LV RR Emblem
LV RR Map-small
Click for detailed Lehigh Valley RR Map
The Lehigh Valley Railroad was the chief line serving Ithaca, home of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society
Follow Us on Twitter


Join the Cornell Railroad Historical Society
Application for membership
(Printable PDF)

The Cornell Railroad Historical Society became a chapter of the National Railway Historical Society in 1981. In the 30 years since that time, we have grown and prospered. With recent membership levels of nearly 130, while we may be one of the smaller NRHS chapters, we are an active one, with great enthusiasm for the subjects of railroads, rail history, rail photography and other aspects of the railroad hobby.
        The City of Ithaca lies at the foot of Cayuga Lake, and is surrounded  on three sides by steep hills. It is also home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, meaning its population practically doubles when school is in session. In former years, most of these students arrived by train, but with the changes seen in the 20th century, the two main railroads serving the area, the Lehigh Valley and the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, faded away. Nonetheless, our chapter holds both dear, especially the Lehigh Valley, sometimes known affectionately as the "Leaky Valley", which is also the name of our newsletter

Directions to Museum

The Cornell Railroad Historical Society Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at The History Center of Tompkins County, 110 North Tioga St. (not an actual street but part of Ithaca Commons), Ithaca, NY. From NY 79 West, come down State Street, bear right into Seneca Street, than park either on the street (meters are free after 6 PM), or turn right onto Tioga Street, finding street parking -OR- park in city parking garage (fees for parking assessed until 11 PM). From Rt. 79 East, Rt. 96 North or South, take Green Street to "tuning fork" at foot of State Street hill, swing around onto Seneca Street and, again, seek parking. (Click on "Directions to Museum" at left.) Doors open at 7:00 PM, meetings begin at 7:15 PM, and generally last until about 9 PM We have other yearly activities, most notably our RailFair, and meetings are open to anyone. Our mailing address is :

Check out our links to available books in the list at left!

Cornell Railroad Historical Society
c/o Ron Koger 116 Candor Hill Road
Candor, NY 13743



We welcome your comments and suggestions.
Cornell Railroad Historical Society


A History of the Pennsylvania Railroad from a Philadelphia Public TV Station entertained the CRHS in May 2019
A video produced by station WHYY in Philadelphia encapsulated the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad, from its earliest days as part of the "Main Line of Public Works" canal and rail system, to its enlargement and improvement under railroad presidents like Thompson, Scott and Cassatt to become the Standard Railroad of the World was the May program of the CRHS. In just one hour, it told a story, the first half of which is related in detail by Albert J. Churella in his magisterial The Pennsylvania Railroad, Volume 1, 1846-1917 that almost every railroad fan should know. The sad end of the PRR, after its merger with the New York Central is another story altogether, of the greatest corporate bankruptcy of its time. But it was great to see such pictures as operations over the Horseshoe Curve and rare locomotives like the T-1s and even a brief glimpse of a Baldwin "Centipede". Now we might hope for a similar treatment of the New York Central, rather than more railfan runbys. Let us know if such a film/video is available.
April 2019 CRHS Meeting Viewed Operations During Last Days of Lehigh Valley Railroad
The April meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society was the second one held at The History Center for Tompkins County in their new location just off the Commons in Ithaca. We viewed a video supplied by Bob Travis on operations in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. Commentary on the video was by a former employee of this division and included numerous facets of how the employees went about their business, including which diner they may have stopped at and when and where the trackage was good or bad.
Mar ch 2019Meeting of the CRHS Viewed Video on the discovery of a Long-Hidden Tunnel Under the Streets of Brooklyn, New York
Back in the early 1980s, Brooklyn resident Bob Diamond heard rumors of what was perhaps the first subway in the world that was placed in a tunnel built under some of the streets of Brooklyn. He kept investigating, though most people he asked said, "I looked for the tunnel and didn't find it. Therefore, it doesn't exist." Eventually, Diamond did find the tunnel, built to bring what became the Long Island Railroad from the shore of New York harbor to it's line that went on to Greenport, Long Island, making a connection shortcut for bringing freight to New England. Our member, Andrew Diamond (no relation) brought the video to our March meeting.
February Meeting of the CRHS was Postponed by the threat of a snow and ice storm. Though the weather relented somewhat at the last minute, the Directors of the CRHS felt that having members traveling lats in the evening under bad road conditions meant a postponement was all for the best.
January 2019 Meeting: Riding the ExtremeTrains: Fast Produce Freight from Washington State to Upstate New York and The Circus Train on a Tight Schedule
For Our January Meeting, we heard sad news that member Greg Dickinson, scheduled to bring a program on freight cars, had suffered a "minor" stroke. [Fortunately, Greg was back for our April meeting.] President Steve Peck was away on family business. But, member Andrew Diamond, hero of the moment, arrived with some great videos. We watched two: one on the refrigerated freight that makes it from a Washington State cooled warehouse to another one in upstate New York at Schenectady in less than three days. All the cars are refrigerated and time is of the essence. Then, in another time-limited episode, we watched how the Rongling Brothers manages to break down its show, load it on their train and make it to the next city in just two days. Sadly, as of 2018, the Circus and its Train are no more.
December Meeting Was Our Annual Auction
Members brought items to sell at the annual auction of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society. It was held on December 11 at The History Center, Ithaca. This was possibly the last meeting to be held at our long-time location at The History Center of Tompkins County. Turnout was a bit disappointing, but there was plenty of fun and some interesting pieces were sold.


November 13 Meeting at The History Center: Greg Dickinson on Freight Cars and a Video on Nickel Plate Berkshire Locomotive No. 765
The Cornell Railroad Historical Society met at The History Center in downtown Ithaca on Tuesday November 13. Our program this month feature a video from member Bill Hinderliter on the renewal and renewed operation of the NKP 765 steam locomotive. The program was well photographed and showed a lot of detail as the special excursion arrived at Harrisburg, PA, after traveling over the eastern portion of the now-Norfolk Southern line over Horseshoe Curve.
October 9 Meeting at The History Center Featured the Deluxe Super Chief
The meeting of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society on October 9, 2018, showed a video: The Super Chief of the Santa Fe, known as "The Train of the Stars" which carried celebrities from Los Angeles and Hollywood to Chicago. It included interviews with people who had traveled on the train, railroad executives, and some of the crew members who made the train a deluxe way to travel. The video even included a recipe for the famous Super Chief french toast, recalled by many as the best version of that traditional breakfast they had ever eaten.
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.


Reports on CRHS Meetings of 2017 and previous years

Page revised by Gene Endres, March 10, 2018