As one of the largest landholding companies in the U.S., BNSF is the keeper of more than one million contracts, deeds, photographs and maps collected over nearly 170 years. Maps are essential to the railroad – capturing permanent property records and locations of important assets including signals, structures and property lines.

In 2013, BNSF began converting paper maps into Geographic Information Systems (GIS) utilizing digital mapping technology. Prior to that, employees made notes on paper maps – meticulously capturing records needed for sales, legal disputes or tax inquiries. GIS technology is improving both the precision of information recorded and the ease with which information can be accessed.

“Over time and with technology, we recognized that we needed to establish a permanent retention program for many of our vital records, including maps,” explained Jim Obermiller, Director of Compliance. “We now have a climate-controlled center where we scan, record and protect these documents, which are not only important to our company but also to U.S. history.”

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Ashley Jeffus, project manager, helps oversee the collection of historical archives.