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BALTIMORE AND OHIO RAILROAD COMPANY LOCOMOTIVE CLASSIFICATION BLUE PRINT FIELD HANDBOOK- IDENTIFIED TO A B&O RR EMPLOYEE ca. 1920:  Discovered tucked away on a bookshelf in an old estate in San Antonio, Texas, this very special, and quite possibly unique as a single surviving example, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company Locomotive Classification Blue Print Field Handbook is a wonderful piece of American railroad history.  Through researching the name of the B&O RR employee which is written on the reverse of the first cover sheet in the book, it has been determined this handbook was used as a reference during the 1915-1920 Railroad Property Valuation Report initiated by the Interstate Commerce Commission.   

Measuring 6 ½” by 3 ½”, the book is bound in a black leatherette cover and contains 136 pages – each an individual, very detailed blueprint plan of a particular locomotive providing class, dimensional, weight, boiler pressure, and specific engine numbers assigned to those locomotives of that particular design owned by the B&O RR.  The last few blueprints detail tenders and the different truck – or wheel assembly – designs then in use.  While none of the locomotive plans are dated, it is obvious they are all of the designs in use during the 1800’s, with one notable blueprint of the “Grasshopper Engine” annotated as having been “Donated to the Field Museum”, believed to be a reference to the Chicago Field Museum.  The truck blueprints do bear dated notations indicating the year that particular design was first made including 1881, 1883, 1888, 1891, 1896, 1900, and the latest being 1902.   

Written in ink on the reverse of the first page is the name “Roye C. McDiarmid”.  Fortunately a very unusual name and an unusual spelling that allowed us to identify the man.  McDiarmid was employed by the B&O RR in 1920 in the Valuation Department of the Cincinnati, Ohio office. 

It was during this period of employment that McDiarmid is most likely to have come into possession of this Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company Locomotive Classification Book, and he would have used it to identify specific locomotives owned by the B&O in order to record the location, condition, and serviceability of the equipment on his reports.    

McDiarmid's biography and a synopsis of the 1915-1920 Railroad Property Valuation Project can be viewed below the photographs that follow, and a copy of the biography will accompany the sale of this book. 

The book is in excellent condition with all of the pages intact, the covers showing no wear or damage and none of the blueprint pages are faded, torn or otherwise damaged save for some very minor edge wear. 

Although originally intended to be nothing more than a basic field reference that the employees could carry in their back pocket, this book has survived in excellent condition as a detailed historical record of the locomotives in use by one of the cornerstone companies of the American railroad system, as well as being identified to one of the employees of the company assigned to participate in the monumental Railroad Property Valuation Project.  

This collection of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Locomotive Blue Prints is not only a unique railroad artifact, but a valuable reference as well.   $1250



Roye C. McDiarmid was born on January 14, 1889 in Little Rock, Arkansas, to George C. and Evelyn McDiarmid.   The third child, Roye had a brother, George C., and a sister Gladys.  By the time the 1910 US Census was taken, the family was residing in Cincinnati, Ohio which became the family home for the next several decades. 

Roye Clare McDiarmid completed a World War One Draft Registration Card in 1918, providing that he was born on January 1, 1889, was a tool designer and draftsman employed by the Wright Airplane Company in Dayton, Ohio, and was residing on Wabash Avenue.    

When he enlisted in the US Naval Reserve Forces on November 14, 1918, he was issued Serial Number 278-64-54, and provided his address as 3529 Wabash Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio – his parent’s address.   

McDiarmid was reported in the 1920 US Census as residing with his parents at the Wabash Avenue address in Cincinnati, and was listed as a draftsman employed by a railroad. 

In the May, 1920 edition of the Baltimore and Ohio Magazine, the company magazine published by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, McDiarmid was reported to be working in the “Valuation Department” at the Cincinnati office (1). 

It was during McDiarmid’s employment with the Valuation Department that he most likely came into possession of this Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company Locomotive Classification Book. 

In the early 1900’s the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) undertook a massive project to inventory almost every aspect of the U.S. railroad system for the purpose of determining a net worth for each railroad, which was then used to calculate passenger and freight rates.  The majority of the valuation records were created between 1915 and 1920 in a combined effort by the ICC and railroad engineers, providing a comprehensive history of the railroads in the United States from their beginning until the project ceased in the 1960s.  

The valuation records held by the National Archives consume an impressive eleven thousand cubic feet of space and have proved useful to model railroaders, historic preservationists, railroad history buffs, and genealogists.  The basic valuation records contain information regarding railroad facilities in specific locals, land owned by the railroads and the date and nature of the acquisition, and the lands adjacent to railroad owned property during the period 1915-1920, and include land, engineering, accounting reports and supporting documentation, field notes and maps. These valuation records were updated on a periodic basis with engineering reports that tracked the changes in facilities and rolling stock owned by a railroad from the period of the basic valuation to the 1960s.   

A typical example of the valuation records held by the National Archives is the record file pertaining to the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad's Camden Station in Baltimore, Maryland.  The file includes maps and detailed track plans for Camden Yards and the immediate vicinity, the engineering field notes, construction details, drawings and photographs (interior and exterior views) of the station, warehouse buildings, roundhouse, train shed, freight office, and other railroad structures in the yard.  (2) 

This Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company Locomotive Classification Book would have been used by McDiarmid to identify specific locomotives owned by the B&O in order to report the location, condition, and serviceability of the equipment on his reports.   

It appears McDiarmid was employed specifically for this Valuation Project, and once the project was completed or began to wind down, he left the employ of the B&O to  attend the University of Cincinnati where he graduated in 1923. 

As reported in the 1930 US Census, McDiarmid was aged 31 and living in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, was married to Josephine McDiarmid, had one child, Jane, aged 7, and was employed as a secretary at a building supply company.   

A World War Two US Army Enlistment Record dated May 15, 1942, was found for Roye C. McDiarmid, born 1899 in Arkansas, then living in Los Angeles, California.  He provided that he had completed 4 years of college and was employed in the civilian world as a Civil Engineer.  While in California, Roye was issued a social security number. 

Roye C. McDiarmid died in August of 1976, at the age of 77, in Dalton, Georgia. 

1.  Baltimore and Ohio Magazine May, 1920; (Hopkins Transportation Library, Stanford University) 

2.  “Archivist's Perspective - Riding the Rails Up Paper Mountain: Researching Railroad Records in the National Archives” by David A. Pfeiffer; Prologue Magazine, Spring 1997, Vol. 29, No. 1 (National Archives publication)


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