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   Issue 19/20, Spring 2014
Steam engine of the Grand Canyon Railroad, circa 1980 and 2006

Internet Resources

Current Players
Open Source Archives
Research Collections
Government Resources

Current Players

These are the companies still in business carrying cargo and passengers. To find historical information on individual companies many of the print and electronic sources mentioned elsewhere in this guide can be helpful. Also, the Library of Congress has many sources on individual companies and lines that can be searched for in the Library's catalog.

BERA - Business & Economics Research Advisor - A Quarterly Guide to Business & Economics Topics

Issue 19/20: Spring 2014

RAILROADS: Historical Research Sources at the Library of Congress

Table of Contents

General Resources
Cost of Operations
      Finance & Revenue
      Wages & Compensation
      Print Indexing
Maps and Time Tables
Accidents and Safety
Internet Resources
LC Subject Headings

Caption (image left):
Steam engine of the Grand Canyon Railroad.
    Carol Highsmith, photographer.
From the Carol M. Highsmith Archive
Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs Division
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-highsm-15602

AMTRAK External Link

Most of the data in the Inside Amtrak is concerned about current and recent history operations. There is an Amtrak Historical Society External Link that has a nice history.

BNSF External Link

There are sections for customers and communities as well as Historical Overview External Link and Image Gallery External Link sections.

CSX External Link

There is a history timeline but only as it pertains to CSX.

Union Pacific External Link

Includes a link to the Union Pacific museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa, a Photo Gallery, maps of the current and historical lines, a company history and chronology, information on historical equipment, etc.

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Open Source Archives

Most of the items in these sources are going to be older items good for historical research.

Google Books External Link

There are many titles that are a part of Google Books. Examples from this guide include: G.M. Davison's The Traveller's Guide Through the Middle and Northern States and other titles like History of the Northern Pacific Railroad by Eugene Virgil Smalley, The Railroad Builders: A Chronicle of the Welding of the States, by John Moody, Railroad to the Pacific: Northern Route. Its General Character, Relative Merits, etc. by Edwin Ferry Johnson, Notes on Railroad Accidents by Charles Francis Adams, The Railroad Problem: A Collection of Papers on Various Aspects of the Railroad Problem and Presenting Many Points of View and Contending Suggestions Concerning its Solution by Aaron M Sakolski, Academy of Political Science, Railroad Revenues and Expenses from the United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Interstate Commerce (Resolution 23 1921), from 1893 the Official Northern Pacific Railroad Guide: For the Use of Tourists and Travelers by W C Riley, Northern Pacific Railroad Company, Railroads of the United States from Henry M. Flint, etc.

Internet Archive External Link

There are many items of relevance in the Internet Archive. Example are items from the Bureau of Railway Economics, William Everett Hooper's Railroad Accounting, Charles Lee Crandall's Railroad Construction, Frederick Albert Cleveland, Fred Wilbur Powell's Railroad Finance, The American Railroad Problem, a Study in War and Reconstruction by Isaiah Leo Sharfman, several volumes of the American Railroad Journal, Railroad Traffic and Rates by Emory Richard Johnson , Grover Gerhardt Huebner, Notes on Railroad Accidents by Charles Francis Adams, etc.

Open Library External Link

There are items of relevance to railroad research like Selected Special Studies, 1910-1914 from the Bureau of Railway Economics, Railroad Valuation by Homer Bews Vanderblue, Railroad to the Pacific by Thomas Prentice Kettell, Railroad Operations by James Shirley Eaton, Pacific Railroad by J. A. McDougall, Railroad Reorganization by Stuart Daggett, The Modern Railroad by Edward Hungerford, etc.

Project Gutenberg External Link

There are many titles that are a part of project Gutenberg including some from this guide like John Moody's The Railroad Builders and other titles like The Paths of Inland Commerce; A Chronicle of Trail, Road, and Waterway by Archer Butler Hulbert.

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Research Collections

Included are large research institutions and enthusiast groups. Many have information available on the Internet or allow researchers to search for material in their collection while others may help researchers trace names and companies.

