Collections Update: Museum Acquires Historic Railroad Policing Collection

The Burlington, Northern & Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway Company recently donated to the Museum historic archival records relating to their company’s law enforcement service. Personnel files, wanted posters, telegraph code books, photographs, railroad maps, and case reports from special agents dating from the late 19th through the mid 20th century, and many other items make up this eclectic and valuable collection.

Wanted Posters and Code Book, ca. 1920-1940. 2011.3. Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, D.C.

The BNSF Railroad, founded in 1849 with rail lines laid in Illinois, expanded and merged with other railroads over the decades, and by the late 20th century provided rail service to the western two-thirds of the United States, as well as parts of Mexico and Canada.

Collections and Education Assistant Joy Veenstra examines a code book from the BNSF Railroad Collections.

If you have information, photographs, objects, or documents that will help expand this collection, or have anything to share related to railroad policing, please contact the Museum at

To read more about the history of railroad policing: