Free books on railroad history and operations, model railroading, building the transcontinental railroad. Books from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Hint: When a book you want to borrow at Internet Archive is already checked out, go to the Internet Archive’s ‘Search’ box, check “Search Metadata”, and search for the book’s title. Sometimes they have two or more copies.
Century Past Library
About 1,300 free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Railroads”. Be patient as the page loads.
About 130 books from the Internet Archive free online on the subject of Railroad Travel.
About 100 free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Railroad Building”. Be patient as the page loads.
in Effect January 1, 1899. Issued in Accordance with the Recommendation of the American Railway Association
Richmond, VA: Mitchell & Hotchkiss 1907 Dewey Dec. 625.2
Western Ohio Railway Co. 1905 Dewey Dec. 625.2
For the use of Trainmasters, and other examining officers, in the examination of Trainmen, Enginemen, Towermen and Telegraph Operators
Toledo: Collingwood 1914 Dewey Dec. 625.2
9th edition. Contains 700 questions about rules, and the proper answers fully explained.
Adams, Charles Francis Jr.
NY: Putnam’s Sons 1879 Dewey Dec. 625.2
Chapter headings: 1. The Death of Mr. Huskisson, 2. The Angola and Shipton Accidents, 3. The Wollaston Accident, 4. Accidents and Conservatism, 5. Telescoping and the Miller Platform, 6. The Versailles Accident, 7. Telegraphic Collisions, 8. Oil-tank Accidents, 9. Draw-Bridge Disasters, 10. The Norwalk Accidents, 11. Bridge Accidents, 12. The Protection of Bridges, 13. Car-Couplings in Derailments, 14. The Revere Catastrophe, 15. Rear-end Collisions, 16. Novel Appliances, 17. The Automatic Electric Block System, 18. Interlocking, 19. The Westinghouse Brake, 20. The Battle of the Brakes, 21. The Railroad Journey Resulting in Death, 22. The Railroad Death-rate, 23. American as Compared with Foreign Railroad Accidents
Bailey, William Francis, comp.
Bailey 1906 Dewey Dec. 385
(title continued) ” …Its Projectors, Construction and History”
The story of the Union Pacific Railroad. Chapter headings are: 1. The Project and its Projectors, 2. The Proposition in Congress, 3. Mostly Financial, 4. Commencement of the Work, 5. Progress Made, 6. Indian Troubles during Construction, 7. The Builders, 8. Completion of the Line, 9. The Kansas Division (Kansas Pacific Ry), 10. The Denver-Cheyenne Line (Denver Pacific R.R.), 11. History of the Line since its Completion, 12. The Central Pacific Railroad, Appendix
Bain, David Haward
Viking 1999 Dewey Dec. 385
“Bain knits together excellent storytelling and exhaustive research in a rich contextual tale of vision, ambition, and, ultimately, political and personal corruption.” -Libr J
Illustrative of the Safety, Economy and Speed, of Transportation, which this System, as now Improved, is Capable of Affording
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company
Baltimore: Wooddy 1829 Dewey Dec. 625.2
Brown, Dee A.
Holt, Rinehart and Winston Dewey Dec. 385
See our collections of books on Engineering and Science & Technology
Southern Pacific Company (Pacific System) 1914 Dewey Dec. 385
Sections of the course are: General Course, Operation and Maintenance, Passenger and Freight Traffic, Accounting, General Information, Bibliography
From Original documents, and the testimony of Living Witnesses
Brown, William H.
NY Appleton 1874 Dewey Dec. 385
Carter, Charles Frederick
NY: Holt 1909 Dewey Dec. 385
“Story of railroad beginnings in the United States, giving the genesis of the great lines and the development of the features that are now so familiar, and recalling the romance and vicissitudes of early railroad history.” -A.L.A.Catalog 1904-11
Chapter headings: 1. The Dawn of the Railroad Era, 2. America’s Pioneer Railroad, 3. Early Days on the Erie, 4. Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Railroad, 5. Genesis of the Vanderbilt System, 6. Incubator Railroads, 7. The First Transcontinental Railroad, 8. Through Tribulation by Rail, 9. Romance of a Great Railroad
Crandall, Charles Lee and Barnes, Fred Asa
NY: McGraw-Hill 1913 Dewey Dec. 625.1
Railway Organization and Working; A Series of Lectures delivered before the Railway Classes of the University of Chicago
Dewnsnup, Ernest Ritson, ed.
Chicago: University of Chicago 1906 Dewey Dec. 385
Lectures, all by different people, cover a wide variety of topics.
Dodge, Grenville M. (Major General)
Washington: GPO 1910 Dewey Dec. 385
The author was Chief Engineer, Union Pacific Railway, 1866-1870.
Douglas, George H.
Paragon House 1992 Dewey Dec. 385
Droege, John A.
