MC.00.002 Frank Thomson papers, Bulk, 1863-1899

Frank Thomson papers 1826-1915 (bulk 1863-1899)MC.00.002

Summary Information

Title
Frank Thomson papers
Creator
Thomson, Anne
Creator
Thomson, Frank, 1841-1899
Inclusive Dates
1826-1915
Extent
2.6 Cubic feet
Abstract
Frank Thomson (1841-1899) was a senior administrator of the Pennsylvania Railroad and served as its president from 1897 to 1899. This collection documents his career on the railroad, beginning with his service with the United States Military Railroads in the South during the Civil War, detailing an official state visit by the Russian Grand Duke Alexis, and ending with his promotion to president of the Pennsylvania Railroad and his death in 1899. Records include Mr. Thomson’s personal and business correspondence; material such as timetables, tickets, maps, and publications relating to the U.S. Military Railroad and Pennsylvania Railroad; various printed matter; and several photographs and drawings.
Call Number
MC.00.002
Language
English
Finding Aid Prepared By
Finding aid prepared by Prepared by Megan Manchester. (2005)
Repository
W. W. Hagerty Library 3300 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19104 215.895.6706 archives@drexel.edu

Preferred Citation

Frank Thomson Papers, Drexel University Archives.

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Access and Use

Acquisition Information

Believed to have been donated by Anne Thomson, daughter of Frank Thomson.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Frank Thomson Papers, Drexel University Archives.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Pennsylvania Railroad

Genre(s)

  • Black-and-white photographs.
  • Clippings
  • Correspondence
  • Printed ephemera

Personal Name(s)

  • Thomson, Anne
  • Thomson, Frank, 1841-1899

Subject(s)

  • Military railroads--United States--History.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865

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Biographical sketch

Frank Thomson devoted his career to working on railroads during a period of rapid expansion in the railroad industry. Born in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in 1841, Mr. Thomson was the son of a distinguished jurist, Alexander Thomson. At the age of seventeen, he became an apprentice in the Pennsylvania Railroad shops at Altoona. When the Civil War began in 1861, he enlisted in the Union military to serve as the chief assistant to Colonel Thomas A. Scott, who had been appointed assistant secretary of war for military railroads. Mr. Thomson worked for the U.S. Military Railroads in the South and Southwest, on the Orange and Alexandria Line in Virginia, the Loudon and Hampshire Line in Virginia, the Nashville and Decatur Line, and the Nashville and Chattanooga Line.

Mr. Thomson was relieved of his military duty in June of 1864 and spent the rest of his career working for the Pennsylvania Railroad, beginning as superintendent of the Eastern Division of the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad. In 1871 and 1872, he was manager of transportation for an entourage escorting the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia on a railroad trip around the United States and Canada. Mr. Thomson became superintendent of motive power for the Pennsylvania Railroad at Altoona in 1873 and general manager of PRR east of Pittsburgh and Erie in 1874, during which time he led efforts to standardize the track and cars used on the railroad. Mr. Thomson was elected second vice president of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1882 and first vice president in 1888. He was promoted to president in 1897 but died after two years of service, in 1899.

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Scope and content note

The collection consists of four series: correspondence, railroad-related material, other printed material, and photographs. Representative formats include paper records, brochures, newspaper clippings, bound volumes, maps, and photos. U.S. Military Railroads activities during the Civil War period (especially 1863-1864) and the Russian Grand Duke Alexis’s state visit to the United States in 1871-1872 are especially well documented.

Mr. Thomson’s correspondence between 1861 and 1864, much of which details the day-to-day administrative operations of the United States Military Railroads, may be of particular interest to researchers interested in the Civil War. Researchers interested in railway history should note that although railroad materials comprise their own series, much of Mr. Thomson’s correspondence also documents the administration of the U.S. Military Railroads. Most of the paper records in the Pennsylvania Railroad subseries deal with the Grand Duke Alexis’s visit, which was the largest official state visit by Russia to the United States to that time. The administrative history of the Pennsylvania Railroad itself is not particularly well documented in Mr. Thomson’s correspondence, but the collection does contain maps, books, publications, and other printed matter relating to the railroad.

