Collectible Stocks and Bonds from North American Railroads     by Terry Cox

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Types of companies NOT included in this guide

I usually spend thirty to forty hours per year explaining why I do not list certificates from certain types of companies as "railroad" certificates. In order to decrease that time, I have tried to formalize my thoughts in this and several linked pages. Please accept my apologies if I do not include a particular company or industry you are interested in.

Please understand that my primary focus is railroading.

Can't find a company you think operated a railroad? It may mean:

My primary goal is to include all legitimate railroad companies that may have issued stocks or bonds.

My goal is NOT to include every company that ever used tracks or rail cars or was peripherally related to railroading. My special page titled Thoughts about which companies to include in the database ... and which to reject explains my logic in more detail.

Thousands of non-railroad companies operated forms of railroads. Many collectors collect artifacts and paper from peripheral companies, so I try to be somewhat inclusive in the companies I classify as "railroad-related." However, not every company that ever owned a rail car, a length of steel rail, or moved freight classifies as a "railroad company."

I must draw the line somewhere.

Several times each year, collectors try to convince me to expand my database to include certificates from related, but off-topic companies. I understand their motivations. However, there is a certain reality I need to stress...

The further afield I go, the more my primary efforts are diluted.

In other words, every minute I spend describing certificates from non-railroad companies is one less minute I have for genuine railroad certificates.

No matter how I define my limits, collectors sooner or later find certificates within the vast "gray area" on the fringes of railroading.

Here are types of companies and types of operations that I do NOT knowingly include in the database. You may also want to look at my large list of companies with similar, but deceptive names that I classify as non-railroads.

  1. Amusement park railroads are excluded, regardless of equipment authenticity or scale. (For instance, I do NOT consider the full scale railroad at Dollywood to be a legitimate railroad company.)
  2. Airport operations are excluded including trolley buses, loop railways, and subways. (For instance, I do NOT include the trams at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport orthe San Francisco Airport nor the underground train at Denver International Airport.)
  3. Bridge companies are excluded. Having said that, I reluctantly include a few specific bridge companies in the database because auction catalogers commonly include those companies among railroads by custom. See a more detailed discussion at bridge companies excluded.
  4. Almost all manufacturers are excluded, especially when railroading comprised a small part of their businesses. (For instance, I do NOT include CF&I Steel, J&L Steel or US Steel even though they were major manufacturers of rails.) See detailed discussion at "gray area" parts companies excluded.
  5. All freight and express companies are excluded unless 1) they included "rail" in their corporate names or 2) they directly owned operating equipment, or 3) they operated exclusively on railroads and nowhere else. Freight companies often used railroads for conveyances, of course, but most they also used barges, riverboats, sailing ships, lake vessels, ocean-going freighters, buses, trucks, stagecoaches, wagons. etc. Please alert me if you discover freight companies still in the database that fail these tests.
  6. Miniature railroads are excluded.
  7. Toy companies are excluded. (I do not include Lionel.)
  8. Replica railroads are excluded, regardless of scale.
  9. Associations and labor unions are excluded. There are several conductor, engineer, and trainmen associations and unions and some issued "stock" and membership certificates. While their membership worked for railroad companies, the associations did not carry freight or passengers, nor did they manufacture goods for railroads. See detailed discussion at labor unions excluded.
  10. Mining companies are excluded, even those the majority probably operated small underground trams. I DO include a tiny number of mining companies when they indicated the importance of railroading by including "railroad" in their corporate names. See detailed discussion at mining companies excluded.
  11. Equipment supply companies are generally excluded. Just because companies sold parts to railroads does not make them "railroad companies." A few are included when they boasted about their relationship to railroading in their corporate names.
  12. Companies that sold consumable supplies to railroads are generally excluded. I DO include a few supply companies when they included references to railroading in their corporate names. However, companies that coal, oil, grease, headlights, upholstery, food, coffee or other supplies to railroads were suppliers, not "railroad companies."
  13. Companies that manufactured consumable supplies for railroads are generally excluded. I include manufacturers when they specifically included references to railroading in their corporate names. If companies refused to make that distinction in their corporate names, they probably did so on purpose. Those companies are almost always excluded. As discussed elsewhere, please understand that just because companies manufactured parts crucial to railroads (headlights, upholstery, food, coffee, tickets, timetables, dinnerware, tables, paint, varnish, ballast, brake pads, oil, grease, malleable iron and other consumable supplies) does not make them "railroad companies." Nor does it make them close enough to railroading for inclusion in this project.
  14. Major diversified companies are excluded. I do NOT include highly diversified companies unless railroading constituted core parts of their businesses.
  15. Industries other than railroads are generally excluded. I do NOT include companies such as US Steel, The Anaconda Co, or Coors Brewing, even though they operate, or once operated, rails. See detailed discussion at industries exluded.
  16. Utility companies are excluded. See more discussion at utilities excluded. (I have a special page that explains tightly-constrained conditions under which I include a few.)
  17. Holding companies are excluded if railroading was a small part of their organizations. (See this special page that explains conditions under which I include a few.)
  18. Real estate companies are excluded unless they specifically mentioned railroading in their company names. Essentially every railroad company dealt with real estate transactions. I consider real estate companies as having purposes related to but separate from railroading. See detailed discussion at real estate companies excluded.
  19. Railroad museums and railroad hisotrical societies are excluded.
  20. Modern "depot" companies unrelated to railroading are excluded. Many modern companies include "depot" in their names and are unrelated to railroading and passenger traffic.
  21. Modern "tie and timber" landscaping companies are excluded. Many modern companies choose names that purposely sound like old-time lumber railroads.
  22. Plantation companies are excluded. While many plantations used narrow gauge equipment, I deem them to be part of the agricultural industry and therefore too far afield. See detailed discussion at plantations excluded.
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(Last updated Jul 16, 2015)


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