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Richard C. Carpenter Papers

Identifier: 2010-0105

Scope and Content

The Papers include drawings done by Henry T. Wilhelm, William Bruce Coughlin, and Richard C. Carpenter of main and branch line railroads and interlocking tower layouts, mainly in the United States and in particular in the regions that were represented in the first four volumes of Mr. Carpenter's work A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946. The materials created by Mr. Carpenter date from 1946 to 2001. The maps done by William Bruce Coughlin and Henry T. Wilhelm, were given to Mr. Carpenter by Mr. Wilhelm. These latter two collections contain similar drawings, dating from 1919 to the 1970s. A small number of the drawings were done by unknown others and were likely done as early as 1900.

The papers also includes official railroad track charts and signal department drawings of signal interlocking towers. Mr. Carpenter notes that nearly all of of the thousands of signal towers which existed in the United States have long since been abandoned, along with thousands of miles of track. Many official railroad records have been destroyed. Therefore, the drawings constitute a historic record of what was once an elaborate, complex and fascinating network of railroad tracks and signals.


  • 1889-2010


The collection is open and available for research.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from both the University of Connecticut Libraries and the owner(s) of the copyright.


Richard Clark Carpenter was born on November 27, 1933, in Hartford, Connecticut. He was raised in Wethersfield, Connecticut, where he graduated from Wethersfield High School in 1951. He entered Boston College in 1951 and graduated in 1955 with a B.S. History degree. He joined the United States Army ROTC at Boston College and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Artillery upon graduation. He served on active duty from 1955-1957 as platoon leader in the 66th Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion (NiKE) as part of the defense of the New York Region. After starting a city planning career in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1958, he entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1960, graduating with a Master of City and Regional Planning degree in 1962.

After resuming his planning career in Hartford, Mr. Carpenter became the first town planner of Wilton, Connecticut, in 1963. He then became Executive Director of the South Western Regional Planning Agency in 1966, where he served until retiring in 1999.

Mr. Carpenter was a resident of East Norwalk, Connecticut. He married Mary Jane Campbell in 1958. They had two children, Ellin and John, and three grandchildren.

Mr. Carpenter was the author of the book series A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press of Baltimore. Five volumes have been published: Volume 1 - The Mid-Atlantic States (2003), Volume 2 - New York and New England (2005), Volume 3 - Indiana, Ohio and Lower Michigan (2008), Volume 4 - Illinois, Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, and Volume 5 - Iowa and Minnesota.

Little is known about the two men whose drawings are in the papers. Mr. Henry T. Wilhelm (1906-1994) was an electrical engineer for Bell Laboratories in New York City and then in Holmdel, New Jersey. Over his lifetime he apparently visited 2500 signal towers. Mr. William Bruce Coughlin was originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and was a signal engineer with the General Railway Signalling Company in Rochester, New York.

Richard Carpenter died on March 31, 2020, at his home in East Norwalk, Connecticut.


33 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Richard C. Carpenter was the author of A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946, a five volume set published by Johns Hopkins University Press. The papers include handdrawn original railroad track and signal maps drawn by Mr. Carpenter, Henry T. Wilhelm and William Bruce Coughlin, of railroads in the Mid-Atlantic States, New York and New England, and Indiana, Lower Michigan, and Ohio, that Mr. Carpenter used for research for the atlas.


Series I of the collection is organized by creator of the maps and alphabetically by railroad company thereafter, with the box list recording just the first and the last railroad in the box. The files within each box are organized by railroad reporting marks, which are letter abbreviations assigned to each railroad. Railroad reporting marks were devised so that the entire railroad name did not have to be recorded on railroad freight cars, or on paper or electronic records of car movements. The files also bear railroad code numbers, a one, two or three digit numbers assigned to each railroad for use on interline forms, where cars from different railroads were interchanged. Both the marks and code numbers were assigned by the Association of American Railroads, an industry service group to which railroads belong.

Series II of the papers consists of track charts and trackage rights charts, official station lists, signal track charts, interlocking diagrams and charts, and signal department prints for the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the New York Central System, Erie Railroad, Nickel Plate Road, Pennsylvania Railroad, Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (including major terminal maps), Central Rail of New Jersey, and the Delaware & Hudson Railwayand other railroads in the Northeast and Midwest.

Acquisition Information

Boxes 1-12 of the papers were donated by Mr. Richard C. Carpenter in November 2010. Boxes 13-21 were donated by Mr. Carpenter in July 2011. Boxes 22 and 23, plus the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad track charts, revised December 31, 1967 (Item 24), were donated in January 2012. Box 25 was donated in November 2012. Box 26 was donated in September 2013.

Existence and Location of Copies

Portions of this collection have been digitized and digital reproductions of materials in this collection may also be found in the Archives & Special Collections digital repository

Related Material

Archives & Special Collections has a substantial collection of materials pertaining to New England railroads. For detailed information on these collections please contact the curator or ask at the Reading Room desk.

General note

Published Works:

Missing Title

  1. A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946, Johns Hopkins University Press.
Richard C. Carpenter Papers
Archives & Special Collections staff
2010 November
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US