Railroad Names Database
Version 3.0

Search for railroad names in our database. Note that this database does not use AAR reporting marks but intials that might be found on railroad property such as lanterns and locks. See first note below.

Instructions. Make sure than only one box is filled in --use the [CLEAR FORM] button to clear old choices -- and click the "SEARCH BY..." button to the right of the box, rather than pressing the [return ] key. Please email us with suggestions, questions, or problem reports. See notes below.

Search for railroads by.....  
...railroad initials: No distinction is made between "railroad" and "railway". Type the initials using CAPS in the box at right. Also use a lower case "t" for "St" referring to cities like St. Louis or St. Paul. So instead of CM&STP, type CM&StP. Also use a lower case "t" for "Mt" referring to places like Mt. Vernon. So instead of C&MTV&D, type C&MtV&D
...railroads beginning with the letter:
...any word or location: For example, type the city Memphis and all railroads with that word anywhere in the name will be shown. For multiple part names such as St. Louis or New England, make sure there is a space and only one space in between the parts. Also for best results use a lower case "t" for "St" referring to cities like St. Louis or St. Paul and a lower case "t" for "Mt" referring to places like Mt. Vernon.


About names in this database:

  • The initials shown in this database are not AAR reporting marks which are a set of letters unique to each railroad and used in tracking railroad cars. See reporting marks. Rather the initials shown here are what can typically be found on railroad property such as lanterns and keys. It seems that railroads felt no need to have unique property markings. So, for example, the Maine Central Railroad marked many lanterns and keys with "MC RR" (which might also have been used by Michigan Central and other railroads); whereas the AAR reporting mark for the Maine Central was "MEC", a unique marking.

  • Many railroad names used words like "Northwestern" or "Southeastern" which have been spelled differently over time. Early references often used two words, for example, "North Western" instead of "Northwestern", and historical railroad markings tended used this two-part convention, for example, the Chicago & Northwestern Railway used "C&NW Ry" as initials. Therefore this database uses two-part phrases for "North Western", "North Eastern", South Eastern", and "South Western". Thus, use "EP&SW" to find "El Paso & South Western" (AKA "El Paso & Southwestern").

  • Similarly some place names have been spelled differently over time. For example, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania dropped the "h" for a brief period of time in the early 20th century. For consistency, all Pittsburgh references use the "h", that is, "Pittsburgh", not "Pittsburg".

  • Some details like location are missing on some names due to the fact that multiple sources have been used. We hope to fill this information in eventually.

  • The search process does not handle RR names with "of" in it well, e.g., "Central RR of Pennsylvania." We're working on this.

  • Most names were obtained through scanning, and errors are possible. We welcome additions and corrections. Contact Us.

  • See Railroad Marking Mysteries for more discussion on railroad initials.

Sources: Most information is from:

  • A comprehensive listing of railroads found in the "Official Guide" since 1868 to around 1980 originally published in Stewart's Railroad Switchkeys & Padlocks (see Book List), shown here by generous permission from Richard Chenovick.

  • A comprehensive 1915 Gazetteer of all railroad lines within the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

How to help make this database better: This website is all-volunteer, non-commercial, and non-profit. We welcome additional information and efforts in making this database more complete and accurate. Contact us.