Locomotives come in all shapes and sizes! While the Museum boasts three of the largest locomotives in the world, sometimes less is more.
Vulcan Materials, our good neighbor just east of the Museum, generously donated a rare Plymouth industrial plant locomotive on October 7. The small diesel-powered two-axle engine has been described by most as “cute”, but represents an important aspect of railroading – that of moving cars within industrial facilities. Weighing in at 30 tons, it was ideal for moving a few cars at a time over lightweight trackage for processing of aggregate materials.
The locomotive’s history is somewhat incomplete, but it appears to be a 1943 Model ML8. It was likely delivered new to the U.S. Army, which purchased 23 of the engines from the Plymouth Locomotive Works of Plymouth, Ohio. Following its military service, the locomotive had a long career at Vulcan’s Brownwood, Texas facility, shunting cars in the production of asphalt. Slated for scrapping, the locomotive had several reprieves by longtime employees that simply couldn’t part with the beloved engine. For nearly 10 years it sat on the edge of the property awaiting an uncertain fate.
When Vulcan assumed ownership of the Frisco aggregates unloading and transfer facility, the neighboring Museum of the American Railroad caught their eye. The San Antonio-based company offered the little Brownwood engine as a donation, including transportation and a new blue paint job. The locomotive joins the Museum’s fleet, representing the smallest standard-gauged engine in the collection.
Our thanks to Vulcan for their generosity and sensitivity to historic preservation. Specifically, we would like to thank the folks at their Frisco and Brownwood plants, along with their corporate offices in San Antonio for making the donation possible. Special thanks to STS Heavy Hauling for donating transportation of the Plymouth from Brownwood to Frisco. Vulcan graciously covered the cost of crane services at both ends.
Vulcan has also been a major contributor to the Museum through the donation of 3,600 tons of flex-base material for track construction.
A crane carefully lifts the 30-ton Plymouth industrial locomotive for placement on the Museum of the American Railroad's lead track. Built in 1943, the engine joins the Museum's collection, and helps round out one of the most diverse examples of early diesel power on display in North America. At right, Jeff Paice and Ned Jennings of Vulcan Materials pose with the Plymouth locomotive after it has been successfully loaded, transported, and unloaded on the Museum's Frisco site. Mr. Jennings operated the locomotive several years ago and shared interesting stories with the Museum.