2010 was a busy year for the CRHS. We have continued our growth against a difficult macroeconomic background and are stronger than ever.
We have added important new items to our historical artifact collection, expanded our geographic reach into new areas, had a number of successful events, and continued our policy of "Continuous Quality Improvement", just like the railroad we find so important.
The 2010 CRHS Board of Directors
2010 CRHS Board Members
Kris Klemick - President
Brock Kerchner - Vice President
JB Kerr - Treasurer
Steve Ondik - Secretary
2010 Election Outcomes
The membership voted in the 2010 election, capably administered by disinterested party Dave Trenn, to reelect the incumbant CRHS officers Ryan Emrick, Brock Kerchner and Russ Swinnerton for the 2010-2012 Term.
Historical Collection, Artifacts and Preservation
The CRHS is, first and foremost, dedicated to the preservation of Conrail's history for future generations. A key part of this dedication is the collection and preservation of Conrail artifacts.
G36L Gon 67257 Acquisition
The CRHS was proud to announce our acquisition of a second piece of historic Conrail rolling stock this year, G36L Gondola #67257. The car was acquired from the Juniata Valley Railway, which is part of the North Shore System of Railroads. This car, originally built for the Pennsylvania Railroad as their 615889, last served Conrail in Maintenance of Way service and was used by the Juniata Valley to haul scrap steel around their system.
The car currently sits in Lewistown PA, awaiting final preparations for its eventual move to Middletown PA, where it will join our caboose. There, it will be restored to full operational capability and will be used in photo freight service with the 21165. The future welfare and management of the car will be overseen by CRHS member Rich Reinhart, who has volunteered to be the car's Program Manager.
This momentous achievement would not have been possible without the help of the Juniata Valley Railroad, or CRHS member Matthew Aurand.
Erie Heritage Semaphore Acquisition
One of the CRHS' ongoing projects is to collect a signal head and/or mast system from each one of Conrail's predecessor rail lines, specifically signals that were used during any part of the Conrail era. In 2009, the CRHS acquired a PRR position light signal from Horseshoe Curve and a NYC color light signal mast from a cantilever at Berea, OH. In mid October 2010, an eBay auction for an Erie heritage US&S "Style S" Upper Quad semaphore from Starrucca, PA was brought to the attention of the CRHS general membership.
The consensus of the many members actively participating on the website forums at that time, as well as the CRHS Board of Directors was that this was an incredibly historic and rare Conrail/EL/Erie signal piece that the CRHS could not afford to lose.
With the treasury tight, it was decided that the CRHS members would have to pool their resources together in an attempt to win the semaphore. In less than 48 hours, CRHS members contributed out of their own pockets $1675.99, the final winning bid of the semaphore.
CRHS member Pat Livingston placed the winning bid using Auction Sniper, a web-based program that places last second bids for users on eBay auctions. Payment for the semaphore was issued by treasurer Bruce Kerr while donations continued to stream in over the course of several weeks.
The semaphore was retrieved on 11-7-10 by CRHS members Joe Marchinchin, Kevin Yutz, and Sean McDonnell from Susquehanna, PA (Lanesboro area) at the Erie Railroad Station and the owner was paid in full via a CRHS issued check. The semaphore was transported via the CRHS trailer to Lewistown, PA for restoration and indefinite storage.
The semaphore itself is in remarkably excellent cosmetic condition for its age with minimal rust. At present, the semaphore is non-operational but contains nearly all of its internal components. We believe that the semaphore can be made operational without the few components that are missing. Regardless, the CRHS will be looking out for the appropriate replacement parts in the coming years. The semaphore blade itself will need a replacement green roundel. The main drive mechanism inside the signal case is missing its circuit control interphase but it may be possible to make our own controller which could drive the semaphore. The entire semaphore from base to blade in the clear position is 14ft tall. The entire system (mechanism case, mast, ladder, blade) is estimated to weigh about 1250lbs.
CRHS signal expert Joe Marchinchin estimates that this entire semaphore system may have sold for anywhere between $2000 and $2500. While it is evident that the semaphore came from the Southern Tier line in the general vicinity of Starrucca-Lanesboro-Gulf Summit, Joe will continue to research historical documents in an effort to determine the exact trackside location of this signal while it was still in service.
N7E Caboose 21165
This year our caboose hit the high iron again for the first time in over 25 years. After undergoing numerous tests and inspections she was deemed able to move over NS. NS moved her via Amtrak and NS trackage to the RR Museum of Pa in Strasburg, PA for Conrail Days. The move was gratis and RPCX 21165 was entered into Umler successfully and the NS tracking system as well. We are currently receiving bids to paint the caboose soon. Future plans are to redo the electrical system and to look at restoring self sufficient power to the caboose.
