Boston and Maine Railroad
Freight Train Symbol Books
After Public Timetables and Employee Time Tables, Freight Train Symbol Books were a third type of train scheduling document used by the B&M. However, unlike the passenger train schedules, FTSB's carried no formal weight with respect to day-to-day operations on the railroad; rather the symbol books spelled out an operating PLAN. As such, the day-to-day operations frequently deviated from what was published in the FTSB's, with seasonal and additional movements quite the norm. Despite those frequent deviations, the FTSB can be a useful reference, as the relative service levels and traffic patterns are explained from the perspective of what the line expected would be needed. Ultimately, traffic levels and scheduling changes resulted in these FTSB being published as frequently as ETT's. The title of the document was derived from the use of alphanumeric symbols to indicate the various train services. The first letter indicated the place of origin, the second letter the destination, and a numeral, odd for outbound, even for inbound, and sequential as required.
This collection of early B&M FTSB has been put together with the assistance of several people. I am particularly interested in finding resources that would clarify how the operating schemes changed between 1927 and 1932.
The B&M RR Historical Society has an large collection of FTSB's, with excellent coverage from the late 1930's until the present day. This collection complements the Society's.
Please help preserve and share the history of New England railroads.
The image shows the cover of B&M FTSB #17, dated 1/1/1929, which had been on eBay for a while during the spring of 2015. Unfortunately, the cover actually contained FTSB #27, from 1935, a copy of which I already have. #17 appears to have been the very first FTSB published in the new loose leaf format and represents a gap in the record, as it shows the B&M's freight operating plan with the improvements put into place during the late 20's under the Hannauer presidency, including the opening of the new Mechanicville hump yard on January 14, 1928, but prior to the reduction in service that occurred during the Depression. More recently, I found a 1940 FTSB in the B&MRRHS collection also contained within the same cover. If you come across a copy of this book or any others from the 1920's and 1930's, please share it!
FTSB #1 - in effect Aug 1, 1912, collection of B&MRRHS.
FTSB #2 - in effect Sep 15, 1913, collection of B&MRRHS.
FTSB #3 - in effect Jan 1, 1915, from the collection of Brent Michiels. 5.4 MB pdf. Also collection of B&MRRHS.
FTSB #4 - in effect Aug 30, 1920, collection of B&MRRHS.
FTSB #5 - in effect Jun 27, 1921, from the collection of Brent Michiels. 4.6 MB pdf.
FTSB #8 - in effect September 24, 1922,
John R. Snopek railroad collection, University of Connecticut.
(I recently (2/2016) found this catalog entry, but have yet to go down and obtain copies.)
FTSB #9 - in effect June 25, 1923, collection of B&MRRHS, also auctioned off in Maine on 11/15/2010,
current location/owner unknown.
FTSB #10 - in effect October 22, 1923, auctioned off in Maine on 11/15/2010, current location/owner unknown.
These two FTSB, as well as additional copies of FTSB #3 & #4, were discovered in an old auction listing. Their covers can be seen here. These may very well be the copies now in the B&MRRHS collection.
FTSB #11 - in effect June 23, 1924, from the collection of Brent Michiels. 4.4 MB pdf.
FTSB #13 - in effect June 30, 1926, not known to exist.
FTSB #14 - in effect Dec 20, 1926, from the collection of Earl Tuson (formerly Tim Gilbert's.) 1.1 MB pdf.
FTSB #15 - in effect August 1, 1927, not known to exist.
FTSB #16 - in effect Oct 31, 1927, from the collection of Scott Whitney, found in the Hinsdale, NH, station (it appears to have since entered the B&MRRHS collection.) This FTSB would have been the last issued prior to the opening of the new Mechanicville hump yard. 1.5 MB pdf.
FTSB #17 - in effect January 1, 1929, not known to exist.
1929 Run Book
- (probably) in effect 4/28/29, from the collection of Earl Tuson. 24MB pdf.
Refer to runs 130 thru 180, inclusive, for scheduled departure and arrival times for Portland Division symbol and local freight trains. I have placed this here in lieu the corresponding FTSB, which is also not known to exist.
- issued April 1, 1929, originally from the collection of Tim Gilbert. 248 kB jpeg.
This is a partial symbol freight schedule taken from a B&M pamphlet on the subject of Merchandise Car service. I have placed it here in lieu of FTSB #17, because it is presumably simply excerpted from that document. This item was repeatedly sold after Tim Gilbert's death, eventually being acquired by an anonymous collector in the spring of 2016, who then provided me with a copy.
- issued May 1, 1930, from the collection of Earl Tuson. 245 kB jpeg.
This comes with the same explanation as above.
- in effect November 6, 1930, ONE page known to exist, from the collection of Earl Tuson.
Found in a stack of Suncook Valley Railroad notes, and having been written on the back as scrap paper, this page is the only known page from this particular book. My designation of this as #19 is an educated guess at this time, based on my assumptions regarding the frequency of reissue by the railroad.
NOTE: The Maine Bullet was inaugurated on June 15, 1931, dramatically improving service between Maine points South. In all likelihood, this new service mandated a new FTSB, but at this time, only the inaugural schedule is known, having been published in the Aug-Sep B&M Employee Magazine. I'll get Tim Gilbert's transcription up here shortly.
FTSB #20 -
- in effect September 27, 1931, unknown location.
This book was sold at auction back in 2014; I only found the listing and one page image a year and a half later. There is also a copy inaccessible from the collection of Don Valentine*.
- in effect Sep 25, 1932, from the collection of Earl Tuson. 4.3 MB pdf.
Each two page file can be printed full-size on 8 1/2” wide paper with 1/4” margins. Four pages will fit on legal paper.
I previous referred to this as FTSB #17 Supplement, however, I now believe it to be be FTSB #22, based on dates and the fact that I have now seen a couple FTSB's inserted into older covers; the covers were obviously not reissued with each new update.
FTSB #23 - in effect April 20, 1933, inaccessible from the collection of Don Valentine*.
FTSB #24 - in effect September 24, 1933, from the collection of Jacob Klerman. 3.4 MB pdf.
FTSB #25 - in effect April 29, 1934, inaccessible from the collection of Don Valentine*.
FTSB #26 - in effect September 30, 1934, ONE page known to exist, from the collection of Earl Tuson. There is also a copy inaccessible from the collection of Don Valentine*.
FTSB #27 - in effect Apr 28, 1935, from the collection of Earl Tuson. 724 KB pdf.
FTSB #29 - in effect Apr 26, 1936, collection of B&MRRHS.
FTSB #30 - in effect September 27, 1936, inaccessible from the collection of Don Valentine*.
FTSB #31 - in effect April 27, 1937, inaccessible from the collection of Don Valentine*.
FTSB #33 - in effect Apr 24, 1938, collection of B&MRRHS (their collection from this point of time on is quite extensive.)
FTSB #37(?) - in effect April 28, 1940, (this book came without a cover sheet, but FTSB #38, in effect 9/29/40, is in the B&MRRHS collection.) Coming Soon!
FTSB #51 - in effect Apr 30, 1950. 0.7 MB pdf.
* Don Valentine offered to share the 6 FTSB indicated above, and others I already have copies of, on 10/23/16. He revoked his offer to share these historic documents on 11/6/16.
Posted 3/2/04. Last Updated 2/14/20. Maintained by Earl Tuson