Railway Preservation News

Employee Timetables Available For Libraries/Archives
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Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:05 am ]
Post subject:  Employee Timetables Available For Libraries/Archives

And now the reason we were asking about any RR employee TT collection archive.....

This past weekend, a joint effort of the Baltimore Chapter NRHS and a member of the Illinois Railway Museum preserved as an intact lot the personal railroad history archive of the late James Larson of Manassas, Va., as well as a huge assortment of railroad employee timetables.

From the CSRM archives website:
James Llewellyn Larson was born on March 27, 1935 in Madison, Wisconsin to Ruth (Thurber) and LeRoy Larson. While attending high school, Mr. Larson spent many hours at the Chicago and North Western Railway Company's interlocking tower in Madison, Wisconsin where he learned telegraphy. He went to work for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad in 1952 as an agent, telegrapher, and tower operator. In 1953, Mr. Larson began working for the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company as a telegrapher, then as a wire changer. During his 20-year tenure with C&NW, he worked in the Operating Department, was a Train Dispatcher from 1957 to 1959, and then spent eight years as an Assistant Trainmaster and a Trainmaster. He was a System Rules Examiner from 1966 to 1968, an Assistant Division Superintendent from 1968 to 1969, Assistant Superintendent -Transportation from 1969 to 1972, where he managed Operations Center in Chicago. From 1972 to 1973, he was an Assistant Division Master of Transportation on the Twin Cities Division.

Mr. Larson was recruited by Amtrak in 1973. During his 25-year tenure with Amtrak he served as Manager of Station Operations, Director of Personnel, Assistant Vice President of Administrative Staff, and Assistant Vice President of Contracts. During his career with Amtrak, he He was responsible for the negotiation and administration of Amtrak's operating agreements with the railroads over which Amtrak passenger trains operate throughout the United States and for evaluating all lines on which Amtrak considered implementing passenger service. In addition, he was involved with the negotiation of schedules, schedule modifications and the implementation of new routes for Amtrak trains, including capital expenses as well as operating requirements. He also served as a liaison with Amtrak’s Law and Government Affairs Department.

Mr. Larson retired from Amtrak in 1998 as the company’s Assistant Vice President of Operations and Planning. Jim Larson was a member of the Lexington Group in Transportation History and he sat on the Board of Directors of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. He published many articles on railroad history. After retiring, Mr. Larson served the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners as the organization’s volunteer Trainmaster for many years. He died on September 2, 2008 in Manassas, Virginia. He was survived by his wife, Mary (Gilliam) who he had married on December 28, 1974 and their two daughters, Mary Llewellyn, a pilot for Delta Airlines and Martha Elizabeth Larson, a professional photographer.

Although the Library and Archives of the California State RR Museum was the recipient of Larson's collection of reports, legal documents, and correspondence during his 25-year tenure with Amtrak, his massive personal collection of employee timetables went unclaimed, and languished in the basement of his home years after his 2008 passing. This collection filled over a dozen deep four-drawer file cabinets, arranged alphabetically left to right and oldest to newest vertically. It was claimed by the auction representatives that the collection had been offered to the CSRM, but they would not pay for shipping--understandable, as the collection, even reboxed, would have filled a good two shipping pallets to a height of several feet.

Also in said basement, but fortunately on high shelving above potential water damage: an apparent personal compilation of history of numerous Midwestern railroads, including the Chicago & North Western, the Milwaukee Road, the Omaha Road, the CB&Q, the Soo Line, the Minneapolis & St. Louis, the DM&IR, Pere Marquette, TP&W, Wisconsin Central, and other lines, with even binders for smaller railroads in Wisconsin, Illinois, etc. These binders included corporate histories, maps and "family trees" of predecessor companies; apparently complete (and hand-lettered!) rosters of every locomotive ever owned by said companies and their corporate predecessors; and hundreds of photo prints in each of most of the 88 binder albums, ranging from snapshots to posed roster shots to color prints to postcards to 8x10 black and white prints. These binders took up approximately 20 shelf feet of space.

The Chapter was tipped off to the online auction of the house's contents by a Facebook follower. The rail collections lurked amidst a myriad of household items and furnishings, ranging from a grandfather clock to Hummel figures to sofas and rolltop desks. Also in the auction were a few random rail artifacts (including two number glasses obviously from Milwaukee steam locomotives) and ephemera such as rule books, drawings, artwork and labor agreements, mostly from the Midwest.

