Notes on Meetings of 2022-2020

Cornell RR Historical Society Picnic on July 16, 2022

John Taibi Spoke on the Hojack Line June 14, 2022

at the Art Space

The History Center of Tompkins County


John Taibi, author of numerous books on the railroads of central New York discussed his newest work "Hojack - Remembering the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad and Division at the June meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society. The meeting took place in the Gallery Art Space of The History Center of Tompkins County. Membership attendance was still sparse but we also welcomed some members of the general public.
John Taibi grew up on Long Island but moved to rural central New York. He has restored the old station at Munnsville in Madison County and lives there with his wife.John has written about historic lines of the old New York, Ontario and Western, two illustrated volumes about the Delaware and Hudson line from Albany to Binghamton, and a major volume about the Adirondack Railroad from Utica to Montreal. The Adirondack book and his current book on The Hojack were published by the New York Central System Historical Society in Ohio.

CRHS watches passing CSX

CRHS Picnic 2021

Happy to be meeting in person, on a fine July Saturday, July 10, 2021, at our usual Clyde, NY location

CRHS Picnic-2021-4a
CRHS members watch was westbound CSX containers head west
CSX Eastbound follows NYState Barge Canal through Clyde, NY
With most members fully vaccinated against the Covid Virus, it was deemed safe for us to gather underneath the Route 414 underpass in Clyde, New York on July 10, 2021. The weather began cloudy, but kept clearing until by the time we adjourned, it was largely blue skies and pleasant temperatures for the remainder of the afternoon. It was great to feel as if we were an actual organization, no longer confined to computer screens and isolated at home. Plans now include meetings this fall at The History Center in Ithaca. We will be posting notifications when plans are complete.
Young boys worked to sort coal and remove stones and debris in the huge "breakers" above the Pennsylvania coal mines.
Continuing Pandemic Isolation Means Cornell Railroad Historical Society Will Not Meet Physically in the Near Future, as of May 2021
The Ithaca & Owego Railroad was one of the earliest railroads in New York State, receiving its charter from the state legislature in 1828. However it took some years to get operating, finally running trains hauled by horses in 1834. It was less than efficient, suffering through bankruptcy, and was finally bought by coal interests from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and renamed the Cayuga & Susquehanna by 1850. The main purpose was to deliver Pennsylvania anthracite from the Wyoming Valley in the Scranton/Wilkes Barre area to Cayuga Lake and a water connection with the Erie Canal. While coal dominated much rail traffic for the next 160 years, the focus changed to places such as West Virginia and Kentucky, and further west to Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. By the 21st century, huge amounts of coal originated in the eastern corners of Wyoming and Montana, with the odd coincidence that the state of Wyoming borrowed its name from the native-named valley in Pennsylvania. Now, as people and governments seek to decrease emissions of carbon dioxide into earth's atmosphere, the use of coal is seen as a threat, and it may forecast the demise of coal mining and its transport by rail.
Cornell Railroad Historical Society September, October, November Meetings Canceled As Virus Continues
The Cornell Railroad Historical Society has decided not to hold in-person meetings this fall as the Corona Virus continues to affect members of our community. With many members in the group menaced by this disease, especially due to age or other infirmities, it seems the wisest move not to hold meetings. Furthermore, the History Center, location of our usual gatherings, is limiting access to 15 persons or fewer. We will reassemble as soon as it seems safe to do so. In the meantime, we are still publishing our newsletter and urge you to take out a membership and thus receive news of the group.
Cornell Railroad Historical Society Holds No Meeting for August, 2020
Due to both the continuing CoronaVirus19 shutdown of public meetings in New York State for this month, and the fact that we do not hold a meeting in August anyway, there will be no meeting this month. We wish all members, friends and possible web visitors continuing good health and positive feelings as we all manage our lives and families through this unusual time.
