Beinecke Top Tens: American Railways

November 5, 2013

The Beinecke is home to extensive holdings documenting American railroads and their construction. Here are just ten of the many fascinating books, advertisements, photographs, documents, and maps in the Beinecke’s collection related to American railways.

The Texas and Southerwestern railway guide and handbook for the state of Texas

This railway guide from 1891 contains stations and timetables for railways in Texas and the American Southwest, including the Great North and South Trunk Line (the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railway), the Santa Fe Route (Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway), and the Overland Route (Fort Worth and Denver Railway, and the Union Pacific System). The guide also contains advertisements for “Pullman Palace buffets” and “drawing room sleeping cars,” as well as for cities along the railroad routes; one advertisement publicizes “The City of Abilene” as “The Best City in Texas of its age…destined to be one of the Leading Cities in the State.” Call number: Zc18 T4 T312

D.B. Cooke and Co.’s Great Western Railway Guide

This railway guide from 1856 shows railway routes run by companies in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and portions of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada. It contains a color map of railway routes in these areas labeled with stations and stops. Call number: Zc18 A11 856db

The Pacific Railway Panoramic Guide: A panorama of overland travel, from Chicago to San Francisco

This railway guide, printed c. 1870, details “the great and attractive route: Chicago Burlington & Quincy R.R. to Burlington … Burlington & Missouri River R.R. to Omaha … Union Pacific Railroad to Ogden … Utah Central Railroad to Salt Lake City … Central Pacific Railroad to Sacramento … Western Pacific Railroad to San Francisco.” It contains traveler’s maps, diagrams of railroad routes and stops, and color “panorama” illustrations – including the one in the photo at left, depicting San Francisco. The book was “entered according to Act of Congress…by Alfred A. Hart, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress.” Hart was a photographer for the Central Pacific Railroad who documented the construction of the western half of the first transcontinental railroad in 364 stereoviews. Call number: Zc10 870hac

Advertisement for the Kansas Pacific Railway

This advertisement from 1873 appears in a guide to Colorado that outlines the state’s “resorts and attractions to the pleasure-seeker.” The advertisement promotes the Kansas Pacific Railway as “the shortest route from Kansas City or Leavenworth to Denver,” requiring “no change of cars from Missouri River to Denver.” The railway line is touted as “the only trunk-railway which passes through the Great Buffalo Ranges of the American Continent” and “the only line running Pullman Palace cars to Denver.” Call number: Zc49 873ka

Abraham Lincoln appoints Timothy J. Carter as director of the Union and Pacific Railroad Company

Handwritten by President Lincoln in October 1863, this holograph document is signed on Executive Mansion letterhead. In the letter, Lincoln appoints Carter to represent the interests of the United States on the board of the Union and Pacific Railroad Company. Lincoln asserts his right to appoint Carter to the position by citing an “Act to aid in the construction of a RailRoad and Telegraph Line from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean, and to secure to the Government the use of the same for Postal, Military and other Purposes.” The document includes a reproduction of a photographic portrait of Lincoln by Bachrach Studios. Call number: WA MSS S-1811 Un3751

Union Pacific Sketchbook

This sketchbook, created by the passenger department of the Union Pacific Railway, contains brief descriptions of prominent points of interest along the Union Pacific Railway line and its connections. Call number: Zc10 887un

Map of the “direct route to Pike’s Peak and the gold regions via the Toledo Wabash & Great Western Rail Road Line and the Hannibal & St. Joseph R.R.”

This 1859 broadside map promises that the route to Pike’s Peak served by the Toledo Wabash & Great Western Rail Road Line and Hannibal & St. Joseph Rail Road is “the SHORTEST, CHEAPEST and best route to KANSAS and the GOLD REGIONS via QUINCY or ST. LOUIS.” Call number: BrSides Zc49 859to

Photographs of Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Omaha Railroad locomotive

These photographs by David Plowden depict locomotives of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Omaha Railroad line. Plowden took many photos of American railroad lines, stations, depots, etc. in the 1950s-70s. Call number: WA Plowden

Union Pacific R. R. Views album

This album from the 1870s contains 28 black and white photographic prints of railroads, Western towns and forts, and the natural landscape, taken by Andrew J. Russell. The photographs are interspersed with advertisements for various businesses in New Haven, Connecticut, including “Benjamin and Ford Jewelers” on Chapel Street and “H.A. and I.H. Gray New and Second Hand Furniture Dealers” on Church. The album was most likely distributed by C. M. Loomis, a New Haven dealer in musical merchandise. Call number: WA Photos 257

Richard Erdoes railroad slides

The Beinecke’s Richard Erdoes papers include several slides depicting American railroads. The political cartoon slide depicted at left (slide 9 of 35, Box 77) depicts J. P. Morgan scooping up railway lines, which are attached to another line labeled “control of the iron and steel business in the U.S.” Call number: WA MSS S-2609


Compiled by Olivia Pollak, Y’16

Beinecke Top Tens gather (approximately) ten related items to give an at-a-glance look at some of the Library’s interesting, important, strange, compelling, beautiful holdings. To see more lists, click here: Beinecke Top Tens. To suggest a list subject, contact us: Top Ten Ideas.