McGraw-Hill 1912 Dewey Dec. 385
Subtitle: “Including a revision of “Yards and Terminals”.
“A clear and comprehensive presentation based on experience, from the viewpoint of officers and constructional engineers.”
– A.L.A. Catalog (1926)
Droege, John A.
McGraw-Hill 1916 Dewey Dec. 385
“A somewhat technical work describing various types of way stations and terminals for passenger use, with train operation, baggage and other service.” – A.L.A. Catalog (1926)
Hadley, Arthur T.
Putnam 1886 Dewey Dec. 385
Thorough exhaustive discussion. – A.L.A.Catalog 1904
Haines, Henry Stevens
NY: Macmillan 1919 Dewey Dec. 625.2
Chapter headings: 1. Evolution of the Railway, 2. Railway Efficiency, 3. Motive Power, 4. Rolling Stock, 5. Roadway. Part I: Substructure, Part II: Superstructure, 6. Traffic, 7. Transportation, 8. War Time, 9. Operation, Appendices, Bibliography, List of Railroads and Railways
To his Son, A Division Superintendent
Hine, Charles DeLano
Chicago: Railway Age 1904 Dewey Dec. 625.2
Howden, Joseph Russell
Stokes 1910 Dewey Dec. 385
“Comprehensive survey of railway history and management, treating passenger and freight matters in separate sections. illustrations cover the whole range of rolling stock, from famous American “fliers” to a Chinese coal-car. Though written for older boys, of equal interest to men.” – A.L.A.Catalog 1904-11
Johnson, Emory B.
Appleton 1903 Dewey Dec. 385
Describes existing system, discussing questions of ownership, management, monopoly and competition, rates, fares, relations with state, etc. Bibliographic references. – A.L.A.Catalog 1904
With numerous woodcuts and ten plates: being the article “Railways” in the seventh edition of the Encylopedia Britannica
LeCount, Peter (Lieut.)
Edinburgh: Black. 1839 Dewey Dec. 385
This book is about trains and all aspects of railroad operations in Britain rather than America, but is a useful guide to railroad operations as they were in the 1830s. Chapter headings are: -Preliminary observations – arrangements before commencing the works., -Preparation of working drawings, and specifications for contracts., -Mails, carriages, waggons, horse-boxes, etc., -Buildings at stations, and apparatus., -Duties of Engine-men, and necessary regulations along the line., -Description of engines, and methods of working them., -Annual expenses of railways., -Great western railway reports., -System of direction and management., -History of locomotive engines., -Explanation of the plates., -List of railways, when Act was passed, and amount of money raised, or authorized to be raised.
Loree, Leonor Fresnel
Appleton 1926 Dewey Dec. 385
“Deals with all phases of loading, distribution of cars, movement of engines and trains and handling of men as related to transportation.”
– A.L.A. Catalog (1926)
McPherson, Logan G.
NY: Henry Holt 1907 Dewey Dec. 625.2
Chapter headings are: 1. The Transportation Function, 2. Construction and Operation, 3. Traffic, 4. Accounting and Statistics, 5. Financial and Executive Administration, 6. Correlation, 7. Integration, 8. Relations to the Public and the State
NY: Appleton 1910 Dewey Dec. 385
A Treatise on Train Rules, train orders, change of time table, automatic block signals, interlocking, examination questions and answers
Rochester, NY: Brown 1916 Dewey Dec. 625.2
Phelps, Edith M., comp.
H. W. Wilson 1914 Dewey Dec. 385.1
In the first decades of the 20th century publisher H.W. Wilson produced many volumes in its Debaters’ Handbook Series on social and political issues that were under discussion at the time. Each book contains the full text of selected articles and documents representing opposing views on the issue, along with a substantial bibliography of books and articles.
Most of the books mentioned in these guides are likely to be freely available online. Search by title; first at the Internet Archive (archive.org), then at HathiTrust.org. Referenced magazine articles may also be available online at the same sites, with HathiTrust the preferred site for magazines.
Phelps, Edith M., comp.
H. W. Wilson 1919 Dewey Dec. 385.1
See the description under the first volume with this title, above.
London: Religious Tract Society 1911 Dewey Dec. 380
Rails and Trails.com
Various publishers and years of publication Dewey Dec. 625.2
“Trains were governed by timetables. Public timetables listed passenger train schedules. Employee timetables had detailed information necessary to operate a train on that section of railroad.”
– Rails and Trails.com
This webpage has href=”https://archive.org/details/municipalruralsae4ehle”s to a number of timetables in each of these categories. Descriptions are quoted from the webpage.
– Employee Timetables
“Detailed information needed to work on a division of the railroad.”
– Public Timetables
“Schedules of passenger trains, usually for the complete system. Often includes map, ticket prices, travel and railroad information.”
