Skip to main content

Alfred A. Appling Railroad Surveyor Papers

Identifier: M666

Scope and Contents

The collection provides a window into the field-life of a railroad surveyor. It shows small town life, surveying equipment & teams, track gangs, immigrant labor, locomotives, riverboats, bridges, handcars, train wrecks, desert camps & tent cities, wagon trains & freighters, log cabins, bunk furnishings, wildlife, lumbering operations, and railroad offices.


  • 1902-1907


Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the united States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical / Historical

Alfred A. Appling’s diary and photograph album both begin in April 1903 while he was working as a low-level supervisor, jack-of-all-trades, and surveyor-in-training at Pennsylvania Railroad’s Linwood Yards in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was simultaneously taking correspondence courses towards a college degree. In August 1903, he then began working with the U.S. Corps of Engineers Ohio River surveying project. Appling’s journal shows that between December 1903 – August 1904 he spent most of his time as a full-time student, probably at the University of Cincinnati, until he secured a job with the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway (CCC&StL), also known as the Big Four Railroad.

After his journal ends, the captioned photographs in the album (1905-1907) continue to document his career. Over the following three years, Appling worked in succession for the Chicago, Quincy & Burlington Railroad (CBQ) at Wind River Canyon & the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, the Chicago, North Western Railway (CNW) in Wisconsin, the Illinois Central Railroad (IC) in Tennessee, and the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad (Y&MV) in Mississippi.


.75 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



A unique and extremely detailed first-hand visual and textual record of railroad fieldwork in the early years of the 20th-century.


This small collection contains three volumes.


Purchased with Culpepper funds in February 2021.

Related Materials

M169, Railroad Collection

M272, Dr. Gilbert H. Hoffman Papers and Research Collection

M284, Gulf and Ship Island Railroad Minute Book

M291, Ingram-Day Lumber Company Photographs


• Case File

• Contents from the collection

Alfred A. Appling Railroad Surveyor Papers
Collection processed and finding aid written by Carla Carlson.
March 23, 2021
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001