locked Re: Southern Railway Contracts and Agreements in the SRHA Archives

A&Y Dave in MD


That's good news on the bindings.  I agree on the idea of getting the stuff to people who understand and know it while they are alive!  Good priorities.  I truly wished I lived closer to help!

I can tell you I wish I could chat with the survey engineers who did the ICC valuation in 1916-1918 on the A&Y!  Much of it is legible (100 year old pencil on graph paper digitally imaged with 2nd generation Nikon CoolPix 950 digital camera in 2000), but there are terms and some notations that I would dearly love to understand better.  Modern engineers have not been able to help.  I have not been able to clean up the images enough to put them on the web and ask others.  But I've already lost the battle with time. So there's no hurry and I might get back to the Archives one day with an LED flatbed scanner (they let me use a handheld one last time I was there, but it was worse than digital camera image and a LOT slower).  Then I can get much better images of the reports.  Maybe then I can learn more.

Good luck with your race against time!


Friday, October 5, 2018, 10:19:46 PM, you wrote:


Thanks for you comments…..

One set of bound contracts came from the GA Div office in Atlanta. It sat in a bookcase, apparently unused, for years wth direct sunlight on the bindings. The silk thread used in the binding were in good shape but most of the spines were too far gone to save. Although the NC&StL contract in my example was in a bound book, most of the other volumes have been unbound. The fact that bindings were in such poor shape (in many cases) plus the impossibility of scanning their attachments made unbinding them a logical decision.)

Some will certainly disagree but our approach with the SRHA archives materials has been to organize and preserve it to be used, rather than be kept as artifacts. We recently acquired a second set of the contract books and know of a third so the decision to unbind one set was not difficult. By making a full set of scans (a big job with 1,200 agreements), copies can be sent to people doing research without having to go to Chattanooga.

One overriding issue is the fact that people that worked for, or knew, the Southern are aging. If our archives materials are not made use of in the next ten or so years, we will have a marvelous pile of paper that few people will care about.

Because we have the entire Southern Railway President’s files, there are many cases where we have both the printed contracts AND the Executive Dept files that led up to those agreements. They contain draft agreements, correspondence and internal memos on the subject. When research combines those assets with photos and drawings in the collection, we can describe important events in the history of the Southern in ways we never expected. I suggest finding a copy of TIES with the article on the collapse of the Tennessee River Bridge in Chattanooga as an example.


On Oct 5, 2018, at 9:19 PM, A&Y Dave in MD <
dbott@...> wrote:


A good restoration librarian can unbind a bound book so it can be scanned flat and then rebound in the original manner, preserving the original and improving the digital edition. My friend at the Michigan State University archive helped with the CF&YV 1892 Prospectus that Matt Bumgarner had reproduced.

You might see if you can get someone at UT Chattanooga or other nearby archive library to see if a deal could be struck.


Sent from Dave Bott' iPhone

On Oct 5, 2018, at 6:06 PM, George Eichelberger <
geichelberger@...> wrote:

Every trackage rights or joint trackage arrangement, Union Station agreement, crossing or interchange between railroads was documented by a contract or agreement negotiated and signed by the parties. Many use essentially the same "boilerplate" language, with specific details added, multiple times. Terms and conditions for different kinds of agreements became almost standardized. That served to simplify negotiations and give everyone a basic understanding of what an agreement included. Many of the points included in the trackage rights agreement between the NC&StL, the Memphis and Charleston and the East Tennessee and Georgia dated October 1, 1880 can be found in agreements negotiated many years later. In fact, many of the the Main and Supplemental agreement conditions contained in Southern Railway contract file No.9 are still in effect between Norfolk Southern and CSX between Stevenson, AL and Wauhatchie, TN today. (NC&StL trackage was used from Wauhatchie to Chattanooga by both the M&C and what became the AGS until the Southern built its own line, through the Lookout Mtn. tunnel.) Reading past the boilerplate we find very specific details about what is covered.

The second example in the Google Drive file illustrates the kinds of maps or drawings attached to some agreements. It is from a 1948 agreement between the Southern and the NC&StL for Howell Jct in Atlanta. Here, the details are all important; which railroad was responsible for every signal, crossing and turnout, which controlled the crossing, etc. Howell i particularly interesting because of its complexity and that there were individual agreements covering the NC&StL (W&A), Seaboard and Southern. The agreement pages were scanned in bound books so they are not "pretty" but include the entire agreement. The Howell Jct. drawing was a fold out attachment that was unbound to make a high quality copy that could be published if someone wrote a "TIES" or L&NHS magazine article on the subject.

Although only a small number of agreements have been scanned completely, the SRHA archives contain approximately 1,203 different examples. The Southern accumulated and bound contracts in books that were distributed to officials through the system. When each of twenty-six (known?) books were produced, a cumulative index was added that included every agreement in force at that time. When contracts expired or were cancelled, they were omitted from the index. The index from Volume XXII issued September 1, 1945 is the third document in the Google Drive file and provides an idea of the scope of the collection. (The first number in an entry is the volume that includes the agreement, the second number is the contract number.)

Scanning contracts and attachments is an on-going task for archives volunteers.



David Bott

Sent from David Bott's desktop PC

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