Once the second-largest steam locomotive builder in the U.S., American Locomotive Company (Alco) produced 75,000 locomotives, among them such famous examples as the 4–6–4 Hudsons and 4–8–4 Niagaras built for the New York Central, and the 4–6–6–4 Challengers and 4–8–8–4 Big Boys built for the Union Pacific. Alco Locomotives is the first book to tell the full story of this company central to American railroad history—and beloved by railfans for its rich heritage and its underdog appeal. Noted rail historian Brian Solomon looks back at the founding of Schenectady Locomotive Works in 1848 and proceeds to cover that company’s merger with several smaller locomotive builders in 1901 to form Alco. Solomon describes the locomotives that made Alco’s name around the world, from the standard designs like Mikados, Atlantics, and Mallets to the more powerful and flashy post–World War I models. His detailed, richly illustrated narrative re-creates the drama of a tough, ambitious company in the American tradition—rising again and again to the demands of an ever-changing industry and economy.
Solomon also covers Alco electrics (built in partnership with GE), as well as the company’s successful and quirky diesel offerings, including the RS-2 and RS-3 road switchers, FA/FB road freight units, PA road passenger diesel, and the wares of Canadian affiliate Montreal Locomotive Works. Enlivened by numerous historical photographs, modern images, curious details, and firsthand accounts, this history is a complete, fascinating, and fitting tribute to a true icon of American railroading.