Association of American Railroads (AAR) External Link

AAR members include the major freight railroads in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as Amtrak. The membership organization oversees a 140,000-mile rail network and sets new standards for innovation, safety and technology. Most of the data is relevant to railroads of today but it is good for general information nationally and by state. Their Statistics and Publications section includes: publications, Rail Cost Indexes, performance measures, etc.

Association of Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums (ATRRM) External Link

"The Association of Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums (ATRRM) is a brand new organization, born from two venerable associations with a combined history of nearly 100 years. After several years analysing their many similarities and goals, the Tourist Railway Association and the Association of Railway Museums merged to form ATRRM in 2013."-- from ATRRM website.
There is an online archive External Link of the publication Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums.

Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum External Link

The CPRR is an online museum with a wealth of material on the history of railroads in the United States. It includes photographs, maps, and other digitized content like government documents and reports.

John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library External Link

The John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library is a special library within the St. Louis Mercantile Library and includes over 45,000 volumes covering all aspects of railroading, and dating from the beginnings of railroads in the 1820s to the present day. The collection focuses strongly on railway economics, finance, corporate history, management practice, regulatory history, mergers, labor relations, operations, and engineering. Specific collections include: documents from the Bureau of Railway Economics Collection (BRE); items from the Association of American Railroads-Bureau of Railway Economics Historical Collection (of particular note are the many nearly complete runs of corporate annual reports for dozens of companies; foundational corporate documents, reports and internal corporate histories; pamphlets on railroad development in the 19th century; trade periodicals; and an outstanding group of 19th century travelers' and emigrants guidebooks); and periodical holdings which include complete or very extensive runs of, important trade journals such as the American Railroad Journal, Herapath's, Railway Age, Modern Railroads, Railway World, Railway Mechanical Engineer, Railway Review, Canadian Railway & Marine World, and Traffic World; the Poor's and Moody's Financial Manuals from 1869; the Official Railway Guide from 1871 to the present; the Pocket List of Railway Officials (1895-present); the Official Railway Equipment Register (1886- present); and the Car Builder's and the Locomotive Cyclopedias.

National Railroad Museum External Link

Established in 1956 and located in Green Bay, WI, this museum provides exhibits, programs, and special events. The Archives Collection located in the Exhibits tab, includes corporate records and documents, annual reports, maps, mechanical and engineering drawings, oral histories, and ephemera. The holdings of the collection represent various railroad companies, labor unions, and fraternal organizations. There is also a Library, photographs and artifact collection.

National Railway Historical Society External Link

Formed in 1935 by a group of rail historians to preserve the history and monitor the growth of railways. The History Section has an archive which show elements (photos, text, and printed material) of historical interest of railroad history. It also has the Almanac of U.S. Railroad History and covers a railroad history chronology from 1720 - 1999 and a collection of historical photographs.

Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association (NPRHA) External Link

NPRHA was founded in 1981 and is dedicated to collecting, preserving and disseminating information about the Northern Pacific Railway. There is a Research Library which includes documents, photographs, etc. External Link

Includes over 5,000 railroad links. Links to associations, photo collections, discussion forums, government agencies, historical societies, specific rail lines, magazines, etc.

Railway & Locomotive Historical Society External Link

The objective of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society is to promote research and to encourage preservation of documentation pertinent to business history, finance, labor history, and biography as well as technology. It has an extensive Guide to Railroad Records at the National Archives External Link which is a comprehensive survey of the holdings of the National Archives of railroad-related material. The Reference Section is intended to become an important source of railroad historical information, and to be a product of cooperative effort from R&LHS members but has a Railroad Nicknames and Slogans, an Index to Railroad History 1921-2004, a state-by-state location for railroad research sources in the Directory of Railroad History Research Locations, as well as other helpful information.

Transportation History Collection - Special Collections Library of the University of Michigan (Railroad) External Link

This collection contains printed and visual materials on transportation technology and travel. There are printed items from as early as 1588, but the majority of the material is from the 19th and early 20th centuries. International in scope, subjects in the collection include ballooning and dirigibles, early roads, automobiles, canals, bridges, carriages and coaches, and, most notably, railroads. The collection of railroad material consists of over 14,000 items relating to American, Canadian, Mexican, British, French, German, and Russian railroad companies and their rolling stock. There are annual reports, including extensive runs of most major lines in the United States, pamphlets, timetables, charters, stock certificates and other legal documents, surveys, advertising brochures, posters, artwork, archival collections and photographs. In addition to the annual reports, there are many monographs and long runs of most of the State Railroad Commissions' Reports. Many items are imaged and available.

