The Baldwin Locomotive Works


The William Norris Locomotive Works



Upon his emigration to America in 1834 Hopkin Thomas was engaged by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. Matthias Baldwin, originally a jeweler and then a machinist, began building locomotives in Philadelphia in the 1830 – 1834 time period. His first product of note was “Old Ironsides built in 1832. In 1834 the business began to expand and the original shop located at Lodge Alley, two blocks north west of Independence Hall, became inadequate. A much larger complex was erected at Broad and Hamilton Streets and that is the location where thousands of engines were constructed in the coming decades



Baldwin’s Old Ironsides, 1832


It is most likely, however,  that Hopkin Thomas’ one year stay with Baldwin, prior to his transfer to Garrett & Eastwick, was at the Lodge Alley location.


The history of the Baldwin Locomotive Works is well documented. Excerpts from Westing’s history that cover the early years (during Hopkin Thomas’ time) are included in this compilation.


The other major locomotive manufacturer in Philadelphia during this period was the Norris Locomotive Works, started in 1832 as the American Steam Carriage Company by William Norris and Col. Stephen Long. Interestingly, they had experimented with the design of anthracite-fired locomotives in this time period, but were not known for any lasting achievements in this area. Their major manufacturing complex was located adjacent to the Baldwin complex at 17th and Hamilton Sts. In the 1850’s it was claimed that Norris was the largest producer of locomotives in America.



Painting of a 19th century Norris locomotive - Courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection, Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia.


Advertisement – American Railroad Journal, 1847



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Rev. July 2010