In 2010, the CRHS's speeder 328 was sent to Cleveland OH to continue to be worked on by Nick Marchinchin. A number of small improvements have been made, and the speeder itself currently resides safely in a locked private garage.
The CRHS's Archives were moved in the 4th quarter of 2009 from the house of CRHS member Kris Klemick to a society funded Harrisburg area storage unit. Late in 2010 Kris took initiative to organize the storage facility by assembling shelving for the artifacts to be stored on. The archives remain in storage at this location until we are able to find a permanent home for them.
In 2010 we launched a new initiative, with the assistance of CRHS member Matthew Aurand, to being cataloging the contents of the CRHS archives. In addition to simply cataloging the items, we are attempting to further document and digitize artifacts with the eventual goal of opening up online access to the information and photos we have available. Due to the lengthy nature of this process, we expect cataloging to be an ongoing activity for years to come with the hope that more members will be able to step in and assist where needed.
The CRHS 3rd Annual Convention was held Sept 24-26 2010 in Cleveland, OH. The event was spearheaded by Roger Durfee (chief coordinator) along with assistance from co-coordinators Pat Maher and Joe Marchinchin. Roger took care of the finances (hotel arrangements, busing, etc) and the core event lineup, while Joe handled the convention booklet, tee-shirt, hotel meeting room logistics (displays, table arrangements, etc). Pat handled equipment staging at the Macedonia Shops as well as negotiations with CSX, although his efforts ultimately fell on deaf ears with CSX as CSX would not permit a tour of Collinwood Yard or any other CSX facilities in Cleveland. Despite poor attendance for our first convention held beyond the borders of Pennsylvania (just shy of 50 people attended), those that did attend overwhelmingly enjoyed their time and were very impressed with the events lineup, speakers, displays, and convention accommodations.
Cleveland 2010 included stops at Norfolk Southern's Macedonia Car Shops (complete with tour), Larry's Truck and Electric (LTEX) in McDonald, OH, Berea Interlocking, Norfolk Southern's Bridge 1 Tower (complete with tour), and a night-time photo session at the MAC shops featuring NS 5405 (a CRQ blue SD50) converted back to its original number (CR 6710) via decaling and simulated numberboards. The convention meeting room was packed with operational signal displays provided by Joe Marchinchin, Donnie Lee, and Brock Kerchner. The auxiliary meeting room featured the complete Conrail Shoppe, as well as several members' display and sale tables, along with CRHS artifact display tables. Rodney Woodard surprised convention attendees with a massive tribute to Conrail's history, operations, and employees. The display (printed on chloroplast board) took up more than 4 - 8ft tables worth of space and was absolutely stunning. A silent auction featuring donated Conrail artifacts and collectables was held, with the winners announced on the bus ride out to LTEX on Sunday morning. Slide shows were presented by Joe Marchinchin and Roger Durfee on Friday night. Saturday night's banquet featured 3 presenters. Dave Ori presented a slideshow on Conrail operations in Northeast Ohio. Dennis Nehrenz presented a slideshow on Conrail operations in northern Ohio/western PA, with emphasis on branch lines and secondaries not well photographed in the Cleveland area. Joe Polefko (former Conrail/Norfolk Southern bridge and tower operated in northern Ohio) presented a special slide show on the history of railroading in the Cleveland area, all the way from the first frontier explorers to reach Ohio, up to modern day railroad operations. All three presentations were well received. The CRHS thanks Dave, Dennis, and Joe for their efforts in making the Cleveland Convention's banquet an enjoyable experience for all that attended.
Analyzing the Cleveland Convention objectively, while the event was well received and well executed, poor attendance almost put Cleveland 2010 "into the red." Major setbacks in the on time delivery of the spring 2010 quarterly hurt in terms of advertising on paper to our membership. While the convention was announced at Cleveland's NMRA Lakeland Community College Railfest show in late March (and subsequently advertised on the CRHS homepage), at least half of the attendees registered less than one month before the convention took place. Poor advertising may have also hurt our numbers; the convention was not advertised in Railpace Newsmagazine or any other pertinent magazines, nor in most of Cleveland local hobby shops. The cost for attending ($156 for members in good standing, and $199 to non-members) was significantly less than that of the Philadelphia 2009 Convention ($260; $300 respectively), however this did not seem to make much of an impact on attendance. A poor economy for the 2nd year in a row may have also hindered attendance. Of note, many Cleveland area CRHS members did not attend the Cleveland Convention for various reasons; an unanticipated outcome. An analysis of the Cleveland convention statistics suggests that the CRHS needs to build a bigger (and active!) membership base west of Pennsylvania before attempting another convention (or event of that caliber) out west.
