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Cranes and Derricks

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This file was last updated on April 15, 2019.

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(This is a work in progress; research continues.)

Company Histories

American Hoist & Derrick Co.

American Manufacturing Company (1883-1892)
American Hoist & Derrick Company (1892-1987)

St. Paul, Minnesota


1882, September -- Frank J. Johnson and Oliver T. Crosby formed The Franklin Manufacturing Company.

1883, June -- Company name changed to The American Manufacturing Company.

1889 -- American produced its first steam hoist.

1892 -- Company name changed to American Hoist & Derrick Company.

1895 -- American Hoist & Derrick produced its first locomotive crane; also built its largest locomotive crane, for the U. S. Navy with 45 tons lifting capacity.

1897 -- American Hoist & Derrick started building overhead cranes.

1904 -- American Hoist & Derrick designed the railroad ditcher, a dipper shovel that helped railroads maintain the drainage along their tracks.

1923 -- American Hoist & Derrick built its first crawler crane.

1928 -- American Hoist & Derrick built the first locomotive crane that used an internal combustion engine.

1939 -- American Hoist & Derrick was awarded a patent for a self-propelled locomotive crane, using diesel-electric power.

American Hoist & Derrick held a U. S. Patent (2,142,360; dated January 3, 1939) for a Locomotive Crane that was self propelled using an internal combustion engine, and mechanical drive mechanism.

(Read more about U. S. Patent 2,142,360, dated January 3, 1939)

1941 -- American Hoist & Derrick developed the first diesel-electric ("DiesELectric") powered locomotive crane. The Diesel engine powered the upper machine works, and made electric power for travel.

1960, April -- American Hoist & Derrick purchased the Industrial Brownhoist Corp. of Bay City, Michigan. Locomotive crane production was moved to St. Paul in 1962-1963.

1983, June -- American Hoist & Derrick closed the former Industrial Brownhoist plant at Bay City, Michigan. Production was moved to St. Paul, Minnesota.

1984, June -- American Hoist & Derrick closed the plant in Fort Wayne, where the company had manufactured truck cranes and rail cranes, hoists and backhoes since 1955 when AH&D had merged with American Steel & Dredge Co. of Fort Wayne. Production was moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. An auction was held on August 1st to sell the equipment in the plant, located on Taylor Avenue in Fort Wayne.

1985 -- American Hoist & Derrick moved its crane production to Wilmington, North Carolina. The Locomotive Crane Division remained in St. Paul for less than six months as existing contracts were completed, then locomotive crane and other small crane production was also moved to Wilmington. Amhoist saw its future as manufacturing large (and very large) cranes for the global market, and moving crane production to Wilmington would put the company close to a deep-water port, making shipment to international customers easier and less expensive.

The move of production from St. Paul to Wilmington was to take advantage of a federal government urban development grant to bring employment to the Wilmington area. But the grant stipulated that jobs would not be lost in St. Paul because of the move. As with so many other corporations, especially in the early and mid 1980s, Amhoist executives immediately sought ways to work around the requirements of the government grant. After less than six months, they moved small crane production from St. Paul to Wilmington and and began building the few locomotive and small cranes that had been on order, in an adjacent building leased for the purpose, but not in the building that had been renovated using grant funds. A two-year investigation by the Justice Department found that Amhoist had violated the terms of the grant, and in 1987 forced Amhoist to return $3.8 million, the portion of the government grant that the company had already used.

The "Amhoist" name first came into use in the early 1960s, matching the change in the company's stock listing, from AmHoist&Derrick (or AmHoist&Der), to the simplified "Amhoist." The stock listings in the Chicago Tribune changed in early April 1962, but the listings in the Minneapolis newspapers, under the heading of "Local Stocks" did not change until February 1965. The first use of AmHoist, or "amhoist," in marketing materials wasn't until October 1976, in a newspaper ad that showed all the subsidiary companies of American Hoist & Derrick.

1987, August -- American Hoist & Derrick sold its lattice-boom and small crane designs, including locomotive crane designs, to American Crane Corporation for a reported $40 million. Operating earlier as its Mobile Crane Division, the name at the time of the sale was its "American Crane Division." American Crane Corp. was incorporated in 1987 as a new subsidiary of the Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. Newspaper references in 1987 show the company as "American Crane Corporation" with an address in Bucyrus, Ohio. Similar references in 1995 and 1996 show an address in Wilmington, North Carolina. The sale was finalized on September 30, 1987.

Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. separated the lattice-boom and small crane designs from American Crane's large crane business, with lattice-boom crane (crawler and railroad) production being moved to Bucyrus, Ohio. The American Crane Corporation, and its large crane manufacturing business, remained in Wilmington. In 1998, Terex purchased the stock of American Crane, which became a subsidiary of Terex. By 2007 the company had taken the name of Terex Cranes Wilmington, Inc., formerly known as The American Crane Corporation (Terex). In late 2011, Terex ended crawler and large crane production at Wilmington. In 2014 a company by the name of Vertex RailCar Corporation moved into the former crane manufacturing site on Raleigh Street along the Cape Fear River on Wilmington's southwest quadrant, but in late 2018 Vertex closed its doors due to significant financial problems with its investment partners.

