AMERICAN CAR and FOUNDRY (AC&F) in Berwick

A Brief History - The origins of the AC&F in Berwick began in 1840 with the formation of the Jackson & Woodin Manufacturing Company. Jackson & Woodin Manufacturing Company merged with 12 other railcar builders in 1881 to form the American Car and Foundry. In 1904 the AC&F built the first all steel passenger car built at the Berwick plant. During WWII the Berwick AC&F plant manufactured the Stuart Tank for he US Army. After the war they went back to building railcars.

By the early 1960ís the economy was slowing and in November of 1961 AC&F decided to close the doors of the Berwick plant. That same year the Berwick plant was sold to a group of local business people who established the Berwick Forge & Fabricating Corporation. In 1968 it was again sold to the Whittaker Corporation and they continued to build freight cars until 1982/83 when it closed. The Berwick Freight Car Company (a subsidiary of Chicago West Pullman Heavy Industries) was the successor to the Berwick Forge and Fabricating and began operations in 1982/83 and continued until the early 1990's.

Today the Berwick AC&F complex is owned by BIDA and houses several businesses. Several of the original buildings still stand on the grounds, however most have been remodeled and renovated to suit the new businesses that occupy them. There are still railroad tracks entering the complex in use today and you can regularly see hopper cars being lead by a North Shore Railroad Locomotive entering and leaving the complex. You can also see traces of the tracks that were used throughout the complex during the years of railcar production.

With your help, I'm trying to create a site that contains information and images about the railroad history of Berwick. My goal is to preserve it's history, so it does not fade and be forgotten, and to share it with Railfans, Historians and anyone who might have an interest.

(click pictures for larger view)



Postcard
American Car and Foundry
Berwick, PA
Postmarked September 13, 1912
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Postcard
American Car and
Berwick, PA



Ariel view of the AC&F complex
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Ariel view of the AC&F complex
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Postcard
American Car and Foundry
Berwick, PA
(image source: Internet)


Postcard
American Car and Foundry
Berwick, PA
(image source: Internet)


Postcard
American Car and Foundry
Berwick, PA
(image source: Internet)


Postcard
American Car and Foundry
Berwick, PA
(image source: Internet)


Postcard
American Car and Foundry
Berwick, PA
(image source: Internet)


Berwick Sesquicentennial
5 Cent Wooden Coin from 1936
features the AC&F.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


"Bess", the ACF shop goat is going to scrap in DL&W 68907, a class GB gondola (also built in Berwick by ACF in 1951). Photo by the ACF Labs, 1953, in Berwick, PA.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


View of the AC&F circa 1930's.
(image source: Bill Vezendy)


Yard and Track layout on Freas Avenue end of AC&F - 1938
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


AC&F 0-6-0 Switcher #8
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Flat Car loaded with new mine cars. Photo is from the late 1890s or early 1900s.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


AC&F Smith Shop and Rolling Mill
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


C.RR of NJ Hopper in the AC&F Yard
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Ice Box Cars in the AC&F Yard
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


AC&F 0-2-0 Switcher
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


AC&F Switcher pulling a load of wheels
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


freight car wheels
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


AC&F Wheel Foundry
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


AC&F Rolling Mills - 1939
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Inside the AC&F Steel Plant
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Electric Welder inside the AC&F Steel Plant
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Inside the AC&F Steel Plant
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Inside the AC&F Steel Plant
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Postcard
Berwick AC&F with DL&W Gondolas.



This old letter was written in 1934 to the New York Office of the AC&F by F.M. Walton of the Berwick Company Store.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Here is the responce from the New York Office of the AC&F to F.M. Walton of the Berwick Company Store.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


1947 Master Seniority List book for the Berwick ACF.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


ACF Employee Badge #1019
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


ACF Employee Badge #23815
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


ACF Employee Timecards
from the late 1950's.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)







Talgo Train built in Berwick.
Article appeared in the Morning Press(1949).
(image source: Brenda Moore)


Talgo Train built in Berwick.
Article appeared in the Science Illustrated Magazine(1949?)
(image source: Internet)


This picture of the Talgo is from a Life Magazine article. For more info on the Talgo visit the Diesel Punks article on the Talgo.


This old photo might of been taken at the Berwick AC&F plant.The locomotives being built look very similar to the Talgo Train locomotive which was built in Berwick.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


In June 1938 this Steamlined "Motorailer" motor car was built by the Berwick AC&F for the Missouri & Arkansas Railway - #705. It had a 200-HP Hall-Scott motor and mechanical transmission connected to the front truck. It was also equipped with air conditioning. It was painted a light (Cadet) blue with a dark (Royal) blue window band and had bright yellow lettering outlined in black and aluminum side skirting and roof. #705 remained in service for the Missouri & Arkansas Railway until August 1946 when it was destroyed in a collision with Carnation Semi Milk Truck at a crossing on Highway 65 in Harrison. This photo was taken in 1938 at the Berwick AC&F before it left for service on the Missouri & Arkansas Railway


Missouri & Arkansas Railway #705
Steamlined "Motorailer"
(collection of Andrew Hoke)



The Rebel - The original three-car streamliners were built by the American Car & Foundry, in the 1930ís, for the Gulf, Mobile & Northern Railroad at the Berwick, Pennsylvania, American Car and Foundry Plant. They were powered with a 660-HP Alco Diesel. The trains were not articulated, and their operation required switching cars in and out en route. Each train consisted of a power car with mail and baggage compartments , a buffet-coach car, and a sleeping-observation car.