Rails and Trails.com
Various publishers and years of publication Dewey Dec. 625.1
“Railroads published track charts and diagrams showing track details including stations, switches, crossings, bridges, tunnels, signals, elevation and curvature. These are helpful in understanding and modeling specific railroad lines.”
– Rails and Trails.com
This webpage has href=”https://archive.org/details/municipalruralsae4ehle”s to numerous examples of diagrams in each of these categories. Descriptions are quoted from the webpage.
– Straight Line Track Diagrams – Grade Profiles The railroad as the engineer sees it. Often includes bridges, sidings, stations, grades and curvature. Sometimes includes maintenance and signaling information, orientation map of areas covered.”
– Side Track Charts/Diagrams “Covered areas with sidings in greater detail. Often labeled with their use, construction and abandonment dates.”
– Locomotive, Car and Building Diagrams
– Property/Valuation Maps
“Very detailed drawings of the railroad, buildings and property. Often submitted to the Interstate Commerce Commission for valuation or notification/approval of changes.”
– Documents Describing Diagrams
– href=”https://archive.org/details/municipalruralsae4ehle”s to other websites with extensive online diagrams
Skelton, Oscar D.
Toronto: Glasgow, Brook 1920 Dewey Dec. 385
Chapter headings: 1. The Coming of the Railway, 2. Early Travel in Canada, 3. The call for the Railway, 4. The Canadian Beginnings, 5. The Grand Trunk Era, 6. The Intercolonial, 7. The Canadian Pacific – Beginnings, 8. Building the Canadian Pacific , 9. The Era of Amalgamation, 10. The Canadian Northern, 11. The Expansion of the Grand Trunk, 12. Sundry Developments, 13. Some General Questions, Bibliographical Note
Spearman, Frank H.
Scribner’s Sons 1906 Dewey Dec. 385
“A volume illustrating the field of railroad competition. The various subjects treated are the Vanderbilt lines, the Pennsylvania system, the Harriman lines, the Hill lines, the fight for Pittsburg, the Gould lines, the Rock island system, the Atchison, the big Granger lines (St. Paul and Northwestern), the rebuilding of an American railroad, the first trans-continental railroad, the early days in railroading. – Bookman
Starr, John William Jr.
NY: Dodd, Mead 1928 Dewey Dec. 385
The book consists mostly of brief histories of numerous railroad companies.
Lucent 2000 Dewey Dec. 385
Discusses the history of the transcontinental railroad, including the construction of the Central Pacific, Union Pacific, and other related railroads which joined the east and west coasts by meeting at Promontory Point, Utah
Tratman, E. E. B.
Engineering news 1908 Dewey Dec. 625.1
General principles with numerous details of material, appliances and work, and methods of practice, with drawings. Various subjects treated critically and descriptively. – A.L.A. Catalog 1904
NY: Appleton 1906 Dewey Dec. 385
Chapter headings: 1. The Origin of the Idea, 2. Early Explorations nd Surveys, 3. The Building of the Road, 4. The Tombs of the Trail Makers, 5. The Meeting of the Rails, 6. A Brush with the Sioux, 7. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, 8. The Seer of the Santa Fe, 9. Life in a Grading Camp, 10. Peopling the Great American Desert, 11. The Road Reaches the Rockies, 12. The Invasion of New Mexico, 13. The Grand Canon War, 14. Incidents of the Early Days, 15. The Denver and Rio Grande, 16. The Northern Pacific, 17. The Canadian Pacific, 18. Road Making in Mexico, 19. The Opening of Oklahoma, 20. The Railroad Engineer, 21. At the Front, 22. The Railroad and the People, 23. The Beginnings of the Express Business, 24. The West To-day
Norton 2011 Dewey Dec. 385
“Excellent big-picture, popularly written history of the Howard Zinn mold, hacked by a mountain of research and statistics.” -Kirkus
Wilson, William Hasell
Philadelphia: Allen, Lane & Scott 1895 Dewey Dec. 385
Webb, Walter Loring
NY: Wiley 1906 Dewey Dec. 625.1
Chapter headings: Part I: Financial and Legal Elements of the Problem, 1. Railroad Statistics, 2. The Organization of Railroads, 3. Capitalization, 4. The Valuation of Railway Property, 5. Estimation of Volume of Traffic
Part II: Operating Elements of the Problem, 6. Operating Expenses, 7. Motive Power, 8. Economics of Car Construction, 9. Track Economics, 10. Train Resistance, 11. Momentum Grades
Part III: Physical Elements of the Problem, 12. Distance, 13. Curvature, 14. Minor Grades, 15. Ruling Grades, 16. Pusher Grades, 17. Balancing Grades for Unequal Traffic
Three prize articles and selections from fifteen competitors’ articles on the employment, instructions and discipline of men and the other duties of a first class trainmaster
Wildman, C. B. et al.
NY: Railroad Age Gazette 1909 Dewey Dec. 625.2
Century Past Library