1989, February -- American Hoist & Derrick changed its name to Amdura Corporation, after the company was purchased by a group of investors. The company headquarters were moved to Denver, Colorado, where its newly acquired (in December 1988) subsidiary Coast-to-Coast stores was located.

(Amdura became a diversified holding company that purchased the Coast-to-Coast hardware stores in December 1988. Other companies purchased the Crosby Group that made lifting equipment, hardware, and accessories for use with wire rope and chain, and the Harris Group that manufactured recycling and waste management equipment used in the plastic, waste paper, ferrous, and non-ferrous scrap metal recycling industries.)

(Amdura declared bankruptcy in 1990 and after a reorganization, was sold in 1995 to FKI plc, a diversified manufacturer based in the United Kingdom.)

American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Company

1987, August -- Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. in Bucyrus, Ohio, purchased the assets and interests of the Locomotive Crane Division of American Hoist & Derrick Co. in St. Paul, Minnesota.

(Read more about Ohio Locomotive Crane Co.; below)

1989, September -- Ohio Locomotive Crane produced its first crane, an American Model 811, based on the American Hoist & Derrick designs purchased in 1987. The new American crane extended the company's range of cranes to 13 models, ranging from 25 to 250 tons. The company would continue producing Ohio cranes.

1996, May -- Ohio Locomotive Crane's subsidiary "American Hoist & Derrick" proposed to purchase Plymouth Locomotive Company of Plymouth, Ohio. The sale was finalized in March 1997.

1997 -- The combination of Ohio Locomotive Crane Company and American Crane Company was reorganized in (1997?) to form the American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Company.

1997, June -- The first newspaper reference to the new American & Ohio Locomotive Company was made on June 22, 1997, although help wanted ads continued using Ohio Locomotive Crane company throughout 1999.

1998, June -- Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. was sold on June 30, 1998 to International Tug and Tote Company of Cleveland, Ohio, which had also recently purchased Plymouth International of Plymouth, Ohio. No changes in the location or management structure of either company were planned.

1999, July -- Ohio Locomotive Crane Company and Plymouth Industries were combined into a new company, Ohio Industries, Inc., as subsidiary of International Tug and Tote, after IT&T closed the Plymouth factory on July 7, 1999. About 45 of the 98 Plymouth employees were transferred to the factory in Bucyrus. The Plymouth factory closed its doors on July 16, 1999. The 12-acre site and buildings of the former Plymouth locomotive factory were sold at auction on July 27, 1999, for a reported $425,000.

(Plymouth Industries, formerly Fate-Root Heath Company, in addition to building and selling its line of Plymouth small industrial locomotives, also manufactured Fate International extrusion equipment, Aut-O-Lift lift trucks, and Schreck industrial trucks for heavy-duty material handling. After the initial auction of the former Plymouth plant in July 1999, the buyer apparently lost interest and a second auction for what was called "Plymouth Industries II" was held on January 13, 2000. Included in the auction were all manner of industrial manufacturing machines, as well as trucks, forklifts, and locomotives.)

(Read more about Plymouth locomotives)

2001, June -- On June 1, 2001, employees of Ohio Industries (including Ohio Locomotive Crane company) were locked out, and the factory was closed, following a bankruptcy and foreclosure suit filed on May 29th. On July 31st, a group of 20 vendors and one manufacturer filed claims for more than $800,000 in debt. At the time of the bankruptcy, Ohio Industries had $11 million in booked and promised orders. As many as 58 employees lost their jobs as a result of the closure.

2001, November -- ERS Industries, Inc. (Eastern Railway Supply) purchased the American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Co., including all of the original engineering files, drawings and inventory. Company changed to American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Company (AOLCrane), a division of ERS Industries, still located in Bucyrus, Ohio. ERS Industries announced on November 9, 2001 that they had purchased the designs and inventory of Ohio Locomotive Crane.

ERS Industries, Inc., got its start as Eastern Railway Supplies, Inc., which was founded in 1936, supplying railroad track equipment and locomotive cranes to the railroads, steel mills, and the scrap recycling industries. Its Canadian branch was established in November 1964, and in 1999 was renamed North American Equipment Sales (Canada) Ltd. Their Canadian branch continued to serve the Canadian marketplace with offices in Binbrook and Mississauga, Ontario.

ERS had been a dealer of Ohio crane spare parts for the previous 12 years, and the purchase was mostly to obtain the remaining inventory of spare parts for Ohio and American cranes, with production of spare parts to continue. ERS stated that they had no plans to build any more cranes. The Bucyrus location was to serve as a warehousing and distribution center, and only had six ERS employees.



After ERS purchased American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Co., the company name was changed to American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Company (AOLCrane), a division of ERS Industries, still located in Bucyrus, Ohio.

The following comes from a now-abandoned company web site:

Manufacturer of Ohio Locomotive Cranes in Bucyrus, Ohio since 1909 and Amercian Locomotive Cranes since 1986. AOLCrane designs and manufactures new locomotive cranes, locomotives and other specialty equipment for rail, off-road, construction and demolition.

