Official Guides : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

I've heard the term "official guides" referred to several times on this forum. So what is an official guide anyway? Did all railroads publish them? What kinds of information did they contain? Were they published every year?

-- Bryan Payne (, March 27, 2002


I thank you for this info. I found this book that I have in an old building that I worked on in Offalon Mo. I did not know much about it or if it was worth anything but thanks to your web site I know a little more now, the book I have is No. 10 86th year 1954 march and it is in good condition, If you know someone that is interested in this piblication please contact us thanks

-- M*L Farms / Silex Mo. (, May 04, 2002.

The "Official" part of the Official Guide's title comes from the fact that the publication was adopted by the US Army Quartermaster Corps for routing freight, troops, etc., in the 1870's.

The Official Railway Equipment Register is still published (as is the Guide) and has tariff status. The applicable published rates frequently depend on the size and capacity of the car furnished. The Equipment Register is the final word on these stats.

Bob Hanson

-- Robert H. Hanson (, March 30, 2002.

Some railroads publish an "Offical List of Officers, Agents, Attorneys, Surgeons, Stations, Etc." As the name implies, these offical lists contain information about nearly every aspect of the railroad. Tables of locomotives and rolling stock are particularly useful.

Another "official" publication is "The Offical Railway Equipment Register" issued by "The Railway Equipment and Publication Company, Publishers and Proprieters." These books provide contact information for the various roads and give details about rolling stock that would be useful to someone who wants to ship something.

Ron. Wright

-- Ron. Wright (, March 27, 2002.

To add to the comments of Mr Dean, the Official Guide was the railroad equivalent of the "OAG"(Official Airlines Guide) or Russell's Guide(for intercity buses) and was issued monthly. These books were issued by publishers, not the railroads. In the case of the Official Guide, the railroads paid for their listings. The Guides were principally used by ticket agents. Generally, before World War I, there were pocket guides for the "man-on-the-street", usually related to trains leaving from one city. Big stations got the latest copy, medium size stations got last months copy from a bigger station, and the small stations copies were several months old. I've seen copies with the routing slip taped to the front cover. The oldest Guide I've seen was from 1851, about the size of cigarette pack. After the Civil War, there was competition between Travellers, Rand McNally and others for the national Guides. There were also regional Guides like Pathfinder ABC for New England. There's even an Official Guide to the Railroads of the Confederate States(1862) on the Internet at the Univ. of North Carolina web site.

Original copies have gone steeply up in price on the collector market in the last 25 years. Even issues from the 1920's going for several hundred dollars. As Buck says, people are reprinting various issues of the Official Guide. Even the Official Guide Co. reprinted four or five issues some years back(1868, 1869, 1870, 1893 and others). Check issues of TRAINS magazine for advertisements for reprints.

-- Tom Underwood (, March 27, 2002.

The actual name is The Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navagation Lines of ....blah ...blah ...blah. These lovely, and now collectable, monthly paperbounds were the creation of the National Railway Publications C. of New York and included everything from Airline schedules, to railroad timetables, to lists of stations, to what-have-you. Most "old guy" type railroad historians and collectors (like me) have several of these in their possession.

For passenger train fans they are the Bible and over the years some months and years are now being reprinted by various individuals , etc. for anywheres around $50 to $75.

Otherwise, original copies can still be found at most railroadiana shows here and there. Buck Dean

-- Buck Dean (, March 27, 2002.

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