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Baltimore and Ohio Railroad collection

Identifier: MS 2003


This collection is the partial archives of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for the years 1859-1880 and contains the records of the President’s Office (the President during this period was John Work Garrett, 1858-1884). The collection includes correspondence, receipts, reports, telegrams, and newspaper clippings pertaining to all phases of the company's history from 1859-1880. Topics include finance, traffic, railroad competition and combination, labor, legal questions, politics, management and operation, equipment, and relations with subsidiary railroad, steamship and express companies.

Please Note: The container list/inventory for this collection is available as a PDF below. Click "Expand All" and scroll down to the "External Documents" section to view.


  • 1859-1880


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.


44.20 Linear Feet (106 full Hollinger boxes)

Language of Materials



The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad filed material by subject and this arrangement has been retained. The subjects were numbered 1-41781, but not all numbers were used. Gaps were left apparently to allow for subjects to be added in sequence. Each subject used has been listed in the finding aid along with the number the Baltimore and Ohio assigned to the subject and the number of the box which the material is located. For the first 197 subjects in the collection, the finding aid lists the subject and the name of the writer of each item filed under each subject. This proved to be too time consuming, and after Number 197 only the subject is listed. A list of the writer of each item in each subject can be found on the index covers (envelopes) used by the Baltimore and Ohio when storing the archives. The index covers for subjects 200-41781 are found in boxes 103-110. When filing its archival material the Baltimore and Ohio used one further set of numbers. Each item in the archives received a number (a serial number) as well as each subject. The dual number system causes confusion since the serial number and the subject number often have the same number of digits. For example, “Suits vs. Wheeling, West Virginia, 1859-1873” has the subject number 169 and a serial number of 755. For the most part the serial number can be ignored when using this collection.

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 1925, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad company business letters, 1854-1881

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

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

Scope and Contents

This collection is the partial archives of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for the years 1859-1880 and contains the records of the President’s Office (the President during this period was John Work Garrett, 1858-1884).

This collection contains thousands of incoming letters and telegrams pertaining to all phases of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad history from 1859-1880: finance; traffic; railroad competition and combination; labor; legal questions (purchase or condemnation of property, etc.); politics (items showing Baltimore and Ohio lobbying for or against bills on railroads in Congress and in various states such as Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio); management and operations; plans and equipment; and relations with subsidiary railroad, steamship, and express companies. There are also letterpress copies or manuscript drafts of out-going correspondence from John W. Garrett and other leading Baltimore and Ohio officers, pertaining to the same subjects as well as hundreds of valuable interoffice memoranda to Garrett from his subordinates, often with penciled notations by Garrett in the margin. Numerous long, detailed letters between Garrett and his two vice-Presidents during the 1870s, John King, Jr. and William Keyser, full of discussions of railroad rate wars and conferences, contracts with shippers, the condition of the road, policy and management questions, etc.

This collection also contains hundreds of routine railroad items such as newspaper clippings; statistical reports and tables; drafts of Garrett’s speeches and remarks to Baltimore and Ohio board meetings; drafts of contract, agreements, briefs, etc.; routine reports from Baltimore and Ohio agents and other officers; correspondence pertaining to claims against the company; letters requesting free passes or information; pamphlets containing Garrett speeches; testimony of Baltimore and Ohio officers before Congress of State legislatures; copies of bills and laws and legal opinions affecting the company.

Items of particular importance include:

1) Several hundred letters and telegrams detailing the Baltimore and Ohio’s activity during the Civil War: troop movements, Confederate destruction of the Railroad property, efforts to keep the Railroad open and in repair, correspondence with Union generals and Government officials;

2) Several dozen copies of letters and telegrams relating to the Railroad Strikes of 1877;

3) Correspondence between King, Keyser, and Garrett, setting out Company strategy and policy concerning rate wars, pooling agreements, efforts to secure larger measures of the oil, grain, livestock, coal, and other important trades, general management of the road and its subsidiaries, political and legal questions, etc.

Among the more important corporations that figure more or less prominently in the correspondence are the Standard Oil Company, the House of Morgan, the Pennsylvania, New York Central, Erie, Wabash, and Reading Railroads, the Grand Trunk Railway, the North German Lloyd and Allan steamship lines, the Western Union Telegraph Company, the Adams Express Company, and dozens of eastern, southern, and western railroad companies. Occasional important letters to and from the following business and railroad leaders: J. P. Morgan, Jay Gould, William H. Vanderbilt, J. Edgar Thomson, Thomas A. Scott, Alexander J. Cassatt, Collis P. Huntington, Franklin B. Gowen, A. J. Drexel, Samuel Sloan, Albert Fink and many others, including the leading officials of Standard Oil and every important railroad serving the Atlantic Coast and Middle West.

Guide to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad collection
Under Revision
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2020-01-08: 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