AOLCrane also remanufactures/upgrades the capacity of American and Ohio Locomotive Cranes. The remanufacturing process allows the customer to receive a like-new crane which includes a new crane warranty at a fraction of the cost of a new locomotive crane.

AOLCrane also remanufactures cranes of all types; specializing in hi-rail, rough-terrain cranes such as Grove, Model RTR-58D and Terex CD225 Series. We have designed many improvements that provide our customers with safer and more dependable equipment that efficiently perform their tasks.

By late 2002, AOLCrane was offering complete rebuild services for both Ohio and American cranes:

American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Company (AOLCrane) is the leading source for new and used locomotive cranes worldwide.

A division of ERS Industries, Inc., AOLCrane supplies on-site service, crane inspections, unit exchange assemblies, boom repairs and complete crane remanufacturing along with OEM parts.

AOLCrane also manufactures the original hydraulic locomotive material handler the PowERStick.

The following comes from a now-abandoned company web site, dated October 2006:

American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Company (AOLCrane) is the leading source for new and used locomotive cranes worldwide.

AOLCrane supplies on-site service, crane inspections, unit exchange assemblies, boom repairs and complete crane remanufacturing.

AOLCrane also manufactures the original hydraulic locomotive material handler, the PowERStick.

AOLCrane is the original equipment manufacturer of American & Ohio Locomotive Parts.

The following comes from a now-abandoned company web site, dated November 2011:

American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. (AOLCrane™) is the worldwide O.E.M. for "NEW", "Used", and "Remanufactured" locomotive cranes and Genuine O.E.M. locomotive crane parts. 

AOLCrane™ supplies complete in-house remanufacturing, in-house upgrades, on-site repairs, crane inspections, unit exchange assemblies, boom repairs, on-site training, and unit exchange traction generators and motors.

(The AOLCrane web site remained essentially unchanged from 2007 through May 2017.)

IPS Cranes

2017, June -- IPS Cranes (formerly IPS Worldwide) in St. Paul, Minnesota, purchased the assets and interests of American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. (AOLCrane). Previously, AOLCrane had been a supplier of spare parts to IPS Cranes. Also in 2017, IPS Cranes moved their production facility from nearby Proctor, Minnesota, to a new facility at a vacant industrial site in southwest Duluth, Minnesota. The new Duluth site had larger doors, and interior crane, and sufficient interior space to work on more than one crane at a time. The former AOLCrane location in Bucyrus, Ohio, was closed, and the facility sold to Bucyrus Railcar Repair LLC.

IPS Cranes, as IPS Worldwide, began repairing and remanufacturing locomotive cranes in 2001, in a facility leased from Canadian National in Proctor, Minnesota. In 2017, IPS Cranes moved to their current location in Duluth. IPS Cranes is also the OEM for spare parts and repairs for American Hoist cranes, and for Manitowoc cranes. IPS Worldwide was previously in business as Independent Parts and Services, a business started by Tom Holly in 1988 to serve as an independent source for OEM parts for American Hoist cranes after American Hoist closed its location in St. Paul.

According to Bloomberg.com, the merger/acquisition date for IPS Cranes and AOLCrane was June 5, 2017.

(Visit the IPS Cranes web site)

(View the Youtube video, "World's Greatest")

(View the Youtube video, "Greater MSP Business")

(View the IPS Cranes Youtube channel)

Badger Equipment Company

Founded in April 1945 by Daniel Przybylski and two employees as the Badger Machine Company (formally incorporated in 1949), the company furnished farm and construction equipment and machinery first to local farmers and construction companies near headquarters in Winona, Minnesota, then as its designs improved, to national and international markets across the globe. Later known as Badger Equipment Co., Badger was one of the first manufacturers of hydraulic excavators and backhoes. Badger Machine Co. designed and built the first knuckle boom backhoes in the early 1950s, and the first telescopic boom excavators in the mid-1950s. In the 1960s, a complete family of crawler-mounted hydraulic knuckle boom "HopTo" excavators were designed and manufactured.

At a company picnic on July 20, 1947, the Badger Machine company displayed its 100th trenching machine.

1949, April -- On April 30, 1949, the Badger Machine Company was formally incorporated.

Przybylski applied for his first patents in November 1945, for a design of an excavator machine to dig trenches to a specific width and depth. The patent for a continuous trenching shovel was awarded in June 1949 (U. S. Patent 2.472,758), and for the complete trenching machine in June 1952 (U. S. Patent 2,599,778). Over the following 8-10 years, Przybylski applied for and was awarded more than 20 patents, including patents for hydraulic components and operating methods for what today we know as a backhoe and various attachments to make the machine more reliable and versatile. Beginning in 1950, Badger's backhoe was marketed under the brand name of "HopTo" digger. The machine's name came from its description: hydraulically operated power take-off (HOPTO). The early versions were light and small and were was sold as an add-on attachment to any truck or tractor with a power-take-off. Later machines were self-propelled using truck or tractor chassis, or were crawler tractors.

