American Car and Foundry Company

Coordinates: 38°47′06″N 90°28′51″W / 38.7848658°N 90.4808884°W / 38.7848658; -90.4808884
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ACF Industries LLC
FormerlyACF Industries, Inc.
Founded1815; 208 years ago (1815) (Partial)
1899; 124 years ago (1899) (As American Car And Foundry Company
HeadquartersSt. Charles, Missouri, U.S.
Area served
High-speed trains
Intercity and commuter trains
People movers
Signalling systems
OwnerCarl Icahn

38°47′06″N 90°28′51″W / 38.7848658°N 90.4808884°W / 38.7848658; -90.4808884

A 1907 postcard depicting the ACF plant in St. Charles, Missouri
A refrigerator car built by ACF in 1911

ACF Industries, originally the American Car and Foundry Company (abbreviated as ACF), is an American manufacturer of railroad rolling stock. One of its subsidiaries was once (1925–54) a manufacturer of motor coaches and trolley coaches under the brand names of (first) ACF and (later) ACF-Brill. Today, the company is known as ACF Industries LLC and is based in St. Charles, Missouri.[1] It is owned by investor Carl Icahn.


The American Car and Foundry Company was originally formed and incorporated in New Jersey in 1899 as a result of the merger of thirteen smaller railroad car manufacturers. The company was made up of:

Company Founded Location
Buffalo Car Manufacturing Company 1872 Buffalo, New York
Ensign Manufacturing Company[2] 1872 Huntington, West Virginia
Jackson and Woodin Manufacturing Company 1840 Berwick, Pennsylvania
Michigan-Peninsular Car Company 1892 Detroit, Michigan
Minerva Car Works 1882 Minerva, Ohio
Missouri Car and Foundry Company 1865 St. Louis, Missouri
Murray, Dougal and Company 1864 Milton, Pennsylvania
Niagara Car Wheel Company Buffalo, New York
Ohio Falls Car Company 1876 Jeffersonville, Indiana
St. Charles Car Company 1873 St. Charles, Missouri
Terre Haute Car and Manufacturing Company Terre Haute, Indiana
Union Car Company Depew, New York
Wells and French Company 1869 Chicago, Illinois

Later in 1899, ACF acquired the Bloomsburg Car Manufacturing Company of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Orders for new freight cars were made very quickly, with several hundred cars ordered in the first year alone.[3] Two years later, ACF acquired the Jackson and Sharp Company (founded 1863 in Wilmington, Delaware) and the Common Sense Bolster Company (of Chicago, Illinois). The unified company made a large investment in the former Jackson & Woodin plant in Pennsylvania, spending about $3 million. It was at this plant that ACF built the first all-steel passenger car in the world in 1904. The car was built for the Interborough Rapid Transit system of New York City, the first of 300 such cars ordered by that system.

In 1903, the company was operating overseas in Trafford Park, Manchester, U.K., and it was featured on a Triumphal Arch built for the Royal Visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1903. The factory buildings were later used by Ford cars, which began manufacturing at Trafford Park in 1911.

1904 and 1905 saw ACF build several motor cars and trailers for the London Underground.[4] In those two years, ACF also acquired the Southern Car and Foundry (founded 1899 in Memphis, Tennessee), Indianapolis Car and Foundry, and Indianapolis Car Company.

In 1916, William H. Woodin, formerly president of Jackson and Woodin Manufacturing Company, was promoted to become president of ACF.[5] Woodin would later become Secretary of the Treasury under U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.

During World War I, ACF produced artillery gun mounts and ammunition, submarine chasers and other boats, railway cars, and other equipment to support the Allies.[4] ACF ranked 36th among United States corporations in the value of World War II production contracts.[6]



External-braced wooden boxcar built for sugar service in Cuba by ACF, c. 1922

In the past, ACF built passenger and freight cars, including covered hopper cars for hauling such cargo as corn and other grains. One of the largest customers was the Union Pacific Railroad, whose armour-yellow carbon-steel lightweight passenger rolling stock was mostly built by ACF. The famous dome-observation car "Native Son" was an ACF product.

Another important ACF railroad production were the passenger cars of the Missouri River "Eagle", a Missouri Pacific streamliner put in service in March 1940. This train, in its original shape, consisted of six cars including one baggage, one baggage-mail, two coaches one food and beverage car and finally the observation lounge-parlor car. All the passenger equipment was styled by industrial designer Raymond Loewy.

Today, the U.S. passenger car market is erratic in production and is mostly handled by specialty manufacturers and foreign corporations. Competitors Budd, Pullman-Standard, Rohr Industries, and the St. Louis Car Company have all either left the market or gone out of business.

ACF railcar M-300, built in 1935, on the California Western Railroad in 1970

The manufacturing facility in Milton, Pennsylvania, is served by the Norfolk Southern Railway and is capable of manufacturing railcars and all related railcar components. The plant is capable of producing pressure vessels in sizes 18,000–61,000 gwc, including propane tanks, compressed gas storage, LPG storage, and all related components, including heads. The plant, covering 48 acres, provides 500,000 square feet of covered work area and seven miles of storage tracks. The Huntington, West Virginia, production site ceased production in late 2009. The site continues only as a repair facility.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b ACF Industries. "About ACF". St. Charles, MO. Archived from the original on January 17, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2011.
  2. ^ White, John H. Jr. (1993). The American Railroad Freight Car: From the Wood-Car Era to the Coming of Steel. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 142. ISBN 0-8018-4404-5. OCLC 26130632.
  3. ^ Railroad Gazette (January 26, 1900). "New Railroad Equipment". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. p. 17 – via open access
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h ACF Industries. "History". Archived from the original on January 18, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
  5. ^ "Woodin's Business Experience is Wide". Marshfield News-Herald. Marshfield, WI. Associated Press. February 25, 1933. p. 3 – via open access
  6. ^ Peck, Merton J.; Scherer, Frederic M. (1962). The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis. Harvard Business School. p. 619.
  7. ^ Reports of the Tax Court of the United States, Volume 14. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1950. p. 267 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Theobald, Mark (2004). "American Motor Body Co". Coachbuilt. Retrieved March 27, 2021.
  9. ^ "Notice of Special Meeting of Stockholders of American Car and Foundry Motors Company". The News Journal. Wilmington, DE. December 9, 1940. p. 23 – via open access
  10. ^ Goodwin, S. Oliver (August 26, 1956). "Saving Pilots and Planes Is Erco's Main Business: ACF Division Has 75 Pct. of Output In Simulators". The Washington Post.
  11. ^ "IRT SMEE delivery dates". R36 Preservation, Inc.
  12. ^ "R26/R28/R29". 2005. Archived from the original on December 2, 2007. Retrieved December 3, 2007.
  13. ^ "Chronological History". Union Pacific Railroad Company. Archived from the original on August 10, 2006.
  14. ^ Kaminski, Edward S. (1999). American Car & Foundry Company: A Centennial History, 1899-1999. Wilton, California: Signature Press. ISBN 0963379100.
  15. ^ "A new fleet shapes up. (High-Tech Railroading)". Railway Age. September 1, 1990. Archived from the original on October 17, 2008.
  16. ^ Carey, Christopher (March 11, 1997). "ACF Leases 35,500 Railcars to Rival: GE Capital Is Given Option to Purchase". St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  17. ^ ACF Industries, Incorporated (March 10, 1997). "ACF Industries Enters Into Railcar Lease With GE Capital Railcar". PRNewswire (Press release). Archived from the original on December 10, 2015 – via

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