Baltimore Chapter officials conferred with one another, and made the decision that if the collection could not be preserved intact, at least an attempt could be made to save ETTs relevant to the Chapter's Maryland Rail Heritage Library, as well as potentially saving the Midwest rail history collection intact if it went cheaply enough.

As it turned out, a representative of the Illinois Railway Museum was in the East on business, and after conferring with archivists at the IRM's Strahorn Library in Marengo, Ill. made a decision to pursue the Midwest collection himself for the IRM, and authorized the Baltimore Chapter to bid on his behalf.

When the bidding was done, the Chapter had lost the two lots of older ETTS, from 1940-mid 1970s, to two dealers, one of whom had come from New York State to collect his winnings, but successfully purchased two lots of about twenty-five file drawers full of more modern ETTs from the 1970s through 2000s. The two dealers, however, expressed a sincere willingness to work with the Chapter to trade or offer selected inventory for archival preservation--but both said "I have to see just what all I have here first!" The depth of the collection overwhelmed all three successful bidders. It was discovered that occasional stray bits of other ephemera, such as train orders, publicity booklets and photographs, and excursion route guides, were occasionally mixed in with some of the folders, and numerous duplicate editions were also observed.

The IRM member was also the successful bidder on the complete Midwestern binder collection, spread across nine lots. Chapter president Alexander D. Mitchell IV and member Jonathan Eau Claire assisted the IRM representative with loading his car, and then boxed up the ETTs the Chapter had won. After several hours of a Tetris-like game of reorganization of his personal vehicle's contents, The IRM member managed to load all eighty-eight binders, plus a few stray surplus Amtrak items found by Mitchell, into his car, and started west. Mitchell tentatively estimated that the purchase price for the binder set would probably not have even paid for new binders alone, let alone their contents, in 2017! The process of identifying, cataloging, and stabilizing the collections will eventually be undertaken by volunteers at the IRM's Strahorn Library. (A minor amount of mildew or rodent damage was observed on one or two binders, and some of the backing and binder material may not be archival-quality.)

The most preliminary analysis of the ETT collection reveals a number of duplicate items, plus thousands of items beyond the mission statement of the Md. Rail Heritage Library (which has over the years kept selective representative examples of ETTs from railroads outside the Northeast, but lacks the room to keep everything).

The Baltimore Chapter is willing and eager to share its ETT bounty, at approximate estimated shared cost of the materials plus shipping, with appropriate rail history archives, such as a regional or state rail museum, a society focusing on a specific railroad, or an academic/history library with appropriate collections. This offer extends to bona fide rail history non-profit organizations only. The Chapter has been in informal contact with officers of several such institutions to identify appropriate archives and seek out donors willing to buy any said selections for donation, and a few tentative offers have been made by private individuals for re-donation to such archives. It is estimated that, for most of the collection screened thus far, the cost of shipping by Media Mail or UPS will exceed the “fair share” cost of the ETTs themselves. An example: a typical U.S. Mail Priority Mail Flat Rate box could be filled for about $5 plus the cost of shipping, and of course Media Mail is also an option in similar-sized Amazon/etc. shipping boxes.

If your organization is interested in any of the ETTs for their collection, please respond to this author's personal e-mail link below, with organization represented and railroads/areas of interest included. Inquiries should be considered to be "expressions of interest;" no guarantee of response or offer is implied.

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Author:  colfaxstation [ Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Employee Timetables Available For Libraries/Archives

The Colfax Railroad Museum, a 501(c)3 museum dedicated to preserving western WI railroad heritage, would be interested in anything from railroads in the upper midwest(Milwaukee Road, Soo Line, NP, GN the Iron Range roads, BN, BNSF, M&StL, etc.) We recently acquired a building to house our library/archive and are starting the process to house our existing assets. We also have the advantage in that we can pick up the items without a large transport expense.

Herb Sakalaucks
Colfax Railroad Museum

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Employee Timetables Available For Libraries/Archives

PLEASE contact the Chapter directly through the Chapter's website contact page at https://www.baltimorenrhs.org/contact-us/ , or respond to me via the links below. DO NOT clutter up this post with your own appeals and requests. Thank you.

Author:  psa188 [ Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Employee Timetables Available For Libraries/Archives

Archiving a large collection is lots of thankless work, so thanks for all of this effort. It is good to see archival material cataloged and preserved rather than thrown into a dumpster when the collector dies.


Author:  colfaxstation [ Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Employee Timetables Available For Libraries/Archives

Sorry about the online post. There was no PM option for a private reply at the time I posted. I think the website may have problems with the link. It did show up after I posted.

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