Frank A. Weer collection (selected items)1796-1990
Frank A. Weer (1932-2019) was a white-collar railroad employee who spent most of his career with the Reading Company, and after the transfer of railroad operations in 1976, with Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail). This collection is a small portion of a much larger collection of official railroad company documents, maps and drawings. Documents are primarily those of the Reading Company, Pennsylvania Railroad Company, Penn Central Transportation Company and Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail).
- Weer, Frank A., 1932-2019 (Collector, Person)
10 Linear Feet
General Physcial Description
4 cartons, 3 oversize flat boxes, 2 file card boxes, and 13 map folders.
Frank A. Weer (1932-2019) was a white-collar railroad employee who spent most of his career with the Reading Company, and after the transfer of railroad operations in 1976, with Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail). Weer was a skilled draftsman and usually worked in the Real Estate Department preparing documents on property holdings and transfers. Because of this, he was ideally placed to salvage large quantities of property and track maps and drawings and photographs of structures as they were disposed of beginning in the 1960s. The builk of this material came from the Reading Company, but by transferring to Conrail, Weer had access to similar records generated by other railroads whose facilities passed to Conrail, especially the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the New York Central Railroad Company and the Penn Central Transportation Company.
Weer also collected trade catalogs, timetables, and other ephemera being discarded by his employers, as well as Geological Survey, Coast & Geodetic Survey and other commercial maps.
Despite amassing a huge collection of official railroad documents, Weer did not, unlike many railroad enthusiasts, publish books or articles aimed at that audience. However, many books, especially those on the Reading, have made extensive use of Weer's collection.
The items were originally collected and received in a completely disordered state. They have been arranged first by format and size, and then by originating company. Series I consists of files small enough to fit in standard file folders. Series II consists of large flat and rolled maps and drawings.
Scope and Content
This accession comprises but a small part of Frank A. Weer's collection, and is one of many pieces distributed to a variety of railroad and local historical institutions when he was forced to downsize his collection in the fall of 2016.
The bulk of the material is in some way related to the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). Other PRR materials were taken by the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society, while most of the Reading Company material went to the Reading Company Technical & Historical Society and a variety of Philadelphia area repositories.
The materials have been divided into two series: Files and maps. The files consist of a variety of ephemera - track diagrams, employee timetables, reports and financial statements, small divisional maps, legal agreements, briefs of title, and corporate histories. Items of note include: a Photostat of a 1796 letter from Robert Fulton to Pennsylvania Govenor Thomas Mifflin on canals, the original of which is in the Reading archive; floor plats of Philadelphia's Broad Street Station; deeds for the air rights on which to build the Farley Post Office in New York and the Daily News printing plant in Chicago; statistics on travel to the Army-Navy Game; sketch proposals for building sports stadiums on air rights at West Philadelphia, Sunnyside Yard and Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn; briefs of title for land acquired by the PRR through purchase of the Pennsylvania Canals and state railroads; a memoir of the early history of the Danville & Pottsville Railroad; notes and maps on the Delaware & Raritan Canal; and notes and maps on the holdings of the PRR's water company subsidiaries.
The maps are in several formats. The first are blueprints from the railroad companies' own manuscript engineering drawings, the originals of which have probably disappeared. These include system maps, close-up maps of cities and urban areas with their industries, and detailed track maps. The second are commercial maps collected by the companies for informational purposes, often with the railroad lines highlighted in colored ink. The third are Coast & Geodetic and state geological survey maps that may have been collected by the railroads or by Mr. Weer personally. There are also drawings of PRR business car No. 120 and the ferry boat "Jersey City."
Cities represented are: Akron, Altoona, Baltimore, Bristol (Pennsylvania), Camden, Cape Charles, Carlisle, Chambersburg, Chester, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dayton, Detroit, Erie, Grand Rapids, Harrisburg, Jersey City, Lemoyne, Louisville, Logansport, New York, Newark (New Jersey), Niles (Ohio), Norfolk, Olean, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Saint Louis, Sandusky, Terre Haute, Toledo, Trenton (New Jersey), York, Youngstown, Warsaw (Indiana) and Washington (D.C).
Maps of note include a track plan of West Philadelphia showing the West Philadelphia Shops and station before 30th Street Station was built; a map showing the damage caused by Hurricane Agnes in 1972; Conrail tonnage maps; detailed ground plans for each of the three levels of Grand Central Terminal; flat and axonometric maps of the New York Central's West Side Improvement, part of which became the High Line park; and a Pennsylvania Department of Health map showing streams polluted by coal mine drainage.
No restrictions. The collection is open for research use.
Language of Materials
Frank A. Weer collection of railroadiana (Accession 2017.221), Audiovisual and Digital Department, Hagley Museum and Library.
Publications were transferred to the Published Collections Department and are now cataloged in Hagley's online catalog. Contact the Published Collections Department for details.
As of this writing, the bulk of Mr. Weer's collection has been distributed to other local institutions, mostly railroad historical societies, while other parts are in the hands of private collectors. It should be assumed that, for the immediate future, most of this material accessible only by appointment or not at all.
- Weer, Frank A., 1932-2019 (Collector, Person)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Frank A. Weer collection (selected items)
- Christopher T. Baer
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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