The Baldwin Locomotive Works produced more than 70,500 locomotives between the early 1830s and mid 1950s. During a 10-year period between 1898 and 1907, Pennsylvania-based Baldwin, the dominant American locomotive manufacturer, built nearly 17,000 steam engines alone.
Today, it is believed fewer than 1,300 Baldwin locomotives remain. Among these is a 1927 4-6-0 model built for the Hampton and Branchville Railroad, a logging line that operated northeast of Charleston.
Old No. 44 sits at the South Carolina Railroad Museum in Winnsboro, where it has been for the past 20 years. The museum, one of best in the Southeast, is in the midst of restoring the locomotive under an effort called “Project 44.”
The goal is to have the locomotive restored to operating condition for use on the museum’s operating rail line, which includes five miles of track, although plans are in place to refurbish more existing track for use.
The South Carolina Railroad Museum is a 501©3 nonprofit and donations for Project 44 are tax-deductible.
No. 44 was used by the Hampton and Branchville until 1959. It was sold to the Charleston chapter of the National Railway Historical Society a decade later and acquired by the South Carolina Railroad Museum in 1991.
In the nearly 85 years since the No. 44 was delivered from Baldwin’s massive shops in Eddystone, Pa., the steam locomotive has never left South Carolina.
The former Hampton and Branchville locomotive is a survivor. Of 72 standard gauge 10-wheelers like No. 44 known to be in the US today, just five are operational while another six are currently being restored for operation, according to the website www.steamlocomotive.info.
While Baldwin made its reputation building steam locomotives for such giants as the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the Atchison and Topeka & Santa Fe, and for overseas railroads in England, France, India, Haiti and Egypt, the industrial giant also served many small lines such as the Hampton and Branchville.
The South Carolina Railroad Museum’s drive to restore this relic of a bygone era represents a unique opportunity for train enthusiasts to pitch in and help keep South Carolina’s history alive.
(Above: Hampton and Branchville No. 44 at South Carolina Railroad Museum in Winnsboro.)