Deaccessioned- it’s official!

Facilities manager Mike Mitchell moves a pallet out of the Newberry

Newberry facilities manager Michael Mitchell moves a loaded pallet out of the Newberry

The week after Thanksgiving, Jim Singer & Dick Kasper from the Burlington Route Historical Society visited us to pick up materials we had decided to deaccession. Consisting primarily of duplicate volumes, routine correspondence, and financial material compiled elsewhere in the collection, most of these deaccessions were identified and physically separated by the NEH team back in November of 2011. We added a few more items over the course of the next two years, and as we wrapped up the processing portion of the grant this past fall, realized the deaccessions  were ready to go.

Project Director Martha Briggs and Burlington Route Historical Society representative Jim Singer stand among the deaccessions in the loaded truck

Project Director Martha Briggs and BRHS representative Jim Singer stand among the deaccessions in the loaded truck

Jim and Dick arrived early with an empty truck, and we spent the morning helping them organize and load. The Newberry facilities team was an enormous help, coordinating the transfer of 15 pallets of heavy volumes, papers, and boxes through the building and into the truck. Jim & Dick then delivered the contents to the BRHS facility in Baraboo, Wisconsin, where the materials will eventually be available for use.  We are extremely grateful to the BRHS for taking these deaccessions off our hands and giving them a good home, and happy that others interested in CB&Q will have the chance to access them.

The Textual Tracks of the Land Department

By Liisa Freeh

Colonel H. B. Scott, a land agent for CB&Q, communicated extensively with various businesses, institutions, and private individuals across Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Illinois in the 1880s and 1890s. Scott’s correspondence is filled with the particulars of land transactions, the details of which often extend beyond the mere exchange of figures.

CB&Q A-5-2 Photos, Artwork, & Audiovisual -  Executives & Employees Col. H.B. Scott

CB&Q A-5-2
Photos, Artwork, & Audiovisual -
Executives & Employees
Col. H.B. Scott

One of Scott’s most diligent correspondents was R.M. Stevenson, a citizen of the town of Tarkio, Missouri and cashier at the Tarkio Valley Bank. As such, Stevenson had intimate knowledge of the personal finances of Tarkio residents – including those of Tarkio’s “corn king,” the highly-successful farmer, David Rankin. Through Scott’s communication with primarily Stevenson, but Rankin as well, a timeline unfolds for the project of “booming a town,” through railroad involvement, and complex personal negotiations between a handful of individuals.

Both Rankin and Stevenson wrote to Scott about large-scale plans for Tarkio almost as often as they wrote about specific deals or accounts. Rankin enthusiastically planned expansions for the town’s Tarkio College, as well as a waterworks, electric plant, and eventually even an opera house. Stevenson’s letters to Scott are full of regular requests for land or money to facilitate these projects – and they are also full of private discussions of residents’ finances and characters. The small college town was shaped by these conversations: new land-owners and settlers were discussed and selected across this correspondence, and public works projects moved forward as a result of the information exchanged. Railroad priorities of expanding commerce along their lines balanced – perhaps surprisingly – with personal goals. In March of 1889, Stevenson writes to Scott that “whatever gets you the most money is best” (CB&Q 7.2; Land Dept. Pvt. Land Pprs, Scott, H.B. In-Letters, March 28, 1889) – a recognition that many of his efforts in his town are for the railroad’s benefit. This effort to maximize profit for CB&Q and its agents,  went hand-in-hand with “corn king” Rankin’s articulated goal to “boom the town” which he had helped establish, and in which he had invested so much of his personal fortune.

liisa010

Rankin's oft-repeated goal to "boom the town," and the components of that project, appear in this letter of June 1889 - an endeavor that represented his own interests, and those of the railroad.

Rankin’s oft-repeated goal to “boom the town,” and the components of that project, are discussed in this letter of June 1889. It was an endeavor that represented his own interests, and those of the railroad.

As they illustrate the growth of a town along the railroad, the letters between Scott, Stevenson, and Rankin also provide insight into the sheer reach of the CB&Q’s Land Department operations.   Prominent town residents like Stevenson and Rankin solicited business advice and provided land agents with day-to-day accounts of finances. Such useful and plentiful information allowed agents like Scott to help select new land buyers and residents, and choose which public projects to help fund – factors that shaped the daily lives of the town populace, and the populace itself. Correspondence of this kind effectively allowed the agent to take an active role in planning and growing the towns along the CB&Q’s lines. The relationship was guided by the interests of both town and railroad. It could be mutually beneficial – even if, at times, such detailed information empowered railroad officials to be the parties defining town interests and benefits.

Party in the Rocky Mountains

In finishing up with the CB&Q photos of Colorado, I came across this charming party at the Hillcrest Inn. Again, we see that the culture of national parks and of adventuring to the west was far different in the early 20th century.

CBQ_A_5_3_Rocky_Mountain_Natl_Park_hillcrest_inn001

CB&Q A-5-3
Photos, Artwork, & Audiovisual – Advertising – Albums
Rocky Mountain National Park

These photos are undated, but the fashion seems to place these party-goers in the 1930s. Nestled in the mountains, the Hillcrest Inn looks as chic and fun as a big city party.

I especially love the decor of the inn seen below, which seems to instruct the guests to eat, drink, and be merry. Needless to say, I have become a little nostalgic for the glamor of early excursions to the west, complete with top hat fascinators and pearls.

CBQ_A_5_3_Rock_Mtn_Natl_Park_Hillcrest_Inn002

CB&Q A-5-3
Photos, Artwork, & Audiovisual – Advertising – Albums
Rocky Mountain National Park