1957, October -- Badger Machine Company was sold to Warner & Swasey Company, a large industrial manufacturer in Cleveland, Ohio, that among numerous other industrial machines, also made the Gradall telescoping-boom digging machine. The Badger machine Company became the Badger Division of Warner & Swasey.

1965, March -- The design for the original "ladder-type" trenching machine, originally patented by Daniel Przybylski in 1945, was sold to his son Ronald Przybylski, who organized the Ronco Engineering Company and, along with two employees, began building limited numbers of the trenchers.

1976, October 1976 -- The Badger Division of Warner & Swasey Company became the Construction Equipment Group of Warner & Swasey. The Warner & Swasey company also produced a line of hydraulic excavators and cranes, including the Gradall and Hyro-Scopic brand names.

1977, October 1977 -- Warner & Swasey announced that the Badger Division would be sold, and in December 1979 the entire Warner & Swasey construction machine business was sold to Bendix Corporation of Southfield, Michigan, for a reported $245 million.

1978, April -- After several rounds of layoffs in April, July and August 1977 due to declining sales of hydraulic excavators and cranes, Warner & Swasey announced that they would close the Badger plant in Winona.

1978, July -- Badger sold to Burro -- On July 20, 1978, Warner & Swasey announced that its Badger Division, maker of hydraulic backhoes and rough terrain cranes, was to be sold to Burro Crane, Inc. Badger represented just nine percent of Warner & Swasey's annual sales.

1978, July -- On July 21, 1978, the new Burro-Badger Corporation was incorporated to take over production at the Badger factory in Winona, Minnesota. The new company was owned by Avis Industrial Corporation, a privately held company owned by Leland Boren of Upland, Indiana.

1978, September -- On September 5, 1978, the Burro-Badger Corporation changed its name to Badger Construction Equipment Company. Leland Boren was shown as president of Burro-Badger Corp.

1981, October -- The name was changed to Badger Equipment Co.

1994, April -- Badger Equipment was shown as a subsidiary of Avis Industrial Corporation, when Badger purchased the rubber-tired line of excavators formerly built by J. I. Case, after Case shut down production in September 1993.

2001, January -- The Little Giant factory in Des Moines was closed in January 2001, and about 10 of the current 21 employees were to sister company Badger Equipment Company in Winona, Minnesota. Both companies had Avis Industrial Corp. as their parent company.

2009, July -- Manitex International, Inc. announced that it had acquired the Badger Equipment Company from privately-held Avis Industrial. The Badger line included its "specialized earthmoving, railroad, and material handling equipment, parts, and other products marketed under the Badger, Little Giant, Burro-CF, Cullen Friestedt, Western Cullen, and Burro brand names. The Cullen-Friestedt's branded equipment dates back to 1907." (Manitex International press release dated July 13, 2009)

Manitex Acquires Badger Equipment For $3 Million -- Jul 22, 2009 -- Manitex International, a supplier boom truck cranes, rough-terrain lift trucks and mission-oriented vehicles, has acquired Badger Equipment Co., a Winona, Minn.-based manufacturer of specialized rough-terrain cranes and material handling products. Badger, which was acquired from Avis Industrial, a privately held company, had revenues of approximately $10 million in 2008. The reported aggregate purchase price was $3 million.

"Manitex International now manufactures the successor  to the Burro cranes. Model 1085R is built by Badger Equipment of Winona, Minnesota. Badger is a subsidiary of Manitex. Manitex was spun-off from the Manitowoc Company in 2003 as a condition of Manitowoc's 2002 purchase of Grove. Manitex also builds Load King trailers and Little Giant hydraulic cranes." (Trainorders.com, March 17, 2011)

Brown Hoisting Machinery Co.

Brown Hoisting & Conveying Machinery Company (1880-1900)
Brown Hoisting Machinery Company (1900-1927)

Cleveland, Ohio

The Brown Hoisting & Conveying Machinery Co. was founded by Alexander E. Brown and his father Fayette Brown at Cleveland, Ohio in 1880 and incorporated in 1893. On August 16, 1900 the company name was changed to the Brown Hoisting Machinery Co. Brownhoist merged with Industrial Works on September 26, 1927 to become Industrial Brownhoist Corp. with headquarters at Cleveland, Ohio. The formal transfer of assets to the new corporation took place on October 26, 1927. The Cleveland plant was closed in 1931 and all manufacturing was moved to the Industrial Works plant at Bay City, Michigan. (John Taubeneck via email dated August 19, 2014)

Browning Crane & Shovel Co.

Browning Engineering Company (1900-1914)
The Browning Company (1914-1925)
The Browning Crane Company (1925-1931)
Browning Crane & Shovel Company (1931-1954)

Cleveland, Ohio

(Note: Browning is often confused with the Brown Hoisting Machinery Co. [Brownhoist] also of Cleveland. Brown Hoisting merged with Industrial Works in 1927 to form Industrial Brownhoist.)

