I have found at least two references in notes passed down to my be others that indicated they might have Railroad spur / section was named after them.

Searching Newspaper.com and Google Books while they tend to be named after the geographic area or a local business, there are some references to spurs named after specific individuals.

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I have googled their names a couple different ways and not been able to find anything specifically under their name or a reference site for looking up such things. This was primarily in the 1880-1960 time frame, but I am thinking the naming would have been more so in the 1900-1940 time frame.

The two specific examples, both of which I had passed down to me from different individuals, I have are for Chester Emerson Souser (C.E. Souser) in Nebraska working for the Union Pacific RR and Ross Russell (R.R. Souser) in Pennsylvania working for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. RR in particular is mentioned frequently in news articles due to being injured in a major train accident. George W. and J.S. Souser also worked for the railroad but not as prominently mentioned; W.B. Souser in Youngstown, PA also was a railroad man and mentioned in several news articles but doubt with his participation in this incident he got anything named after him.

In searching so far, and not being a railroad enthusiast, it seems Spurs / Sections were effecting 'accounting sections' with their associated fees / tariffs / staffing; so possibly accounting records may also be a potential source.

I mainly want to know where it was, and acknowledging that the railroad spur may not even exist today, or it may have just been honorary, or even just be incorrect family lore....

Question: Is there any search Railroad enthusiast or Historical Record sites that that I could search for these place's designated names whether they be geographic, named after a person, ranch, local lore, business, etc to be able to be able to determine the facts behind these notes as well as use for related research?

  • 1
    Not an answer to your question but you may be interested in this R.R. Souser hit in the Baltimore & Ohio employee magazine on Archive.org. Perhaps other employee mags published in Nebraska & Pennsylvania might help? archive.org/stream/baltimoreohioemp04balt/… P.S. found via a Google search historical railroad maps "Souser" spur
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 18:12
  • 1
    Would you mind providing the actual references that imply the railway section was named after them? It's hard with this sort of question to provide a useful answer that is very general, but if we have a more specific example and location to work with we may be able to provide a methodology to find this information that can be applied or adapted to other cases (and thus be useful to others more generally).
    – Harry V.
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 21:22
  • @HarryVervet The easiest example is I've seen with the most detail / likelihood in family records is for RR Souser in PA. There are numerous newspaper articles about him being involved in a train wreck, at one point believed missing, and also as a telegraph operator. Other family members also worked for the RR too but the note I had passed to me is for Ross Russell Souser.
    – CRSouser
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 0:21
  • Thanks for adding the details. However from what you've added I can't see that there is any reference to a railway spur that was named after them.
    – Harry V.
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:28
  • @HarryVervet As I've tried to say I don't have anything concrete other than others notes and why I am looking for a resource vs getting stuck on examples. I am now likely just going to remove the examples as I think people may be getting too hung up on the specific individuals.
    – CRSouser
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


You might be able to find something about your specific individuals by name (what is sometimes called "a lucky dip") but I suggest you are better off looking for general information about the individual railroads, since you already have the company names.

One possible starting point: Mike Good's website Railroad Research Sources on the Internet.

I found this site by searching for a place name I found in the census -- a blog post Milner District, Oak Mountain (Cleola), GA pointed to a graphic from the website Railga.com Georgia's Railroad History and Heritage, and the source citation there, which told me the schedule was "From: Official Guide of the Railways, January 1896.", prompted me to do a Google search for "Official Guide of the Railways", which led me to Mike Good's site.

As you find each new piece of information, use that as a springboard for new searches. Try to look over the material you find and see what kind of information about a railroad gets published in each source. Something as local as a spur named after an individual might not be referenced in an annual report sent out to all stockholders -- it might be talked about in correspondence or operational materials close to the locality where the spur is. It's the same as finding a very short street -- you won't see it on a national map. You need to zoom in before it shows up.

For a scholarly approach, search Archive Grid or NUCMC for manuscript collections from people who were employed by the railroads, or Google Scholar for papers written about the railroads.

You could also try looking for other railfan sites that are about the localities you need; they may be more likely to cite the materials you will be interested in.

Remember -- for your initial search, the end goal of your search is not to find materials that will directly answer your question, but to find websites and blog posts, academic papers and other materials about the railroads and to examine what materials they cite, and to use that to inform your subsequent searches. Mike Good's site was only one of many that mentioned Official Guide of the Railways, and the Georgia Railways site I found is only one of many websites talking about Georgia Railways. Further down in my Google Search, I discovered Timetable World and many other potentially useful sites.

For any content you find, including on Wikipedia, examine the references given to see if you can find new resources you haven't seen yet. After that, examine the resources for their scope, to identify where the information you seek might be. Once you have an idea of what jurisdictional level you want, then you can go on to search for material that might mention your specific people.

Very few of the materials we use for genealogy were created for that purpose. It's important to remember who created the materials and for what purpose they were created. Usually we need to do this to evaluate the information inside, but it's also good to remember while we're brainstorming to find new sources.

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