Detailed Instructions for the NYCSHS Archive Photo and ValMap Website

Instructions for NYCSHS Photo Archive Website
v1.0 12.20.18

Welcome to the New York Central System Historical Society Photo Archives. This site offers you access to thousands of New York Central and predecessor railroad historical images and a growing selection of valuation maps. The site is a treasure chest of visual data and a major resource for those interested in the railroad. Here you can view exceptional, rare images from the Central’s own marketing and publicity departments, as well as images taken by railroad enthusiasts from the 1890’s through the creation of Penn Central in 1969. Also available to you is a growing collection of valuation maps.

Our site works with Internet Explorer v10 and 11, as well as Chrome v.27.x in a PC Windows environment. If you use a MAC computer just open Safari 6.1x or 7.1x or you can also use Chrome v27.x.

Do not use Firefox.

When working with the site, please be patient. Search indexes/results may take up to 10 seconds to appear. The search engine has to work through thousands of fields of data.

To access the site, type Http:// into the URL field of your Internet browser.

** Note ** We have occasionally encountered a situation in which a virus protection software firewall will block access and will return the following screen:

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Should this happen to you, clear your URL field and type:

You should then see this screen:

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Once on the site, it’s helpful to Bookmark the above page.

Please take a moment to read through the information provided on this page.

You will see a series of clear and green boxes at the bottom of the page. These are links to sections of the database.

Place your cursor over any of the boxes  and  click on any of the boxes. This action will take you to the main photo archive search page shown below. This is your gateway to 30,517 images (as of the release of the site). At the bottom of the black heading bar you will see links for “List”, “Find”, a grey keyword search entry field, and “Advanced”, as well as a “Main Menu” link. The “Main Menu” link is your escape link; as it will take you back to the main page … do not use the “back” button of your browser.

If you were to type “ West Shore “ (no quotation marks) into the search entry field, and then click on the Find link, you will be taken to the page shown below:

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You will note that toward the left side, at the bottom of the black header there is now a notation of “ 1 of 50 “ and a right facing (forward) arrow. Your search returned 50 images and the page shows the first one. You can move through all fifty, one at a time, by clicking on the Forward arrow. Once you get beyond the first image, a “Back” arrow will appear and you can now move forward and backward through all 50 images. Information fields for the image are shown above and to the right. The image you see on the screen is a thumbnail image with NYCSHS logo markings. When you purchase an image, you will receive a higher resolution file without the logo markings.

It’s helpful to study the information fields shown with each image. This will give you a feel for what keywords may work best in later searches.

To order the photo, click on the blue “Order” button to the left of the photo. This will add the photo to your list of photos you wish to order. More on ordering later in this instruction.

Click on the “Main Menu” link to return to the main page.

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On the main (landing) page, next to the “NYCSHS Photos” link, you will see a link for Steam and another for Diesel. Using either link focuses your search, returning only Steam or Diesel images and omitting facilities, freight cars, etc. These links are search filters, which instantly narrow you search results. If you’re only interested in Steam locomotives, start your search by clicking the Steam link. This will return a page with a photo and offering the entire steam collection (10,467 images at this time). You can use the arrow button to move through the images one at a time, or you can narrow your search further by adding a locomotive type, engine number, builder, etc. You also have the Advanced Search link, which presents you with specific fields to enter search information.

**Important ** When you enter search criteria into the grey search field, DO NOT hit the Enter key on your keyboard to start the search. This will only add a new line to the search field. When you have completed your keyword entry, move your cursor left to the “ Find” button and click there.

Be patient, it may take 10 seconds or more for your results to appear as the software is searching over 30,000 images and related data.

The Valuation Maps link will not initially return an image of the map, but it will offer a number of descriptive choices. Click on your choice to further refine your search. Individual items will have a “View” button. Click the “View” button to see the linked image.

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How to get the best results from your search:

  1. Choose the most specific or relevant keyword(s) or phrases to describe subject
  2. Enter the most specific keyword you can think of first, and then add other descriptors.
  3. Use the green highlighted boxes to quickly focus your search (Steam or Diesel)
  4. Spelling and capitalization are critical – “Niagra” will NOT return any results; “Niagara” will.
  5. Because the information attached to each image was written without optimizing it for a search engine, which didn’t exist when it was written. You may need to vary your search parameters to be successful. (most information is from a negative sleeve or reverse side of print, and provided by the photographer).

Whenever you see the search field, you can start a search or refine your search. To refine, just add new keywords (or use the Advanced button). To start a new search, delete the existing keywords (backspace or delete keys) and type in the new search parameter(s)

The best instruction for using the website database is use and practice. Keep two key points in mind:

  1. Do not use your browser’s back or forward buttons while you are working in this site. The Main Menu button will take you back to the landing page.


  1. Do not use the “Enter” key on your keyboard after you have typed in your search keywords. “Enter” will add a line to your search field. “Find” will start your search.