Pa. State Rep. Who Championed Railroads Has Died

A veteran Pennsylvania state representative who was described as a champion of railroading has died.

Rick Geist, 74, who represented a district in Altoona for 34 years and served as chairman of the House Transportation Committee, died while vacationing last month in Russia.

He served on the board of directors of the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum and drafted legislation to create a bipartisan feasibility study for a high-speed-rail line Pennsylvania.

He persuaded Conrail Chairman L. Stanley Crane to agree to move former Pennsylvania Railroad Class K4s 4-6-2 steam engine No. 1361 from a static display site at Horseshoe Curve to the museum.

The Altoona museum restored No. 1361 to operating condition in 1987 and it pulled excursions for a year and half before being sidelined by mechanical problems. The locomotive had been built in Altoona in 1918.

Geist was by profession a consulting engineer. He served as majority or minority chairman of House Transportation Committee for 27 years.

He used his position to help the ARMM land grants for such projects as installation of a turntable and a partial roundhouse to provide indoor storage and display space.

Geist also helped ARMM obtain funding for a new visitor center at Horseshoe Curve, which opened in 1992.

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