The primary goal in the transaction of business via rail is the safety and expedient movement of the passengers, care for the property and goods entrusted for transportation, and the delivery of such in the same condition as received.1 Accidents of any type would cause delay, destruction of goods, and cost the railways loss of revenue or increased expense.
To this end, the United States Interstate Commerce Commission and the United States Bureau of Safety published annual reports and others undertook investigation and analysis of railroad accidents in an effort to determine the cause and ways to prevent future mishaps.
Issue 19/20: Spring 2014
Updated: Spring 2018
RAILROADS: Historical Research Sources at the Library of Congress
Table of Contents
Cost of Operations
Finance & Revenue
Wages & Compensation
Maps and Time Tables
Accidents and Safety
The Transcontinental Railroad
LC Subject Headings
Caption (image left):
The Wreck on the Baltimore and Ohio Road, Washington, D.C. - from a photograph by Bell, 1887.
Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs Division
Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-137431
This list of resources is not meant to be all inclusive, but to provide a sampling of the information available relating to accident statistics and safety.
Accident/Incident Bulletin. United States. Interstate Commerce Commission. Bureau of transport economics and statistics. Washington, U. S. Govt. print. off., 1902- 1996
LC Call Number: HE1780 .A2
LC Catalog Record: 05041547
Initially compiled by the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission, Bureau of transport economics and statistics and later the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety. The collection provides a fairly complete coverage between the years 1901 and 1993. This quarterly report on railway accidents in the United States provides statistics on the number of deaths or injuries to passengers, employees, and trespassers. Statistics are also included for the types of accidents such as collisions, derailments, or equipment malfunctions. Some statistics are broken down by state. Included with each report are investigations of accidents.
Aldrich, Mark. Death Rode the Rails : American Railroad Accidents and Safety, 1828-1965. Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.
LC Call Number: TF23 .A474 2006
LC Catalog Record: 2005013355
Table of contents
The author explores the evolution of railroad safety in the United States by examining the spectacular train wrecks as well as the smaller accidents in shops and yards.
Railroad Accident Investigation : Report
LC Call Number: HE1780 .U54b
LC Catalog Record: 78641007
Related to Railroad Employee Fatalities Investigated and Summary of Accidents Investigated by the Federal Railroad Administration. Most of these are by line name. Roughly covers the years 1970-1986.
Railroad Employee Fatalities Investigated
LC Call Number: HE1780 .U54c
LC Catalog Record: 81649491
Related to Railroad Accident Investigation : Report and Summary of Accidents Investigated by the Federal Railroad Administration. Roughly covers the years 1970-1986.
Railroad Safety Statistics. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration.
LC Call Number: HE1780 .R35
LC Catalog Record: 2003208557
This is the continuation of the Accident/Incident Bulletin for current years. Electronic access is also available for 1994 - 1996 and 1998 - 2006 from the Federal Railroad Administration, Office of Safety Analysis .
Report of the Section of Railroad Safety, Bureau of Safety and Service to the Interstate Commerce Commission. Washington : U.S.G.P.O., 1954-1964.
LC Call Number: HE1762 .U36
LC Catalog Record: a55009223
Volumes include "Extracts from the 31st-36th annual report of the Interstate Commerce Commission pertaining to safety appliances, hours of service, medals of honor, investigation of accidents, and investigation of safety devices." This work is continued in the following: Continues: United States. Interstate Commerce Commission. Division of Safety. Report of the chief of the Division of Safety for the fiscal year… Continued by: United States. Interstate Commerce Commission. Bureau of Safety. Report of the Director of the Bureau of Safety to the Interstate Commerce Commission for the Fiscal Year Ended…. Coverage spans 1917 - 1964.
Summary of Accidents Investigated by the Federal Railroad Administration. [Washington] Federal Railroad Administration.
LC Call Number: HE1780 .U54a
LC Catalog Record: 73647117
Related to Railroad Accident Investigation : Report and Railroad Employee Fatalities Investigated. Roughly covers the years 1970-1986.
Summary of Accident Investigation Reports. Interstate Commerce Commission, Bureau of Safety. Washington : U.S. G.P.O., 1920-
LC Call Number: HE1780 .A22
LC Catalog Record: a20000942
This is organized by investigation number (names of lines are given). And covers the years 1918 to 1940.
U.S. Railroad Accident Report. Washington, D.C. : National Transportation Safety Board
LC Call Number: HE1780 .U55a
LC Catalog Record: 86640745
Reports cover specific incident investigations providing factual information, analysis, conclusions and recommendations. Recommendations may include changes to Federal regulations and will often impact company and union policies. Coverage from 1971 - 1999.
1 Richards, R. C. (1906). Railroad Accidents; their cause and prevention. The Association of Railway Claim Agents 1906.
Last updated: 05/18/2018