Steam Locomotive Builders
The art of steam locomotive design and manufacturing in North America
was concentrated in three very successful companies; the American
Locomotive Company, the Baldwin Locomotive Works and the Lima Locomotive
These companies had roots back to the earliest days of the steam era and
were dominant right up to the demise of the market in the late 1940"s.
Ironically, not one of these superb steam locomotive builders was able
to make a commercial success in the diesel dominated railroad market,
and each has ceased manufacturing locomotives.
All three of these locomotive builders acquired unique characteristics such
as the shape of their builders plates. They also became known for their unique
accomplishments: ALCO, for developing 3-cylinder steam locomotives; Lima, for
developing 2-8-4 "Super-Power" locomotives; and Baldwin for designing duplex
drive locomotives and for being the largest, longest-lived, and most successful
of the steam locomotive builders.
American Locomotive Company
American Locomotive Company (ALCO) was formed
in 1901 when seven smaller locomotive builders merged with the
Schenectady Locomotive Works (Schenectady, NY) in order to compete
against the largest locomotive builder of the day, the Baldwin
Locomotive Works. The seven locomotive builders were:
In 1906 ALCO entered into the automobile business and exited after only
seven years because it proved to be unprofitable.
- Brooks Locomotive Works
- Cooke Locomotive & Machine Works
- Dickson Manufacturing Company
Manchester Locomotive Works
- Pittsburgh Locomotive & Car Works
- Rhode Island Locomotive Works
Richmond Locomotive Works
During World War II, ALCO produced army tanks (7,362 of them), tank
destroyers, shells, bombs, gun carriages, gun mounts and 4,488 locomotives.
Employment increased three fold to over 15,000 people by 1945.
NOTE: Some sources state that Richmond only built 1000 locomotives starting at CN 1600 and then included gaps in their numbering scheme.
||Years in Production
||Year of Merger
|Brooks Locomotive Works
|Cooke (Danforth-Cooke) Locomotive & Machine Works
||1852 - 1926
|Dickson Manufacturing Company
||1862 - 1909
|Manchester (Amoskeag) Locomotive Works
||1849 - 1913
|Montreal Locomotive Works
||1900 - today
|Pittsburgh Locomotive & Car Works
||1867 - 1919
|Rhode Island Locomotive Works
||1866 - 1907
|Richmond Locomotive Works
||1886 - 1927
|Rogers Locomotive Works
||1837 - 1913
|Schenectady Locomotive Works
|| - 1968
In 1955 the company became known as ALCO Products, Inc and in 1964 it
was bought by the Worthington Corp.
Over all of its time (prior to merger and after), ALCO produced about
75,000 locomotives with more than 63% of them built in Schenectady, NY.
In fact, all of the locomotive manufacturing (except in Canada) was
consolidated in Schenectady by 1931 and continued until 1968.
ALCO has had a lot of firsts throughout its history including:
- The first steam locomotive produced by Rogers Locomotive Works was the
wood burning "Sandusky" built by Rogers in 1837
- First commercially successful diesel electric locomotive (Central
Railroad of New Jersey)
- First diesel-electric passenger locomotive in the USA (NYC)
First streamlined locomotive produced in America (CM&StP - "Hiawatha")
ALCO acquired exclusive rights to Sir Nigel Gresley's "conjugated lever" invention
which was used on 3-cylinder steam locomotives. ALCO became
much more successful at building 3-cylinder steam locomotives than any other builder.
The American Locomotive Company was known for its steam locomotives of
which the 4-6-4 Hudsons and the 4-8-4 Niagras built for the New York
Central and the 4-6-6-4 Challengers and the 4-8-8-4 Big Boys it built
for the Union Pacific were its finest examples.
Most of the general files, technical manuals and ALCO designs are located
in the Special Collections Research Center at
Syracuse University. The Builder's Photos and many of the Erecting Cards
(photographs of the drawings) and Painting Diagrams are in the possession of
the Mohawk &
Hudson Chapter of the NRHS. This group of volunteers is known as the
Photos Project" and is preserving over 32,000 ALCO negatives.
ALCO Historic Photos
P. O. Box 655
Schenectady, NY 12301-0655
Baldwin Locomotive Works
The Baldwin Locomotive Works was founded in 1831 by Matthias Baldwin.
The original plant was on Broad street in Philadelphia, PA where the
company did business for 71 years until it moved in 1912 to a new plant in
Eddystone. Various partnerships during this period resulted in a number of
name changes. It was known as Baldwin, Vail & Hufty (1839-1842); Baldwin
& Whitney (1842-1845); M. W. Baldwin (1846-1853); and M. W. Baldwin &
Co. (1854-1866). After Baldwin's death in 1866 the firm was known as
M. Baird & Co. (1867-1873); Burnham, Parry, Williams & Co. (1873-1890);
Burnham, Williams & Co. (1891-1909); it was finally incorporated as
the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1909. Westinghouse Corporation bought
Baldwin in 1948. In 1950 the Lima-Hamilton Corporation and Baldwin merged.
In 1956 the last of some 70,541 locomotives was produced. An aerial view
of the Baldwin plant is shown on the right. Today, F. W. Hake's Trucking
Co. occupies this land.
Baldwin made its reputation building steam locomotives for the Pennsylvania
Railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe.and
many of the other railroads in North America and for overseas railroads in
England, France, India, Haiti and Egypt.
In the late 1940's it was very clear that the steam locomotive days were over
and each of the big three steam locomotive builders were far behind EMD with
diesel designs and customers. Lima merged with engine builder Hamilton in
an effort to get a foot hold in the diesel market but made little progress.
