- Manufacturer details


The founder of the Baldwin Locomotive Works was Matthias W. Baldwin, a jeweller and silversmith. In 1825 he formed a partnership with a machinist, and engaged in the manufacture of bookbinders tools and cylinders for calico printing. For his own purpose Balwin build a very effective steamengine and so became involved in steam engineering. In 1831, at the request of the Philadelphia Museum, he built a miniature locomotive for exhibition which was such a success that he that year received an order from a railway company for a locomotive to run on a short line to the suburbs of Philadelphia. The Camden and Amboy Railroad Company (C&A) had shortly before imported the locomotive John Bull from England. It had not yet been assembled by Isaac Dripps when Baldwin visited the spot. He inspected the detached parts and made notes of the principal dimensions. Aided by these figures, he commenced his task. The difficulties attending the execution of this first order were such as our mechanics now cannot easily comprehend. Modern machine tools simply did not exist; the cylinders were bored by a chisel fixed in a block of wood and turned by hand; the workmen had to be taught how to do nearly all the work and Mr. Baldwin himself did a great deal of it with his own hands. His first locomotive, christened Old Ironsides, was completed and tried on the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad on November 23, 1832. It was at once put in active service, and did duty for over 20 years. Initially, Baldwin would build many more steam locomotives at its cramped 196 acre Broad Street Philadelphia shop but would begin to shift production to a 616 acre site located at Spring Street in nearby Eddystone, Pennsylvania, in 1906. Baldwins business boomed during a period of expansion between 1898 and 1907 while it modernized its Broad Street facilities. Despite this boom, Baldwin faced many challenges including the constraints of space in the Philadelphia facility, inflation, increased labor costs, the substantial increase in the size of the locomotives being manufactured, labor tensions, and the formation of an aggressive competitor (Alco). A year later the Interstate Commerce Commission was established and the panic of 1907 occurred. Both of these events would have a negative effect on the railway industry. Baldwins output dropped from 2666 locomotives in 1906 to 614 in 1908. Baldwin would continue to expand its Eddystone plant until its completion in 1928. By 1928, the company moved all locomotive production there though the plant would never exceed more than 1/3 of its production capacity. Baldwin was an important contributor to the Allied war effort in World War I. After World War I, Baldwins business would decline as the diesel engine became the standard on American railways. By the 1920s the major locomotive manufacturers had strong incentives to maintain the dominance of the steam engine. Baldwin however stated by Samuel Vauclain, Chairman of the Board, in a speech in 1930 that advances in steam technology would ensure the dominance of the steam engine until at least 1980. Baldwin began an attempt to diversify its product line in 1929, but the Great Depression thwarted these efforts and Baldwin declared bankruptcy in 1935. When Baldwin emerged from bankruptcy in 1938 it underwent a drastic change in management. The new management was dedicated to diesel power but the company was already too far behind. In a move to diversify its operations Baldwin merged with Lima-Hamilton on December 4, 1950, to become Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton. However market share continued to dwindle. Baldwin did not produce another locomotive after 1956, and exited the locomotive business in 1965 to concentrate on heavy construction equipment. Over 70500 locomotives had been produced when production ceased in 1956. In 1965 Baldwin became a wholly owned subsidiary of Armour and Company. Greyhound Corporation purchased Armour and Company in 1970, and in 1972 Greyhound closed Baldwin-Lima for good.

Engines build by Baldwin

Forum topics about this manufacturer

There are no specific topics regarding this manufacturer.

Write A Comment

Sorry, you have to be signed in to write a comment.