Conrail Days at The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Conrail Days is quickly turning into a "Signature Event" for the CRHS and the Railroad Museum of Pennyslyvania. 2010's edition did not disappoint with the attendance of CRHS 21165 and NS 999 BP-4 and 6324 SD40-E. Norfolk Southern's cooperation in providing equipment and logistical support is a big part of this event. The night photography session was also again a big draw for many. We are working on a special semi-permanent exhibit for 2011. Attendance and coverage of the event has been good in the past 2 years. We will continue to do much of the same things in the future. New exhibits will be on display this year including Rodney Woodard's incredible Conrail Timetable of Slogans. We will soon begin to book presentations for 2011.
Ride the Rails for Cancer
The Conrail Historical Society again organized and ran the "Ride the Rails for Cancer" event over the weekend of June 12th 2010. The event was operated on the Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad and benefits Vickie's Angel Walk, a PA non profit group who helps families financially during cancer treatments. This year, The CRHS has raised and donated approximately $3300.00 to Vickie's Angel Walk. We used our caboose # 21165 and another caboose provided by the M&H Railroad to provide $5 rides over a short stretch of the M&H.
Spring and Summer Newport Rail-B-Q
In 2010, the CRHS moved the venue of its eastern Rail-B-Q events to Newport PA's Oliver Township Park. This year, we had two of these events, one in May and another in August. As usual, these events were heavily attended by CRHS members and the public.
The new location was necessary as the events had outgrown President Klemick's house and back yard. A search for a suitable location was conducted, and the park was identified to have the perfect combination of rail proximity (being adjacent to NS's busy Pittsburgh Line) and amenities (rest rooms and a picnic shelter).
As in years past, the society provided the food and drinks and asked for donations to offset the cost. A new donation request strategy was implemented this year which provided a much better response than in years past, which helped offset the ever increasing costs to put these events on.
A membership meeting was held at the conclusion of the spring event, with many members in attendance.
Marion Ohio Rail-B-Q
On July 31, 2010 The CRHS hosted its first ever RBQ outside of Pennsylvania in Marion, OH. Light refreshments and snacks were provided for attendees. The event featured all day railfanning of the 3 lines that cross in Marion as well as tours of the depot and restored AC tower hosted by the Marion Union Station Association. The evening was capped off with a wonderful slide show featuring Conrail photography from Bill Haines, Dave Oroszi and Rick Ackton. Approximately 50 members attended this event, and a number of non-members came by to check out what the CRHS is all about.
The CRHS held its first ever "RAILTHON" or train watching marathon in the summer of 2010 in Cleveland, OH. Held Friday-Saturday July 2-3, at Berea interlocking in Berea, OH, the event was indisputably a success. The primary purposes for staging this event were 1. promote awareness of the CRHS and recruit membership in northeast Ohio, 2. promote the 2010 Cleveland Convention, and 3. document all rail traffic through Berea in 36 hours in order to share with others how rail traffic levels and the nature of rail traffic through Berea has changed since the Conrail era. Staged in the grassy area adjacent to the "Big 4" Station parking lot, the large white CRHS tent was set up to host the entire Conrail Shoppe, CRHS displays, signal displays, and other large Conrail artifacts. Huge Conrail signs, flags, and banners were flown to attract the driving by public. Approximately 150 people visited our tent through the duration of the event. RAILTHON successfully recruited several new members into the CRHS. The Conrail Shoppe did an astonishing $1049 in walk-up sales. Visitors were welcomed to cook their own food on a provided charcoal grill and basic snacks and drinks were for sale. A live scanner feed was provided for the enjoyment of the attendees. Roger Durfee hosted a trackside slide show on Saturday evening. The final 37 hour 4 minute train count was 172, with 116 of those trains recorded in the first 24 hours; this averaged out to a train passing Berea every 12.6 minutes. The CRHS acknowledges and thanks Roger Durfee, Paul Springowski, Tom Springowski, Harold Mickely, and Jerry Jordak for volunteering to help make this event a success, as well as coordinator Joe Marchinchin who planned and executed the event. Numerous members expressed their desire to see the CRHS hold this event again. Plans are in the works once again return this event to Berea in early July of 2011.