The Browning Engineering Company was organized and incorporated in 1900 to build ore and coal handling machinery. After several name changes Browning's locomotive crane division and plant were sold in May 1954 to the Wellman Engineering Co. In June 1960 Wellman-Browning sold out to the Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. of Bucyrus, OH. The Cleveland plant was not included in the sale but it looks like production was not moved to Bucyrus until 1962. Ohio produced Browning & Wellman design cranes as late as 1974 and the Wellman name was still used to that date. Victor R. Browning left the office of vice-president of Browning Engineering about 1910 and formed the Victor R. Browning Co. of Cleveland to take over the bridge crane line. This firm built ditchers, draglines, bridge cranes and a few locomotive cranes. They were still in business as late as 1994. (John Taubeneck, via email dated August 23, 2014)

Browning Crane & Shovel filed for bankruptcy in December 1953. In early 1954 the company was sold to Sidney L. Albert of Akron, Ohio. Later that year the locomotive crane line was sold to Wellman. (John Taubeneck, via email dated September 3, 2014)

May 1954
Wellman Engineering Co. purchased the locomotive crane division and plant of Browning Crane & Shovel Company in late May 1954. Wellman was to take possession in about 90 days. Browning had been in the locomotive crane business since 1899. (New York Times, May 31, 1954, "over the weekend")

Union Pacific records indicate that UP and its subsidiaries owned 14 cranes built by Browning from 1909 through 1953.

Bucyrus Co.

Bucyrus Company (1880-1927)
Bucyrus-Erie Company (1927-1996)

(Read more about Bucyrus Company, including its much larger business of building mining shovels)

Union Pacific and its subsidiary companies purchased six Bucyrus railroad wrecking cranes (derricks), as shown below:

The Bucyrus Foundry and Manufacturing Company was established in 1880, and the present-day Bucyrus International Inc. can boast a rich heritage of specialization in the crane and excavator industry. From the smallest yard crane to some of the largest machines ever to roam the earth, no other company has built such a wide variety of types and sizes of excavating machines. From its floating dredges, tractor equipment, hydraulic excavators, drills, cranes, walking draglines, wheel excavators, and other special equipment, the name Bucyrus has been synonymous with moving the earth. Several famous names in excavator manufacturing have been acquired by Bucyrus over the years. Bucyrus-Erie Company was formed in 1927 when the Bucyrus Company took over the Erie Steam Shovel Company. Other excavator acquisitions include the Vulcan Steam Shovel Company (1910), Atlantic Equipment Company (1912), Monighan Machine Company (1932), Milwaukee Hydraulics Corporation (1948), Ransomes & Rapier Ltd. (1988), and Marion Power Shovel Company (1997). The company changed its name from Bucyrus-Erie Company to Bucyrus International Inc. in 1996. (Keith Haddock, Giant Earthmovers, pages 126-128)

Bucyrus Foundry and Manufacturing Company was founded by Daniel Parmelee Eells, an Ohio industrialist, in 1880 in Bucyrus, Ohio, and became Bucyrus Steam Shovel and Dredge in 1890. Two years later the company moved to Milwaukee, which has been its home ever since. After a financial reorganization in 1896 the name was changed to the Bucyrus Company, and it remained under the control of the Eells family until 1911. That year a merger with a competitor, the Vulcan Steam Shovel Company, resulted in a dilution of the Eells holdings, although family involvement in the company continued until 1952. Already a leader in the shovel industry, Bucyrus further consolidated its position in 1927 by merging with Erie Steam Shovel Company, the leading manufacturer of small shovels, to become Bucyrus-Erie Company. (William Haycraft, Yellow Steel, page 83)

Industrial Brownhoist

Industrial Works (1873-1927)
Industrial Brownhoist Corporation (1927-1960)
American Hoist & Derrick Company (1960-1983)

Bay City, Michigan

Industrial Works was founded in 1873 at Bay City, Michigan. They built their first railroad wrecking crane for the Chicago & Western Illinois Railroad in 1883. From there the company went on to become one of the largest producers of rail cranes in the United States.

Industrial Works merged with the Brown Hoisting Machinery Company (Brownhoist) on September 26, 1927 to become Industrial Brownhoist Corp. with headquarters at Cleveland, Ohio. The formal transfer of assets to the new corporation took place on October 26, 1927. In 1929 the McMyler-Interstate Co. was merged into Industrial Brownhoist.

Two years later in 1931 the Cleveland plant was closed and all crane manufacturing was consolidated at Bay City.

In 1960, American Hoist & Derrick bought out Industrial Brownhoist and continued to build rail cranes at Bay City until 1983. (John Taubeneck via email dated August 19, 2014)

Industrial Works built its first 120-ton capacity crane in 1909. Union Pacific and its subsidiaries owned 10 120-models. In 1910, six were built for Union Pacific and its subsidiary roads. These were UP 02780, 02781, 02787, 02788 in January and February 1910; OR&N 0308 in May 1910, and OSL 768 (later 02004) in June 1910. The remaining four were built in 1911, 1913 and 1916.

Industrial Brownhoist built its first wreck derrick with 250 tons capacity in 1941. (Thornton Waite, "Wrecking Derrick Cranes" in Union Pacific Modeler, Volume 3)

The following is taken from a history of Industrial Works and Industrial Brownhoist by The Bay City Journal newspaper:

On March 4, 1873 a group of local businessmen purchased the MacDowell Foundry Company in Bay City, Michigan and began a new business called the Industrial Works. This small company eventually became a world leader as a manufacturer of large lifting cranes.

