Collectible Stocks and Bonds from North American Railroads     by Terry Cox

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Collectible Guidebooks to Geology Along Major Western Railroads

A few years before World War I, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) started a project to describe the geology that passengers saw as they rode along the major rail routes of the great American West. Unlike the tree-covered East, the geology of the western United States was exposed and open like a book for everyone to see.

The Survey published its first four bulletins in 1915, but the fifth was delayed until after the war. These books were guidebooks to four dramatic crossings of the Rocky Mountains and the scenic line along the entire west coast. The sixth and final bulletin followed eleven years later and covered the route across the southern United States.

These historic bulletins are difficult to find in any condition and are very expensive collectibles when found with intact covers. (The USGS never put good covers on any of its bulletins.)

Thankfully, the government scanned all six bulletins and made them publicly available online at the National Park Service site.

The USGS wrote these bulletins to entertain passengers riding the mainlines and branches of western railroads. The documents were intended for complete novices and they were curiously well-written. As a geologist myself, I can testify that authors were really quite thorough.

Rail buffs will find these books extremely interesting because they will never again have the chance to see this territory from the windows of trains. In fact, they will be hard-pressed to see much of this scenery from autos. Be warned, however, that these bulletins are primarily guidebooks to geology along rail routes. They are not guidebooks to railroads or railroading.

Guidebook of the Western United States
Part A
The Northern Pacific Route, with a side trip to Yellowstone Park

Geological Survey Bulletin 611 (1915)

Guide to the entire NP route from St Paul to Seattle. The side trip includes a description of the trip between Livingston MT and Gardiner MT, the northern entrance of Yellowstone Park.

(Click on image to see the online copy.)

Guidebook of the Western United States
Part B
The Overland Route, with a side trip to Yellowstone Park

Geological Survey Bulletin 612 (1915)

Guide to the entire Union Pacific mainline route between Omaha and San Francisco. The side trip is a guide to the line between Ogden UT and West Yellowstone MT.

(Click on image to see the online copy.)

Guidebook of the Western United States
Part C
The Santa Fe Route, with a side trip to the Grand Canyon of the Colorado

Geological Survey Bulletin 613 (1915)

Guide to the entire mainline route from Kansas City to Los Angeles, including a guide to the spur from Williams AZ to the Grand Canyon.

(Click on image to see the online copy.)

Guidebook of the Western United States
Part D
The Shasta Route and Coast Line

Geological Survey Bulletin 614 (1915)

The first part of the book is a guide to the Shasta Route from Seattle to San Francisco via the Southern Pacific, Northern Pacific, Oregon-Washington Railroad and Chicago Milwaukee & St Paul Railway. The second part is a guide of the Coast Route from Los Angeles to San Francisco via the Southern Pacific.

(Click on image to see the online copy.)

Guidebook of the Western United States
Part E
The Denver & Rio Grande Western Route

Geological Survey Bulletin 707 (1922)

Includes guide to the main line route from Denver to Colorado Springs to Salt Lake City. Numerous side trip descriptions include Pikes Peak, Cripple Creek, Cheyenne Canyon, Manitou Springs, Georgetown, Rollins Pass, Saltair Resort, Bingham Canyon and Park City.

(Click on image to see the online copy.)

Guidebook of the Western United States
Part F
Southern Pacific Lines, New Orleans to Los Angeles

Geological Survey Bulletin 845 (1933)

A guide for the entire New Orleans to Los Angeles Route, with a description of the side trip to Carlsbad Caverns and a branch to San Diego. Also includes a couple detours and branches.

(Click on image to see the online copy.)

 

I strongly recommend buying the Cox Catalog from your favorite SCRIPOPHILY DEALERS. Catalog cover
If they do not yet carry, or are out of stock, you may buy directly from the author.
$49.95+post


 

 


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