Kevin’s Komments 08/25/2023

Brooks Locomotive Works / ALCO-Brooks

In several of recent studies, I’ve run into the Brooks Locomotive Works, or the 20th century version, ALCO-Brooks.  I know a little about Baldwin and Lima, and have just a speck of knowledge about the later EMD and ALCO in general, but have never looked at Brooks or the ALCO plant ALCO-Brooks. 

Brooks was founded by Horatio Brooks in Dunkirk, NY, in 1869.  Horatio Brooks was the chief engineer for the New Yorks & Erie RR (NY&E, later known as the Erie RR).  He was at the controls of the first train that pulled into Dunkirk, NY.  The early NY&E main locomotive shops were in Dunkirk.  In 1869, NY&E relocated their engine shops to Buffalo leaving the Dunkirk facility empty and the town of Dunkirk without its largest employer.  Brooks stayed in Dunkirk and leased the NY&E shops to form the Brooks Locomotive Works.

Horatio G Brooks c. 1885 Image source: 1899 Brooks Locomotive Catalog.  Horatio G. Brooks (October 30, 1828 – April 20, 1887).  Besides founding the Brooks Locomotive Works, Brooks also served for three terms as mayor of Dunkirk. He was a leading figure in the business and social life of the area around Dunkirk, and western New York state.

This Fall Brook Coal Co. American (4-4-0), #18 – “Beaver”, is the earliest Brooks built loco that I found a pic of. It was built in 1873, builder’s #226. Fall Brook bought it second hand for passenger service. The photo was taken at Corning, NY about 1890

I had this pic of Michigan & Ohio #1 in my Cincinnati Northern loco roster. This American was built in 1883 for the M&O, and ended up on the Cincinnati Northern as CN #111 in 1897.

Closely related by geography is this 19th century American (4-4-0) built by Brooks.  The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway (LS&MS) was established in 1833.  The New York Central (NYC) system acquired a majority of the LS&MS stock in 1877.  LS&MS #599 looks to be a bit later in build than M&O #1, so I would guess it was built after the NYC acquired control of the LS&MS.  We know from CNor literature (the CNor also ended up part of the NYC system) that Brooks / ALCO-Brooks was a favorite loco manufacture for the NYC system.

While the Brooks built M&O #1 became CN #111, sister loco M&O #5 (made by Brooks in the same year – 1883) became CN #110. This photo shows CN #110 in 1905 with an added air pump, an electric headlight, and modern straight smoke stack.

Another fascinating tie between Brooks Locomotive Works and the Cincinnati Northern was Brooks builder #1000, a Mogul (2-6-0) built in 1884 – the one thousandth locomotive produced by Brooks. Brooks #1000 was sold to Detroit, Toledo & Milwaukee as DT&M #1. It then went to Cincinnati, Jackson & Mackinaw (CJ&M #26), then M&O #26 (in 1886), to CN #22 in 1897. When the Big Four bought the Cincinnati Northern, it became CCC&SL #6303 – but still worked the CNor line until 1916 when it was scrapped.

I found some unusual tank engines built by Brooks. This is Ulster & Delaware #13, built in 1885.

Check out this 4-4-4T tank engine built by Brooks in 1890 for the Chicago & Northern Pacific RR.

There were a number of Brooks Ten Wheelers (4-6-0) that operated on the CNor. Below are pics of CJ&M #35, later CN #35, built in 1896; NYC #5161 (later #6384), built in 1891; and NYC #5164 (later #6385), built in 1891.

Horatio Brooks died in April 1887. He was succeeded as president of the company by his son-in-law, Edward Nichols. Nichols remained president until he died in 1892. We first ran into Nichols on the Heisler study. Nichols was also president of Dunkirk Engineering during this same period starting in 1888. Charles Heisler was an assistant to Nichols, and was an engineer for Dunkirk. The first Heisler was built during Nichols presidency at Dunkirk Engineering (also while he was president of Brooks).

Nichols, died on January 7, 1892, was succeeded by then vice president Marshall L. Hinman.  Hinman led the company through the ALCO merge in 1901.  Here’s an aerial illustration of the Brooks Locomotive Works, 1899. Image source: Brooks Locomotive Catalog.

This satellite view of the former Brooks complex (shaded) shows the extent of the facility.

Going inside the erecting shop in the 1890s, we see a colorized photo of a 19th century Consolidation (2-8-0) and Mogul (2-6-0) being assembled. Image source: John R. Stewart

Same era, another colorized photo in the foundry, shows recently cast and machined locomotive parts.  Image source: John R. Stewart

In 1901, the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) was formed by the merger of Brooks with seven other locomotive works.  ALCO-Schenectady was the largest of the plants that merged, but most of them maintained their original identity, hence the title ALCO-Brooks.  This colorized postcard image shows a line of more modern 20th century Consolidations ready for shipment outside the Brooks plant, early 1900s.  Image source: private collection

Besides ALCO-Brooks being a preferred locomotive supplier for the NYC, it was also preferred by a number of other railroads like the MONON (Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville RR).  Here are some early 20th century MONON locos built by ALCO-Brooks:

MONON #30, an 0-6-0 switcher.

Here’s a somewhat unusual ALCO-Brooks Mastodon (4-8-0): MONON #229.

…and a more common ALCO-Brooks Mikado (2-8-2): MONON #

Boston & Maine #444, an ALCO-Brooks 0-6-0 switcher has been restored.

Later in the steam era, ALCO-Brooks dove into the large articulated steamers. DRG&W Class L-131, 2-8-8-2, #3600 -3609 were built by ALCO-Brooks in 1927. Here’s #3600, first of the series, leading a freight at Salida, CO, on 23 Aug 1954..

The last of the L-131 series, #3609, gets a quick inspection at Palmer Lake, CO. in the late 1940s or early 1950s. All the L-131s were scrapped in 1955 & 1956.

This is restored Union Pacific RR 4-12-2 #9000 in Pomona, CA. We had a study on 3-cylinder steamers – #9000 is a 3 cylinder loco, built by ALCO-Brooks in 1926. #9000 was one of the largest non-articulated steamers built.

We looked at earlier tank engines by Brooks – Here is a later ALCO-Brooks 2-8-2T built in 1925.  Long-Bell Lumber Co. #803 is under restoration in Yacolt, WA.

In 1934, the ALCO-Brooks plant discontinued the manufacturing of locomotives. It became the ALCO Thermal Products Division, eventually closing completely in 1962. Some of the products built after 1934 went into locomotives like the ALCO S-series diesels. Here’s B&O #9022, an ALCO S2. The B&O was a major customer of the ALCO switcher line rostering 59 of these S2s.

Over 3,000 locomotives were manufactured at the Brooks plant in the 19th century – before the ALCO merger.  ALCO-Brooks produced numerous Consolidations and Mikados during the early part of the 20th century including almost all the Consolidations that ran on the Cincinnati Northern.  Brooks and ALCO-Brooks is said to have sold locomotives to all the major railroads.



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