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I have been collecting time tables for over 30 years. I have purchased books about railroads I am interested in but I really like to dig into railroad operations. For that knowledge, I turn to time tables and rule books. Most of my collection focuses on the northeastern railroads I have visited over the years. More recently, I have turned my attention to railroads down south and near the Gulf Coast. If a line has had different owners, I like to get a time table from each operator to see the changes over the years. Short line railroad operations are all interesting. I also like to focus on certain areas (like York, PA where my son went to college) and collect time tables from all the roads that serve that area. These are helpful in researching the background of the lines.
posted September 19, 2017
Challenges of Penn Central Railroad Timetable Collecting
I more or less became a collector of timetables by accident! I first went to work on the railroad for Penn Central in 1969, so therefore became interested in collecting its railroadiana. Sadly, many of the items from my early working days had been discarded and of course, that included timetables. I just felt a need to find many of those items again!
When my collecting began, I took what I call a “shotgun approach.” Basically, I collected anything that was from the Penn Central! But that was a problem as it became expensive and as the collection grew, the amount of room it took up was amazing!
My passion to collect Penn Central railroadiana continued, but I began to be more specific in what my main interests were. One of those interests was timetables, both employee and public, because they provide a tremendous amount of information! So I began my quest to obtain as many Penn Central timetables that I could, which turned out to be a much larger feat than what I initially thought. I had no idea that there were so many employee and public timetables, especially the public timetables with numerous editions! In my continued search, I frequent train shows, check eBay, share and trade with my Penn Central RR Historical Society friends, and do business with people that sell timetables, like Steve Paris!
Today, my collecting of Penn Central timetables has slowed considerably because I have all of the employee timetables (I think), numbering over 100, including subsidiary railroads that were issued. I am only missing a handful of the 600+ public timetables that were issued! But my quest still continues as I search for those last few public timetables that seem to be nonexistent!
Old Chatham, NY 12136
posted September 9, 2017
It was 1957 and I was 12.
I had already developed an active interest in riding trains, based on trips with my parents between Harrisburg and Philadelphia. We were regulars in the dining car, and I loved the moving restaurant with its scenery. Timetables were not on my mind.
On Sundays after church, we had dinner at a nearby hotel, where I discovered a rack of System Timetables of major railroads east of the Mississippi. They were then still of use to hotel guests. They intrigued me, and not to seem greedy, I took three each Sunday. Being System Timetables, they introduced me not only to schedules, but to sleeping cars, lounge cars, baggage cars, and more dining cars. Some had pictures of the interiors of lounge and dining cars and sleeping compartments, and scenery along the route. They provided not just station times, but were travel brochures. I was hooked.
Two years later, I was crossing the country on the PRR, Burlington, Rio Grande, Union Pacific, and Southern Pacific. My collection grew, and I used it as I rode.
I wanted to see what there was before 1957, and collected accordingly. I also watched as passenger service declined, both in the number of trains and onboard amenites.
Some timetables have interesting advertisements, such as PRR’s push for support for its merger which produced Penn Central. As plants grew throughout the South, the railroads used timetables to advertise their availability to handle the freight. The Florida East Coast timetables enabled one to see when the Havana Ferry was discontinued after Castro’s Revolution.
A collector may concentrate on one or more railroads, geographic areas, timeframes, specialty publications, or on whatever strikes his fancy. The possibilities are close too endless. I know. I learned something interesting from nearly every timetable, particularly those that had the system of were otherwise thick.
For the most part, timetables are a rewarding window for a special niche into the past. I continue to look forward to each one I add to my collection.
posted September 5, 2017
Shoe Box in the Attic
One of the things I love about being an rrpaper dealer is serendipity. I never know what the next email, letter or phone call will bring. A couple of months ago, a fellow contacted me saying he was cleaning out his grandmother’s attic and found several public timetables from the 1920’s in a shoe box. He didn’t know why they had been saved. Fortunately, he felt they may be of some value to somebody and didn’t just throw them away. We quickly made a deal and within a couple of weeks I was able to pass them along to fill holes in several collections.
posted August 17, 2017