The provenance of the collection, and how it came to the archives at Drexel University, is unclear. The correspondence, which consists of letters to and from Mr. Thomson, was clearly collected by him, and the printed matter and some of the railroad-related material were also presumably collected by Mr. Thomson. Other parts of the collection, however, such as the portion of the printed matter series that relates to Mr. Thomson’s death, are believed to have been collected by Mr. Thomson’s daughter, Anne.

Original order has been lost over time; arrangement of the collection has been imposed by the archivist. Correspondence is arranged chronologically to the year. Railroad-related material is divided into three subseries: one for the United States Military Railroads, one for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and one for other, unidentified, or general railroad material. The printed matter series contains subseries for materials relating to Mr. Thomson’s promotion to president, his death, and general printed matter. Some items, because of their large size or special storage requirements, have been physically separated from the rest of the series and are stored in oversized storage boxes.

Poor paper quality and improper storage over time have led to physical deterioration of some records. During processing, a number of newspaper clippings and telegrams were photocopied and the originals discarded because of their poor condition. Much of the correspondence and railroad material was folded for many years and is therefore fragile along the creases.

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Works consulted:

Newspaper clippings from the collection.

Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society, PRR Chronology, retrieved 4/4/05 from http://www.prrths.com/PRR_hagley_intro.htm.

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Collection Inventory

 Series I Correspondence 

Scope and content note

The twenty-three folders contain primarily letters written to Mr. Thomson, although there are occasionally drafts of letters written by him interfiled with his incoming correspondence. The small number of letters dated after Mr. Thomson’s death were sent to Anne Thomson. The two bound volumes are letter books containing copies of Mr. Thomson’s outgoing business correspondence from 1863 and 1864; the later volume, however, is very difficult to read due to poor paper quality and the bleeding of the ink over time.

Arrangement is chronological to the year, except for the oversized items located in OV1. Business and personal correspondence are interfiled. Groups of letters that were clearly stored together or are about a particular subject have been kept together in their own folder and labeled with their subject.

BoxFolder

Correspondence 1861 

11

Correspondence 1862 

12-3

Letter from Thomas A. Scott 

20100230009

Letter from Herman Haupt with envelope 1862 November 20 

20100230011, 1862 November 20

20100230010, 1862 November 20

Letter from W.W. Wright 1862 November 28 

20100230012, 1862 November 28

Letter, author unreadable 1862 April  

20100230013, April 1862

Letter from R.J. Marley (?) 1862 March 24  

20100230014, March 24 1862

Envelope from R.J. Marley 1862 March 24 

20100230015, March 24, 1862

Letter from W.W. Wright Nov 12, 1862 

20100230016, Nov 12, 1862

20100230017 Nov 13 1862 

20100230017, Nov 13 1862

20100230018 November 5, 1862 

20100230018, November 5, 1862

20100230019 November 8, 1862 

20100230019, November 8, 1862

20100230020 February 21,1862 

20100230020, February 21,1862

Receipt for payment from Wm. H. Brown of Scott House, Alexandria, Va. February 21, 1862 

20100230021, February 21, 1862

20100230022 February 23, 1862 

20100230022, February 23, 1862

Letter from James J. Beggs July 1st 1862 

20100230023, July 1st 1862

20100230024 Oct 1 1862 

20100230024

20100230028_1 

20100230028_1

20100230028_2 

20100230028_2

Correspondence 1863 

14-6

20100231000 

20100231000

20100231001_1 

20100231001_1

20100231001_2 

20100231001_2

20100231001_3 

20100231001_3

Correspondence relating to A.J. Cheney 1863 

17

Correspondence 1864 

18-9

Correspondence 1865 

110

Correspondence 1868 

111

Correspondence 1869 

112

Correspondence undated [186?] 