Train Show Appearances
In 2010, the CRHS attended a number of train shows throughout the area that Conrail served. These show appearances were grouped in two main clusters and staffed by two groups of volunteers. The western cluster was generally comprised of Indiana, Michigan, western Ohio, and Illinois. These appearances are staffed by CRHS Member Chris Howe. This year the society made its first appearance in Illinois when we had a table at the Homewood, IL days show in May. Chris also made the societies first appearance at shows in Sandusky, OH and Middlebury, IN at the Essen Haus this year as well, further expanding our presence in this area.
The CRHS refocused its efforts in the east from a grueling but only marginally profitable schedule consisting of almost one show every weekend or two to select shows that proved to be highly profitable and successful for growing the society's exposure to large groups. This year the CRHS attendend the two ATMA Meets in Allentown, PA, The Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show in Springfield, MA, two Great Scale Model Train Shows in Timonium, MD, and a number of Worlds Greatest Hobby Shows around the East Coast. The Worlds Greatest Hobby Shows have proven to be a great way to get the CRHS into the public spotlight.
Conrail Quarterly Magazine
In the Spring of 2010, Joe Marchinchin volunteered to relieve CRHS President Kris Klemick as editor and chief writer of the Conrail Quarterly. With mounting family obligations and other projects, Kris was under an incredible amount of stress to keep up with the Quarterly which ultimately resulted in production and release delays. CRHS Director Ed Kapuscinski joined Joe as coeditor of CQ for the spring and summer 2010 editions, however it was ultimately decided that fewer people involved in the production process would speed up the timely release of the quarterly.
Countless problems with our printing company, software, and other miscellaneous issues made getting CQ back on time an incredible challenge throughout the 2010 year. It was also learned that a substantial number of CQs sent at the non-profit bulk rate were either being lost or destroyed by the USPS. In an effort to prevent the CRHS from losing members, it was decided by the Board of Directors to send all Quarterlies via 1st class mail, a much more costly but necessary course of action.
As of Nov 2010, most of these issues have been resolved and Joe has been working hard to get CQ back on time. Joe had been concerned with the printing quality and consistency from our current printer. The Board of Directors acknowledged these concerns in October 2010 and agreed that the CRHS should begin the process of searching for alternative printers.
In the second half of December, the Board of Directors approved switching printers to White River Productions, a company that specializes in providing printing and other support services to Railroad Historical Societies.
Despite countless setbacks throughout 2010, Conrail Quarterly was well received by the majority of the membership. The new and improved CQ was completely redesigned by Joe Marchinchin from the ground up. Some of Joe's improvements included:
- simplified volume information page
- new page dedicated exclusively sustaining members
- new calendar page w/upcoming CRHS events
- new theme for the News Desk
- new "Preservation Corner" section dedicated to keeping members up-to-date on all CRHS preservation efforts, projects, and acquisition leads
- new "Members Gallery" - members of any talent level may display their Conrail related photographs or artwork
- Every photograph is manually calibrated for color, saturation, contrast, and brightness to ensure optimal printing quality (although most of this work has gone in vain due to our current printer's inability to competently print color calibrated material with any consistency)
- more self-authored, self-researched material
- more emphasis on CRHS preservation efforts
- more emphasis on CRHS long term objectives
The Conrail Quarterly continues to improve with each issue. Joe will continue to push hard to get the Conrail Quarterly back on time and to ensure it is reproduced with the highest printing quality possible. Ultimately, Joe and the CRHS would like to see CQ exceed the standards of other notable railroad historical societies' magazines such as that of the "The Sentinel," and "The Arrow."
In 2010, our membership rolls declined from 2009's level to 405. That included 324 regular members and 50 digital members.
The board of directors believes that this decline in member rolls can be attributed to the lack of effective membership retention practice at the beginning of the year. This is an issue which is at the forefront of the board of directors attention in 2011.
Membership Responsibility Transition
Maintaining the membership rolls was, in the past, handled by CRHS President Kris Klemick. In the beginning of 2010, this task was assumed by CRHS Secretary Steve Ondik. In October of this year, this responsibility was assumed by CRHS Board Member Sean McDonnell.
New Membership Question Email Address
In 2010, a new email address was setup for membership questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Change of Address Policy
Change of address notices should now also be made either by written letter addressed to "Membership: Change of Address" and sent to our PO Box, or via online submission at http://thecrhs.org/contact.
