Skip to main content

B.R. Dew Collection of Railroadiana

Identifier: MsC0497

  • Staff Only
  • Please navigate to collection organization to place requests.

Scope and Contents

The B.R. Dew Collection of Railroadiana, 7 linear feet, includes publications, photographs, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, artifacts, and other similar material dating from about 1883 until 1966. Publications include booklets of rules and regulations, public and employee timetables, and passes and tickets, mostly relating to the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway. There is also material on other railroads, including the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway; the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad; the Missouri Pacific Railroad; and the Union Pacific Railroad. There is information on such subjects as railroad accidents, natural disasters (snow removal), and railroad wages.


  • Creation: 1883-1966


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Birchel Raymond Dew was born in Corning, Ohio, on September 19, 1901. In 1920 he began working for the Missouri Pacific Railroad and continued working there as a brakeman and conductor until 1936. Very early in his career he began collecting railroad memorabilia, saving items he personally used and adding other pieces of historical value.

In 1935 he married Irene Mitchell of Hoisington, Kansas. They had two sons, William Ray and Birchel Robert. In 1936 Birchel Raymond, or B.R. as he was known to most, joined the Rock Island Railroad as a trainmaster in Dalhart, Texas. It was there where his son, William, was born in 1937. B.R. was Superintendent in several Midwestern areas and was the Assistant General Manager of the Rock Island Railroad in El Reno, Kansas City, and Des Moines. He and his family moved at least thirteen times while he worked on the Rock Island, but the railroad memorabilia was always packed up and moved along to the next home. B.R. retired in 1965. He died on March 17, 1973 of a heart attack at Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines.

His railroad collection was inherited by his son William. William Ray Dew was born on March 3, 1937, in Dalhart, Texas. B.R. passed the love and excitement of railroading on to Bill and also his younger brother, Bob. Bill worked for the Rock Island himself during his high school and college years. He graduated from Shawnee Mission High School in Kansas City in 1955. In 1960 he married Lynn France. They both graduated from the University of Iowa with Bill obtaining a Juris Doctor degree in 1966. Then they moved to Ottumwa, Iowa, where Bill practiced law in the Griffin, Dew & Kintigh law firm and Lynn taught third grade. In 1972 a daughter, Eilizabeth Anne was born. William Ray Dew died on June 2, 1996 at the age of fifty-nine in a plane crash in Minnesota while returning from a fishing trip in Canada with three friends.


7.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Railroad employee and collector. Collection of publications, timetables, photographs, tickets, passes, and artifacts relating to the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway, as well as other railroads.

Method of Acquisition

The B.R. Dew Collection was donated in 1997 by Robert, Lynn, and Elizabeth Dew in memory of William R. Dew.

Related Materials

Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway Company, and Robert C. Brown. Operating Department Timetables: B.R. Dew Collection. Chicago: [The Dept.], 1889-1940. (Special Collections call number: xfHE2728 C55 1889)

Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)