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 thanks to their Westinghouse traction motors). The S-12 also saw the builder do away with the earlier complicated classification system and introducing one much simpler. Today, there are eight S-12's known to be preserved at museums while others are still hauling freight for short line carriers.
Baldwin may have struggled as a diesel manufacturer but its switchers and road-switchers boasted good looks and clean lines, topped by a centered head-light on the long hood sporting decorative beveling. From a functionality standpoint they sat high and offered crews relatively good visibility on a modest frame.
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. For more information about the S-12 model please click here.
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.
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.
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.