In desperation Lima-Hamilton merged with Baldwin in 1950 to become the
Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation. However, by 1956 BLH ceased production
of common carrier size locomotives.
In the later days of the steam era, Baldwin was in the forefront of locomotive
construction with the many 2-8-2 Mikados it built and its ability to build
small quantities of unique designs, such as the Cab Forward 4-8-8-2's it
built for the Southern Pacific. Also it was involved with its various
railroad customers to develop new and improved locomotive designs the last
being the 4-8-4 Northerns.
Most of the records of Baldwin were destroyed in 1954. What survived
has found its way to the DeGolyer
Library (Baldwin Records) at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. [Details]
A few drawings are located at the Pennsylvania
State Archives in Harrisburg, PA. The Builders Photos are located at
the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
in Strasburg, PA.
Lima Locomotive Works
The Lima Machine Works was established in 1869 and produced agricultural
and sawmill equipment. In the 1870s a Michigan logger, Ephraim Shay,
developed a geared locomotive for use on wood-railed logging tramways.
In 1878 Lima Machine Works built a locomotive to Shay's design. In 1891 the
company reorganized and became the Lima Locomotive & Machine Company.
The company began building locomotives for Class 1 railroads in 1911:
23 0-6-0 switchers for the Southern and Mobile & Ohio. In 1912 the
company again reorganized into the Lima Locomotive Corporation. In 1916
it was bought by Joel Coffin and became the Lima Locomotive Works. In 1947
Lima Locomotive Works merged with General Machinery Corporation of Hamilton,
OH to form Lima-Hamilton Corporation. In 1951 it was merged with Baldwin
Locomotive Works to form the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton was making construction
cranes (the kind on crawler tracks or rubber tires). Sometime in the 1970s,
Clark equipment bought BLH and continued to use the site to make their biggest
(220 ton capacity) crawler cranes in Lima. A very large (Billion Electron
Volt) X-ray machine was installed in a free-standing building to test the
cast base frames for cracks. In 1980 Clark pulled out of Lima. The X-ray
facility was sold to a private company that does some hull testing for the
tank plant (M1 Abrams was Chrysler, then General Dynamics, not sure who
runs the place for the Army now) just a few miles up the road. If you look
around when you're driving, you will still see cranes with BLH, LIMA, CLARK
or some combination on the counterweight where bridges are being re-built.
In fact, there's one on a job site on I-75 just south of OH 725 exit with
BLH LIMA on the back.
The Lima Locomotive Works was located in Lima, OH between the B&O's
Cincinnati-Toledo line and Nickel Plate's main line and shops.
Lima Locomotive Works is most famous for developing the Super Power 2-8-4
design. Around 1920, the railroads and locomotive builders were trying various
techniques to increase the speed of freight trains. Some approaches used
high-pressure boilers, three-cylinders, water-tube fireboxes, or all three
(Baldwin 60,000). William Woodard of Lima Locomotive Works experimented
in increasing the grate area to greatly increase the steaming ability of
the locomotive. A locomotive with a 100 sq. ft. grate area (very large
for a locomotive of that day) was constructed. The firebox was so large
that it required a four-wheel trailing truck to support it. The 2-8-4 wheel
arrangement was born. This demonstrator locomotive also had a booster on the
rear axle of the trailing truck. It was designated number "1", class A-1
and was so successful from the start that a number of railroad lines soon
placed orders for more of this type. Lima Locomotive Work became famous
for developing this design.
The old Lima Shay shop and the heavy erection sheds were demolished during
the spring of 1998. They had been left to rot for 20 years before they were
taken down. Today the Lima Locomotive Works location is just a pile of rubble.
[Google View] The Lima Locomotive Works records including builder's drawings
are stored at two places. Most of them are stored on the Second Floor of
the Big Four Building at the California State Railroad Museum Library in
California State Railroad Museum Library
111 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Ellen Haltman, Librarian
[ Search ]
Some of the drawings and the Builders Photos are at:
Allen County Museum
620 West Market St.
Lima, OH 45801
Charles Bates, Asst. Curator
Ads provided by WaidePhoto.com .
Builder Web Pages
Locomotive Builder Reference
Tim Moore has access
to many steam locomotive builder's records. If you have a builder's
number that you would like researched, contact him.
- "The Locomotives That Baldwin Built" by Fred Westing, published in 1966 by Superior Publishing Co.
- "Illustrated Treasury of the American Locomotive Company" by O. M.
Kerr (Delta Publications, 1980)
- "The Baldwin Locomotive Works; Catalogue of Locomotives. An historical
reprint" (Specialty Press, 1972)
- "History of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, 1831 -1923" (Old Line
- "The Baldwin Locomotive Works, 1831-1915" by John K. Brown (The
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995)
- "The Story of Eddystone / the Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia."
(Glenwood Publishers, 1974)
- "The Allegheny: Lima's Finest : on the Chesapeake & Ohio and the
Virginian" by Eugene L. Huddleston and Thomas w. Dixon, Jr. (Hundman,
- "Super Power Steam Locomotives" by Richard J. Cook (Golden West
- "Lima-Hamilton; Its Historical Past, 1869, 1849 and Later" (Newcomen
Society of England, American Branch, 1948)
A Short History of American Locomotive Builders in the Steam Era by
John H. White (Bass Inc.)
Much thanks to Richard Duley who has
helped to provide a great deal of the information found on this page.
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