The magic of MAGIC: Providing a new way to navigate the Railroad Valuation Maps

Many of our researchers have successfully accessed the online New Haven Railroad Valuation Maps, from the UConn Libraries’ Digital Mosaic site at http:/  Although we have heard from many how useful it is to have the maps accessible to off-site researchers, we’ve also heard that the vagaries of ContentDM, the database system where the maps sit, don’t help them follow the railroad line from point to point.  The maps, which are each one mile footprints of the railroad tracks as they follow the complicated New Haven Railroad system as it was in 1915, have always been rather isolated from, and unlinked to, each other.

New Haven Railroad Valuation Map of Hartford, Connecticut, now accessible from a map index at

Happily, that glitch is now overcome, thanks to the the magnificent efforts of the Map and Geographic Information Center, better known as MAGIC, an important special library within the UConn Libraries system.  MAGIC, headed by Geographic Information Systems Librarian Michael Howser, has created a map index that now allows researchers to follow the railroad lines on a map and click at any point to bring up the 1915 valuation map. 

You will find the index at

Isn’t this great?! One could even say that this is truly, well, magical.  Tools like this make viewing the maps so much easier.  You will see, though, that as of this moment you can search only the Connecticut railroad valuation maps.  MAGIC has plans to, in time, complete the index, to encompass all of the maps that are currently in the Digital Mosaic, which include Massachusetts, Rhode Island and eastern New York.  Something else I want to point out is that the index makes it obvious that there are gaps in the system, that there are sections where, although the railroad ran between some points, there are no maps that covered these areas.  The fault of this lies in the fact that our original set of valuation maps was never absolutely complete, and that is reflected in the online maps.

I want to extend my most sincere thanks to Michael Howser and his staff, particularly Geography PhD student Jie Lin, who made this index a reality.   You’ve made a lot of railroad researchers VERY happy!

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections