Like competitors Porter and the Davenport Locomotive Works, Vulcan's
most popular early wheel arrangements were 0-4-0Ts and 0-6-0Ts (also
known as "dinkies") although by the time it had stopped producing steam locomotives the company and built some 108 different designs. Through the turn of the 20th century the manufacturer
continued to grow and became Pennsylvania's third largest locomotive
producer. The World War I period was another time of growth for the
company as it employed more than 1,600 at its Wilkes-Barre facility and
its locomotives became popular with European countries including
Britain, France, Italy, and Germany (other countries in which their
products could be found included Cuba, Australia, and Canada).
this time the company also began producing its largest wheel
arrangements including 2-8-0 Consolidations and 2-6-2 Prairies. Following the war Vulcan also first began manufacturing
non-steam powered locomotives, originally meant for use in the mining
industry. These included battery and gasoline operated designs that
could be used to move coal both in the mine and outside the shaft. For
an idea of what some of these contraptions looked like please click here.
By the late 1920s the company was producing small diesel-electric
switchers, such as the 8-tonner of 1926. Outwardly, they closely
resembled what Whitcomb had been producing for some time.
By World War
II the Vulcan Iron Works had reached its peak, employing more than
2,500. However, following the war the company began a rapid decline as
steam power fell out of favor for diesels (during the war the government
had placed restrictions on diesel development). Ultimately, Vulcan was in no position to compete against much
other larger manufacturers like Baldwin, Electric Motive, American
Locomotive Company, and others; it simply did not have the research and
development in diesel technology. In all, the builder constructed just
54 diesels the largest of which was a 70-tonner model for the Carnegie
Steel Company of Pittsburgh in 1944.
|Washington & Old Dominion #55, a Whitcomb model 75-DE-12 switcher, sits tied down at the B&O's Curtis Bay Yard in Baltimore on January 19, 1969.|
In 1954 Vulcan declared bankruptcy and closed its doors soon after. Today, you can still find their steam locomotives
at places like Tifton, Georgia; Wiscasset, Waterville, & Farmington
(Maine); Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad; Little River Railroad (Michigan);
Steam Railroading Institute (Michigan); New Hope Valley Railway (North
Carolina); Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad (Ohio); Salem, Oregon;
Grapevine Railroad (Texas); and the Laona & Northern (Wisconsin).
For more information about the history of the Vulcan Iron Works please click here.
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