Gulf, Mobile & Northern #352
The Rebel
Along the Susquehanna River
below Berwick.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Gulf, Mobile & Northern #352
The Rebel
in the Berwick AC&F Yard.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Interior Layout of Front Unit with the engine, mail and baggage compartments
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Interior Layout of the 2nd unit.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Interior Layout of the 3rd unit with the Buffet
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Interior Layout of the last unit with the Berths
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Gulf, Mobile & Northern #352
The Rebel
with interior layout
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Berwick Sesquicentennial 5 Cent Wooden Coin from 1936 featuring the Rebel on one side.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)






In 1940 with the out-break of War, the American Car and Foundry plant in Berwick turned to manufacturing Military equipment. It was most notable for it's production of the M3A1 Stuart Light Tanks.


On August 2, 1941, the 1000th tank rolled off the assembly line at the Berwick AC&F
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Cut-away drawing of Stuart Tanks
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Parade of tanks down Front Street in Berwick.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


The Last Tank From Berwick AC&F letter to employees. This was given to the employees in 1944 to commemerate the last tank built at the Berwick AC&F plant. The last tank was the 15,224th tank made in Berwick. (collection of Andrew Hoke)



BERWICK FORGE and FABRICATING (BFF)

A Brief History - In 1961 the Berwick AC&F plant was sold to a group of local business people who established the Berwick Forge & Fabricating Corporation (BFF). The BFF continued to build freight cars. The in 1968 the BFF was sold to the Whittaker Corporation and they continued to build freight cars until 1982/83 when it closed. Berwick Forge & Fabricating built over 23,000 freight cars in its nearly 20 years of existence in Berwick, Pennsylvania. Their designs were very successful and most of the cars are still in service today. While Berwick built virtually all modern types of freight cars, they are perhaps best known for their 50' and 60' box cars. Their freight cars that were used as demonstrators had the reporting marks of BFFX.

(click pictures for larger view)



Berwick Forge and Fabricating Corp. decal used on the freight cars they built.


Original un-used Berwick Forge and Fabricating Corp. Decal
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Whittaker - Berwick Forge and Fabricating Division decal used on the freight cars they built after the Berwick Forge was bought by Whittaker.


BFFX #1977 Berwick Built Bathtub Gondola specially painted in white.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)

This bathtub gondola was built in the late 1970ís (1978?) at the Berwick Plant. It is the only one painted with the Berwick Built Bathtub slogan on the side, making it one of a kind. All the rest of the bathtub gondolas were painted the same color, as this one, minus the slogan on the sides. The unique paint was for a special dedication ceremony that was held at Berwick before the first unit train of these cars went west.


(click pictue for larger view)
UFIX #2091
Bathtub Gondola
(Photo: Matt Hannes - www.matts-place.com)


Possibly a promotional photo of the BFF management and a Grand Trunk and Western Box Car #309400 from 1970.
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad #20000 Gondola in the BFF shop yard - 1980's
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


BFFX Hopper #4750
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


Berwick Forge and Fabricating
Shop Locomotive
12 Ton Plymouth Locomotive
This locomotive is currently located in Catawiasa at the Catawissa Railroad Company. Click Here to see a photo from 2010 of it.


Berwick Forge and Fabricating
#5958 Shop Locomotive
GE 25 Ton Locomotive
(photo provided by:
Don's Depot Railroad Photos)


These pages are from the Car and Locomotive Cyclopedia of American Practices, 1970 and show some of the different types of freight cars the Berwick Forge and Fabricating shops built.


Berwick Forge and Fabricating ad from 1968 Railway Age
(collection of Andrew Hoke)


A Tough Act to Copy:
The Life of Walter Vorbleski
by Florence Harry
Walter Vorbleski co-founded the Berwick Forge and Fabricating and this book takes a look at his life.
(collection of Andrwe Hoke)



BERWICK FREIGHT CAR CO.

A Brief History -The Berwick Freight Car Company (a subsidiary of Chicago West Pullman Heavy Industries) was the successor to the Berwick Forge and Fabricating and began operations in 1983 and continued until the early 1990's. One of thier first freight cars was the ULTRA (universal load, twin railcar, articulated) cars built for the Environmental Protection and improvement Corp. (Epic). The two-unit articulated ULTRA cars are 86 feet long over strikers with three 100 ton trucks. Each car carries six 20'-by-8'-by-6'4 1/2" steel solid waste containers, each holding 28 cubic yards. Total capacity of the car is 144 tons.

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Old sign still hanging on one of the buildings at the BIDA Complex in Berwick, PA.
(photo by Andrew Hoke 8-11)


All photographs, art and maps are the property of Andrew Hoke/Berwick Railfan (2009-2014) and can not be used in any way without permission. If you would like to use any of the photographs on the Berwick Railfan Photo Gallery website, or have comments and questions please EMAIL me. Please give a photo credit and a link to the Berwick Railfan Photo Gallery for any photos used either on the internet or in print.