Among the original founders of the company were George Kimball, James Clements, Edgar A. Cooley, Ebenezer Wells, Ezra Seaman and Phillip Bach. All were from Ann Arbor except for Kimball who was from Saginaw, where was head of the Pere Marquette Railroad office. Officers of the company were: George Kimball, president; James Clements, vice-president; Ebenezer Wells, treasurer; Charles Wells (son of Ebenezer), secretary.

The company's initial property holding was 100 feet of river frontage that ran to Water Street and included a 50 x 100 plot on the opposite side of Water Street. An old wood building for the foundry sat on this plot. A blacksmith shop and several machine shop buildings were located on the riverside of Water Street. The initial work force consisted of about 25 people. The new company continued in the line of work done by the former MacDowell Foundry, which was primarily doing equipment repair work for the many local sawmills, and supplying galvanized piping used in salt mines. In addition, they added capabilities for supplying manufacturing saws (gang and circular) and building engines and boilers used by local sawmills and shipbuilders.

The company was formed the same year as the financial panic of 1873. Kimball left his position as president and returned to the railroad business, and James Clements took over as president.

In 1880, Kimball returned to the Industrial Works, not as an employee, but as a customer. He needed to have a special steam shovel designed for doing railroad excavating, and he wanted the Industrial Works to build it. The company took on the new project which was completed in 1881. It was the first railroad steam shovel made in the United States.

It wasn't long thereafter that Sam Edgerly of the Michigan Central Railroad (MCRR) contacted the company. MCRR had designed and built a prototype shovel themselves, and they were looking for an outside source to build a second shovel for them. The company got the contract. It was the catalyst that launched the company into a new business direction.

The company was very impressed with Edgerly's well designed shovel, so much so, they approached MCRR to see if they could purchase rights the patented design. MCRR was receptive and an agreement was worked out which launched the Industrial Works into the locomotive crane manufacturing business. By 1896 the company had made the transition from a supplier to local sawmills and shipbuilders, and was now a major supplier of cranes to a nationwide railroad industry.

(Samuel Edgerly held a U. S. Patent, number 282869, dated August 7, 1883, for a stiff-leg, rotating derrick, although it is not mounted to a piece of railroad equipment.)

(A search of the U. S. Patent Office records, both at their web site and through a Google Patent search, does not show a patent for a shovel or crane assigned to Industrial Works, or any other patent assigned to Samuel Edgerly.)

In 1895, James Clements died and shortly thereafter, his son William Clements and Charles Wells acquired most the company's assets.

Up until the entry of the Industrial Works into the crane manufacturing, Appleby Brothers of London, England was the dominate supplier of large cranes around the world, It was an ideal situation for Industrial Works since they were able to capitalize being the only crane manufacturer based in the United States. Sales grew rapidly and by 1923, Industrial Works had produced and sold 3,776 cranes, of which, 3,261 were for U.S. customers. The company had expanded dramatically. Its manufacturing facilities now covered 29 acres, which included 59 buildings that provided 490,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

By 1931 the Industrial Works was facing plenty of competition when the company decided to consolidate its operations with the Brown Hoisting Company of Cleveland which established the Industrial Brownhoist Corporation, and helped keep the company's business strong over the following years.

During the post WWII years, business began to decline. Faced with stiff competition, the Bay City operations were sold to the Penn-Texas Corporation in 1954, and five years later it was sold to a hotel group based in Miami Beach. Each of these acquisitions proved to be less than successful in revitalizing the company's business. By 1960, the Bay City operations employed only a skeleton crew of about 40 workers when the American Hoist Corporation(AHC) of Minneapolis took over ownership, and it became the Industrial Brownhoist Division. This change proved to be a positive move that brought in more work that helped to extend the life the Bay City plant for a few more decades.

In 1983, the plant was shut down, ending a century of crane manufacturing in Bay City.

(Read the original Bay City Journal article)

Little Giant

Little Giant Crane & Shovel Inc.

Des Moines, Iowa (1945-1999)

Little Giant Crane & Shovel Inc. was started by Lewis Grundon and his wife Marie in 1946 as the Des Moines Dragline Company. They incorporated as Little Giant Crane & Shovel Inc. in 1960. (Des Moines Tribune, July 31, 1957)

(Read John Lewis Grundon's patent for his turntable for portable mechanical cranes; U. S. Patent 2,482,416, awarded September 6, 1949)

Lewis Grundon passed away on February 11, 1971, at age 65. (Des Moines Tribune, February 12, 1971)

October 1995
Little Giant Crane & Shovel Inc. and its sister company Little Giant International Inc., were sold to Avis Industrial Corporation of Upland, Indiana, a privately held diversified company with more than 20 subsidiaries. The company was sold by Marie Grundon, who had taken over the company upon her husband's death in 1971. (Des Moines Register, October 31, 1995)

(Avis Industrial Corp. was privately owned by a group of investors, with the majority of stock held by Leland Boren, of Upland, Indiana)