113

Correspondence 1871 

114

Letter from vice consul to Frank Thomson [page 1] 1871 November 29 

20100230055_1, 1871 November 29

Letter from vice consul to Frank Thomson [page 2] 1871 November 29 

20100230055_2, 1871 November 29

Letter from George M. Pullman to Frank Thomson circa 1871 October 

20100230056, circa 1871 October

Letter from [?] to General L.B. Parsons 1871 December 29 

20100230057, 1871 December 29

Letter from W.P. Smith to Frank Thomson 1872 November 28 

20100230058, 1872 November 28

Letter from the managing director of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada to Frank Thomson [page 1] 1871 December 2 

20100230059_1, 1871 December 2

Letter from the managing director of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada to Frank Thomson [page 2] 1871 December 2 

Letter from Lewis B. Parsons [?] to Frank Thomson 1871 December 29 

20100230060, 1871 December 29

Telegram from C. Tillinghash to Frank Thomson 1871 December 18 

20100230061, 1871 December 18

Letter from William A. Baldwin to Frank Thomson 1871 December 13 

20100230062, 1871 December 13

Letter from J. Glucker [?] to Frank Thomson 1871 December 11 

20100230063, 1871 December 11

Telegram from W.P. Smith to Frank Thomson 1871 November 20 

20100230064, 1871 November 20

Letter from Kingsley and Russell to Frank Thomson 1871 December 8 

20100230065, 1871 December 8

Letter from Abbott to Frank Thomson [page 1] 1871 December 7 

20100230066_1, 1871 December 7

Letter from Abbott to Frank Thomson [page 2] 1871 December 7 

20100230066_2, 1871 December 7

Letter from the managing director of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada to Frank Thomson [page 1] 1871 December 2 

20100230067_1, 1871 December 2

Letter from the managing director of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada to Frank Thomson [page 2] 1871 December 2 

20100230067_2, 1871 December 2

Letter from John A. Baldwin to Frank Thomson 1871 November 16 

20100230068, 1871 November 16

Letter from W.P. Smith to Frank Thomson 1871 December 21 

20100230069, 1871 December 21

Telegram from J. Gregory Smith to Frank Thomson circa 1871 November 19 

20100230070, circa 1871 November 19

Telegram from C.J. Courset to Admiral Poisset [front] 1871 December 1 

20100230071_1, 1871 December 1

Telegram from C.J. Courset to Admiral Poisset [back] 1871 December 1 

20100230071_2, 1871 December 1

Telegram from A.J. Cassatt to Frank Thomson 1871 November 28 

20100230072, 1871 November 28

Letter from Lewis B. Parsons [?] to Frank Thomson [page 1] 1871 December 28 

20100230073, 1871 December 28

Telegram from W.K. Muir to Frank Thomson 1871 December 1 

20100230074, 1871 December 1

Telegram from G. W. Barker to Frank Thomson 1871 November 30 

20100230075, 1871 November 30

Letter from the general superintendent of the Michigan Central Railroad Co. to Frank Thomson 1871 December 7 

20100230076, 1871 December 7

Telegram from G. W. Barker to Frank Thomson 1871 December 2 

20100230077, 1871 December 2

Telegram from C.J. Brydges to Frank Thomson 1871 December 2 

20100230078, 1871 December 2

Telegram from G.W. Barker to Frank Thomson 1871 December 2 

20100230079, 1871 December 2

Letter from G.F. Milliken to Frank Thomson 1871 December 9 

20100230080, 1871 December 9

Letter from general agent [?] of Associated Press to Frank Thomson 1871 November 27 

20100230081, 1871 November 27

Telegram from M.P. Smith to Frank Thomson 1871 October 30 

20100230082, 1871 October 30

Letter from H.E. Sargent to Frank Thomson 1871 December 5 

20100230083, 1871 December 5

Letter from the general superintendent of Chicago & Alton Railroad Co. to Frank Thomson [page 1] 1871 December 9 

20100230084_1, 1871 December 9

Letter from the general superintendent of Chicago & Alton Railroad Co. to Frank Thomson [page 2] 1871 December 9 

20100230084_2, 1871 December 9

Correspondence 1871 

Scope and Contents note

Telegraph books

115

Telegraph journal 1871 December 

20100230086

Telegraph journal 1872 January 

20100230085

Correspondence 1872 

116

Letter from J.M. Walker to Admiral Passiet 1872 January 1 

20100230033, January 1, 1872

Letter from the general superintendent of the St. Louis Railroad to Frank Thomson 1872 January 27 

