Ok, today's your chance to be a real railroad historian! Those of us who are really interested in a particular rail line often seek out books written about that line. These books in most cases are well researched and authors often spend years poring over documents just like the ones pictured here to find out the tiniest details about their subject.
Those of you who are regulars here know that I'm from the Ohio Valley near Wheeling, West Virginia, the southeast terminus of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad (the other end was at Toledo, Ohio, not far from where I now live). So I'm interested in this both because of its connection to the Nickel Plate Railroad AND its proximity to where I grew up. The Wheeling tracks were only about 100 yards from my home in Tiltonsville.
One source of invaluable information about all railroads is the Interstate Commerce Commission's Valuation Reports. Not being a railroad historian, I don't know all of the details but the story as I know it is that around the time of World War I, there was some consideration of nationalizing the railroads. The roads were under USRA control during the war but the government never officially took them over. Anyway, the ICC required all railroads to submit detailed reports showing assets of the road, physical property and an estimated cost & current value.
This is just one of the reports filed with the ICC about the Wheeling Terminal Railroad, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the road that controlled the access of the Wheeling & Lake Erie into Wheeling. Reports like these are interesting to read... for a while. They include detailed listings of all rolling stock, locomotives, maintenance of way cars... everything that was of value to the railroad. This is a brief overview of the Wheeling Terminal. It must be an updated report as it is dated 1929; the original Valuation Reports were due long before this.
You can look at these two documents in detail by clicking on the following links:
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Quite frankly, I can't imagine reviewing page after page of this kind of material... I've read a few more but these are more interesting than others! Pity the poor rail historian... and appreciate the work that they do to provide us with the story of the railroads that are our favorites.