EMD Marks 100th Anniversary

EMD marked its 100th anniversary on Aug. 31. That history began in 1922 in Cleveland when Harold L. Hamilton and Paul Turner founded the Electro-Motive Engineering Corporation, which developed gasoline-electric railcars.

The company soon was renamed Electro-Motive Company.

General Motors acquired EMC in 1930 and renamed it Electro-Motive Corporation. Under GM ownership EMC developed diesel engines that had a better power to weight ratio.

These engines were used in Burlington’s Zephyrs and Union Pacific’s M-10000 streamliners.

A merger with another division of GM gave EMC its EMD moniker, which at the time denoted Electro-Motive Division.

In 1939, EMD introduced the FT, a 1,350-hp diesel-electric locomotive. The “F” stood for fourteen hundred (1,400) horsepower (rounded up from 1,350) and the “T” stood for twin, as it came standard in a two-unit set.

The FT was the first of the F series line of 1,096 F units of which 555 had cabs and 541 were cab-less booster or ”B” units.

As railroads widely switched from steam to diesel power following World War II, numerous other EMD locomotive models followed including the iconic E series which like the F series featured the venerable bulldog nose that defined and for many still defines what a passenger locomotive should look like.

EMD has since built and delivered more than 75,000 locomotives used by railroads around the world. It also built engines for the marine, drilling and power generation industries.

GM sold EMD to Greenbriar Equity and Berkshire Partners in 2005 and in 2010 it was sold to Progress Rail, a division of Caterpillar Incorporated.

EMD has since officially been renamed Electro-Motive Diesel and it continues to build railroad locomotives.

In recent years Progress Rail has focused on building locomotives that have fewer emissions that pollute the air. Last year it signed a memorandum of understanding with BNSF and Chevron to work toward developing a locomotive operating on hydrogen fuel cells.

Testing is underway on locomotives that operate with 100 percent biodiesel capability.

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