The collection mostly documents Michigan railroads, focusing on the Ann Arbor Railroad Company (AARR), related lines, and its ferries in many formats. Also included are some organizational records of the Ann Arbor Railroad Technical and Historical Association (AARTHA).
Collection, collected over time by Don Wilson, some of which he was given by other rail fans. The collection mostly documents Michigan railroads, focusing on the Ann Arbor Railroad Company (AARR), related lines, its reorganization, abandonment, and its ferries. Some ferry information is general such as Twin Screw Specs (Box 5), and there is information specific to the M.V. [Motor Vessel] Viking (originally Ann Arbor No. 7) and the City of Milwaukee. Formats include slides, photographs, negatives, photograph printing plates, blueprints, scrapbooks, photograph albums, speeches, notes, newspaper clippings and magazine articles, maps, digital scans and positive prints from those scans, a CD, and miscellaneous, related publications. Also included are some organizational records of the AARTHA. Other railroads documented to various degrees in the collection include: Central Michigan Railroad (CM); Detroit, Caro and Sandusky Railroad (DC and S); Detroit, Toledo, and Ironton Railroad; Grand Trunk Railway (GT); Green Bay and Western Railroad; H and E Railroad [probably the Huron and Eastern]; Manistique and Lake Superior Railroad; Michigan Interstate Railway Company; Michigan Northern Railway Company; Mid-Michigan Railroad; New York Central Railroad (NYC) and St. Louis Railroad (SLRR); New York Central State Railroad (NYCS); Norfolk and Western Railway Company; Northwestern Pacific Railroad; Penn Central Railroad; Southern Pacific Transportation Company; Tuscola, Saginaw Bay Railroad (TSBRR); Toledo, Owosso, and Flint Railroad (TOandFRR); Wabash Railroad, and Wisconsin Central Railroad.
Items of special interest to researchers may include: manifests of the M.V. Viking, February-August 1976, and AARTHA bylaws, meeting minutes, newsletter information, member lists, and other information (Box 1); reorganization information (see Vincent M. Malanaphy folders (Boxes 2, 4), Michigan Interstate Railway Co. and MI Rail System Rationalization Plan information (Box 4), AARR photographs (Boxes 2-3), Pamona Derailment Negatives, undated (Box 5).
Photographs, negatives, and history of a plethora of railroad related topics are found throughout the collection. There are three slide boxes and two note card boxes full of slides on railroads (Slide Boxes 1-5).
Blueprints include line, lever circuit controllers, and station design plans, styling and painting design, system maps, tracks and structures, equipment, station and train car blueprints, and property drawings.
The 2016 addition, Boxes 14-16 and Folder #21 (legal-size), 1.5 cubic feet from Don’s friend Don Maddock was organized by Maddock into the series of Abandonment Petitions and Michigan Interstate Era. Included are paper documents, scans and positive prints of some of Wilson’s negatives, a few other topical files, a CD, and three color photographs. The addition largely documents the reorganization and end of the AARR. Sale papers for the City of Milwaukee are included. Most of the 2019 addition papers are copies. Note: 2016 addition negatives are housed in print file negative preservers, not archival negative sleeves.
Researchers may be interested in knowing that there are several collections and many publications by and about the Ann Arbor Railroad in the Clarke, as well as other collections and published sources documenting other railroad companies.
Processing Note: The collection is organized by size and format, and then in alphabetical and chronological order. A few publications, two general railroad films, and a tote bag were returned to the members of the AARTHA. Some publications (24), both monographs and parts of serials, were cataloged separately and added to the Clarke’s collections. Some of the items are quite acidic or fragile, most of which were photocopied and the originals were withdrawn from the collection (.25 cubic ft. total). In a few cases, where entire folders were composed of very fragile tissue paper records or acidic records, the decision was made to leave the materials as they were without copying them. Numerous abbreviations were used by Mr. Wilson within the collection, which were replicated by the processors. Michigan was often abbreviated MI by Mr. Wilson and is used in this finding aid. See the Scope and Contents Note for abbreviations used for names of railroad companies.