January 2001
The Little Giant factory in Des Moines was closed in January 2001, and about 10 of the current 21 employees were to be moved to sister company Badger Equipment Company in Winona, Minnesota, which had excess manufacturing capacity. The move was announced in early October 2000. The sale of lattice boom cranes had seen a continuing drop. (Des Moines Register, October 5, 2000)

Cora "Marie" Grundon passed away in February 2001, at age 91. (Des Moines Register, February 15, 2001)

The following comes from Cranes Today magazine, April 1, 2010:

Little Giant Crane & Shovel is remarkable in part for its very survival, considering it is a maker of mechanical lattice boom cranes of no larger than 30USt capacity. The company's founder Louis Grundon invented and patented the world's first ball bearing slew ring back in 1945 and Little Giant production was transferred to Badger's Winona plant in 1999. Little Giant's line comprises six models of lattice boom cranes from 20–30 tons (US) capacity all offering full duty-cycle lifting and excavating performance with clamshells, magnets, draglines, etc. These widely proven cranes feature simple operation and minimal maintenance, and have remained popular with US railroads. The cranes are available in 6x4 or 6x6 wheel drive truck, road/rail 'Trakrane' and crawler-mounted versions as well as two self-propelled rail-mounted (SPR) models. These feature hydraulic drive, power shift transmissions and rail speeds to 28mph forward and reverse. The largest model SPR 64 offers boom lengths from 30–70 feet, 25 tons (US) at 15 feet radius capacity on outriggers, and 35,200 pounds capacity through 360-degree free-on-rails. (Cranes Today magazine, April 1, 2010)

The following comes from a now-retired Little Giant web site:

Lewis Grundon, founder of the Little Giant Crane & Shovel Co., came by his interest in excavators honestly. He represented the third generation of the remarkable Grundon family – a family long involved in the excavating business. What makes this family even more remarkable was their confidence that they could build a better excavator. Cranes and crane technology were inbred in the blood of Lewis Grundon. At the turn of the century his grandfather had built and operated a steam powered ditching dredge incorporating a wooden boom and log chains, instead of cables. His father built and operated a gas powered machine that utilized wood for clutch surfaces and channel iron for the boom. His uncle, Fred Grundon, also built excavators and eventually started the Sargent Crane Co. of Ft. Dodge, Iowa.

As a teenager, Lewis was the greaser and the helper for his father. As he grew older he became a crane and shovel operator and had his own business. Lewis began formulating his own ideas on how to improve the machines available at the time. The most revolutionary of many ideas, centered on the rotating surfaces of the crane. Why couldn't a simple ball bearing be substituted for the bulky, troublesome hook, roller, and center pin assembly that required frequent adjustment and maintenance? Not satisfied with existing equipment, Lewis undertook to redesign the turntable on some of his excavators replacing it with a ball bearing turntable. He was so successful that other users of excavators became interested. In 1946, he, with the aid of his wife, Marie, and a helper, built a complete machine which he intended for his own use. It was successful and was soon sold, as were the second and third machines. Thus was born Little Giant Crane & Shovel Co. of Des Moines, Iowa. Lewis patented his ball bearing turntable that same year.

The Little Giant machine eventually found its biggest market with the railroad companies. The little machines, perfect for working from a flat car, were subsequently fitted with hi-railer kits and put to work right on the rails. Maintenance-of-way work is the machine's forte. After the patent on the turntable expired, other companies such as Avon and Rotek began manufacturing the turntable for other machines.

When John Lewis Grundon died in 1971 his wife, Marie assumed the presidency. The company was sold to Avis Industrial Corporation located in Upland, Indiana in 1996. Little Giant currently [2006] boasts a product line of over 14 models, most of which can also be rail mounted.

(Link to web page at Archive.org; first published in September 1999; last updated in April 2007)

(Text in the above web page was lifted from the December 1997 issue of the publication "Equipment Echoes," published by the Historical Construction Equipment Association)

McMyler-Interstate Co.

McMyler-Interstate Co. (1910-1929)

Bedford, Ohio

The McMyler-Interstate Company was organized in 1910. During the next two decades the company gained national and world-wide recognition, producing 59 different types of cranes, dumpers and other large industrial products.

The Company was the result of a consolidation of four companies:

The McMyler-Interstate Company covered 43 acres of land, including 50 buildings with 400,000 square feet of manufacturing floor space. At it's peak the company had up to 1,000 employees.

For over 30 years the McMyler-Interstate complex was a dominant influence on the life of Bedford. It prospered through World War I and until the late 1920s. In 1929 the Bedford Directory no longer listed The McMyler-Interstate Company.

(Read more about the McMyler-Interstate company at the Bedford Historical Society; Bedford, Ohio, near Cleveland)

There may have been a proposal to merge McMyler Interstate with Industrial Works in 1924-1927. The Bentley Historical Library at University of Michigan has in its collection papers and correspondence concerning the merger.

