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The Lehigh Valley Railroad was the chief line serving Ithaca, home of the Cornell Railroad Historical Society
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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
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The Cornell Railroad Historical Society Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at the History Center, 401 East State Street, Gateway Plaza, Ithaca, NY. From NY Route 13, take Green Street (NY 79 East), three traffic lights to East State Street. After third light, turn hard right into Gateway Plaza parking behind 401 (large building with two pizza shops on ground floor). If westbound on Rt. 366 or 79, make left at foot of hill to 401 (Gateway Plaza). 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

E-Mail: CRHS@lightlink.com

September Meeting: Bruce Tracy presented more history and details on the Ithaca-Auburn Short Line
Acting at first as an extension of the Ithaca trolley system to Rogues' Harbor in Lansing, this line extended along part of the old New York and Oswego Midland to Auburn. Bruce has unearthed more photos of both the connections to the New York Central's Syracuse and Auburn road at Auburn, but also photos of stations along the line to Ithaca and even including newly shot air views (from a drone!) of where the line was located.

July Picnic at Clyde, New York

July 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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.
Photo of abandoned branch of the Alaska Railroad. Not the work of Steve Peck.
August 2015 Meeting, As Usual, Will Not Be Held
July 2015 Picnic One of "Best Ever"
The Lakeshore Limited running only an hour late
CRHS Picnickers Greet Passing Train
Rolling Pipeline from North Dakota Bakken Oilfields
Sounds of Trains at June 2015 Meeting
The 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.

 

Reports on CRHS Meetings of 2017 and previous years

Page revised by Gene Endres, November 6, 2017