Look what turned up in a warehouse where BNSF stores historical materials! Uncovered in 2010, this impressive 6-foot by 18-foot railroad map has unclear origins. Dated by experts to somewhere between 1923 and 1935, the map was found in a canister labeled: “President Office-Great Northern Railway-St. Paul, Minnesota.”
One of the most notable features of the map is the fact that both the Great Northern Railway and the Northern Pacific Railway are indicated in black. Normally, only the home road would be black. It’s thought that the map might have been used as a promotional tool for the merger attempt between the two railroads in 1927.
The map is now prominently displayed at the BNSF headquarters campus in Fort Worth, in a high-traffic corridor across from an employee common space.
The map itself is very fragile, since it is hand-painted in what appears to be tempera paint on paper that is about 90 years old, mounted on handkerchief-thin linen. Because of this, the map is protected by five pieces of Plexiglass mounted with stand-off bolts. This display method affords a great view of the map while protecting it from ultraviolet rays from sunlight and fluorescent lighting.
If you can shed any more light on the story behind this map, we’d love to hear from you!