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Railroad Records Research: Law & Land

Railroad Records Research: Accidents & Disasters

Search the Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub for newspaper articles on railroad accidents, wrecks, crashes, and derailments. Search Collections Online for "train wreck" or "derailment" for pictures. 
Northern Pacific Railway Company. General Claims Department. General Claims Department records, 1883-1938.
Register of injuries sustained, annual summaries of claims, and case files of the General Claims Department. Registers, annual summaries of claims, and case files describe injuries sustained by employees and others in the course of Northern Pacific business, amounts paid for personal injury or deaths, lost baggage, fire losses, and stock killed, as well as cases heard in Montana courts concerning the June 1929 flood at Wibaux.
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid 

Railroad and Warehouse Commission of the State of Minnesota. Chief engineer’s case files, 1901-1924.
Consists primarily of chief engineer D. F. Jurgensen’s case files (1901-1924) on railroad-related matters, such as train wrecks, complaints about dangerous crossings, deteriorating and inadequate bridges, valuations of railroad properties, and other matters relating to railroad safety and operations. The files include correspondence, legal documents, and various supporting materials. Many of the case files contain blueprint maps and technical drawings, submitted as exhibits relating to the particular case.
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid 

Railroad and Warehouse Commission of the State of Minnesota. Railroad accident and grade warning signal system reports, circa 1917-1973.

Interstate Commerce Commission accident investigation reports (1946-1966), railroad grade crossing accident register forms, arranged alphabetically by city, containing brief data on accidents at railroad crossings (1937- 1971).  
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid 

Railroad and Warehouse Commission of the State of Minnesota. Subject Files, circa 1933-1962.
Subject files documenting a wide variety of topics dealt with by the commission, including railroad accident reports.
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid

Railroad Records Research: Land

Browse the library catalog for the subject headings "Railroad land grants" for published materials. 
Great Northern Railway Company (U.S.).Land Department Records,1867-1970.
Records documenting the disposition and management of land tracts and swamp land grants in Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington that were owned by Great Northern, including sales and accounting records, contract and deed registers, and land sale records. Also included are miscellaneous advertising materials (1890-1910) show techniques used to lure settlers and to sell land parcels. 
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid
Great Northern Railway Company (U.S.). Right-of-way, Land and Tax Department Records, 1857-1969.
Correspondence and subject files (1857-1969), property tax records, records of easements and permits granted, and land and timber examination files created by the Great Northern administrative department responsible for managing the company’s right of way property.
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid 
Minnesota.Governor. Railroad and Land Matters File,1885-1915.
Correspondence, notes, legal and court documents, lists of lands, deeds, and related materials centering on aspects of the ownership and conveyance of state trust fund and railroad grant lands that were handled by or routed through the governor's office. A large proportion of the files deal with relinquishments by railroads to Minnesota and by Minnesota to the U.S. of swamp and other lands previously settled or claimed by private parties. 
MNHS Call Number: 115.K.16.6F
Minnesota. State Land Office. Maps of Railroad Lines, 1857-1911.
Maps of railroad lines, submitted to the State Land Office in accordance with various acts of Congress or the Minnesota legislature that granted public lands and/or rights of way to the railroads to help support their construction. They are of three general types: location maps, which record the prospective route as surveyed and laid out; construction maps, showing the line as actually constructed, equipped, and put into operation; and right of way maps, showing portions of the line that crossed state land, usually with the dimensions and/or acreages of land claimed by the railroad for its right of way.
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid
Minnesota. Secretary of State. Maps, 1850s-1920.
U.S. government and military road survey maps (1850s), maps of proposed railroad construction, and miscellaneous maps filed with the secretary of state.
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid
Minnesota. State Land Office.  Railroad Deed and Patent Records,1864-1943.
Copies of patents transferring title to railroad grant lands from the federal government to the state of Minnesota; and copies of deeds issued by the state of Minnesota to railroad corporations for grant lands and rights of way.
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid 
Minnesota. State Land Office. Railroad Swamp Land Selection Lists,1880-1926.
Lists of state swamp lands selected by private companies as part of land grants from the state to aid in the construction of railroads or for other purposes. These grants authorized the company to select a specified amount of swamp land for each mile of track it constructed. Each selection list gives the list number, name of grantee company, citation to the legislation authorizing the grant, date the selection list was filed, and legal description of the parcels selected.
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid
Minnesota.State Auditor. Land Department. Reports of Public and Railroad Lands Sold,1865-1942.
Lists of land sold to private parties and paid for in full, with title passing to the purchaser and the lands becoming subject to taxation. These lists were sent annually to the state auditor by the the various U.S. district land offices in Minnesota and by land grant railroads. The railroad lists also include lands for which purchase contracts were made or canceled. From these lists, the state auditor compiled lists to be sent to the individual county auditors for entry onto the tax rolls.
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid
Northern Pacific Railway Company. Land Department Records, 1869-1973.
Records created by the Northern Pacific administrative unit responsible for the company’s extensive land holdings, and documenting in great detail the acquisition, surveying and platting, ongoing management, resource usage, and disposition of the lands.
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid 
Northern Pacific Railway Company. Land Department. Land Grant Contest Cards, 1870s-1930s.
Microfilmed cards summarizing the status and eventual disposition of those land parcels within the original Northern Pacific federal land grant that were later contested by other parties. The cards provide information on lands in the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
MNHS Call Number: See the finding aid in the library (M578). 
Railroad and Warehouse Commission of the State of Minnesota. Railroad Records, Miscellaneous,1864-1941.
Railroad Commissioner's record book (1864-1874), recording lands conveyed, leased, or contracted to be sold by railroad companies
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid
United States.General Land Office. Railroad Selection Lists,1860-1926.
Lists of land parcels selected by congressional land grant railroads from the public domain as indemnity for land that was unavailable within their original grants. The several Minnesota railroads that received congressional grants of public lands to assist in meeting construction expenses were entitled to receive specified amounts of land for each mile of track completed, usually the odd-numbered sections within six miles each side of the line. If any of these lands were already reserved, homesteaded, or otherwise unavailable, the railroad was entitled to select an equivalent amount of public land as indemnity. The Railroad Selection Lists itemize the indemnity lands selected by each railroad and submitted for approval to the General Land Office. They generally, but not always, correspond to the master sets of approved lists and land patents kept by the State Land Office.
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid

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