The Minnesota Historical Society holds the records of the Great Northern Railway, the Northern Pacific Railway, and the Soo Line Railroad Company, in addition to the records of hundreds of predecessor, subsidiary, and branch companies; collectively, the records date from 1855 to 1994 and comprise over 15,000 cubic feet of materials. These records can support research on many different topics, from family history to station architecture, bridge and culvert records, land settlement, and much more.
Because the two major railroad record collections in the MNHS Library--the Great Northern Railway Company and the Northern Pacific Railway Company--are so large, they have each been split into separate series and arranged by the office that created the records. Both the Great Northern and the Northern Pacific collections include records from branch lines, subsidiary and related companies, as well as the files of preceding and succeeding companies, as does the records of the Soo Line Railroad Company. Records for branch and subsidiary companies can also be found in the library catalog, MnPALS.
The railroad records span over a century, and the corporate offices sometimes had overlapping responsibilities, which occasionally makes finding a particular piece of information a challenge. Below are some hints to help you get started with your research.
Directory of Railroad History Research Locations
A state-by-state listing of major railroad record repositories from the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, Inc.
Records Relating to North American Railroads.
A 2001 paper describing the railroad records available through the National Archives, including: