The Barriger Railroad Library

Today I would like to draw some attention to one of the coolest Flickr accounts I’ve come across in some time. This one does not have any LEGO train content, but at it’s core, it is proving to be an incredible resource for modeling North American railroads.

J&L steel mill is seen from the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie RR mainline looking east toward J&L tunnel, Pittsburgh PA

Established in 1984 as a special collection of the St. Louis Mercantile Library, the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library stands today as one of North America’s largest and finest railroad history collections. Named after the noted twentieth century railroad executive, John W. Barriger, III (1899-1976), whose collection forms its heart, the Library has grown to become a major resource for the history of railroad business and technology as well as for the study of railroading’s multidimensional influence on the American economy, society and culture.

The images you see come from the scrapbooks of John W. Barriger III. Mr. Barriger took his camera with him as he investigated railroads as part of this work with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and later as the President of the Monon, P&LE, Katy and Boston and Maine Railroads.

Higher quality images can be obtained from the St. Louis Mercantile Library. For regular posts of interesting images from the collection, you can also follow our twitter page:

Left to right – Santa Fe Railway Division Freight Office, Railway Express Agency, Passenger Station downtown Fort Madison, Iowa.

The Barriger Library covers many railroads and many locations across the United States, so you are bound to find something close to your area of interest. But one of the best aspects for me is what is often seen in the photos. Most RR photographers concentrate on the trains when photographing railroads. The trains are what everyone loves, but the Barriger photos are relatively devoid of trains, and instead focus on the right of way, buildings, and RR infrastructure. For the model railroader this sort of thing is an absolute gold mine. Trains are easy to model, creating a believable setting to place them in can be much harder because there is less information out there to go on. Having a resource like the Barriger Library is most welcome.

Barriger photo of the Ma&Pa’s Red Lion station used when building my LEGO model seen bellow.
My Maryland & Pennsylvania RR, Red Lion layout benefited from the photos found in the Barriger Library.

The library also contains over 1200 photographs taken by American Car and Foundry Co. and its predecessors. For modeling RR cars this is an excellent reference library to look though. Not only are there great 3/4 views of the cars produced, but many times there are detailed photos of the trucks, interiors, and construction details for rolling stock.

American Car and Foundry Gallery

Wabash RR boxcar produced by the American Car and Foundry Co.
Archbar style freight car truck produced by the American Car and Foundry Co.

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