Railroad Collections in the Bentley Historical Library : A Guide to the Resources

Cummer Lumber Co. log train, Cadillac, Mich.

Cummer Lumber Co. log train,
Cadillac, Mich., from Northwestern
, Nov. 4, 1882

The Bentley Historical Library documents railroads in Michigan and beyond through over 175 collections of manuscripts and visual materials. In addition to collections documenting common carrier railroads, many of these collections document logging and industrial railroads, street railroads, and interurbans. Over 750 railroad companies are represented in these collections.

Most of these collections relate primarily to railroads in Michigan, but many of the largest collections include extensive documentation of railroads throughout the Midwest and across the United States. Among the largest railroad collections:

This guide is in two parts: each collection is described in the Index by Collection, and all materials relating to each railroad are brought together in the Index by Railroad Name.

In this index the names of railroads are presented for the most part omitting the words "Railroad," "Railway," and "Company." The word "and" is used consistently even though some railroads have used the ampersand ("&").

Railroads tend to have complex family histories, due to frequent mergers, bankruptcies, and changes in operating agreements. The relationships shown in this index are meant to be helpful for connecting related companies. They are based on information from a few common reference sources, which sometimes differ on the exact nature of relationships among companies.