Ernie Gibson Rail and Trolley Collection, 1872-1988

Accession: 2008-004
Extent: 6.5 linear feet
Restrictions: None
Copyright: Copyright has not been transferred to the University of Louisville

Biographical Note

Ernest "Ernie" K. Gibson, 1923-1989, was a Louisvillian interested in documenting the history of railroad and transit history. He was a voracious collector of historical railroad documents, especially of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, as well as other lines. As early as 1941, he traveled widely on rail and trolley fan trips within the U. S. and Canada where he collected materials on the transit systems and railroads in those cities. In some cases, he created informal electric line route maps.

For a brief time as a young man, Gibson worked as a fireman on the Southern Railway line between Louisville and Danville. Later, he worked as a motorman for the Louisville Railway Company and retired as chief clerk of the L&N Railroad Company. He appears to have used his knowledge and access gained through those transportation jobs to collect additional historical records. He was a member of Victory Memorial Baptist Church.

Brief Description of the Collection

Includes books, clippings, logs, schedules, and other materials relating to railroads and public transit (particularly street/electric rail), primarily from the 20th century. Much of the material relates to the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company, but other companies (and regions of the country) are represented as well. Boxes three and four consist of books.

List of Folders in this Collection

Box 1

  • Steam Engine Clipping Scrapbook, circa 1930s
  • Railroad and Louisville Railway Rolling Stock Sketches, undated
  • Rail and Trolley Photographs (includes wrecks, Louisville Railway, water-damaged equipment photo scrapbook from American Car and Foundry Works, miscellaneous photo negatives, prints, sketches and equipment lists, and published items including late 1940s The Australian Tramway Album)
  • Rail Freight Movement Documents, 1902-1981 including old U. S. and Mexican train orders; List of Howard Blackburn's Historical Trolley Slides
  • L&N Train Logs Including Derby Passenger Trains (Louisville), 1923-1968; Locomotive Repair Tables, 1920s; miscellaneous items
  • L&N Operations, 1940s-1970s; CI&L ICC Bankruptcy Hearing, 1937; Louisville Area Train Delays, 1935; Miscellaneous Steam/Diesel Locomotive Data; Freight Car "Explosives" Warning Sign
  • L&N Strike, 1955; L&N Dining Car Dept. Employee Service; L&N, Louisville Terminal, Seniority Records Rosters, Several Railroad Company Repair, Personnel, and Financial Records including wrecks as well as rolling stock lists
  • Historical Railroad Shipping Documents (Including steamboat line, Monon, Wabash, and J, M&I, 19th and early 20th century (photocopies)
  • Passenger Train Movements (Various lines); Dining Car Menus; Report of Rail Photo Trip to Kingston, Ontario, 1954 / "Train Watching!"; L&N Passenger Train Consists
  • L&N Track Profiles; Kentucky Railway Museum Timetable, 1986; L&N Route Maps including Lines in various Kentucky Coal Fields; Louisville Division Profile, Track Diagrams; L&N Chronology (handwritten)
  • Sample Rail and Interurban Documents (Including Kentucky Traction Tickets)
  • Loose IC Clippings and Documents ca. 1950
  • LH& St. Louis Indenture, 1915
  • L&N Division Map, 1944; Federal Coordinator of Rail Comparative Costs, 1927- 1929; Chicago, Indianapolis, and Louisville Historical Map (showing abandonments), 1946
  • L&N Osborne Yard Diagram, 1986; Kentucky Rail Museum Appalachian Excursion, 1986; St. Louis and San Francisco RR Annual Report; Indiana Interurban Booklet; Indiana Steam Rail Excursion, 1977; Trolley and Rail Magazines; Pennsylvania RR Conway (PA) Yard
  • Photographs -- Trolleys, 1906-1949
  • Personal Photographs, 1956 and undated

Box 2

  • Rail Related Clippings; L&N Locomotive Paint Scheme, 1954; L&N Seniority Roster, 1973; L&N Louisville Terminal Employee List; Directory ads;
  • Sulzer, Elmer, "Louisville Electric Lines" chapter, unpublished, annotated manuscript (1 page only letter Sulzer to Gibson)
  • Bus, trolley, rail schedules and maps (Louisville and other cities); Transportation Museums and Excursions; Street Rail Transfers; NRHS, Kansas City Chapter, 1953
  • New Orleans Street Rail
  • Electric Railroad History Newsletters (Canada and U. S.); Toronto Street Rail
  • Western Railroader; San Francisco Street Rail, 1941
  • Pittsburgh Street Rail
  • Los Angeles, Portland Oregon, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and St. Louis Rail
  • Birmingham Rail
  • Electric Railway Calendars, 1941, 1963, 1973-1974
  • Electric Rail Publications Including 1968 Survey of Rail Museums
  • Personal Correspondence, Louisville Transit Route Maps, 1950s; Louisville Rapid Transit Route, 1939 and 1950s; Abandoned Louisville Transit Lines

Box 3

  • Cincinnati Public Transit Including Schedules, 1952, 1966; North Yard (Atlanta) Terminal; Street Rail Layouts and Information (several cities)
  • Chicago and Nashville Street Rail
  • "Trolley Returns," Courier-Journal, 11/16/1975; Traction Guide for Model Railroaders, 1974, Rail Fan Publications, 1957 - 1983
  • Rail Clipping Scrapbook, undated, Labor, 1969, 1971, 1972; Rail Clippings
  • Rail Related Articles and Clippings
  • Rail Related Articles and Clippings (water damaged)
  • Louisville Railway and Other Clippings

Box 4

  • L&N Asst. Engineer Track Field Notebooks (13), Early 1900s
  • Baldwin Locomotive Products, 1920 (water damaged)
  • Vulcan Louisville Repair Parts
  • L&N Passenger Fares, 1967
  • L&N and Atlanta and West Point RR Legal Filings, 1886 and 1897
  • Pullman and Western Alabama RR Contract, 1946
  • Equipment Sketches
  • Guide to Locomotive Parts Inventory (?)
  • Locomotive Observation Logs (?)
  • Handwritten Equipment Lists
  • NYC RR Operating Rules, 1937
  • L&N Locomotive Classification Summary, 1926
  • L&N Roster of Locomotives, 1966
  • Louisville Railway Operating Rules, 1923

Box 5

  • Official Guides, April, 1941; January, 1952; January and March, 1965; September, 1968
  • Atlanta and West Point RR Annual Reports, 1872, 1877, 1891, 1895-1899, 1904-05, and Cumulative Legal Documents, 1917
  • L&N Freight Schedules, 1949 and 1981
  • Type E Locomotive Booster Manual, 1944
  • Pocket List of RR Officials, 1952
  • Wabash RR Emblem
  • Sample of RR and Electric Rail Documents Including Tickets
  • Monon RR Personnel (L&N) Register 1912-1926
  • Illinois Central Clipping Scrapbook, ca. 1950s
  • L&N Accounts Receivable Freight Operations Book, ca. 1957
  • Locomotive Specifications and Diagrams (4 vols.)


  • L&N Mechanical Department (South Louisville Shops) Payroll Register, July-December, 1912 (hardback volume)
  • L&N Equipment and Motive Power Register (Lists Value and Depreciation), 1926-1931 (hardback volume)