Rare AT&SF Document Collection Being Archived For Winslow’s Museum

George Shaw is working to archive the large collection of AT&SF documents that are currently being stored in the La Posada Basement.

Unfortunately, a vast quantity of information went to the dump before Janice Griffith, Director of the Old Trails Museum, could come to the rescue.

To say the cataloging effort is a big job, is a gross understatement. Griffith and Shaw are looking for volunteers to assist with the project.

Volunteers do not have to be archivists or computer whizs to help with the project. Nor do they need to dedicate every day of the week to the project. They only need to have an interest in the history of Winslow and the railroad to assist with the project by committing a few hours a day or week.

Shaw can teach any volunteer the process, which is easy and straightforward. Shaw indicates that if he had five volunteers from Winslow, each helping only one or two days a week, the project would be completed much faster.

Griffith, in spite of her efforts over the past six months, has been unsuccessful in locating volunteers from Winslow. One volunteer, Bee Valvo, from Flagstaff has shown interest and will be helping half a day a week. Another volunteer, Pat DuMoulin, from Phoenix will arrive mid-March to assist with the project.

The collection of documents covers the Albuquerque Division, which was headquartered in Winslow.

The division was made up of the main line tracks of the Belen, First, Second, Third and Kingman districts from Belen and Isleta, New Mexico to just short of Needles, Calif. Also included in the division are the Grand Canyon District, the Fourth (Ash Fork to Phoenix) District, the Parker District and branch lines to Clarkdale, Poland and Crown King (Verde Valley Railroad).

For several years this collection has been stored in the basement of the La Posada Hotel. About a year ago Griffith received a call from George F. Shaw in Louisiana, who said he had heard of the collection. He asked if the collection contained any information regarding the bridge, the station, the town or the Volz Trading Post at Canyon Diablo.

Griffith advised Shaw that the collection had never been cataloged and, therefore, she did not know what the collection contained. Thus began the friendship between Griffin and Shaw.

In September of 2001, Shaw arrived in Winslow to begin the volunteer effort to catalog the collection. He remained until the end of October 2001, saying to Janice “I shall return”, to paraphrase a famous American. When he left town, he took five boxes containing several hundred unorganized records.

Shaw returned to Winslow on March 1, along with five boxes, now organized and ready to enter into the computer database catalog. He is again engaged in the cataloging process and planning to stay at least two months.

Shaw works seven days a week in the basement of the La Posada, sorting, repairing, and ironing the drawings. He then enters the documents into the computer database.

The oldest document found thus far is an 1885 Department of the Army, Arizona Territory Map compiled and drawn by First Lieutenant T.A. Bingham. This document is a copy of the original map.

The oldest railroad oldest document found thus far is an 1899 Santa Fe Pacific Railroad Company map showing the location and flow of springs south of Chalender, Ariz.

Once the project is complete, the contents of the collection and the location of each stored document will be known and easily retrieved. The collection will then become a part of Old Trails Museum’s Railroad Archive.

Once the collection is finished, the museum will have one of the few repositories of railroad records readily accessible by the public. Shaw knows of several other collections of AT&SF records, but most of these collections are boxed, stored, and remain, at least partly if not completely, un-cataloged and inaccessible.

He knows of only three other collections of AT&SF records that are cataloged and easily accessed by the public. When this project is complete, Winslow will have one of the best collections of AT&SF records available.

Notably missing from the collection given to the Old Trails Museum are the right of way and track maps and the station plats for the Second, Third and Kingman districts.

If anyone has any information regarding the whereabouts of these drawings please contact Janice Griffith at the Museum, e-mail oldtrails@cybertrails.com or phone (928) 289-5861 or George Shaw at the La Posada.

One might logically ask who is interested in this old “stuff”? The answer is simple: the general public, other museums, historians, historical societies, including the towns and counties through which the railroad passes, railroad modelers, authors, railroad “nuts” to name a few.

Shaw wishes to personally thank the owners and staff of the La Posada for allocating basement space for this project and for their continuing support and assistance.

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