From the first horse-drawn car to the latest self-propelled mag-lev, this
website seeks to document every independent builder of railway cars that ever
existed on the North American Continent; this includes Canada, the United States
and Mexico. Names are drawn from books, newspapers, the trade press and the work
of scholars and railfans who have documented firms in the past.
This list is the work of a number of people, and we thank them all. If you know of a company not on this list, you too can be a contributor. You need not know anything about a company, just give us a name: someone else may see it and be able to give us more information. That’s the way this list grows.
By “independent,” we mean not owned by a railroad. A lot of railroads built cars for themselves, and some built for other railroads as well. We are trying to limit this list to builders who built cars commercially and were thus independent of a railroad. A very few builders that appeared independent were actually owned by, or affiliated with, a railroad. Some broke off from, or became part of, a railroad. If we err in gauging independence, we prefer to be inclusive rather than exclusive.
By “railway cars,” we mean anything other than units whose primary purpose was to pull other units; e.g., locomotives. Thus builders of self-propelled cars such as the McKeen Company are included. A number of known locomotive builders are included because at some time they built cars. (Sometimes as few as one!) In other cases they are included only to note they did not build any cars . . . ever! Early horse-drawn railroad cars and later electric trolley cars and interurbans are certainly included.
Sometimes you will find several entries that you feel should be the same company. This will simply mean that we have not determined how the differing information fits together. If you know, please share your knowledge with us.