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Grolier Club Exhibitions

Off and Running-On the Way

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Louis Haugg
Freight Locomotive.
Philadelphia: A. Brett, ca. 1856.

This lithograph of a freight locomotive built by Richard Norris & Son in Philadelphia shows how far locomotive design had progressed since the 1830’s. American locomotive builders were now paying for the printing of color lithographs to show their capabilities, promote their products, and compete for customers. This locomotive was built for the Ohio and Indiana Railroad, which would eventually become part of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

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Illinois Central Railroad Co.
Pamphlets Containing Maps Giving Description of the Lands of the Illinois Central Rail Road Co., and Other Valuable Information for the Western Emigrant.
Chicago: The Company, ca. 1855.

The Illinois Central was one of many state land grant railroads in the United States. These lines, mainly in the Midwest, obtained public land from the states to use to build their right of way and sell to settlers or emigrants. This pamphlet was an advertisement for more information for these lands and to help entice individuals from the East to move to Illinois.

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New York Central Railroad Company.
Agreement Between the Albany and Schenectady Rail Road Company,...
Albany, NY: Joel Munsell, 1853.

As railroads began to show their financial worth and competition began to increase, smaller railroads realized they had to expand or be consumed. In 1853, with the New York and Erie Railroad in operation as a single railroad between New York and Lake Erie, the competing lines along the Erie Canal realized they had to combine to be competitive. Thus, the New York Central was created, and the industry began to see the value of consolidation.

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Milwaukee & Mississippi Rail Road.
Summer Arrangements.
Milwaukee, WI: The Company, 1857.

This broadside from the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad advertises upcoming changes to the railroad’s schedule due to longer summer days. These changes were announced in April each year and were replaced by winter arrangements in late summer. This pattern of changes continues to this day as passenger train schedules nationwide are still updated in the Spring and Fall.


Gouverneur K. Warren.
Map of the Territory of the United States…to Accompany the Reports of the Expeditions for a Railroad Route.
Washington, DC: United States War Department, 1858.

This map by Lt. Gouverneur K. Warren of the Army’s Topographical Engineers shows territory examined as part of the Pacific Railroad Surveys. Warren compiled all information received from the survey parties into this single map which provided an overview of the four main routes examined between the Midwest and the Pacific.

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Stephen Howard.
Agreement to Hire Silas to Work on the Montgomery and West Point Railroad., 1855.

The hiring of slave labor for work was a common practice in the South. To find documents about it relating to railroads is uncommon. Stephen Howard was a slave owner in Macon County, Alabama, who hired out Silas, an enslaved person to the Montgomery and West Point Railroad in 1855. This letter outlines to terms of the agreement between Howard and the Railroad for Silas’ labor. Silas was to receive nothing from the company for his work.

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Prohibition of Sunday Travelling on the Pennsylvania Rail Road.
Philadelphia: Merrihew & Thompson, 1850.

In 1849, the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Railroad bowed to religious groups and prohibited the railroad from operating on Sundays. This pamphlet was a counter-argument to those who would have made the practice permanent on the railroad. Through a shareholder vote, the railroad abandoned this prohibition in 1850, but the issue would continue to be brought up for consideration well into the 20th century.

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Henry M. Paine.
Railroad Improvements…
New York: Narine & Co., 1852.

As locomotive designs improved and railroads expanded, the traveling public also expected better accommodations. Henry Paine attempted to solve one of the major problems of the steam locomotive, the exhaust from the smoke stack, and how it negatively impacted the passenger. Paine developed improved ventilation hardware designed to help pull smoke and stale air out of the interior of passenger cars and bring fresh, hopefully smoke-free and cinder-free air, in.

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Various Authors.
Reports Of Explorations And Surveys To Ascertain The Most Practicable And Economical Route For A Railroad From The Mississippi River To The Pacific Ocean.
Washington, DC: T. H. Ford, Printer, 1855-1861.

The Pacific Railroad Surveys were to be the definitive study of the problem of where to place the Transcontinental Railroad. These works by Army engineers and notable scientists examined geographic, geologic, biological, and meteorological factors to help determine the best place to build the railroad, free of political bias. Unfortunately, the decision of the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, on the Southern Route was dismissed by the Senate and the problem remained unsolved until 1862.