20100230037, Janueary 27, 1872

Letter from the president of Pacific Railroad of Missouri to the Grand Duke 1872 January 21 

20100230034, January 21, 1872

Letter from M. B. Chandler to Frank Thomson 1872 January 9 

20100230035, January 9th, 1872

Letter from C. Bent Carr 1872 January 25 

20100230036, January 25, 1872

Letter from to The Grand Duke January 

20100230038_2, January

20100230038_1, 1872

Letter from Thomas Allen to the Grand Duke Alexis 1872 January 6 

20100230039, 1872 January 6

Letter from the General Superintendent of the Louisville Railroad to Frank Thomson 1872 January 31 

20100230040, 1872 January 31

Letter from Horace Scott to Frank Thomson 1872 January 28 

20100230041_1, 1872 January 28

Jeffersonville, Madison, and Indianapolis Railroad. Time card for special express train in honor of his Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Alexis 1872 January 30 

20100230041_2, 1872 January 30

Letter from Joseph Brown to Frank Thomson 1872 January 11 

20100230042, 1872 January 11

Letter from president of the Kansas Pacific Railway to Frank Thomson 1872 January 10 

20100230043_1, 1872 January 10

Letter from president of the Kansas Pacific Railway to Frank Thomson [envelope] 1872 January 10 

20100230043_2, 1872 January 10

Telegram to Frank Thomson 1872 February 16 

20100230050, 1872 February 16

Letter from Charles Follett to Frank Thomson 1872 January 6 

20100230044_1, 1872 January 6

Letter from Charles Follett to Frank Thomson [envelope] 1872 January 6 

20100230044_2, 1872 January 6

Telegram from W. Sandford to Frank Thomson 1872 

20100230045, 1872

Telegram from St. Charles Hotel to Frank Thomson 1872 

20100230046, 1872

Telegram from St. Charles Hotel to Frank Thomson 1872 

20100230047, 1872

Telegram from T.E. Sickels to Frank Thomson 1872 February 3 

20100230048, 1872 February 3

Telegram from B.H. Robertson to General Custer 1872 January 31 

20100230049, 1872 January 31

Telegram from R. Arthur [?] to Frank Thomson circa 1872 January 2 

20100230051, circa 1872 January 2

Telegram from A.L. Hopkins [?] to Frank Thomson circa 1872 January 2 

20100230052, circa 1872 January 2

Telegram from B.R. Pegram [?] to Jas. Howard & Co. 1872 January 31 

20100230053, 1872 January 31

Letter from C.A. Whitney to Frank Thomson [page 1] 1872 February 17 

20100230054_1, 1872 February 17

Letter from C.A. Whitney to Frank Thomson [page 2] 1872 February 17 

20100230054_2, 1872 February 17

Correspondence 1873 

117

Correspondence undated [187?] 

118-19

Correspondence undated 

120

Correspondence / Envelopes undated 

121

Correspondence relating to Frank Thomson 1903, 1905, 1907 

122
BoxVolume

Military Railway correspondence, bound volume 1863 

21
BoxFolder

Letters, bound volume 1863-1864 

2[2]

Oversized correspondence 1862-1865 

OV12

Correspondence, bound volume 1863 

OV1[8]

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 Series II Railroad 

Scope and content note

Arranged into three subseries: United States Military Railroads, 1861-1864; Pennsylvania Railroad, 1863-1899; Other/unidentified railroads, 1860 and 1873.

The U.S. Military Railroads subseries includes records of railroads that were operated by the U.S. Military Railroads, such as the Orange and Alexandria Line, the Nashville and Decatur Line, and the Nashville and Chattanooga Line. Records include timetables, broadsides, tickets, and forms (mostly blank) for payroll, bookkeeping, requisitions, and other administrative functions. The bound volume, although labeled “Letters,” also contains these kinds of items. Included here is a hand-drawn map (author unknown) of Front Royal, Virginia, the site of a Confederate victory during the Civil War, showing the location of railroad lines and the positions of troops.

