomotive and many other rail clients for many years) to the more artistic world of galleries and fine art reproductions. Regretfully, some of the technology problems that have plagued Gene, our resident tech person showed up again. The computer worked, the projector worked, but the cable for joining them was the wrong sex!The upshot was a program showing a Pentrex video of "Those Incredible ALCOs - Volume 3" with detailed pictures of ALCO diesels from the last years of that company.
November 11, 2003
Greg Dickinson, our Program Director, ran the November meeting with slides he took over the past year. Featured among them were some ALCO (well, actually Montreal Locomotive Works) engines he spotted going through Elmira, which ended up spending the winter and part of the summer at the Bath and Hammondsport engine facility. His slides also included other shots, from our picnic at Lyons in July, and, of course, a number of oddball freight cars he has seen passing through the Southern Tier. Greg is definitely a freight car aficionado. The second half of the program was Greg's commentary on some of the many intriguing photographs in Steinbrenner's new book ALCO: A Centennial Remembrance. Packed with detail, the book was amplified further by Greg's wide-ranging knowledge of local rail history and the locomotives ALCO built to serve our region's railroads like the Lackawanna, the Lehigh Valley, the NYO&W and the New York Central. It was an informative evening.
October 14, 2003: Return Visit from Frank Barry: Rails in Mexico
Frank Barry has joined us in the past, last year showing pictures of his tour of Cuba. This time,he will be showing some of his photographs and telling stories, as only he can, of his adventures on numerous visits to the railroads of Mexico during the 1950s. Frank managed to have many cab rides on the steam locomotives in places as exotic as the line to Oaxaca, and in the Unidos de Yucutan. These, in turn, led to various amazing adventures, in a system which has since been either dismantled or changed beyond any recognition. While current magazine articles tell us the contemporary state of Mexican railroading, Frank Barry can tell us how it was and has the pictures to proveit.The meeting will be at the Ithaca ScienceCenter, on First Street at Franklin in Ithaca. Use the Third Street exit off Route 13. Plenty of parking. Doors open at 7:00 PMand the program starts promptly at 7:15 PM.
September 9, 2003 SeptemberMeeting: Tom Trencansky Took Us to China
Actually, Tom took us to China in February, 2003. Tom joined a small tour along with Don Jilson and another friend from the Adirondack Scenic Railway. Together, they went to Peking, and then to a small logging railroad in Manchuria. Despite bitter cold, they saw a steam operation that has since been abandoned. Following that, they went to the new railroad built in 1995 that passes through Inner Mongolia, north of Peking. The Jing Ling Pass, featured in the December issue of TRAINS Magazine, has amazing traffic of all-steam locomotives! Exclusively 2-10-2s, mostly doubleheaded (and sometimes triple!), they provided spectacular photographic opportunities in the wintry conditions. Tom also showed us scenes of the people who live along this modern yet anachronistic railroad. After meeting with some other western railfans on a similar tour, Tom got a video of some of the same scenes he shot with his still camera, and thus we were treated to moving shots of similar rail action, and, in a few instances, the same action he photographed. Altogether an exciting program.
August 12, 2003 August Meeting: Tuesday August 12 at Ithaca ScienceCenter
After a fine turnout for the July picnic/meeting at Lyons, we took a breather with an informal meeting on August 12 at the Ithaca ScienceCenter, First Street at Franklin, just off Route 13 in Ithaca. We showed some slides or a video for a grab-bag of a meeting with whoever showed up. Gene Endres projected part of a new Green Frog video of the BNSF from Spokane to Portland, across the dry-farmed wheatfields of eastern Washington, and then along the scenic Columbia River to Vancouver, Washington and over the river to Portland, Oregon. Ben Coakley had some slides from trips this summer.
July 8, 2003 :Picnic on the Ties
The July meeting trackside at Lyons was quite successful, with several freights and a couple of Amtrak runs past, fine weather and food of choice for everyone. Some of us brought folding chairs, others sat in their convertible (was that you, Tom T.? and who was the lovely woman with you?) to enjoy the time. Though the tracks and overpass were frequent vantage points, nobody questioned what was going on, except for a few locals who were heard to ask, "What IS this, anyway??"
May 2003 Meeting: We "Flew Over" LV Main to Buffalo
Herb Trice and Bruce Tracy provided our May meeting with slides of the Lehigh Valley main line, as seen from the air. Herb took a flight with a friend in 1978, and captured the route of the Black Diamond from above, much of which is still visible. He also had shots from on the ground at many locations, and also showed the Seneca Falls line to Auburn, as well as some of the rail yards around Buffalo and Niagara Falls. For detailed maps of the Buffalo area, members can check the web site of the Niagara Frontier Chapter.
April 2003 Finger Lakes RailFair Brought Fans and Public Together
Our annual Finger Lakes RailFair took place at the huge "The Field" community center in Lansing, New York on Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27. Attendance was good, and the number of vendor tables was record-setting. Saturday was cloudy with showers in the morning, and then quite clammy and damp in the afternoon, with fog in parts of the Cayuga basin. Sunday was definitely the better day, getting warmer and sunnier by the hour.
Among the highlights this year were a larger S-Gauge display, a very popular (and BIG) LEGO train layout, complete with buildings of all kinds. The N-Gauge modules were huge, as usual, and the Cornell Chapter HO modules ran "all the livelong day".
Page revised by Gene Endres, January 3, 2020