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Government Resources

Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) - Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA)

The BTS compiles, analyzes, and publishes data and information needed for transportation decision-making, and generally coordinates DOT statistical programs. BTS also manages the National Transportation Library and the Office of Airline Information, and leads the federal effort in developing transportation geo-data to fulfill the vision of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). BTS covers information and statistics in all areas of transportation including: Freight Data and Statistics, Intermodal Passenger Connectivity Database, National Transportation Atlas Database, National Transportation Statistics, Transportation Indicators, etc. Much of the data is part of TransStats. Within TransStats data is browsable by Mode or by Subject (freight transport, safety, economic/financial, etc.). Rail data includes: Railroad Accident/Incident Reporting System, Transborder Surface Freight Data, Commodity Flow Survey (CFS), etc.

Census of Population

Some of the Censuses of Population (e.g. 1880) include Report on the Agencies of Transportation in the United States (various names). Census also publishes more generalized information via: Annual Service Industry Survey and Economic Census (begun for regular publication in 1930).

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

The Federal Railroad Administration was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 to promulgate and enforce rail safety regulations; administer railroad assistance programs; conduct research and development in support of improved railroad safety and national rail transportation policy; etc. Data includes safety data going back to the mid 1970's. There are reports and research results but the historical content only begins in the late 1990's.

National Archives

Records Relating to North American Railroads [PDF format: 1.04 MB / 282 p.] that was compiled by David Pfeiffer, Reference Information Paper 91 (2001). This is part of a "comprehensive descriptive program and are designed to provide researchers with concise information about Federal archival records relating to specific topics of current interest." Specifically it includes United States (including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico), Canada, Mexico, and the Panama Canal and describes documentation concerning the railroads and their interaction with the U.S. Government from the beginning of railroading to 1996. It includes "1,000 series of textual, cartographic, still picture, motion picture, sound recording, and electronic records in 57 record groups housed in the Washington, DC, area and the regional archives branches of the National Archives and Records Administration as of December 31, 1996, as well as a few records in Presidential libraries."

National Archives - Atlanta

Records from the U.S. Railroad Administration including correspondence files of the Regional Counsel, the Regional Director. Also includes records from the Department of Defense Transportation which Coordinated and directed the utilization of domestic transportation facilities during World War II which includes Railway Transport Files that document defense related railway operations in the southern region. The material covers a broad range of topics including accidents, derailments, freight handling, organization of field offices, railway service and terminals, military facilities, American cars in Cuba, shippers, and private industry.

National Transportation Library - Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA)

The mission of the National Transportation Library (NTL) is to maintain and facilitate access to statistical and other information needed for transportation decision-making at the Federal, State, and local levels. The collection contains material in all areas of transportation modes and includes material on the history of transportation, railroads, statistics, etc. Their fastest-growing collections is exclusively digital, serving as a permanent archive for statistical, technical, research and policy documents. The resources and tools is broken down into topics: dictionaries, directories, statistics, Legislative/Regulatory Resources, and Research Tools. External Link

Provides links to federal, state and local railroad agencies.

U.S. Statistical Abstract and the Bicentennial Edition: Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970

These are publications offered from the U.S. Census and the data in these sources is purely statistical. The U.S. Statistical Abstract began in 1878 and all copies are available. The Bicentennial Edition: Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 only carries data up to 1970 (the subscription based Historical Statistics of the United States Millennial edition is more current, see Databases section) can be helpful in determining the source of the data included in the item.

U.S. Railroad Retirement Board

The genealogy research area contains information for genealogical research as well as Railroad Record Depositories and a few years worth of historical data related to the Annual Railroad Retirement Act and Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act Reports.

Last Updated: 11/30/2015

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   Issue 19/20, Spring 2014
  The Library of Congress >> Researchers
  November 30, 2015
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