The Official Railway Guide: North American Freight Service Edition
National Railway Publication Company, 1881 - Railroads
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What a treasure! I found it by searching for What Cheer, Iowa, and found the whole country in 1881. Great resource.
The .pdf file for this "book" comprises three issues, July through Sept., 1881, 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," or the "Travelers' Official Railway Guide..."
This periodical can be very useful for its timetables listing stations and mileage figures for individual railroads, along with lists of company officers. The railroads are listed somewhat randomly in a structure that may be said to proceed basically from east to west, followed by southeastern lines. Information about a line can vary from a fraction of a page to several pages in length. There is a "general index of railroads" preceding the timetables with railroad names listed alphabetically, followed by the beginning page number of the railroad. The page numbers for the first (July 1881) issue appear accurately in the page number box at the top of the browser, but the page numbers listed in this box do not correspond to the actual page numbers for the second and third (August and September 1881) issues, forcing the reader to scroll through the issue to find the correct page number.
Ads for railroads 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, Passenger Agents and Officers" of the principal railways; an "Official List of Purchasing Agents;" a section on "General Railway Information," and a page listing "Standards of Time" (official time used in different sections of the country, by city). [Remember that this was just before the adoption of standard time zones for the country.]
At the end of the railroad company listings is an "Official list of parties in charge of car service accounts," arranged alphabetically by railroad name; a list of old and new names of railroads; and 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 September through December 1874: http://books.google.com/books?id=vSE8by6TefkC