The Baldwin S-12 was an upgraded version of its predecessor, the S-8 although both models were cataloged at the same time. Similar in size and mechanics, save for increased horsepower, this final switcher model manufactured during the 1950s sold relatively well for the company as numerous railroads and private industries purchased the model. While the locomotive did have some complaints regarding reliability it was revered for its ability to out-pull nearly anything in its class (a Baldwin trademark). The S-12 also saw the builder do away with the earlier complicated classification system and introducing one much simpler. Today, the S-12 remains one of Baldwin's best preserved
diesels with at least fifteen still known to exist;
seven at museums or tourist lines and eight more owned by short line SMS
Milwaukee Road S12 #909 is seen here in Hastings, Minnesota on June 24, 1964.
The Baldwin S-12 switcher began production in 1951 and by
that time was technically a product of the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton
Corporation (BLH). BLH was formed through the merger of the Baldwin Locomotive Works
and Lima-Hamilton in 1951 after the former came under the control of Westinghouse Electric Company, a long time supplier of internal
components for Baldwin's diesels (the two companies had also collaborated
on several electric locomotives dating back to the 19th century). Thanks to the S-12's increased horsepower it sold much better
than its less powerful counterpart.
At 1,200 horsepower using Baldwin's latest prime mover, the 606A SC
railroads found the locomotive quite versatile in several applications from
yard and industrial work to revenue service on secondary and
branch lines. The locomotive came equipped with standard four axle (B-B) trucks
and could produce a hefty 72,000 pounds of starting tractive effort
(34,000 pounds continuous). When production had ended
in August, 1956 the model had been sold to several railroads like the
Chicago & North Western, Jersey Central, Southern Pacific, New York
Central, Southern, and the ever-loyal Pennsylvania. Additionally the
military and industries purchased the locomotive including the Army,
U.S. Steel, Armco Steel, American Smeting and Refining Company, Erie
Mining, and others. In total, Baldwin sold 451 examples of the S-12.
Great Northern S12 #24 works the Minneapolis yard on June 14, 1964.
The S-12 was certainly Baldwin's most popular switcher in terms of its
horsepower rating and general reliability. This is a significant reason why the model continues to find
use in short line service today, notably on shortline SMS Lines which
owns eight; their heritage includes Michigan Limestone #116, Tennessee Valley Authority #200,
U.S. Navy #65-00372, demonstrator #1200, SP #1547, Erie Mining
#7241, Monongahela Railway #425, and Great Northern #27. While four
of these locomotives are operational, four are also used as a parts source. Additionally, seven others can be found at museums; Patapsco &
Back Rivers #345-#346, Erie Mining #403, NYC #9313, SP #1550, Texas
& New Orleans (SP) #121, and Oliver Iron Mining #933. Finally, for more information about the S-12s and all Baldwin switcher models please refer to the chart below.
Lehigh Valley S12 #232 runs light through Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on June 12, 1972.
For more information on Baldwin locomotives the book by the same name, a Brian Solomon title, provides an in-depth history of the company from its earliest days beginning in the 1930s to its final years constructing diesels during the mid-20th century. It 160 pages in length and, as with every Solomon book, offers a rich collection of large, sharp photos to enjoy. Another title of interest is Vintage Diesel Locomotives by noted author and historian Mike Schafer. This one has been out for several years now and is a paperback title but highlights several classic models from the major builders of the era such as Electro-Motive, Baldwin, and the American Locomotive Company.