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Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company business letters

Identifier: MS 1925


This collection contains the inter-company communications and incoming letters and telegrams within the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad company, 1854-1881.


  • 1854-1881


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.


3.96 Linear Feet (10 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into four series. The files within each series are arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Smithsonian Institution, 1972.

Related Materials

MS 1135, The papers of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, 1827-1866

MS 1192, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Comapny papers, 1827-1830

MS 1816, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad records, 1859-1867

MS 2003, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad collection, 1859-1880

MS 2090, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company records, 1862-1877

MS 2157, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company collection, 1852-1951

Scope and Contents

I. Iron and Steel (Nov. 1858-July 1881)

This section contains letters dealing with the procurement of iron and steel, chiefly for rails. Contains correspondence dealing with the importation of iron and steel and also the procurement of these items from American companies. Letters display concern for quality, style, price, ease of delivery, and tariffs. Some letters concern litigation over breach of contracts, poor quality of goods, etc. Contains correspondence dealing with sale of old iron to iron and steel companies, re-rolling of rails by other companies and later by the Baltimore and Ohio's own re-rolling mill at Mt. Savage, Maryland, etc. Change over from iron to steel rails is reflected in correspondence. Some expense sheets, lists of bids, etc. are included. Some of the companies dealt with are: Abbott Iron Co., Mess. Naylor Benzon and Co., Edgar Thomson Steel Co., Pennsylvania Steel Co., Enoch Pratt and Brother, etc. Contains letters from well-known personages such as John Strode Barbour, president of Orange and Alexandria Railraod Company, lawyer, and congressman; Andrew Carnegie (Edgar Thomson Steel Company), steel manufacturer, publicist, philanthropist; Samuel Morse Felton, president of Pennsylvania Steel Company, civil engineer; John H. B. Latrobe, counselor for Baltimore and Ohio, lawyer, inventor, public servant; Samuel Merrick, railroad executive, manufacturer; and Enoch Pratt (Enoch Pratt and Brother), capitalist, philanthropist.

II. Patents and Inventions (Feb. 1854-April 1880)

This section contains correspondence that deals chiefly with litigation over patent rights and offers to sell the use of patented inventions. Some representative inventions dealt with are: Eli Wheeler's patent sleeping car, Henry Tanner's patent brake, Mallory's patent car coupler, etc. J. H. B. Latrobe is represented by 23 letters in his position as counselor to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

III. Railroad Cars (Dec. 1858-June 1880)

This section contains correspondence that deals chiefly with the purchase, manufacture, repair, and allotment of railroad cars. Correspondence centers mainly around coal cars and sleeping cars. Many letters reflect the desire of companies for the use of more coal cars, and the difficulties the Baltimore and Ohio encountered in supplying these cars. Correspondence also deals with Pullman cars, difficulties and litigations with the Pullman company over charges and repairs, and use of Baltimore and Ohio's own parlor cars. A few letters are concerned with troop movements during the Civil War, etc.

IV. Central and Ohio RR (Feb. 1860-June 1880)

This section contains correspondence dealing with the gradual extension of the Baltimore and Ohio system to include the Central Ohio Railroad. Central Ohio officials requested the Baltimore and Ohio (4th mortgage holders) to buy up the first reverse mortgage bonds to prevent sale of the railroad. Letters indicate that Central Ohio officials felt the CO RR was essentially an extension of the Baltimore and Ohio. Many letters deal with debts owed to Baltimore and Ohio, holding of mortgages, payment of interest, court appointment of a receivership, etc. Setting up a trusteeship for the Central Ohio by the Baltimore and Ohio, and drawing up a lease, are discussed. J. H. B. Latrobe is represented in his position as counselor to the Baltimore and Ohio by seven letters.

V. Ohio and Mississippi Railroad (Dec. 1870-June 1880),

This section contains correspondence dealing with the gradual extension of Baltimore and Ohio system to include the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad. Many letters relate to the purchase of large blocks of stock and concern with the fluctuations of the stock market. Letters display a gradual change in attitude from considering the Ohio and Missippi as a stock investment to desiring power over it as a railroad extension. Some letters reflect the suspicion that Jay Gould was involved in the power struggles between blocks of stock and bond holders.

VI. Miscellaneous (Feb. 1860-May 1880)

This section contains letters relating to a variety of topics. Some letters refer to requests by editors of books, newspapers, etc. for autobiographical material concerning John W. Garrett. A small amount of autobiographical data is included. Other letters deal with B and O relations (use of, debts, attempts to purchase, etc.) with the Little Miami Railroad, Somerset and Mineral Point Railroad, Somerset and Cambria Railroad, Somerset and Johnstown Railroad, etc. Two letters by Benjamin Henry Latrobe are included. One letter, of March 24, 1862, concerns the determination of [“Stonewall”] Jackson to destroy the Baltimore and Ohio railroad line again after it is repaired.

Guide to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company business letters
Under Revision
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Revision Statements

  • 2020-01-05: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States