The Official Railway Guide: North American Freight Service Edition

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National Railway Publication Company, 1874 - Railroads
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The .pdf file for this "book" comprises four issues, Sept. through Dec., 1874, of what Google lists as "The Official Railway Guide," but whose title for this year was the "Travelers' Official Guide of the Railway and Steam Navigation Lines in the United States and Canada." This review is based on the Sept. 1874 issue.
This periodical can be very useful for its timetables listing stations and mileage figures for individual railroads, along with lists of company officers. Its usefulness is somewhat hampered by its almost random arrangement of railroads and its lack of pagination. Each railroad is assigned a number, and information about a line can vary from a fraction of a page to several pages in length. There is a "general index of railroads" (p.xi-xiv) some distance into the issue, with railroad names listed alphabetically, followed by the "number" of the railroad. The reader must then scroll through the issue to find the railroad with the corresponding number.
Ads for railroad lines and railroad equipment and appliances appear throughout the issues.
Following the index are a number of minor reference features such as an "Official List of Names of the General Ticket Agents and Officers" of the principal railways; an "Official List of Purchasing Agents;' and an "Official List of Officers in Charge of Car Service Accounts." All are arranged alphabetically by name of railroad. There also are a few pages of general railroad news and information before the beginning of the timetables of individual railroads.
Most of the timetables have dates of issue listed. The "time standard" for each railroad also may be listed (for example, "Minneapolis time.") [Remember that this was several years before the adoption of standard time zones for the country.]
At the end of the railroad company listings is an index to railway stations arranged alphabetically by station name, followed by name or abbreviation of associated railroads.
The quality of the scans is somewhat problematical. The originals may be a little muddy, but the scans are generally readable. The biggest problem is at the margins and the edges of pages. Some margins seem to have been tight, leading to out-of-focus characters. The last few characters on the edge of a page may simply be missing. Overall, the quality is OK.
There is at least one other set of issues of the "Official Railway Guide" ("Travelers' Official Guide...") online from Google books, for July 1881 through September 1881:
http://books.google.com/books?id=6I5XgcduNQYC
 

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