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Field Trip: Chronicling the demolition of the ALCO plant in Schenectady, N.Y.

Click on each image for a closer look!

David Howard is a fellow member of the Niagara chapter of the Canadian Railway Historical Association. The American Locomotive Company (ALCO) was a famed manufacturer of steam and subsequently diesel locomotives as well. After amalgamating with a number of locomotive companies, they focused their operations into two plants in Schenectady, New York and Montreal, Quebec. Dave Howard shares his unexpected recent experience at their Schenectady plant location.

"I was traveling from the Boston area to back home mid Friday afternoon, and elected to break the drive up by spending Friday night in Albany, NY. I'd never been to the site of the American Locomotive Company in Schenectady, so decided to look it up on Google to determine the location, and visit it on the morning of Saturday, May 21st, 2011. Imagine my surprise as I was the only witness that morning to photograph a significant piece of locomotive history being demolished. This is the site where the Union Pacific "Big Boys" were built from 1941 to 1944, perhaps in these buildings.

The images of the demolition are as follows:
  1. A view of one of the erecting halls. Note the faded "American Locomotive" logo in the upper right.
  2. On the East end, I noticed some heavy construction equipment operating in the background, and signs of a demolition in progress.
  3. A few minutes later, a cloud of ALCO dust erupted from the East end, as a large portion of the roof came crashing down. It migrated across the road, and enveloped my car, so a bit of ALCO came home with me!
  4. By mid-morning most of the East end was gone, a worker attempted to hose down the dust, while a Testa Corporation pair of jaws continued to munch away at the remains.
A pick-up truck parked beside my car while I was photographing the action. When I went back to my car to change cameras and film, the occupant (the foreman of the demolition company) wanted to talk with me. He was concerned I was from the city or other government agency, photographing the dust cloud as ALCO fell. After I explained I was just a hobbyist recording the passing of some history, we had an interesting chat about the demolition and the history of the building."

Posting by Russ Milland; Story and photos by David Howard

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