Fabled EMD LaGrange Plant Facing Closure

Another Midwest locomotive factory may be about to build its last unit.

Progress Rail Services is considering closing the famed Electro Motive Diesel plant in LaGrange, Illinois, and shifting its work to a factory in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Some production of engine and locomotive components could be switched to outside suppliers.

“Progress Rail routinely reviews its strategic footprint and, as a result, is evaluating how to use its existing manufacturing space as efficiently as possible to remain a competitive supplier to the rail industry,” said Progress Rail owner Caterpillar in a statement.

Caterpillar has been undertaking a global restructuring that has reduced employment at its many factories.

EMD has a locomotive assembly plant in Muncie, Indiana, and facilities in Brazil and Mexico.

The EMD business traces its history to the 1922 founding in Cleveland by Harold Hamilton and Paul Turner of Electro-Motive Engineering Corporation

It was later renamed Electro-Motive Company and opened a plant in McCook, Illinois.

However, the factory’s mailing address was LaGrange and for decades the facility has been known as “LaGrange.”

It was there that bulldog-nose F series locomotives were created along with other notable locomotive models.

General Motors bought EMC in 1941 and renamed it the Electro-Motive Division of GM.

It was sold to Greenbriar Equity and Berkshire Partners in 2005 and acquired by Progress Rail in 2010.

Last year  General Electric announced plans to shift locomotive assembling from its plant in Lawrence Park, Pennsylvania, near Erie to a newer facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

GE has since said it is seeking to sell its transportation division.

Caterpillar has not said when the LaGrange plant might be closed.

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