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Growing With Schenectady - American Locomotive Company

Pictorial Heritage of Alco Diesel Locomotives

[This booklet commemorating the 1948 centennial of the American Locomotive Company is in the Schenectady Collection [Schdy R 621.13 A512] of the Schenectady County Public Library. This essay on the Howard Fogg paintings is from the 1972 reprint.]

There was nothing new about diesel engines when the American Locomotive Company built the Freedom Train bearing the [Alco-General Electric logo] insignia of the joint manufacturers. Rudolf Diesel, a German engineer, had completed his first commercially successful diesel engine in 1897. Diesel's first patent specifications were filed in 1892-93.

Prior to Diesel's patents, French scientist, N. L. S. Carnot had produced ignition engines as early as 1824. Automotive power had been an experiment of several other scientists.

The first engine in which the charge was compressed in the cylinder before burning, was the venture of Nikolaus Otto. This Otto engine was the one Rudolf Diesel undertook to improve upon when he started his own construction of a diesel engine.

In 1948, Schenectady County was celebrating its sesquicentennial. [Editorial note: it was actually the city of Schenectady which was celebrating its sesquicentennial.] The Freedom Train was the highlight of this celebration. Just one hundred years before, the Lightning was the highlight of the 50th anniversary of the Schenectady city charter.

The mission of the Freedom Train tour of 613 cities across the United States bore the message, "More Power for America". The war was over. Progress was not at a standstill. Displays throughout the train proved the advancements of invention and science. More power for America was ready to prove itself.

The diesel electrics were to roll along in this progress. War weary steam locomotives were being replaced by railroad after railroad.

As the diesel locomotives rolled out of the American Locomotive Company, Howard Fogg was commissioned to paint locomotive after locomotive. Of these numerous paintings, Alco had some forty-eight reproduced.

Without doubt, Fogg is the outstanding artist painting trains. His capture of rolling stock as it passes through its native environment presents sheer beauty of both locomotive and background to the viewer. The list of those reproduced, follows:

Locomotive No.Railroad
1776 PA
Freedom Train
6000 4-8-4
9604 FA
8227 RS3
New York Central
6005 PA
Southern Pacific No. 10
6005 PA
Southern Pacific No. 9
5217 FA
4036 RS3
Delaware & Hudson
2119 RS3
Southern Railway System
1630 FA
Union Pacific
1627 FA
"No Name"
1607 RS
Jersey Central
1601 / 1602 RS3
1001 FA
New York Central
906 RS
858 FA
Spokane Portland & Seattle
801/810 FA
Baltimore & Ohio
738 FA
Gulf Mobile & Ohio
727 FA
725 FA
603 PA
Lehigh Valley
601 PA
Lehigh Valley
534 FA
Lehigh Valley
501 RS
New Haven
310 FA
Great Northern
Missouri Pacific
308 RS
St. Louis South Western
302 FA
Western Maryland
301 FA
Louisville & Nashville
205 PA
Southern Pacific
204 RS
190 PA
Nickel Plate
160 FA
Rock Island
137 RS
Central of Georgia
51 FA
Ann Arbor
51 FA
Santa Fe

Locomotive No.Foreign Railroad
1501 DL 702
2042 DL 530
811 DL 531
1601 DL 530

Locomotive No.American Railroads
305 RSC
326c FA
356 FA
Missouri Pacific
401 628
407 RS
8471 RS
 World War II

Sale of these Fogg reproductions was instituted after the doors of Alco closed. Information can be obtained by writing R. Riedinger, Box 594, Schenectady, New York 12301. [Editorial note: this address is probably not current.]

The inside back cover lists "Some Buyers of Alco Road Diesels." Numerous buyers were still purchasing Alco locomotives for many years later.

There is but one steam locomotive in the Fogg reproductions - the 4-8-4 Niagara.

Alco, General Electric and Ingersoll Rand built the nation's first commercially successful diesel-electric locomotive in 1924. This 300-horsepower unit served the Central Railroad of New Jersey until it was retired in 1957. This locomotive was the forerunner of thousands of diesel-electric units that were to revolutionize American railroading by the early 1950's.

When Alco abandoned steam locomotive production in 1948 in favor of the diesel, the company had built more than 75,000 steamers.

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Updated 3/20/01
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