The Initial Project
As we celebrated the completion of our second year in 2006, the opportunity to save a Conrail N7E caboose, numbered 21165 was presented to us. You've counted on us over the last two years to bring you a quarterly magazine, events and other member benefits and we're still counting on your support! This caboose is an N7E (21150 - 21169) class caboose and was among twenty of the last cabooses built new for the Erie Lackawanna railroad inÂ September - October 1969Â by the International Car Company. Conrail reconditioned the car in September of 1976 and by the early 1980's all twenty were offered for sale through Conrail.
In July 2005 the caboose pictured here was offered for sale on E-Bay Motors. For over a year, we contacted the owner and expressed an interest in preserving the car, unfortunately the owner was not interested in donating the caboose. After pursuing the opportunity to preserve this caboose further, the Conrail Historical Society finally acquired a commitment from the owner to donate the caboose to our organization.
In October of 2006 the caboose was our top priority. The owner agreed to donate the car, but only under the agreement that we remove it by the Spring of 2007 or it would be given to one of many other seriously interested parties. A massive fundraising campaign began to secure the estimated $10,000 that would be required to transport the caboose from NY to PA. With an active membership of less than 250 we began looking into other means of raising funds. We got out to as many rail related events as we could, looked into doing a spaghetti dinner, and began what hopes to be a regular fundraising event; Longaberger basket bingo. We also teamed up with Giant Food Stores, located in PA, MD, DC, MA, OH, CT, RI, NJ, NY, VA and WV to help to raise money by allowing individuals to purchase Giant Food Store gift cards securely through the Conrail Historical Society, allowing a percentage of that amount to come back to the organization. These gift cards are still an active program and available for purchase today. They can be used at any Giant Foods, Tops, Martins, Stop & Shop or Giant location and are available in denominations of $25 and $50. Everyone needs groceries, if you shop any of these affiliated grocers up and down the east coast why not help the CRHS bring a caboose home along with your Wheaties and Jimmy Dean sausage by using CRHS / Giant gift cards today!?
By March of 2007 we had secured Long Island Crane & Rigging to do the crane work, and retired truck driver Jim Lilly to parade the caboose home on a gooseneck trailer that was equipped with rails. This set-up eliminated the need for a crane at the other end for unloading. We were also able to narrow down the amount required to make the acquisition possible. $7,000 was the magical number and at that point we still had a long way to go. We were extremely fortunate to contribute over $1,000 in sales directly to the fund when our President and Secretary attended the Big Railroad Hobby Show held at the Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds (The Big E) in West Springfield Massachusetts January 27 - 28, 2007 on behalf of the organization. An additional $3,000 was added to the account thanks to the hard work of Ryan Emrick, Sean McDonnell, Russ Swinnerton, his lovely wife & daughter, JB and his wife Tammy Kerr, Steve Ondik, April Kline and Kris Klemick during our second annual winter train show in Marysville, PA. Without those sales I'm pretty sure we would never have been able to secure the money required.
Stepping back for just a minute, our original plans were to store the caboose in Jim Thorpe, PA on the property of the former RailTours line. The land lease issues that have plagued the R&N - Jim Thorpe and George Harts RailTours seemed to have no end in sight, therefore we were advised it best to keep the caboose out of Jim Thorpe merely for the fact that it may not be able to run in service since RailTours could not secure the lease.
A final decision was made to place the caboose with the Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad located in south central PA. The caboose has a live rail link to the outside world, and is intended to be used in operation for CRHS events once all necessary repairs have been made and the caboose is FRA compliant. The M&H operates as an interline freight carrier between its two namesake boroughs. Since 1976, the Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad has been an independent company. Freight service has been provided since 1976 and tourist passenger service has been provided since 1986. In addition to their active fleet of locomotives and maintenance equipment, a collection of railway rolling stock is displayed in their Middletown Yard.