In 1995, the Conrail Historical Society (CRHS) was born from one or two members of the Conrail Technical Society (CRTS) who were unhappy with the administration of the CRTS. Those people wanted to do right by Conrail, the railroad they loved.
It all started with ZTS maps.
The gentleman who drew the ZTS maps on Conrail wanted to see them go to a good home as Conrail was just going to get rid of them. The gentleman contacted Kermit Geary Jr. of the CRTS and offered to donate them to the group. Kermit accepted, and soon, the maps were in his hands.
Upon receipt, he told the then President of the CRTS (John Krattinger) that the items were donated, and a donation receipt was given to the benefactor. Upon hearing this, the CRTS President became outraged and ordered Mr. Geary to throw out the ZTS maps and retrieve the donation receipt.
Mr. Geary, fearing foul play, immediately met with others in the group that also felt that the CRTS was leaving the straight and narrow path. That night in 1995, after turning in his resignation in the CRTS, the CRHS was born in the Mercantile Club in Emmaus, PA.
Incorporation and Decline
Within days, the CRHS was incorporated in Pennsylvania as a 501(c)(3) Non-profit Corporation. The orphaned ZTS maps were safe, and became the first artifacts saved by the new CRHS.
Unfortunately, with the collapse of Conrail came the fall of the CRHS. The society was on the verge of a complete shutdown and on December 7, 1998 the Board of Directors announced that the CRHS was no longer soliciting memberships and had been placed into a dormant status.
For almost five years the Society sat silent until May 28, 2003 when Kris Klemick discovered the CRHS existed and contacted the Board of Directors and expressed his concerns about the organization.
No members of the former Board wanted to play an active role in a rebirth so, almost another year later, after hours of thought and planning, email and deliberation, Kris made it official; The Conrail Historical Society, Inc was back on the high iron as of May 13, 2004!
Flash forward to 2013. 9 years after the formation of current incarnation of The CRHS, our group is still going strong. Under the leadership of the current CRHS officers, the CRHS boasts a membership of over 550 worldwide, four pieces of railroad rolling stock, a top-notch quarterly publication, annual calendar, and holds dozens of events throughout the year. The CRTS, however, has withered and died. The website has been dormant since 2000 and any attempt to contact Mr. Krattinger, the current "President" of the CRTS has gone unanswered.
Within a few months, members began the process of stepping back into the organization. The CRHS publication in the late 90's was a simple 10 or 15 page xerox copy stapled in the upper left hand corner. Step ahead to today and members are now receiving in upwards of a 64-page publication, complete with color covers and photos! Starting in 2009, CRHS members are receiving a FULL COLOR publication dubbed the "Conrail Quarterly".
2005 marked the 100th anniversary of the Enola (PA) rail yard and we sponsored the year long celebration. We played an active role at the Centennial Ball on January 14th at the West Shore Country Club, hosted the Enola yard train rides where we distributed 1,200 flyers, and also manned a booth at the train show on May 14th.
New for 2006 were the restructured levels of membership- Sustaining members have their CRHS material shipped 1st class and have their names printed as Sustaining Members in each issue. The 2005 calendar was our first project. We wanted to prove our intentions and decided to try pulling off the huge project in just a few short weeks. Financially, the Society couldn't afford to do it, but we knew we had to put something out there and the calendars were just what we needed. Kris was willing to front the printing cost of $900 however, we sold every single copy, the demand was so high! The 2006 calendars were also a success, selling 50% of the run before we ever even took delivery!
The Society hosts a semi-annual event dubbed "The Conrail Historical Society Spring or Summer Rail-B-Q". Dozens of railfans from across the region come out for the all day event, some as far as Ohio, New York and Michigan! In between catching trains, and games of softball, we enjoy several hours of food and chatting with good friends. The quarterly membership meeting is held after dinner and we conclude the evening with a spectacular slide show under the stars.
We also sponsored our very own annual Winter Model Train & Railroadiana Sale at the Marysville Lions pool complex in Marysville, PA. In 2010, having since outgrown the Lions complex, the Society hosted an annual train show at the Pennsylvania Farm Show and Expo Center in Harrisburg, PA. The Conrail Historical Society also attends many train shows annually to promote our organization.
Each fall we hold a Banquet or Convention. Former Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer of Conrail, Mr. David M. LeVan was our Guest Speaker in 2006 while Rush Loving Jr., Author of "The Men Who Loved Trains", gave a presentation in 2007. 2008 saw the first CRHS Convention in Altoona, PA which featured Bob Bartle, NS's Northern Region General Manager, as our guest speaker. 2009 hosted a convention in Philadelphia, PA and a sold-out excursion run pulled by Bennett and Eric Levin's restored Pennsylvania RR E8's. In 2010, the CRHS had its third convention in Cleveland, OH, which included tours of the Macedonia Car Shops, the drawbridge in downtown Cleveland, and the Larry's Truck and Electric facility.