Frank B. Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive

What's online?

The Frank B. Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive online collection contains slides taken by Frank Fairbanks between 1948 to 1993 documenting train engines and stations in the western Pennsylvania area.

What’s in the entire collection?

The collection, held by the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF), represents the realization of one man's consuming passion. Mr. Fairbanks spent his entire adult life riding, documenting, and collecting material from rail lines all over the world. Starting in the 1950s and continuing to the end of his life in 2005, he logged nearly 200,000 rail miles travelled, a feat surpassed by few other people in the world.

Among the many types of materials to enjoy in this collection are railroad history books, magazines, journals, pamphlets, brochures, and promotional novelties. There are also hundreds of timetables, railroad publications, maps, postcards, slides, posters, even a selection of dining car placemats. The collection includes hundreds of index cards featuring his hand-drawn observations of track layouts found along his travel routes, as well as photos of rolling stock, trestles, yards, stations, and vistas from around the world.

About Frank B. Fairbanks

Frank B. Fairbanks, Jr. (1930-2005) was a mechanical engineer and president of Horix Manufacturing Company of Pittsburgh. His precision-driven mind enhanced his ability to document his rail trips in a uniquely detailed fashion. Mr. Fairbanks served as a trustee of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. He donated his collection to PHLF so other rail enthusiasts and transportation scholars could enjoy the fruits of a half-century of historical documentation.

The Frank B. Fairbanks Archive is located at the Station Square headquarters of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. The archive is open by appointment on Mondays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Use of the archive is free to members of Landmarks. Non-members are assessed a $10.00 per person use fee. To make an appointment, email the archive at or call 412-471-5808.

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