July 2020 CRHS Picnic Canceled for this Year
The annual picnic of the Cornell Railrad Historical Society was canceled for 2020. Fears of the spread of virus to particularly vulnerable members, lack of the usual heavy freight traffic on the cross New York Main Line and the distance to travel from Ithaca and further south caused the CRHS Board to cancel the effort. As fans of the hapless Dodgers would say in my youth, "Wait 'Til Next Year, Ya Bum!"
The CRHS Editor remembers summer days when he would ride the Erie "Plug" into Hoboken, get aboard the Lackawanna Barclay Street Ferry and ride back and forth across the river, watching the majestic steamships go by. Well, it was kind of a railroad trip, despite all the water. Here, the SS United States is on its way to Europe, escorted by the Pauline L. Moran. Remember, this was in 1958, over 60 years ago. Thank heaven for Kodachrome.
Virus Pandemic Keeps Cornell Railroad Historical Society Off the Rails
The continuing situation with the Corona Virus affecting life in general, and meetings of non-related persons in particular has meant the Cornell Railroad Historical Society has not held meetings in either May or June of 2020. It was also decided that, despite the possibility of an outdoor meeting and picnic in July at our usual gathering spot, under the highway overpass alongside the CSX Main Line in Clyde, the risk to older members of any kind of get-together was unwarranted. Traffic has been reported as being much lighter than usual along that line as well. So, we paddle on, boats against the current or trains facing restrictive signal indications, hoping the line clears sometime in the future and we will be able to use whatever metaphor is handy for new meetings.
April Meeting Canceled -- Stay Healthy
The April meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society has been canceled due to the closing of The History Center in Ithaca and to protect the heath and safety of our members. We hope to meet again in the future, but the situation remains fluid and we will align our activities to the rules and needs of the entire community.
Black Diamond with new diesels, about 1947, at Ithaca
March Meeting: A Trip on the LV Buffalo Division
The February meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society will feature a video from Broken Knuckle Productions on the Lehigh Valley Railroad Buffalo Division, Upstate Branches, provided by our program director Bob Travis. With sufficient time, we may also see some recently uncovered pictures of etchings of Jersey City yards and locomotives by Reginald Marsh, sometimes listed as a member of the "Ashcan School" of American artists. Meeting will be at the History Center in downtown Ithaca on Tuesday, March 10. Doors open at 7 PM and the meeting begins promptly at 7:15 PM. Remember, too, that it's time to renew your membership in the CRHS, since newsletters will be cut off next month and you may miss the always exciting April Fool issue.
Jersey City Yard - Painting by Reginald Marsh
The Steel Industry and How It Fostered Railroads to Haul Its Products
Our Cornell Railroad Historical Society meeting for February 2020 featured our vice-president Tim Lynch presenting a talk with pictures and videos on his visit to the remnant of the mill in Bethlehem, PA. He noted: "I was talking about the process of steel making: how a blast furnace worked, how the Bessemer converter worked, how an open hearth worked, how coke was made, and how all the parts of a typical US steel mill's "hot metal" plant was organized and operated. I also wanted to cover a bit of history of the US steel industry, particularly the start of Bethlehem Steel in the Lehigh Valley and the connections to the Lehigh Valley RR, and what has happened to the mills that once were an anchor for the railroad industry." Tim showed his program using the large video projection system of The History Center. It was extremely interesting and informative.
January 2020 Meeting Viewed Resurrected Old Logging Locomotive
At our January meeting, we viewed a video from TRAINS magazine on the "Skookum" locomotive, which was originally built for a logging railroad in the east, but ended up in Oregon. Just before that railroad ceased operation, the engine derailed and fell into a swamp. Years later, it was located, rebuilt and made to run as a tourist attraction. The DVD followed this "Lazarus" story — fascinating and colorful. One of only six built, this 1909 locomotive was rejected, accepted, and left for dead in 1955, and revived in 2019. We met in the Gallery room of The HIstory Center, with large-scale projection provided by our own projector.

Page revised by Gene Endres, January 3, 2020