Guide to Manuscript Sources for Railroad History Research
Virginia Tech's Special Collections is a significant source of railroad history through the more-than-200 cu. ft. of business records and drawings, photographs, personal papers and publications relating to various regional railroads from the 1840s to the 1980s acquired through other donations and purchases. More than 12,000 scanned images are available through the VT ImageBase, one of our most popular online resources. Permission to publish Norfolk Southern images must be obtained from NSCorp, via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Railroad History Collection Introduction
Additional Sources for Railroad Historical Records
ALABAMA GREAT SOUTHERN RAILROAD COMPANY. AGREEMENTS, 1887-1890. 0.1 cu. ft. Established in 1877, through the reorganization of the Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad; sold in 1890 to the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railway and the Richmond and Danville Railroad. Legal agreements with other railways concerning the use of routes and facilities and the establishment of joint passenger traffic rates. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2010-074.
AMERICAN LOCOMOTIVE COMPANY / BALDWIN LOCOMOTIVE WORKS. ILLUSTRATIONS, ca. 1900. 312 illustrations. Illustrations of locomotives built by the American Locomotive Company and the Baldwin Locomotive Works for various railroads, taken from company catalogs, individually mounted on linen pages. Ms98-003.
CINCINNATI & EASTERN RAILROAD COMPANY. RECORDS, 1876-1877. 0.2 cu. ft. Railroad line running from Cincinnati to Portsmouth, Ohio; later acquired by Norfolk and Western Railway Company. Payroll records and disbursement vouchers. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms1998-025.
CLAYTOR, ROBERT B. PAPERS, 1952-78. 0.4 cu. ft. Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Norfolk Southern Foundation, and former general solicitor and Executive Vice President of the Norfolk and Western Railway Company. Papers consist of correspondence, articles, brochures, and rosters created or collected by Claytor and his brother, W. Graham Claytor, about the National Railway Historical Society, the preservation of historic trains (including Southern Railway Engine 4501 and N&W Locomotive Number 611), and the Norfolk and Western Railway Company. Ms91-047.
FISH, FLOYD H. RAILROAD COLLECTION, 1927-1987. Collection contains articles, magazines, and newspaper clippings involving the railroad industry in the 20th century; collection also includes Norfolk & Western playing cards, photographs, and postcards. Finding aid available online. Ms2013-006.
FISHWICK, JOHN PALMER (1916-2010). PAPERS, 1971-1981. 7.0 cu. ft. Railroad executive and lawyer; born in Roanoke, Virginia. President and Chief Executive Officer of the Norfolk and Western Railway Company (1970-1980). Member of the Board of Directors for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Papers include speeches; testimonies for the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and other federal committees; minutes; memoranda; Legislation-status reports; and reports and other materials from the Organization of American Railroads. Finding aid available online. Ms1987-053.
FRENCH, CHAPMAN J. (1880-1964). DIARIES, 1906-1912, 1928-1935, 1937-1944. 0.4 cu ft. This collection consists of twenty-three diaries written by Chapman J. French, a civil engineer for Norfolk & Western Railway, created during the years of 1906-1912, 1928-1935, and 1937-1944. The diaries relate his day to day life in and out of the office. Additionally, dairies include such items as addresses, cost accounts, and major league baseball scores. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2010-045.
FRENCH, CHAPMAN J. (1880-1964). PAPERS, 1891-1957. 4.2 cu. ft. Graduate of Virginia Tech (class of 1902), civil engineer employed by the Norfolk & Western Railway Company (1902-1950). Office papers, including notes, correspondence, memoranda, specifications, maps and plans relating to both specific projects and engineering department procedures, as well as other aspects of railway's administration and operation. Also contains personal papers, mostly consisting of receipts, invoices and correspondence relating to purchase of household goods. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2009-034.
GIBBONEY, A. H. AND WILLIAM. LETTER, 1882. Letter to W. R. Wharton concerning the payment of employees of the Norfolk and Western Railroad (formerly the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Ohio Railroad). Finding aid available in EAD on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2008-070.
HAUPT, HERMAN (1817-1905). MANUSCRIPT REMINISCENCES, ca. 1862-1900. 0.5 cu. ft. Chief of construction and transportation for the military railroad system for the Union Army during the Civil War; later chief engineer or general manager for several railroads, including the Shenandoah Valley, the Richmond and Danville, and the Northern Pacific, and president of the Dakota and Great Southern Railroad. Manuscript consists of the original draft for his Reminiscences of General Herman Haupt (published in 1901), containing correspondence, copies of telegraph messages, and general orders from the Civil War. Among the correspondence is a letter from Robert Todd Lincoln. Ms88-010.
