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Grolier Club Exhibitions

Rebirth and Resurgence

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Norfolk Southern.
1995 Norfolk Southern Railway Company System Map. Many Faces One Vision Norfolk Southern 1997 Annual Report.

Norfolk, VA: The Company, 1995, 1997.

This map and annual report are from one of the first mergers to take place after deregulation. In 1982, the Norfolk and Western and Southern Railway formed a merged railroad, The Norfolk Southern Railway. The merged line was immediately profitable thanks to its coal business and service to the newly industrialized southeast.

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Simmons-Boardmann Publishing.
Railway Age.
Chicago: Simmons-Boardmann Publishing, 2022.

Railway Age is the linear successor to the American Railroad Journal and remains the industry standard trade magazine to this day. It was originally founded in Chicago as The Railway Age Gazette in 1856.  Eventually, through a series of mergers with other titles, Simmons-Boardmann combined The American Railroad Journal with The Railroad Gazette. The company publishes other professional titles like Railway Track and Structures and Progressive Railroading.

White River Publishing.
Railfan and Railroad.

Bucklin: White River Publishing, 2022.

Railfan and Railroad is the successor to the pulp Railroad Magazine from the 1930’s. This magazine covers the popular aspect of railroads and railroad photography. It includes coverage of current events, historical articles devoted to railroads long gone, and photographic essays by both hobby and professional photographers.

Kalmbach Publishing.
Model Railroader, Trains Magazine.

Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing, 2022.

Kalmbach Publishing produces two of the most widely-read magazines about railroads in the United States. Trains Magazine is a popular technical, historical, and business magazine about railroads. Its holistic approach to the industry makes it the most popular magazine about railroads in the United States. Model Railroader is entirely devoted to the hobby of model railroading.  Articles in this magazine include product reviews, layout tours, and procedural articles about various technical aspects of the hobby.

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BNSF. CSX. Norfolk Southern. Union Pacific.
Annual Reports.
Various: The Company, Various Dates.

These four annual reports are from the four largest railroads remaining in the United States. These companies were made of dozens of smaller companies that merged together out of financial necessity during the 1950s onward. Together, these companies, along with Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, operate most of the railroad tracks in the United States and Canada.

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Chris Van Allsburg.
The Polar Express.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985.

Chris Van Allsburg wrote The Polar Express based partly on his own childhood experiences playing near a steam locomotive in Michigan. The book is set during Christmas Eve and features themes of belief and nostalgia for childhood. Van Allsburg’s book won a Caldecott Medal and made the New York Times bestseller list. It was later adapted into a successful animated motion picture.

Owain Bell (illustrator.)
Wave Hello to Thomas.
New York: Random House, 1993.

Rev. Wilbert Awdry began The Railway Series featuring Thomas the Tank Engine in 1945. Awdry wrote 26 books about the railroad engine and his friends on the fictional island of Sodor. After his passing in 1972, his works continued thanks to his son. In 1984, the books and characters were adapted into a television series called Thomas and Friends featuring the narration of Ringo Starr.

Watty Piper.
The Little Engine That Could.
New York: Platt & Munk, 1976.

The story of The Little Engine That Could appeared at the turn of the 20th Century. It quickly became popular as a lesson in work ethic for young children and eventually found its way into numerous illustrated children’s books. This 1976 edition is a slight modification from the original tale with toys taking the place of realistic people along the railroad.

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Athearn Model Trains.
Union Pacific 4141 in Commemorative Paint Scheme to Honor President George H. W. Bush.
Champaign: The Company, 2018.

The toy trains of the 1920s have become much more sophisticated and expensive model trains today. This piece, by the Athearn Model Train Company, is a fine example of the modern model train. This model in HO or 1:87 scale, is an accurate representation of the real-life Union Pacific 4141 which has been donated to the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, TX.

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Peter Thomas.
The Train Comes to Wichita.
Santa Cruz, CA: Peter and Donna Thomas, 2004.

This unique book, combining a toy train and the printed word, was made by Peter Thomas. Thomas took five scrolls that tell the story of the arrival of the first train to Wichita, Kansas, and placed them inside the cab of the locomotive. It includes songs about the Santa Fe Railway on two of the scrolls, and every scroll was decorated with watercolor artwork by Donna Thomas.