(Read more about McMyler-Interstate at Bentley Historical Library at University of Michigan)

Union Pacific and its subsidiaries owned six McMyler Interstate locomotive cranes:

Ohio Locomotive Crane Company

Ohio Locomotive Crane Company (1909-1987)
American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Company (1987-2017)

Bucyrus, Ohio

1909 -- Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. was founded in 1909 by Charles F. Michael. The first plant was located on North Sandusky Avenue in Bucyrus, Ohio. The first locomotive crane was built in rented space at the Carroll Foundry & Machine Company. This first locomotive crane was steam-powered, with a coal burning boiler and a lifting capacity of 10 tons. The crane had four wheels, a framed cab, and a short boom made mostly of channel. At the time, Ohio had 14 employees.

In 1915 the plant was relocated to Southern Avenue where is it was located until closed and sold in 2017.

A total of 118 cranes were built during 1942, and 121 cranes were built in 1943.

In its early years, Ohio built steam-powered cranes and gasoline-powered cranes. In later years, steam was dropped in favor of gasoline-electric and diesel-electric power. The Model C was 15 tons capacity. The Model E was 25 tons capacity.

1949, January -- Ohio produced its last steam-powered locomotive carne, a 25-ton Model EA for Southern Railway. It was the first steam-powered crane produced in 10 years. (Trains magazine, July 1982, page 40)

1960, June -- Ohio Locomotive Crane purchased the locomotive crane division of Wellman-McDowell Engineering of Cleveland and started building diesel electric locomotive cranes.

The Wellman design used a diesel-electric traction to move the crane, instead of diesel mechanical drive the Ohio company had been using for many years. Wellman had been using the "DE" designation as part of its model designation since the first diesel electric locomotive crane had been completed in 1956.

1960, December -- Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. produced its first DE model locomotive crane.

1981 -- Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. was purchased by a company in New York. Previous it had been owned by a Bucyrus family.

By 1982, Ohio had bult a total of 5,141 cranes.

1986 -- Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. was purchased by a group of local investors, including the company's president, who had joined the company as its president in 1982. The new owners immediately set about modernizing the company's manufacturing processes, as well as buying small companies to expand the company's range of products.

1987, August -- Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. in Bucyrus, Ohio, purchased the assets and interests of the American Locomotive Crane Division of American Hoist & Derrick Co. in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The two companies merged to form American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Co. (AOLCrane after 2001), still located in Bucyrus, Ohio.

(See also: Trains magazine, July 1982, pages 36-41; article includes numerous photos)

(Read more about American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Co.; above)

Osgood Co.

Osgood Manufacturing Company (1875-1883)
Osgood Dredge Company (1883-1899)
Marion Steam Shovel and Dredge Company (1910-1912)
Osgood Shovel Company (1912-???)
Osgood Company (???-1954)

One of the earliest designs the new Osgood Company made was the Model 18 crawler shovel, available from 1914 to 1922. Union Pacific purchased a 10-ton Osgood crane in 1919; it may have looked similar to a Model 18.

"The Osgood Company's roots can be traced back to the very first steam shovel. Jason C. Osgood and Daniel Carmichael took out a patent for a dredge in 1846. Carmichael was an uncle of steam shovel inventor William S. Otis. The Osgood name was associated with a number of shovel builders prior to forming the Osgood Dredge Company at Troy, New York. In 1875, this company supplied several large steam shovels for the French attempt to build the Panama Canal. The company also built a fully revolving shovel in 1890 and the world's first electric excavator in 1899." (Keith Haddock, The Earthmover Encyclopedia, page 218)

The Osgood Dredge Company was organized in 1883 by John Kasson Howe of Albany, New York. He was secretary-treasurer of Osgood Dredge Company until it was consolidated with The Osgood Company of Marion, Ohio, after which he was a director and eastern sale representative. Osgood Dredge Company obtained the original patents on the boom type dredge, a design that by 1917 was still being used by all leading dredge builders. John Kasson Howe passed away on March 4, 1917. (Brick and Clay Record, March 27, 1917, page 685)

Ralph R. Osgood Patents:

In the case of Osgood Dredge Co. v. Metropolitan Dredging Co., dated July 12, 1895, Osgood lost its patent infringement suit against Metropolitan, with the court stating that the Osgood patent of 1882 was not a new design. (69 F. 620) Osgood Dredge won on appeal, dated August 19, 1896, with the appellate court citing expert testimony about the unique nature of the Osgood design. (75 Fed 670)

The Osgood Company was organized in 1910 in Marion, Ohio, after Arthur Edgar Cheney, former sales manager for Marion Steam Shovel Company, purchased the shovel designs of the defunct Osgood Dredge Company of Albany, New York. The earlier Osgood company had gone out of business in 1899.

Cheney had quit the Marion Steam Shovel Company after a disagreement with the company CEO, George King, with Cheney wanting to build shovels that could work on smaller construction sites. At the time, Marion was furnishing large steam shovels that required railroad tracks and extensive support crews. Making a smaller shovel would serve the growing market for construction shovels.

When A. E. Cheney organized his new company in 1910, he called it the Marion Steam Shovel and Dredge Company. In 1912 the larger Marion Steam Shovel Company won a suit against Cheney's smaller company for trademark infringement, and Cheney renamed his company as the Osgood Shovel Company, taking its name from the designs the company was using.