Baldwin S-8

Header Photo: Drew Jacksich

The Baldwin S-8 was meant to replace its DS line, notably the DS-4-4-750 (but also including the DS-4-4-660 and DS-4-4-1000) and offered roughly the same horsepower on a similar frame and axle setup. The switcher itself was not considerably different from its earlier counterpart although it did feature an upgraded prime mover of the same version used in the DS-4-4-750. Perhaps the most noticeable change with the S-8 was merely its designation, as the Baldwin Locomotive Works looked to simplify its earlier classification system of complicated numbers, dashes, and letters. Overall, the S-8 was not particularly successful although its successor, the S-12, did see decent sales numbers. Today, at least two S-8s are preserved; U.S. Pipe & Foundry #37 at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum and Medford Corporation #8 at the Southern Oregon Chapter, NRHS.

The Baldwin S-8 switcher line debuted in 1951 featuring the builder's updated 606ANA prime mover. The locomotive could produce 800 horsepower using a B-B truck arrangement (two axles per truck). Overall Baldwin meant for the S-8 to be used in standard yard service although sales never truly materialized. Railroads still preferred more powerful models and the company had a difficult time finding orders for any of its lightly powered designs like the VO660, DS-4-4-750, and the S-8. Of course, this was not unique to Baldwin. The American Locomotive Company, for instance, also saw only lukewarm sales for its small switchers such as theS-1, S-3, and S-6.

For more information about Baldwin's S-8 line please click here.  At 46 feet in length the S-8 was nearly identical to the DS-4-4-750 using the same basic frame and design (end cab and long trailing hood). The one operational standout, aside from its extra 50 horsepower was the additional tractive effort; 59,550 pounds starting and 34,000 pounds continuous. This gave the locomotive the ability to pull a string of loaded cars with relative ease while being agile and light enough (just 99 tons) to be used almost anywhere. Because of this, several industries found the S-8 to their liking. In any event, the switcher was one of the builder's first models to feature a much more simplified classification using a letter for the motive power type (switcher) and the starting digit (8) referring to the horsepower rating (800).

By the time production had ended after only a few years in 1953 Baldwin was able to sell 63 total units (54 A units and 9 B units/calves) to a wide range of buyers. While Class I railroads purchased the S-8, such as the Pennsylvania and Rock Island, as mentioned above many buyers turned out to be industrial operations like mining and steel companies. These included the American Rolling Mill Company, Oliver Iron Mining Company, Sharon Steel Corporation, Sloss-Sheffield Steel, US Pipe and Foundry, US Steel, Weyerhaeuser Company, and Youngstown Sheet and Tube. Interestingly, before the Cuban trade embargo was implemented Baldwin also sold two S-8s to United Railways of Havana.  

Baldwin S-8 Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Armco Steel Corporation1151-1152, 120131951-1954
Columbia-Geneva Steel Division (U.S. Steel)1311953
Escanaba & Lake Superior10211952
LaSalle & Bureau County Railroad811951
Medford Corporation811952
New Orleans Public Belt50-5121951
Oliver Iron Mining1200A-1206A, 1214A-1215A (As)91951-1952
Oliver Iron Mining1200B-1206B, 1214B-1215B (Bs)91951-1952
Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines600611951
Rock Island802-80651952
Sharon Steel Corporation3-1081952-1953
Sloss-Sheffield Steel & Iron Company33-3641951-1952
U.S. Pipe & Foundry Company37311954
United Railway Of Havana (Cuba)8001-800221952
Weyerhaeuser Timber Company103, 10521951
Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company703, 800-80571951-1953

One particular note of interest about the S-8s were the nine cow-calf sets purchased by Oliver Mining. A photo of one example is featured above, giving you an idea of what they looked like; Oliver was the only buyer to request such a setup (it also ordered other cow-calf sets from Baldwin). The units were numbered 1200A-1206A, 1214A-1215A/1200B-1206B, 1214B-1215B and the mining company had on order a tenth set but later canceled this after it was already completed. Baldwin then retrofitted the B unit with a cab and resold it as a standard S-8.  For more information about the S-8s please check out the chart above for a complete production roster.

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