The bulk of the Pennsylvania Railroad subseries The bulk of the paper records are timetables of special trains scheduled for the Grand Duke Alexis, invitations to events sponsored in the duke’s honor, and other records of the duke’s visit; a few timetables have been removed to OV1. Later records include publications, booklets, plaques, and maps. A few records of other railroads operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad, such as the Oil Creek Railroad, are included with this subseries.

The other/unidentified subseries contains records of other railroads not affiliated with the U.S. Military or Pennsylvania railroads, and records relating to railroad affairs, but whose provenance is unknown. Formats include bound volumes and paper records.

 Subseries A United States Military Railroads 

BoxFolder

Railroad / U. S. Military Railroad circa 1861-1864 

23

Railroad / U. S. Military Railroad 1861-1864 

Scope and Contents note

Contains map of Front Royal, Virginia, site of a Civil War battle, showing railroad lines and troop positions.

OV13

Letters, bound volume 1861-1865 

Scope and Contents note

Contains forms, schedules, etc.

OV1[9]

 Subseries B Pennsylvania Railroad 

BoxFolder

Railroad / Pennsylvania Railroad 1865, 1898, and undated 

24

Railroad / Pennsylvania Railroad / Grand Duke Alexis of Russia 1871-1872 

25-7

Michigan Central Rail Road special complimentary train to his Imperial Highness The Grand Duke Alexis, December 13, 1871 1871 December 13 

20100230006, 1871 December 13

Front of Train Time Card: "Complimentary to His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Alexis of Russia and Suite, Union Pacific Railroad Company 1872, January 12 

Back of Train time card: Regarding the Buffalo Hunt 

20100230007_02

Railroad / Pennsylvania Railroad 

31

 Item 1 Pennsylvania Railroad Board of Directors [plaque] 1894 

 Item 2 Pennsylvania Railroad officers [plaque] 1894 

 Item 3 Dinner to George B. Roberts [booklet] April 13, 1896 

Railroad / Pennsylvania Railroad 

32

 Item 1  Pennsylvania Railroad. General Manager's Office A concise cipher, alphabetically arranged, for the use of general officers of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company Jan. 1, 1885 

 Item 2  Pennsylvania Railroad. Pennsylvania Railroad men’s news, v.11, no.8 1899 

 Item 3  Pennsylvania Railroad. Annual dinner of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company 1899 April 13 

 Rand, McNally and Co. Series of competitive route maps undated 

33

Railroad / Pennsylvania Railroad 1861-1871 

OV14

 Subseries C Other/unidentified railroads 

BoxFolder

Railroad / Other/unidentified railroads 

34

 Item 1  Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway Company First annual report of the president and board of directors of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway Company to the stockholders for the fiscal year ending December 31st, 1870 1871 

 Item 2  Louisville, New Albany, and Chicago Railroad Instructions for running trains on the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago Rail Road to take effect Thursday, October 31st, 1863 1863 

Railroad / Other/unidentified railroad / Unidentified railroad materials undated 

OV15

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 Series III Printed matter 1826-1899 and undated 

Scope and content note

Arranged into three subseries: Promotion to Pennsylvania Railroad president, 1897; Death of Frank Thomson, 1899; General printed matter, 1826-[1915].

The subseries on Mr. Thomson's promotion to president of the Pennsylvania Railroad contains newspaper clippings about Mr. Thomson’s life and career, published when he was promoted to president of Pennsylvania Railroad.

The subseries on Mr. Thomson's death includes minutes and bound volumes honoring the life of Frank Thomson, Mr. Thomson’s necrological notice, and a scrapbook (presumed to have been compiled by Anne Thomson) containing newspaper clippings published on the event of Mr. Thomson’s death.

General printed matter includes miscellaneous brochures, books, and speeches. Most are assumed to have been collected by Mr. Thomson, but the provenance of the items dated after Mr. Thomson’s death is unknown.

