Baldwin Locomotive Works

The Baldwin Locomotive Works was an American builder of railroad locomotives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania originally, and later in nearby Eddystone, Pennsylvania. In 1825, Matthias H. Baldwin opened a small machine shop in Philadelphia, and in 1832 he was called upon to assemble a locomotive, the Delaware, built in England and shipped in pieces to the Newcastle & Frenchtown Railroad. Baldwin had already built stationary steam engines, and with the knowledge so acquired, started building their own steam locomotives.

The first Baldwin-built locomotive was named Old Ironsides and was a direct copy of the Robert Stephenson-designed Planet type locomotive they had earlier assembled. Many more followed.

Baldwin was very soon the largest locomotive builder in the United States, and possibly worldwide.

Electric locomotives

From the early years of the 20th Century Baldwin had a relationship with the Westinghouse Electric Company to build electric locomotives for American and foreign markets. The electric locomotive was increasingly popular; electrification was expensive, but for high traffic levels or mountainous terrain it could pay for itself, and in addition some cities like New York were banning the steam locomotive because of its pollution and the propensity for accidents in smoke-choked terminals. Baldwin built or subcontracted out the bodywork and running gear, and Westinghouse built the electrical gear.

Diesel locomotives

Baldwin produced small gas-mechanical internal combustion engined locomotives from about 1910 to 1928, and some experimental diesel locomotives. The latter, like the electric locomotives, used Westinghouse electrical gear in a diesel-electric configuration. In 1939, Baldwin began to seell a standard line of diesel switchers, and in 1945, a line of road diesels.

A full list of Baldwin diesel locomotives belongs elsewhere, but Baldwin locomotives, while fairly successful in the marketplace, did not do so well as others. Baldwins, thanks to their hefty Westinghouse electrical equipment, were good heavy haulers, but the engines were less reliable than the EMD and even ALCO competition.

Westinghouse pulled out of the heavy traction equipment market in 1953, and Baldwin did not last much longer. Some late Baldwin equipment used General Electric electrical equipment, but Baldwin built its last locomotive in 1956.


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