Papers of Richard A. Geist, 1979-2012
Scope and Contents
This collection contains an extensive material on Geist's legislative work with the House Transportation Committee, including issues related to railroad development, driver education, leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and work vehicle safety and regulation. These files often include correspondence, House memoranda, supplementary background information, as well as press releases, public testimony from public hearings, and related reports, studies and proposals. Geist's papers also contain files specific to his advocacy for establishing a high speed railroad in Pennsylvania, as well as correspondence and news material specific to the Norfolk Southern Corporation and Conrail merger in 1999. Most files and memorabilia relate to Geist's role in crafting legislation to improve and regulate transportation in Pennsylvania, as well as biographical material like scrapbooks which document his House and community activities over the course of his career. The collection also contains a number of plaques and oversize materials like campain posters, framed objects and photographs.
- 1979 - 2012
- Acquisition: June 11, 2014
- Geist, Richard A., 1944-2019 (Person)
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This collection is open for research.
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Biographical or Historical Information
Richard A. Geist was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania on November 21, 1944. He served as a Republican representative for the 79th Legislative District of Blair County. Geist grew up in Altoona and graduated from Altoona Area High School in 1962. He went on to earn an Associate’s degree in drafting and design technology from the Pennsylvania State University in 1965. During his college career, he participated as a Kellogg Fellow in the Pennsylvania State University Public Affairs Leadership Program. Before he was elected to the House, Geist worked as a consulting engineer for twelve years as well as a Senior Manager at the EADS Corporation in Altoona. He also served as a committeeman, Treasurer, and Secretary for the Blair County Republican Committee.
Geist was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1979, where he served seventeen consecutive terms as a Republic representative of Blair County until he lost the bid for re-election in the 2012 primary. During his tenure in the General Assembly, Geist built his legacy on addressing and advocating solutions for transportation issues in the Commonwealth. He was a member of the House Transportation Committee throughout his legislative career, serving as Subcommittee Chairman on Highways from 1981 through 1986. During the 1993-1994 legislative session he was appointed Republican Caucus Chair. From 1995 to 2012, Geist served as Chairman of the Transportation Committee. In both Harrisburg and his hometown of Altoona, Geist earned a reputation as a fierce advocate for high speed rail transportation in Pennsylvania, as well as preserving Pennsylvania and Altoona’s railroad history and industry. Altoona itself owes its origin to the growth of the Pennsylvania Railroad during the nineteenth century, and is the site of the famous Horseshoe Curve, an engineering feat that made it possible for heavy freight trains to gradually pass over the Allegheny Ridge. Altoona’s role as a major railroad site continued well into the twentieth century, and Geist’s push for high speed rail in Pennsylvania promised to make the town an integral stop on the potential “Keystone Corridor” between Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia. Geist was First Chairman of the High Speed Railroad States and the High Speed Rail Foundation. He worked closely with historical entities and preservation organizations as a Board Director for the Railroaders Memorial Museum, a member of the K-4s Locomotive Engine Crew and the National Railway Historical Society among many others. In 1984 he sponsored legislation responsible for creating the Pennsylvania Rail Freight Advisory Committee, which works closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to maintain and improve rail freight service systems and facilities throughout the Commonwealth. Geist’s most important leadership roles were those of Chairman of the Pennsylvania High Speed Intercity Rail Passenger Commission in 1985 and 1986, as well as Chairman of the High Speed Ground Transportation Association from 1986 to 1988. His passion for railroad innovation pushed the state to fund many studies into the feasibility and cost of building the infrastructure for a high speed corridor in the Keystone state. However, waning support and government funds stalled any real results or investments in high speed rail.
Despite such setbacks, Geist went on to win major legislative accomplishments related to issues of transportation in Pennsylvania. He spearheaded reforms to teen driver licensing laws, the drunk driving law, as well as work zone and truck safety legislation. One of his most successful pieces of legislation on public-private transportation partnerships [House Bill 3 of 2011-2012] was signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett on July 5, 2012. This legislation allows for government and private entities to work together to develop, construct, maintain, or finance transportation projects and initiatives. An avid cyclist, Geist also founded and served as Race Director for the annual Tour de ‘Toona from 1987 until 2011, the largest pro-am cycling event in America. His personal papers contain documents relating to all of these legislative issues, from correspondence, to news clippings, to memorabilia. His work with the High Speed Rail Association, the Transportation Committee, as well as the Railroaders Museum and the Tour de ‘Toona is also very well documented, containing files of related studies, conference brochures, and many other related records and items.
Note written by
12.00 Cubic Feet
This collection is arranged into ten series: 1. Biographical/Office Materials. 2. Legislative Work. 3. Subject Files. 4. Correspondence. 5. Press Releases. 6. News Clippings/Media/Newsletters. 7. Photographs. 8. Memorabilia. 9. Awards. 10. Oversized.
Richard A. Geist to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives.
Source of Acquisition
Richard A. Geist
- Papers of Richard A. Geist, 1979-2012
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- Other Unmapped
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