 Subseries A Promotion to Pennsylvania Railroad president 

BoxFolder

Printed matter / Promotion to Pennsylvania Railroad president / Newspaper clippings 1897 

35

Printed matter / Promotion to Pennsylvania Railroad president / Newspaper clipping [1897] 

OV16

 Subseries B Death of Frank Thomson 

BoxFolder

Printed matter / Death of Frank Thomson / Minutes, necrological notices, etc. 1899 

36

 Thomson, Anne? Scrapbook containing newspaper clippings about the life and career of Frank Thomson 1899 

OV2[1]

 Subseries C General printed matter 

BoxFolder

Printed matter / General printed matter 

37

 Item 1 Speech of Mr. Thomson on the subject of a penitentiary for the District of Columbia. Delivered in the House of Representatives February 24, 1826 

 Item 2  Thomson, Alexander Letter from Alexander Thomson, describing a settler’s experience in Franklin County, Pa., in 1773. Extracted from The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, v.8 1884 

 Item 3 Travel brochure: Hermit Rim Road and Trail Grand Canyon 19[??] 

 Item 4  Lehigh Live Stock Exchange Company Charter with report of committee 1871 

Printed matter / General printed matter 

38

 Item 1 [Plaque:] Dominion Cabinet, Montreal [with member photos] undated 

 Item 2 [Booklet:] International Railway Congress, 5th session, London June/July 1895 

 Item 3  Lardner, D. Rudimentary treatise on the steam engine for the use of beginners 1852 

Printed matter / General printed matter / Long's Eighth Annual Tour of Gettysburg (6 copies) 1888 

OV17

20100230008 

20100230008

20100230031 

20100230031

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 Series IV Photographs and drawings 1871, 1897 

Box

Photographs and drawings 

OV1

 Item 1  Worrall, H. Sketch record of the hunt 1871 

Scope and Contents note

Pen and ink drawing. Multi-paned cartoon of buffalo hunt, provisions, and cabin.

 Item 2 [Black and white photograph] undated 

Scope and Contents note

Shows Frank Thomson's office.

 Item 3 Frank Thomson in his office, seated at a desk, surrounded by portraits and maps 1897? 

Scope and Contents note

Shows Frank Thomson in his office, seated at a desk, surrounded by portraits and maps.

 Item 4 Frank Thomson and a group of men, some in horse-drawn carriages, in front of and aboard a Pennsylvania Railroad car 1880? 

Scope and Contents note

Shows fifteen men posed on horse carriages in front of Pennsylvania Railroad car and in doorways of car, location unknown.

Frank Thomson and a group of men, some in horse-drawn carriages, in front of and aboard a Pennsylvania Railroad car, 1880? (20100230002)

 Item 5 Twelve men posed on horse-drawn carriages in front of a Pennsylvania Railroad train, location unknown 1880? 

Scope and Contents note

Shows twelve men posed on horse carriages in front of a Pennsylvania Railroad train, location unknown.

 Item 6 Twelve men posed on horse-drawn carriages in front of a Pennsylvania Railroad train, location unknown 1880 

Scope and Contents note

Shows twelve men posed with horses and carriages in front of a Pennsylvania Railroad train and a building, N[orthern?] P[acific?] Elevator Co., location unknown.

 Item 7 Frank Thomson and another man with hunting rifles and dogs standing on the back of a train caboose 1897 

Scope and Contents note

Depicts Frank Thomson and another man with hunting rifles and dogs standing on the back of a train caboose, location unknown.

 Item 8 [Black and white portrait] undated 

Scope and Contents note

Subject of portrait is unidentified.

 Item 9  McCauley, [?], Capt. The first railway train (drawing by Frank Thomson) 1890 

Scope and Contents note

Written in the artist's hand: "Drawn for Frank Thomson, Esq., First Vice President, Penna. R.R. by Capt. McCauley, U.S. Army." Cartoon of a train with four cars and a man chasing a bull off the tracks.

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 Series V Alex Thomson accretion 1874   1.0 volumes

"Newspaper Cuttings" scrapbook [death of John Edgar Thomson, president of Pennsylvania Railroad] 1874   1.0 volumes

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