Boston & Maine Railroad
Historical Society
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     The Boston & Maine Railroad Historical Society established an Archive in 1971 at the time of the Society's founding.  The purpose of the Archive was to preserve the histories of railroads, primarily that of the Boston & Maine Railroad and those absorbed by it, but also of other railroads in New England.  In December of 1988 the Archive moved into the University of Massachusetts Lowell Libraries, Center for Lowell History, located in the Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center at 40 French Street  Lowell, Massachusetts. 

     All B&M RR Historical Society Archive materials in the Center for Lowell History are the property of the Society.  The collection is accessible to everyone during the Center's office hours.  All Archive materials must be used within the Center for Lowell History, and cannot be removed from the premises unless pre-approved by an officer of the Society.

Scope of the Collection:

     Although the primary focus of the collection is documentary material pertaining to the B&M RR and its corporate predecessors, the collection includes materials pertaining to the history of other New England railroads and electric railroads (trolley lines).  The collection is comprised of paper items and photographs.   Some of the photos and documents in the collection date back to the mid 1800's, though most of the collection is 20th Century.  It is particularly strong in the area of mechanical drawings for hardware used in locomotives and rolling stock, and in the area of track maps of the Boston & Maine and Maine Central Railroads.  There are also a large number of books and magazines on railroading and model railroading. 

     The Archive welcomes donations of appropriate materials from any source.  Though the Society cannot appraise the monetary value of donated materials, it is a non-profit charitable organization, and donations do qualify as tax deductions.  Each collection or item donated will be carefully reviewed, and if appropriate to the Archives, gratefully accepted and made available to all researchers.

Categories of Materials

     This growing collection emphasizes work dealing with New England railroads in general, and the B&M RR in particular.  The region's electric railways, or trolley lines are also a part of this grouping.  Included in the general reference books on railroads are histories, contemporary accounts, and photographic essays, builders' cyclopedias for locomotives and rolling stock, and Annual Reports of the State Railroad Commissions. 

     In this collection you will find photos of the B&M RR steam locos, diesels, and gas electric's, and B&M RR rolling stock, such as passenger cars, freight cars and maintenance cars.   Also included are photos of the B&M RR stations and depots.


     Of primary interest are back issues of the B&M RR Bulletin, a magazine format rich in historical articles complimented by high-quality photographs of the Boston & Maine and its predecessor railroads.  There is a fairly complete collection of the "B&M Employees' Magazine", and a collection of the employees' magazine for the Maine Central RR as well.  Other periodicals include Trains; Railroad; Railroad History; National Railway Bulletin; Railroad Enthusiast; Pool's Manual; Moody's Manual; Official Railway Guide and others too numerous to mention. 

     The collection also includes periodicals of the most popular magazines for railroad modelers.  A master index is available in the Archive's book section.

Mechanical Drawings:

     This is a large collection of detailed blueprints and mechanical drawings of the components used in B&M RR steam locomotives.  In some cases you will find drawings of the locos themselves.  There are also drawings for components used in other B&M RR equipment and rolling stock.

Maintenance Cards:

     A collection of shop maintenance cards for each B&M RR steam loco, covering the period 1913 to 1955.  The cards were completed each time a loco received repairs, improvements, or overhauls in excess of $100.  They include the date, work done, hardware changes, and other pertinent data.  There are over 15,000 cards, which trace the life of each loco. 

     A similar set of cards exists for B&M RR passenger cars, and non-revenue equipment.  Each card indicates date of build and builder, renumbering, special features, and final disposition of that car, covering the period 1910 to 1940.

Track Maps:

     The location of the track bed and all of the adjacent features, such as roads, buildings, railroad structures, bridges, waterways, were documented on detailed and precisely scaled maps drawn up by B&M' s Engineering Department.   As features changed the maps were updated. There are several thousand maps covering the period of 1880 to 1960. 

     A similar collection containing the "Right-of-Way & Track Map" series, shows much the same detail and view as the Track maps, except that an entire main line or branch line is shown from its beginning to its end.  Each set of R-O-W maps is a series of drawings; each one beginning where the previous drawing ended.  They precisely locate and define all features relevant to the railroad along the right-of-way.  This collection contains several thousand drawings, originally drawn in 1914, but many have been revised to show subsequent status as late as the 1970' s.

Valuation Survey Records:

     As directed by the government, the B&M RR along with all other US railroads conducted a massive inventory and evaluation survey of its fixed assets in 1914.   Survey parties combed every inch of the railroad, measuring and describing each aspect. They documented their findings in engineering notebooks, describing and placing a dollar value on objects so diverse that they ranged from depots to deep cuts, from bridges to crossbucks, from rock quarries to real estate.  Some original notebooks are stored in the Archive, and present an all-encompassing tally of the railroad' s infrastructure in 1914.  Field sketches of many structures are also included.


     Employee and public timetables from the B&M RR are well represented in the Archive.  The set of B&M RR employee timetables for the entire system is complete from April 1928 to present.   Not so complete are the timetables published for each division from 1910 to 1928.  There are many gaps in the series prior to the above dates, and also many gaps in the timetables beyond 1928, with some issues in very poor condition. 

     Employee and public timetables from other New England railroads are less numerous, but still well represented in the collection.

Annual Reports:

     Available are the annual reports by the Directors of the B&M RR to the stockholders.  Reports from1878 to1885, and 1917 to 1960 are somewhat complete.  Some annual reports of B&M predecessor railroads are included.  Annual reports done for the Interstate Commerce Commission are also available. 

     The reports are from the B&M, the Maine Central and the Portland Terminal RR.  Unlike the reports to stockholders, these contain a great deal of additional financial data and operating statistics in a format specified by the ICC, covering 1940's to1960' s. 

     A third type of annual report were those filed by the B&M RR on its various leased roads to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.  They include the years 1910 to 1970.  These reports are primarily focused on operating control, and legal relationships between the corporate entities and their subsidiary and leased companies.  Included in this collection are reports by the Central Vermont Railway.

Patrick McGinnis Collection:

     This is a collection of reports, speeches, cost studies, photographs and other documents that were accumulated by Patrick McGinnis, President of the B&M RR, 1950 - 1960. 

Station Real Estate Disposition Records:

     These records consist of correspondence relating to the closing of passenger and freight stations, sales of land and buildings, and other legal transactions in disposing of railroad property in the 1940 to 1970 period.  Other documents and correspondence are also enclosed.  Only a few such records were saved (A - Boscawen, and Thornton - Z).  All else was discarded before the Society could intervene.

About the Society:

     The Society publishes an historical magazine titled the B&M Bulletin, and a bimonthly Newsletter.  It has also published three books.  They hold monthly meetings generally in Lowell, Mass. [U.S.A.].  At present the Society has approximately 1200 members across the U.S. and in foreign countries.  The B&MRRHS is not affiliated with the Boston & Maine Corp., or any of its corporate predecessors or successors.  Basic membership is $25.00 per year.  Applications for membership should be sent to B&MRRHS Membership, P.O. Box 9116, Lowell, MA  01852  [U.S.A.].  Back issues of the B&M Bulletin is available for purchase from the B&MRRHS, P.O. Box 469, Derry, N.H.  03038.


     Though much has been lost, the little that remains is well preserved in the Archive.   Highlighted is only a portion of the documentation available.  The Society invites you to come and familiarize yourself with its entire collection.

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