March 11, 2009

National Archives - Pay dirt!

I visited the National Archives today to do some research on the USMRRs. I'll be heading back tomorrow night to do more research. I concentrated on the Aquia-Falmouth line, but ended up getting some very interesting information about Alexandria, and selected tidbits from Nashville and Chattanooga-Atlanta Line.  I really hit pay dirt with respect to the operations on the Falmouth Line. I was able to find a listing of all cars received and forwarded from Falmouth for the whole winter of 1862-1863. The data includes engine name, conductors, cars delivered by number, contents and time of arrival and departure. This is incredible data to find for setting up operating sessions. I will analyze this data and post the summaries later. In the meantime, here is a sampling of some of the information I found. 

Some of the records appeared to have never been opened before. I was not permitted to open them until a conservationist could examine them.

This image is a copy of the Dispatcher's Train Sheet, called the "Telegraph Register of Trains" at the time for Alexandria, VA. It shows a record of the trains that ran on the RR that day. This sheet shows the lines radiating from Alexandria to Washington, Manassass and on the AL&S to Vienna.

This is an important record, as it describes the traffic on the railroads for that day. It lists the locomotive, conductor, and train number for each train that ran that day. This information is invaluable for setting up a realistic operation session.

I also got a copy of the Alexandria Car reports for 1862. For a modeler this report includes a list of all the USMRR car numbers present at Alexandria during this period.


This is a blow-up of an entry for the station record at Fairfax Station. It describes an incident where the station agent and others were found to be intoxicated by the arriving train crew. I wonder how Haupt dealt with this?







This is a record of foreign cars shipped over the Orange and Alexandria. I copied about 10 pages of this. My initial review of the data shows cars from at least four different railroads. So it seems that it was not that unusual for foreign road cars to be spotted on the USMRR. There is a lot of additional data at the archives to help address this question, but my guess based on a quick review of the data is that about 1 in 20 cars that arrived at the USMRR Washington Depot did not return the same day and may have been forwarded.





This is a flyer printed by the USMRR to announce the sale of surplus railroad equipment at the end of the war. The next page gives a list of all the locomotives to be sold.










Those interested in the City Point Army Line will find this set of files interesting. It is a record of trains on that line showing the stations and arrival times. The document I looked at only had data for March, 1865 but other books probably exist and should be investigated.

I have organized the files into pdfs, but the files are very large ranging up to 450 MB for the Falmouth data. I will make these files available to those that are interested. But due to the their size, I am not sure how to go about it yet. Any suggestions?

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