Built in 1997 and designed to look like a small town depot, the Robert W. Richardson Railroad Library at the Colorado Railroad Museum contains one of the most comprehensive railroad reference libraries in the United States. While the Library does focus on Colorado and Western narrow gauge railroad history, we also have smaller collections dealing with standard gauge and with railroading in other geographic areas. As a rule, our areas of particular strength include the Denver and Rio Grande (D&RG), Denver and Rio Grande Western (D&RGW), and Colorado and Southern (C&S).
Within the next several years, the Library hopes to be able to make its catalog available online. In the interim, please see below for information about our holdings. Please feel free to contact the librarian/archivist (firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-279-4591) with specific inquiries.
Additional information on the Library’s holdings, primarily in the form of finding aids, will be posted as it becomes available. We appreciate your patience: we are in the midst of more completely cataloging our holdings, and while this is a long and slow process, it will yield better results, in terms of making resources available while preserving them as they age.
The Library maintains a large collection of railroad history books. This encompasses commercial and small-run publications on railroad topics, as well as historic materials, such as historic rulebooks, public and employee timetables, equipment and industrial catalogs, railroad annual reports, and textbooks geared toward early railroad employees, telegraphers, etc. The Library also holds select government publications from agencies including the ICC, US District Courts, Colorado Highway Department, and Colorado Public Utilities Commission, among others. Additionally, the library maintains collections of a number of railroading periodicals, both contemporary and historic.
Maps and Drawings
The Library has a large and important collection of maps pertaining to Colorado railroad history. This includes valuation maps and system maps, ranging in date from the 1880s to the present. The Library also holds a large number of technical drawings, blueprints, and plans, including station/depot plans, bridge plans, elevation profiles, and car erection drawings.
The Library has a substantial collection of archival papers from both corporate bodies and private individuals. These documents include AFEs, correspondence, corporate ledgers, car and rail specifications, freight and passenger tariffs, ephemera (flyers, pamphlets, etc.), auditor’s reports, documentation of repairs, tickets and memorabilia, union publications, etc. The archive also includes a small amount of employee information, including seniority lists, accident reports, and employment applications.
The Colorado Railroad Museum has a large image library, including prints, negatives, and slides. Named collections of interest include the Jackson Thode Collection, the Gordon Basset Collection, the Ed Haley Collection, the David Myrick Collection, and the Howard Fogg Collection, among others.
CDOT Photographs Finding Aid (PDF)
Madolyn and Ed Potenza Photo Collection Finding Aid (PDF)
Richard H. Kindig Photo Collection Finding Aid (PDF)
Tiv Wilkins’ Depots of Colorado Photo Collection Finding Aid (PDF)
Vance Smith Photo Collection Finding Aid (PDF)
The Library also has a small audiovisual collection, comprising videos, original film, and sound recordings. Media for viewing these collections is generally available in-house. At present, the Library is beginning an initiative to digitize some of its 8 and 16mm film, in an effort to make these materials more accessible.
The Colorado Railroad Museum has a limited number of employee records, primarily from railroads that operated in Colorado prior to the 1950s. The below PDF provides an outline to the railroads represented in our collection. It also provides suggestions for other institutions holding railroad employment records. Finally, it provides a basic glossary of some of the employment terms common in railroading through the first quarter of the twentieth century.
Please note that many of our genealogy records are not stored in the main library building, so advance notice is particularly appreciated, as some cannot be retrieved for same-day access.