HENRY, ROBERT SELPH (1889-1970). PAPERS, 1861-1971. 4.3 cu. ft. Lawyer; Director of Public Relations for the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway (1921-1928); Assistant to the Vice President of the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railrway (1928-1934); Vice President of the Association of American Railroads (1934-1958); Civil War historian. Collection consist of correspondence, subject files, photographs, and clippings concerning Henry's research on the Civil War, focusing on the Confederacy and Nathan Bedford Forrest, and also railroad history; Collection also contains Henry's Southern Historical Association (SHA) and Association of American Railroads papers. Finding aid available online. Ms1989-020.
HOLDEN, ROY JAY JR. (1921-89). PAPERS, 1947-89. 9.0 cu. ft. Authority on the handling of hazardous materials. Graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1942 (M.S., Mechanical Engineering). Progressed from Stress Analyst to Product Manager (1947-70) with American Car and Foundry Industries in St. Charles, Missouri. Manager of Technical Services (1980-89) of the Bureau of Explosives of the Association of American Railroads, and responsible for advising railroad companies on the shipping of hazardous materials and on measures for reducing the hazards. Papers document his career in railroad tank car design and the handling of hazardous materials. Unprocessed. Ms91-023.
LEECH, PRESTON. GLASS SLIDES, ca. 1900-1925. 298 slides. Collection of 298 glass slides collected by Preston Leech, a Roanoke, Virginia, native and an employee of the Norfolk & Western Railway Company in the 1950s and 1960s. Most of the slides are of N&W locomotives, rail routes, and stations. Other slides are of general agricultural and industrial scenes, and of the Luray Caverns in Virginia. Ms94-003.
MINE HILL & SCHUYLKILL HAVEN RAILROAD. STOCK CERTIFICATES, 1833-1836. 0.1 cu. ft. Coal carrier in Pennsylvania, eventually purchased by the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad. Three certificates of stock, issued to John H. Cresson. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2009-035.
NORFOLK & WESTERN. FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS, 1882-1954. 2.0 cu. ft. Reorganized in 1896 from the Norfolk and Western Railroad; merged with Southern Railway in 1982 to form Norfolk Southern Corporation. Collection contains finanicial documents including checks, bills, and invoices from Norfolk & Western Railroad, Norfolk & Western Railway, and subsidiaries and contracted companies. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2003-004.
NORFOLK AND WESTERN PASSENGER STATION. PHOTOGRAPH, n.d. 0.1 cu. ft. The Marion, Virginia, station operated as a passenger station from 1882-1971. The collection contains a single black and white image of the station. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2009-029.
NORFOLK AND WESTERN RAILROAD. ACCOUNTING LEDGERS, 1892-1895. 5.3 cu. ft. Reorganized from the bankrupt Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad in 1881; reorganized as Norfolk & Western Railway in 1896. Ledgers providing detailed monthly account entries for each of the company's divisions and monthly summaries of company expenses. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2010-075.
NORFOLK & WESTERN RAILROAD COMPANY. RECORDS, 1880-1890. 0.3 cu. ft. Collection consists mostly of invoices and purchase lists for the Norfolk and Western Railroad Company and related companies from the 1880s; also includes some ephemera. Finding aid available online. Ms2012-077.
NORFOLK AND WESTERN RAILWAY AND ASSOCIATED COMPANIES. COLLECTION, 1851-1978. 3.7 cu. ft. Reorganized in 1896 from the Norfolk and Western Railroad; merged with Southern Railway in 1982 to form Norfolk Southern Corporation. Financial and legal documents, reports, maps, construction files, and printed materials relating to the railway, its predecessor and subsidiary lines and other associated enterprises, including the Atlantic & Danville Railway; Bluefield Inn; Deepwater Railway; Hotel Roanoke; New Jersey, Indiana & Illinois Railroad; New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad ("Nickel Plate Road"); Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad; Norfolk and Western Railroad; Roanoke Machine Works; Shenandoah Valley Railroad; Tidewater Railway; and the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2009-037.
NORFOLK AND WESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY. ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT PERSONNEL RECORDS, 1874-1907. 0.5 cu. ft. Three ledgers containing records relating to the personnel of the company's accounting department, listing employee name, age, marital status, date of hire, jobs worked, and wages earned. Finding aid available in EAD on the Virginia Heritage Project database. Norfolk & Western Railway Archives. Ms92-058.
NORFOLK AND WESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY. CONSTRUCTION SITE PHOTOGRAPHS, 1967-1981, n.d. 0.6 cu. ft. Collection of approximately 360 photographs of railroad construction in Southwest Virginia. Finding aid available online. Ms1997-027.