Overall The CRHS is in sound financial shape and the treasurer is currently investigating alternative ways to make us larger amounts of capital to be used on future projects such as finding a permanent home. We currently have a few projects on tap to use up some of the monies we have accrued such as caboose painting, acquisition of equipment and the insurances attached to them.
As of December 30th, 2010, the CRHS has monetary assets totalling $37,720.25.
These assets are divided among three different instruments:
|Automatically Renewing CDs||$10065.98|
In 2010, the CRHS retained the services of Boles Metzger Brosius & Emrick PC, a public CPA firm to help us keep our finances in order and in compliance with all State and Federal regulations. This was an exceedingly positive experience, providing the CRHS with important guidance for the year, and leaving us in a positive place going forward.
Society Outreach and Marketing
The CRHS's website, http://TheCRHS.org, continues to grow and attract attention. It provides the society with a platform for internal communication (via the forum), a place to post event information, a place to post important announcements, and a place to share information about Conrail itself.
The separate Conrail Shoppe website, https://Shoppe.TheCRHS.org, allows the society to sell items online. These items include most of the items available through our retail tables at train shows, and more importantly allows members to join or renew quickly, easily, and securely. The Shoppe site now provides a quick and easy way for people to donate to the society as well. This capability was key in the acquisition of the former Erie semaphore signal.
The CRHS's main website suffered some technical difficulties over the summer, resulting in the loss of approximately 5500 photograph pages. Thanks to CRHS member Drew McCann, we were able to recover many of the image files themselves and are now in the middle of running a recovery process to get all the affected pages back online. We still have a long way to go, but have gotten approximately 10% of the pages fully restored.
The main CRHS site currently has between 300 and 400 visits a day, with a slight growth trend over the course of the year.
The CRHS website is maintained and contributed to by a large number of our members. Special thanks goes to CRHS Member Donnie Lee who has helped with numerous technical aspects of the site through the year.
Social Media - Facebook and Twitter
The CRHS got into the new realm of Social Media in 2010 by creating our Facebook and Twitter accounts. These new forms of online communication and interaction have been a great success, and are providing another avenue for our members and friends to interact with the CRHS. As of the writing of this document, our Twitter account (http://twitter.com/TheCRHS) has 167 followers, and our Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Conrail-Historical-Society/113684468655895) has been "Liked" by 537 people. Our efforts on the social media front were spearheaded by CRHS Board Member Ed Kapuscinski and the day to day operations are now handled by CRHS Member Jay Smith using a product called Sprout Social.
The CRHS designed and printed a new brochure explaining for members and non members the important points about the society in 2010. This brochure was designed and printed in time for our train show, and is now available to be distributed to anyone who is interested in who we are and what we do. These full color brochures discuss our preservation efforts, our publications, and our events in a colorful and attractive manner. The brochures were designed by CRHS Board Member Ed Kapuscinski and the printing cost was donated by UPrinting.com.
Looking Forward to 2011
The CRHS will have a number of themes for 2011. These include increasing our efforts to retain and expand our membership, pursuing new avenues of funding, growing our focus on the care of the pieces in our collection, and continued acquisition of historically significant equipment and other artifacts.
The society's attempts to retain and expand our membership will center on demonstrating our value to Conrail fans. There are a number of tactics that the society will employ over the upcoming year to achieve this goal which are still in the process of evolving. The CRHS believes that it does a good job of preserving the history of Conrail, and educating the public about it, and that better advertising the job that we do will convince potential and existing members that their membership is important. Additionally, the society is making plans to demonstrate the ways that it is addressing any past issues.
Over the course of 2010, the organization took steps to sure up its financial position and regulatory compliance with the goal of enabling the pursuit of larger external funding opportunities such as grants and corporate donations. 2011 will be a year to actively pursue these avenues.
The CRHS intends to increase its focus on taking care of its collection. The society will be taking concrete steps to perform a full restoration of our caboose, the 21165. These steps include the solicitation of bids, selection of a contractor, and monitoring the progress of the job once one is selected. Along with the restoration of our caboose, the society will also continue working to bring its gondola to the M&H. The CRHS will also expand its efforts to properly process and catalog all incoming and existing artifacts in the collection, a project which has been a long time in coming.
There are a number of opportunities for additional large artifacts that are currently being pursued by the society. Because of the nature of the partnerships and relationships with the current owners of these objects, specifics cannot be mentioned, but 2011 should be a year of continued growth of the society's equipment and other artifact collection.
If all of these themes are followed, 2011 should be a banner year for the Conrail Historical Society.