When I started working on the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection in July, I was surprised and delighted to learn Mr. Vinson was not only an automobile enthusiast, he was also very interested in railroads. In addition to that, he was also a frequent and avid traveler and he took a number of train trips in the United States and overseas. While pursuing his interests in railroads and travel, he accumulated a fascinating collection of railroad memorabilia. In recognition of Mr. Vinson’s interest in this mode of transportation, I decided to focus on the portion of the collection containing materials he collected that pertain to railroads: the Trains series.
The Trains series is one of the smallest portions of the collection, containing only 3.5 boxes of materials. But as is the case with the other non-automotive series, the depth and significance of its contents more than make up for its small size. The materials found in the Trains series date from 1865 to 2008, but a large majority of them where published in twentieth century. The series’ contents focus mainly on railroad companies. A number of railroads in the United States and Europe are represented in this series, including present-day companies such as Amtrak and Deutesche Bahn, and defunct companies such as the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad and the New York Central Railroad. There are also a small handful of items concerning railroads in Canada, Africa, and Asia.
In addition to items pertaining to railroad companies, the Trains series also contains a small amount of materials regarding manufacturers of railroad equipment. A handful of American and European rail equipment manufacturers are represented in this series, including present-day firms such Siemens AG and defunct firms such as Pullman Company. The types of equipment manufactured by these firms include locomotives, railroad passenger cars, locomotive motors, and urban mass transit equipment.
The contents of the Trains series consists mainly of materials published by the railroad companies and equipment manufacturers represented in this series. Many of the publications, including, but not limited to, timetables, fleet catalogs, and passenger information brochures are striking similar to those found in the Airline Company Series ( see Non-Automotive Materials the in Z. Taylor Vinson Collection: Airline Companies Series). Other items, including, but not limited to, trade catalogs, annual reports, and company magazines, more closely resemble materials found in the Automobile Makes series. Also found in the Trains series are a handful of magazine and newspaper advertisements through which the railroad companies and equipment manufacturers publicized themselves and their services. The series also contains a few items published by neither the railroad companies nor the equipment manufacturers, including, but not limited to, newspaper articles and magazine articles.
Although the Trains series is a very small, it does not lack for fascinating items. One such item is a 1946 passenger train timetable for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. Another item of interest is a 1938 passenger information brochure for the New York Central Railroad’s famous 20th Century Limited. Also of interest is a catalog for Pullman Company’s exhibit at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, where the firm showed its latest railroad passenger cars.
Chesapeake and Ohio Lines, Route of The George Washington, The Sportsman, The F.F.V., June 9, 1946, Timetables, Trains: Chesapeake & Ohio: Timetables, 1933-1968
Pullman, Trains: Oversized: Pullman, 1929-1935, n.d.
The New 20th Century Limited, New York Central System, The Water Level Route….You Can Sleep, Trains: Oversized: New York Central, n.d.
Kenton Jaehnig is the Project Archivist for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.