First, what is an annual report? Most people who hold stock in any company are familiar with annual reports, and the railroads' were no different. It is the annual statement to the stockholders about the operations and financial conditions of the company. Railroads really initiated these because they were the first big corporations in the era of the early stock exchanges in the United States. Different railroads included different items in their reports, but basically they were all quite similar.
The C&O’s reports in the period up to 1910 or so were relatively small affairs of 6x9 inch size and usually a fold-out system map. After 1910, they increased in size to 8-1/2 x 11 with usually larger maps. The ones from about 1915 onward had very large maps that eventually came to include the Hocking Valley (until it was merged in 1930), the Pere Marquette Railway (until it was merged in 1947), and the Nickel Plate Road (until it was sold off in 1947). However, these maps are not included in this CD. Examples of them will be made available from the Society. Check our catalog/internet listings for maps.
These reports are a treasure of information for historians and anyone interested in the progress and development of the C&O. From the first group on this CD up until about 1940, they have very detailed data in the “General Remarks” sections about what major yards, signal systems, piers, structures, tracks, branches, new lines, etc., were built in that particular year. With a little digging, they can provide some great time-lines. Also, they list every year the type of locomotives and rolling stock the railway had, usually by type (for example: in passenger cars: express, postal, mail & express, combination, coaches, parlor cars, company, etc.). The same applies for freight cars.
In the financial sections the operations of the company are given in gross terms and then broken down into some very good detail, showing how much of each major commodity was shipped, how many passengers were carried and how far, (passenger miles), as well as other data. There are also listings of the mileage operated, that which was leased, trackage rights, etc.
A person can get a very good picture of what the C&O was like and how it was operating by looking at a single report. By looking at a number over a stretch of years, decided trends can be discerned.
The period of the annual reports contained in this CD is 1910-1945. During the period 1910-1923 C&O was a major trunk line and had large blocks of its stock held by other railroads and some major shareholders, however in 1923 the controlling interest was bought by the famous Van Sweringen brothers; financiers in Cleveland. –- From that date until the Van’s empire collapsed in the early 1930s, the line was associated with the NKP, PM, Erie and HV, and part of the headquarters moved to Cleveland, though most offices stayed at Richmond. After 1937, Robert R. Young and his backers gradually took control and in 1942, Young became Chairman. By then the C&O was a key element in hauling war material, as will be seen in the 1941-1945 reports.
Other CDs will be issued which will bracket this time period, bringing the data up to the 1970s, and dating back into the mid-19th century.
However, the era we are covering in this CD, 1910-1945, was the era of the greatest development and growth of the C&O. Its whole story is here in statistics.