While spending a rainy day at a library, I managed to find some information on the now closed American Car and Foundry Company manufacturing company in Huntington, West Virginia. The plant dates to November 1, 1872 when it was issued a charter as the Ensign Manufacturing Company. It is nearly as old as the city itself!
The plant consisted of a division for the manufacture of railway freight cars, mine cars and forgings and pressings, a railway car wheel foundry with an annual capacity of 60,000 car wheels, and a grey iron foundary in which mine car wheels are produced in huge quantities. As awell as grey iron castings.
During World War II, ACF furnished equipment to North Africa, Egypt, Iran, Russia, Australia and the British Isles. It constructed 5,000 cars of special design for the armed forces, and doors and ramps for LST and many other miscellaneous items. Between Pearl Harbor and V-J Day, it built atotal of 12,609 freight cars, 16,000 mine cars, and delivered 367,463/152 million lbs. of railroad and mine car wheels.
In 1962, ACF began building a new design at Huntington that quickly became standard in the rail industry. The Center-Flow covered hopper car allowed for the transport of large volumes of light weight, high bulk commodities, such as plastic pellets. By 1992, ACF had built more than 100,000 Center-Flow cars, building as many as 28 per day at peak production. But by 2001, the market for the Center-Flow cars had slowed and the workers were furloughed. The few that did remain manufactured wheel pairs for tank cars that were manufactured at ACF’s plant in Pennsylvania. But by 2010, that work had stopped, as well.
Today, the ACF plant could be redeveloped in a $250 million proposal that includes a baseball stadium, hotel, conference center, and commercial development adjoining Marshall University.