As far back as the 1870s, Washington’s Puget Sound region was served by the Northern Pacific and the Milwaukee Road. Those lines eventually merged to become the BNSF Railway, as we know it today. The process of consolidating and merging over 200 smaller and medium-sized regional lines required the sale of deeds of all that property. The maps and deeds are now being digitized for preservation and stored in an archive facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
“The library contains over 100,00 real estate maps that document the railroad title and ownership. Most of the maps in the BNSF collection are one-of-a-kind, hand-drawn, custom creations that were most certainly not mass-produced; these aren’t the folding highway maps from the gas station or mini-market. However, they were used like maps from the gas station for decades by rough and tumble railroad people who folded them, wrote on them and stuffed them in their dusty briefcases. So now BNSF is working to conserve and preserve all of them.” [Source: MyNorthwest.com]