About

Railroad books, maps, manuals, timetables, magazines!

The Martin F. O’Rourke Memorial Railroad Library at Bowie Tower is a public reference library of railroad books, materials, manuals, maps, publications, timetables, and other railroad related materials and ephemera. The project’s purpose is to preserve information about railroads and share that information with the public.

Currently the library contains approximately 1,000 books and manuals. The library also has several hundred additional vintage magazines and other periodicals and an assortment of railroad timetables making the total number of items in the collection well over 1,800. Our catalog has been put on-line to help researchers facilitate their work. We have partnered with an Internet service called TinyCat that specializes in supporting small, professional grade libraries.

To help you entertain your little companion when you spend time there, the collection also includes a small children’s section. These books are suitable for kids from two and up. There are a few non-train books too.

The library, which opened to the public on September 22nd, 2007, is operated by the National Railway Historical Society, Washington, D.C. Chapter, Inc. (DCNRHS) in partnership with the City of Bowie, Maryland and its Museums Division. The library is located at the Bowie Railroad Museum in the base of the former Pennsylvania Railroad Interlocking “Bowie” Tower in historic old Bowie, right next to the tracks of Amtrak’s (formerly Pennsylvania Railroad) high speed Northeast Corridor and at the north end of CSX’s (formerly Pennsylvania Railroad) Pope’s Creek Branch. DCNRHS is an all -volunteer not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization founded in 1944.

Our library was designed, organized, and catalogued by a professional librarian. It is lovingly maintained by an all-volunteer DCNRHS staff. Visitors may browse the collection and read books, magazines, railroad timetables, and railroad technical manuals, and look at other railroad related material in the library. This is a reference library; materials cannot be checked out from the facility, but items can be reproduced on a per page basis for a small fee in the Old Town Welcome Center. The library collection primarily contains material on U.S. railroads dating from 1880s to the present and is increasingly focused on the Washington D.C. region and railroads that historically served that area. The Pullman Company and passenger trains are also a particular interest area. DCNRHS developed a Collection Policy to guide the development and stewardship of the Collection with a focus on the Washington, D.C. Area railroads and the Pullman Company, but by no means exclusively. The policy can be downloaded below.

The library is named in memory of longtime member and former Chapter President Martin F. O’Rourke.

The City of Bowie, Maryland is an outstanding partner in this project. Without their genuine cooperation, enthusiasm, and support this educational project would not be possible. DCNRHS is especially appreciative of the support of the City’s Museums Division.

In Memoriam

DCNRHS over its 75+ years of service to the community has had numerous outstanding volunteers. Without the support of the three gentlemen below however, MRL would have never opened. We pay tribute to them here.


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