March 02, 2010

Bridge and tunnel companies – should they stay or should they go?

Tunnels and bridges are nearly as crucial to railroading as locomotives and rolling stock. For that reason, I have always included a small number of those companies in my database. Here is a list of tunnel and bridge companies generally accepted as being closely related to railroading.

Am I missing any? Should I remove some? Should I remove all?

The reason I ask is because collectors seem uninterested in certificates from these kinds of companies. I have only had a couple of correspondences about bridge companies in the last 15 years and I cannot remember a single question about tunnel companies. The silence is so deafening that I can't help but wonder whether it is worth my time to track these kinds of certificates.

If you have any opinions, now is the time to tell me. Either post a comment here in this blog or contact me directly.

  • Baring Cross Bridge Co

  • Canada Southern Bridge Co

  • Detroit River Tunnel Co

  • Dunleith & Dubuque Bridge Co

  • Hudson River Bridge Co at Albany

  • Louisville Bridge Co

  • Louisville & Jeffersonville Bridge Co

  • Michigan & Canada Bridge & Tunnel Co

  • Moffat Tunnel Improvement District (bond shown above)

  • Niagara River Bridge Co

  • Oswego Railroad Bridge Co

  • Railroad Bridge Co

  • St Louis Merchants Bridge Co

  • Sault Ste Marie Bridge Co


Anonymous said...

I think they should be included. I see some of them as merely short railroads and therefore should be part of a railraod database.

Tim W.

Terry Cox said...

(This message sent via Facebook. I'm moving it here so others can see.) I think they merit inclusion, especially since many carry RR vignettes. I was going to add the Kentucky & Indiana Bridge and Railroad Co...but it's clearly a railroad. There aren't really enough on your database be concerned about culling them. In fact, that may be the issue -- not a large enough subspecialty for collectors to bother with. Hence the silence."

Anonymous said...

They were an interesting part of American railroad history. In my opinion they should be kept.

Pete A.

Terry Cox said...

(this message came in via email.) I really don't see any reason to take the time and effort to include the bridge certs on your website. Some of them are interesting, but
that's about it

WVrails said...

I have long advocated that such companies be included in the database, especially if the ICC considered the company a “common carrier by rail” or that the property was used for “common carrier purposes”.

In many cases these companies were incorporated to separate the financing of the bridge or tunnel construction from those of the railroad, just as construction of extensions to railroads themselves would be done by a separate company and later merged into the parent. Yet in some cases bridge companies were incorporated by non-railroad groups then leased or sold to a railroad, the Kanawha Bridge & Terminal Co. and Louisville & Jeffersonville Bridge Co. are two examples that come to mind, but the primary purpose of the bridges was for railroad use.

As for the time it takes to track or report such certificates, perhaps a two-tier system (and corresponding way to denote it in the database and printed editions) could be used. “True” railroad companies would be a priority for Terry to actively track. Bridge and tunnel companies, and I would argue most equipment and parts suppliers too, would be “second tier” where collectors supply certificate images but prices and perhaps other information would not be actively tracked. The logistics are not as simple as that but the idea would be to include some of these companies without Terry having to give up his day job to do it.

Terry Cox said...

(Another message received by email.) As a bridge design engineer for the past 48 years, and a historian as well, I would like to say that I agree with much of what WVrails commented regarding the 2 tier certificate suggestion. I am always looking for interesting certificates from bridge, tunnel, canal, shipping and railroad companies. There are so many certificates in existence from these areas that a collector probably could never get one of each. In the financing of the railroads, I have found it to be quite interesting to see the various ways and means of financing them, from the extensions, the bridges and various other “schemes”. It should be mentioned that bridge or other companies with no railroad connections/affiliations should not be included in the 2nd tier database.

Terry Cox said...

(And another email reply.) I'd like to add my 2-cents worth on the question of bridge certificates: Please keep them in the database. In addition to railroads, I also collect certificates for Iowa railroad bridge companies, railroad holding companies, railroad construction companies, coal companies that were corporately linked to Iowa railroads, and Iowa utility companies that operated streetcars but did not have the magic words in their names. I personally wish that all these groups were included in the website. There is a lot of great Iowa railroad history tied up in the Dunleith and Dubuque bridge -- not to mention Illinois Central history. I would certainly hate for the bridge information to disappear from the website. (I know, I know, the definition of "railroad" does not really encompass the bridge companies' operations, but sometimes a person just has to agree with Churchill that "consistency is the hobgoblen of small minds" and leave it at that.)