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American Association of
Railroad Superintendents

Our History

For more than 130 years, the American Association of Railroad Superintendents has provided educational and networking opportunities for those involved in railroad operations management.
A bit of AARS history - no doubt many of the members, especially the younger ones, are not familiar with the background of this organization and would like to know something about its origin and history.

The railroad business is so exacting that all of a railroad officer’s time is spent in meeting today’s demands and trying to solve tomorrow’s problems. Hence little, if any, thought is given to "water that has gone over the dam" and history is relegated to the "switch shanty".

The American Association of Railroad Superintendents is one of the oldest if not the oldest organization of its kind on this continent. The parent organization, The Association of Railway Superintendents, was organized in New York in 1881 and it functioned in about the same manner as we do today. Another organization known as the Central Association of Railroad Officers functioned contemporaneously but as individual units in some six cities, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Louisville and Buffalo. The individual units held separate meetings and at different times but their Proceedings were consolidated and bound into one book. Each unit also had its own staff of officers.

The present superintendents’ association in St. Louis and Kansas City are relics of this organization, but have since become operating organizations supervising the interchange of cars and other joint activities in those terminals. In 1909, the Association of Railway Superintendents consolidated with the Central Association of Railroad Officers. From that merger came the American Association of Railroad Superintendents, and the secretary and central office transferred from New York to St. Louis. The parent organization and its offspring, the present organization have functioned uninterruptedly since 1881 more than 125 years, although annual meetings have been cancelled for various reasons. For example, annual meetings were cancelled from 1917 to 1922 because of World War I and in 1932 because of the Depression.

This organization has had a long and honorable past, if not a glorious one. It fills a much-needed field and is surely and certainly doing a good job by keeping its members abreast of the times and in this way is providing better educated operating officers for the railways.

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