NORFOLK AND WESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY. HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION, ca. 1905-69. Approximately 10,000 photographic images taken by the Norfolk and Western Railway's Public Relations Department. Subjects include locomotives; cars; coal mines; stations; cities and towns; Roanoke, Virginia, and the Hotel Roanoke; farm scenes; resorts; train wrecks; colleges and universities; group and individual portraits; and caves and caverns. Some photographs date from as early as the 1880s, and a large group of glass plates dates from the early 1900s, but the bulk of the photograph collection dates from the 1920s or later. Other railroads covered by the collection in addition to the Norfolk and Western include the Atlantic and Danville; the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Ohio; the Big Stony; the Chesapeake and Ohio; the Cincinnati, Portsmouth, and Virginia; the Lynchburg and Durham; the New River, Holston, and Western; the New York, Chicago, and St. Louis; the Norfolk and Virginia Beach; the Ohio Railroad; the Ohio and Northwestern; the Ohio River and Columbus; the Ohio River and Western; the Virginian; the Virginia and Tennessee; and the Wabash. Originals returned to NS Corp Archives in Atlanta. Permission to publish these images from come from NS Corp. Contact Jennifer McDaid with requests at email@example.com. Images available on the VT Imagebase. Ms88-120.
NORFOLK AND WESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY. MORTGAGE BOND BOOK, 1897-1947. 1.0 cu. ft. Railroad reorganized from the Norfolk & Western Railroad in 1896; merged with Southern Railway in 1982 to form Norfolk Southern Corporation. Ledger containing register of mortgage bond sales and transfers, including names of purchasers with dates and bond numbers purchased. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2010-077.
NORFOLK & WESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY. PHOTOGRAPH, [1925?]. 0.1 cu. ft. Rail carrier headquartered in Roanoke, Virginia. Photograph of group believed to be Roanoke, Virginia employees of the company. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2009-019.
NORFOLK SOUTHERN RAILROAD. TIMETABLE, 1938. 0.1 cu. ft. Railway serving southeastern Virginia and eastern North Carolina; founded under reorganization of Norfolk and Southern Railway in 1910; reorganized in 1942 as Norfolk Southern Railway. Timetable for route between Norfolk, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina, listing all intermediate points and times of arrival and departure. Also included is promotional material for Virginia Beach and The Cavalier resort hotel. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2010-072.
PERKINS, WAYNE (1947-2004). COLLECTION, 1835-1996. 2.6 cu. ft. Wytheville, Virginia pharmacist and railroad enthusiast. A collection of records, memorabilia, and photographs relating to a number of North American railroads but concentrating mostly the Norfolk & Western Railway. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2010-078.
PHILADELPHIA & READING RAILROAD. RECEIPTS, 1855-1865. 0.1 cu. ft. Railroad serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Two receipts issued to the company by the Catawissa, Williamsport & Erie Railroad and N. & A. Middleton of Philadelphia. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2009-038.
[RAILROAD STOCK CERTIFICATES AND BONDS, ca. 1840S-1910s]. 0.4 cu. ft. Collection of 138 United States railroad stock certificates and bonds from the 1840s to the 1910s, mostly from the 1870s through the 1890s. Most of the items have engraved pictures of trains and stations. The railroads include the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway Company, the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railroad Company, and the Utica and Schenectady Railroad Company. One of the items, a stock certificate for the Michigan Central Railroad Company, is signed of loans made to the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ms91-066.
RALEIGH COAL & COKE COMPANY. RAIL SPUR DRAWING, 1920. 0.1 cu. ft. Coal mining company operating in Raleigh County, West Virginia during the first half of the twentieth century. As-built drawing for a rail spur line to the company's Number 3 Mine, located on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway's Piney Creek Branch (New River District). Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2009-039.
ROANOKE AND SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY. CHARTER AMENDMENT, 1893. 0.1 cu. ft. Railroad company leasing a line between Roanoke, Virginia and Winston-Salem, North Carolina to Norfolk & Western Railroad Company. Flyer containing text charter amendment, granting the company the power to sell and lease property and to merge and consolidate with other companies. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2009-018.
ROANOKE RAILWAY AND ELECTRIC COMPANY. PHOTO ALBUM, c.1909. 0.3 cu. ft. Photo album featuring images of the Roanoke Railway and Electric Company buildings and lines, as well as scenic views within the Roanoke area. Finding aid available in EAD on the Virginia Heritage Project database. Images from the album are available on the VT Imagebase. Ms2003-002.
ROCK ISLAND LINES. INSURANCE BOOKLET, 1926. 0.1 cu. ft. Company composed of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad and the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway. Booklet promoting and describing the company's employee insurance plan. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2009-041.
