A 700-book collection tracing the history of California railroads from their inception in the 19th century has been donated to the Henry Madden Library at California State University, Fresno by the family of the late railroad fan, author and alumnus J.L. “Jack” Krieger.

With publications dating from 1896, the Krieger collection contains virtually every book about California railroads published in the past 50 years. It is very strong on railroads of the western United States and Canada. Many of the books were published in very small print runs and are quite rare. Preliminary estimates place the collection’s value at $30,000-$50,000, not including hundreds of railroading magazines.

“This is a significant gift that provides us with an instant research collection on railroading in

California and the West,” said David Tyckoson, head of public services at the Madden Library.

Krieger had a devoted interest in railroading. He traveled widely, collecting books and artifacts and filling a 1,000 square-foot building with 0-scale (1/48th actual size) model railroads. He also worked briefly for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway between high school and Fresno State College and as a train order dispatcher after retirement from a 25-year career teaching math and science in Hanford elementary and junior high schools. Krieger died in 2004.

Krieger was an expert on the Santa Fe (now Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway) in the San Joaquin Valley and wrote the definitive book on the subject, “Valley Division Vignettes,” published in 1983. The book traces the rail line from its origins as an independent trying to secure cheaper freight rates for Valley shippers than those offered by Southern Pacific.

Krieger’s wife, Elaine, also a Fresno State graduate, and their children, Karen and John,

donated the collection. “The family knew that this was a very good collection and did not want to break it up,” said Tyckoson. “They always had Fresno State in mind. By donating to the Madden Library, they ensured that it would be in a location where others could use it.”

Until construction of the new library building is completed, the collection may be seen by appointment by contacting Marcie Morrison, library development officer, by telephone (559.278-4051), fax (559.278-6952) or e-mail (rnarcia morrisoncsufresno.edu). The Madden Library always is interested in obtaining significant collections and donations. Contact Morrison for additional information.