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Norfolk & Western Financial Documents,

Identifier: Ms-2003-004

Scope and Contents

The collection contains bills, invoices, checks and other financial documents from Norfolk & Western Railroad, Norfolk & Western Railway, and several subsidiaries, contracted, and related companies. Companies include, but are not limited to: Adams Express Company, Bluefield Inn, Cincinnati Northern Railroad Company, Deepwater Railway Company, Hotel Roanoke, Maple Shade Inn, Roanoke Machine Works, Seaboard Air Line Railway Company, Southern Express Company, Southern States Dispatch, Tidewater Railway Company, Virginia Company, Virginia Holding Corporation, and Virginia, Tennessee, & Georgia Air Line-Fast Freight Line.

Please note: Wherever possible, materials are separated to the related company or subsidiary level. However, there is some overlap between individual companies and documents in the Norfolk & Western Railroad Company and Norfolk & Western Railway Company folders.


  • 1882 - 1954
  • Majority of material found within 1884 - 1916

Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials. Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Historical Note

The Norfolk & Western Railroad was organized in 1881 from the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Ohio Railroad. Primarily a line carrying agricultural products at its inception, the Norfolk and Western rapidly became associated with the mineral development of the southwestern part of Virginia and West Virginia. In 1881 it acquired the franchises to four other lines: the New River Railroad, the New River Railroad, Mining, and Manufacturing Company, the Bluestone Railroad, and the East River Railroad. These companies became the basis for Norfolk and Western's New River Division, which ran to the coalfields to the west.

Much of the early history of the Norfolk & Western Railway can be written in terms of expansion and consolidation with other lines. In 1890, it acquired the Shenandoah Valley Railroad, which ran from Roanoke, Virginia, to Hagerstown, Maryland. By 1891, an Ohio extension was well underway, giving the railroad access to the industrial Midwest. In 1892, Norfolk & Western Railroad leased the Roanoke and Southern Railroad, connecting Roanoke with Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and in 1893 it leased the Lynchburg and Durham, connecting Lynchburg with Durham, North Carolina. But this program of expansion, coupled with the economic depression of the 1890s, forced the railroad into receivership in 1895. It emerged as the reorganized Norfolk and Western Railway the next year.

Through expansion and various mergers, the Norfolk & Western Railway grew to become a major U.S. carrier, serving 14 states. The company manufactured steam locomotives at its own Roanoke Machine Works (established in Roanoke, Virginia in 1882), and among the railroad's affiliated holdings were several hotels (represented in this collection by the Bluefield Inn and the Hotel Roanoke). Among the company's larger merger acquisitions was the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad--the "Nickel Plate Road"--in 1964. In 1982, the Norfolk & Western Railway combined with the Southern Railway to form Norfolk Southern Corporation.


2 Cubic Feet (4 boxes)


The collection contains bills and invoices from Norfolk & Western Railroad, Norfolk & Western Railway, and several subsidiaries and contracted companies.


Materials in the collection are arranged by company or subsidiary. Companies and subsidiaries are arranged in alphabetical order by name. Bills, invoices, and other financial documents are arranged chronologically within each company or subsidiary.

Norfolk & Western Railway Company materials are arranged by month. Documents with bill numbers are arranged by bill number; Documents without bill numbers are arranged by date. Within each month, documents that have bill numbers are located before those that do not bill numbers.

The last folder in the collection contains documents that are not identified as belonging to a particular company or subsidiary. These documents are in chronological order.

Source of Acquisition

The Norfolk & Western Financial Documents were purchased by Special Collections in 2003. An additional item was purchased in 2010.

Related Archival Materials

Norfolk and Western Accounting Department Personnel Records, Ms92-058. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database.

Norfolk and Western Railway and Associated Companies Collection, Ms2009-037. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database.

Chapman J. French Papers, Ms2009-034. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database.

Virginia Tech's Imagebase contains more than 12,000 railroad-related images, many of which are associated with Norfolk and Western Railway (now Norfolk Southern Corporation) at Please note: Permission to published images belonging to NS Corp must be obtained from NS Corp. Contact Jennifer McDaid ( for permission.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Norfolk & Western Financial Documents by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the Norfolk & Western Financial Documents commenced in October 2010 and was completed in December 2010.

A Guide to the Norfolk & Western Financial Documents, 1882-1954
Kira A. Dietz
2010 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2020-10-08: Finding aid notes updated to new department standards. juliags

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US