SHARP, THOMAS ROBINSON (1834-?). PAPERS, 1859-1908. 0.8 cu. ft. Railroad official for several railroads in the eastern United States in the mid to late 1800s, born in Mt. Carbon, Pennsylvania. Served as superintendent for the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad (1853-54), East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad (1854), Petersburg Railroad (1855-56), Alabama & Florida Railroad (1857-59), Richmond & York River Railroad (1859-60), and Savannah & Memphis Railroad (1871-72). Served as military road superintendent of the Confederate States of America from June 1861 to April 1865. Master of transportation for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (1872-77), receiver for the Long Island Railroad (1877-80), president of the Danville, Mocksville & Southwestern Railroad Company (1880-?), president of the Cincinnati, Wheeling & New York Railroad (1883-?), and general manager of the Kanawha & Ohio Railroad (1886-?). Papers consist of journals, scrapbooks, and correspondence copy books created by Sharp, most with information about his work with the railroads. Finding aid available in EAD on Virginia Heritage database. Ms97-019.
SMITH, FRANK. RESEARCH PAPER, 1989. 0.1 cu. ft. Shelbyville, Kentucky, resident. Typescript copy of "The Bridge at Tyrone," by Smith about the construction in 1889 of a railroad bridge in Tyrone, Kentucky, owned by the Louisville Southern Railroad. Ms90-006.
SULLIVAN RAILROAD COMPANY. STOCK CERTIFICATE, 1851. 0.1 cu. ft. Railroad line between Windsor and Bellows Falls, Vermont. Certificate for ten shares of company stock issued to H. W. Pickering, trustee. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2009-042.
TENNESSEE, ALABAMA & GEORGIA RAILROAD. ANNUAL REPORT, 1917. 0.1 cu. ft. Rail line operating between Chattanooga, Tennessee and Gadsden, Alabama; purchased by the Southern Railway in 1971. Annual report providing figures for railway's operation, including workforce, equipment, tonnage hauled, income and expenditures. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2009-043.
TENNESSEE, ALABAMA & GEORGIA RAILWAY. ANNUAL REPORT, 1917. 0.1 cu. ft. Rail line spanning 92 miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Gadsden, Alabama; purchased by the Southern Railway in 1971. Annual report providing figures for railway's operation, including workforce, equipment, tonnage hauled, income and expenditures. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2009-044.
TIDEWATER/VIRGINIA RAILWAY COMPANY. RECORDS, 1905-1906. 1.3 cu. ft. Collection consists of financial receipts of the Tidewater/Virginia Railway Company in the early days of the railway system. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2011-044.
UNITED STATES MILITARY RAILROADS. RECEIPT, 1865. 0.1 cu. ft. Federal agency operating railroads seized and consolidated during the Civil War. Receipt issued to W. W. Tuttle, general freight agent at Nashville, Tennessee. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2008-097.
VIRGINIA AND TENNESSEE RAILROAD COMPANY. LETTERS, 1849. 0.1 cu. ft. Railroad chartered in 1849 and built in the 1850s. Letters to former senator William S. Archer informing him of his election as delegate to the V&T's July convention in Memphis, Tennessee. Finding aid available in EAD on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2008-077.
VIRGINIAN RAILWAY COMPANY [AMONATE, VIRGINIA]. PHOTOGRAPHS, 1942. 0.1 cu. ft. Railway company in Virginia, 1907-1959; later part of Norfolk & Western Railway. Collection consists of seven black and white photographs taken at Amonate, Virginia, of railroad equipment and workers. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2011-113.
VIRGINIAN RAILWAY. PHOTOGRAPHS, 1945-1959, undated. 0.2 cu. ft. Collection contains 85 photographs of the Virginian Railway and 2 images from the Virginian Railway Company's Annual Report; subjects include locomotives, people (none identified), and railway accidents. Finding aid available online. Ms2013-015.
WABASH RAILWAY. TIMETABLES, 1936-1937. 0.1 cu. ft. Railway serving the upper mid-central United States; founded in 1889 through a series of mergers and reorganizations of predecessor and lines and purchased by Norfolk Southern in 1991. Timetables, containing names of system stations and routes, times of arrival and departure, maps, names of officials, and advertising matter. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database. Ms2010-071.
WHITLEY, O. GAINES. PHOTOGRAPH ALBUMS, ca. 1912. Surveyor for the Norfolk & Western Railway Company in 1912 from Albemarle, North Carolina, who compiled two photograph albums of photographs taken while surveying property in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia for the railroad. Most of the people and locations in the photographs are unidentified. Images available online. Ms95-021.
Railroad History Collection Introduction
Additional Sources for Railroad Historical Records
Go to Special Collections
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