DeGolyer Library's extensive collection
of railroad photographs, books and advertisements

 

May 10, 2013

Today marks the 144th anniversary of the completion of the first U.S. transcontinental railroad, a feat that considerably shortened the time it took to cross the country.

Many of the documents and photographs associated with the development of the U.S. railroad industry are housed in SMU's DeGolyer Library. Portions of the collections have been digitized to make them more accessible by the public.

The Union Pacific Railroad built the railroad line west from Omaha to join the Central Pacific Railroad building east from Sacramento to complete the project at Promontory, Utah, where a golden spike was driven to mark the occasion.

Before the completion of the railroad, people either had to go by ship around the tip of South America or overland through rough, dangerous terrain to get from the eastern United States to the west.

Former Civil War photographer, Andrew J. Russell was hired to photograph the westward progress of the Union Pacific Railroad. Russell’s resultant photographs illustrated the Union Pacific route and include the historic photograph of the meeting of the rails at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869.

Published by the Union Pacific Railroad, the large volume, Union Pacific Railroad Illustrations at the DeGolyer Library was issued in a small edition to promote the rail line and celebrate the grandeur of the West and the American dream of a railroad connecting both sides of the continent.

DeGolyer is home to Baldwin Locomotive Collection and the Everett Lee DeGolyer Jr. Railroad Collection.

Everett Lee DeGolyer Jr. Railroad Collection of United States railroad photographs consists of 15,000 photographs and thousands of negatives of U.S. railroads. The collection is arranged alphabetically by railroad line, locomotive number, cars, and locations. The extent of the collection for each line varies from a few photographs to hundreds of images. See checklist of over 4,000 railroads represented in the collection.

The Baldwin Locomotive Collection is devoted to the largest and most influential manufacturer of steam railroad locomotive engines in the world. This collection includes books, specifications, engineering drawings, blueprints for engines, advertising and corporate publications, manuscripts, and photographs.

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