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All Aboard: A Guide to Cartographic Railroad Resources at the Library of Congress

Cartographic Collections

The Geography and Map Division holds a wide array of railroad and train related content from approximately the late 1820s to present day. Relevant cartographic materials are organized into several different collections held throughout the Division. All of the resources listed below can be served in in the Geography and Map Reading Room. For additional information and assistance with these materials please use our Ask a Librarian service to speak with our reference staff.

If you are interested in our digitized materials which can be viewed and downloaded remotely, please see the Digitized Collections page of this guide.

Rand McNally and Company. <em>New map of the Union Pacific Railway, the short, quick and safe line to all points west.</em> 1883. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Rand McNally and Company. New map of the Union Pacific Railway, the short, quick and safe line to all points west. 1883. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Cataloged Maps and Atlases

Much of the library's cartographic collection is cataloged meaning maps are discoverable through our online catalog. Using the advanced search feature, users are able to add multiple search terms and apply limits to their queries. To return only cartographic materials in your search, select to add limits and under "Locations in the Library" specify the Geography and Map Division.

To locate pertinent railroad resources, try searching the following subject terms:

  • Railroads—[Geographic entity]—Maps
    • Example: Railroads—Pennsylvania—Maps or Railroads—Australia—Maps
  • Railroads—Freight—[Geographic entity]—Maps

  • Railroads—Passenger traffic—[Geographic entity]—Maps

  • Electric railroads—[Geographic entity]—Maps

  • Military railroads—[Geographic entity]—Maps

  • Subways—[Geographic entity]—Maps

Maps and atlases which are cataloged are not necessarily digitized. Those that are digitized will contain a Links field above the LCCN Permalink section of the record which will allow you to view the material. For access to and information on non-digitized cataloged materials, please submit inquiries to our Ask a Librarian service.

Title Collection

In addition to our cataloged collection, the Geography and Map Division holds a significant number of railroad maps in what is known as our Title Collection. This collection is organized geographically by countries and U.S. states and then further divided at the provincial, county, and city level within. American railroad maps may be found in this collection at the national, regional, state, and sometimes city level. For international areas, railroad maps are most likely to be national in scope. For inquiries on our Title Collection, please submit a question through our Ask a Librarian service.

Special Collections

In addition to the types of resources that are listed above, the Geography and Map Division also holds certain special map collections. As these items are archival in nature, they are not integrated with the rest of the cataloged collection but can be found through collection level records or finding aids. Below is a list of several relevant special collections.


Association of American Railroads Collection

Item count: 154

Description: Maps mainly of the United States as a whole, sections of the United States, individual states and cities, showing railroads or railroad related information: including maps of London environs, western Canada, and Europe.

Inventory available in the Geography and Map Reading Room.

Copeland Railroad Survey Collection

Item count: 504

Description: H. H. Copeland and Son commissioned the materials that contain information about railroads in the United States from 1917 to 1958. The collection includes maps and data concerning railroad traffic density, tables on ton miles, freight density and traffic distribution, and other railway related tables and calculations. H. H. Copeland and Son were an investment house in existence from the late nineteenth century to around the mid 1950s. The materials were intended for their private use.

Finding aid: Available here

E. G. Squier Collection

Item count: 38

Description: Manuscript and printed maps of Central America of canals and railroads, 1850s-1880s belonging to E.G. Squier, an American diplomat in Central America from 1849-1858. The related papers of E. G. Squier are held in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.

Engineering Societies Library Map Collection

Item count: 4,846

Description: The Engineering Societies Library was formed in 1915 and became a world-renowned research center. It closed in 1998. The library's map collection consists of geologic and mineral resources maps, topographic surveys, city plans, railroad maps, nautical and aeronautical charts, lake surveys, and boundary studies.

Finding aid: Available here

LC Railroad Maps Collection

Item count: 623

Description: Unlike other special collections listed here, this collection was compiled by Library of Congress staff out of maps which were originally housed in our Title Collection. This special collection corresponds to Railroad Maps of the United States: A Selective Annotated Bibliography of Original 19th-century Maps in the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress, compiled by Andrew M. Modelski (former reference librarian in the Geography and Map Division), which was assembled with the intent to highlight the vast types and extent of railroad map holdings within the Title Collection. The entirety of the LC Railroad Maps collection has been digitized and corresponds with our digital collection entitled Railroad Maps, 1828-1900.