It wasn’t called “The Old Reliable” without good cause. Additional records of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company (L&N) from 1850 to 1900 have surfaced and are now available for viewing at the Filson. The railroad has impressed with its resilience, surviving the Civil War and the Great Depression along with social and technological changes throughout its 132 years. It appears that the legacy will continue in the form of these early company manuscripts.
These files fill in some holes with their bounty of contracts that were written up and were vital to the establishment of basic operations of the railroad’s early years. They document the exchange of goods (cars, locomotors, timbers, and crossties) and services (mail service, telegraphy, and lodging) with companies as close to Louisville as Jeffersonville, Indiana, and as far as Lyon, France. Contracts also evidence the purchases or lease of rights and property between the railroad and other parties. There are also bonds, coupons, receipts, and other financial documentation for the railroad and its counterparts.
In addition to L&N, there are documents of other regional, southern railroads including some in Evansville and northern Kentucky, Alabama, and Florida. Within a group of letters, one can follow the interaction of Dr. Norvin Green, the president of Louisville, Cincinnati, and Lexington Railroad, with a trio of attorneys: while mostly tame legal conversations about acquiring right of way, the correspondence ends with a dispute between Green and one of his attorneys and results in a trial. Researchers may also identify evidence as to how L&N and its neighbors handled business leading up to, during, and following the events of the Civil War.