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Penn Central Transportation Company.
Timetables; Northeastern Region; Southern Region; Joint Tracks.
Philadelphia: The Company, 1970.

In 1970, the Penn Central, the mega railroad merger of the East, was now in deep trouble. These three freight timetables contain operating instructions and restrictions for freight trains in the areas each timetable covered. By 1970, new restrictions were being added due to delays and slowdowns caused by deferred maintenance that caused poor track conditions. The railroad entered bankruptcy in June 1970 after losing $300 million that year.

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Consolidated Rail Corporation.
Conrail’s Selkirk Yard: A Visitor’s Guide.
Philadelphia: The Company, 1980.

Thanks to significant federal investment and other assistance, Conrail was able to rebuild its insolvent railroads and re-equip itself with new equipment. This brochure from Selkirk Yard shows a modern, efficient operation that reflects significant investment in technology and physical property. Items like this were given to visitors, many of whom were prospective customers, to show that the railroad was back on its feet and able to meet their needs.

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United States Railway Association.
Preliminary System Plan for Restructuring Railroads in the Northeast and Midwest Region Pursuant to the Regional Rail Reorganization Act.
Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1975.

Penn Central’s failure coincided with or contributed to the failure of several other railroads. The federal government had to step in to reorganize these lines. The Regional Rail Reorganization Act was passed in 1973 to create the USRA, which produced a plan for the reorganization of these bankrupt railroads. The result was the Consolidated Rail Corporation, known as Conrail, an entirely government-owned railroad.

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Chicago and North Western Railway.
Don’t Lock In The Rock Island.
Chicago: The Company, ca. 1965.

This pamphlet from the Chicago and North Western was distributed to the shareholders of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific. It was designed to get them to vote against the merger that the North Western and four other railroads opposed. For the North Western, the loss of the Union Pacific traffic from Omaha to Chicago would likely mean ruination for the company.

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Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad.
How You Will Benefit from the Proposed Union Pacific-Rock Island Merger.
Chicago: The Company, ca. 1965.

This pamphlet from the early days of the proposed merger of the Rock Island and Union Pacific Railroads was designed to get shareholder support for the planned union of the two companies. The Union Pacific had long wanted direct access to Chicago and St. Louis, and the Rock Island stood to provide that to them; all that was needed was approval from the shareholders, the Interstate Commerce Commission, and other regulators.

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Chicago Rock Island and Pacific.
’78 Review…Outlook ’79.
Chicago: The Company, 1979.

This publication is from the wreckage of the successful efforts by other railroads to stop or delay the Rock Island-UP Merger. After a decade of regulatory hearings and conflict, the merger was approved, but the Union Pacific walked away in 1974 and the company entered trusteeship a year later. The Rock Island spent its last years on the edge of failure while attempting to rebuild itself. The company was liquidated in 1980.

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Union Pacific.
Union Pacific Corporation…Control Missouri Pacific Corporation. Application Vol. 1.
Washington: Interstate Commerce Commission, 1980.

In 1980 the Union Pacific sought to merge with the Missouri Pacific Railroad. This is one volume of the 18 volumes in the library’s collection. This merger was one of the last to be proposed before the passage of the Staggers Act that deregulated much of the railroad industry. It was successfully completed in 1982.

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Florida Schedules 1975; Midwest Corridors Train Timetables 1977; Washington-New York-Montreal Schedules 1974.
Washington, DC: The Company, 1975, 1977, 1974.

These timetables from Amtrak, the popular name of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, show the new marketing for Amtrak’s trains through the 1970s. Amtrak had taken over nearly all passenger trains in 1972. You can see a mix of old imagery and new artwork as the company sought customers while appealing to nostalgia of the golden age of passenger rail.

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Missouri Pacific Lines.
How the Union Pacific-Rock Island Merger and Related Proposals Affect You.
St. Louis: The Company, ca. 1965.

The Missouri Pacific prepared this pamphlet for its shippers and the public to help build a base of support to stop the merger. For the Missouri Pacific, the arrival of the Union Pacific in the St. Louis region and the Southwest would put severe pressure on the company to compete with the new mega-railroad. The company’s leadership hoped that pointing out the threat to the company and the service it provided would be enough to get support for its effort to stop the merger.