Research by member Jay Barta has uncovered the following history of our No. 51:
“Our track car No. 51 is a 1947 product of the Brookville Locomotive Works of Brookville, PA. The company can trace its roots to 1918 when Ford dealer L.A. Leathers founded the Brookville Truck and Tractor Company, manufacturing the “Leathers Mine Motor.” A unique concept, the ‘Mine Motor’ was a hybrid kit. When integrated with a Ford one-ton truck or Fordson tractor chassis, it yielded a light rail vehicle that could be locally serviced with stock parts. These were marketed to coal and clay mines, limestone quarries and brick and tile plants that dotted the Northeast and the upper Midwest. The goal was to replace mule surface haulage, and to do the same work as 4 mules. Original models were capable of hauling 50 tons a day, and within several years subsequent models accomplished 150 tons a day.
“As the years passed Brookville’s product evolved to a single sourced product using many different power plants appearing like what we might identify today as a light rail locomotive. The post war 1940s brought many changes, and the cranberry industry was no different. An increase in demand for product as well as expiration of war time ceiling prices drove the “bog boom” in southeast Massachusetts resulting in the creation of hundreds of new cranberry grow sites. Brookville rose to the challenge offering the 1.5-ton BSA light rail locomotive. Marketed as the ‘Cranberry Special,’ these units were offered in 24” gauge, with an option for a 30” version. A total of 16 were produced from 1946 to 1949, with half of the production being sold to growers in southeast Massachusetts and Cape Cod. These were designed to operate over temporary ‘bog track’ typically hauling tip cars of sand involved in bog construction. Brookville touted the locomotive’s attributes in ad copy, ‘It can be used over soft ground and requires only easily laid, light weight track which can be traversed at high speeds due to the freedom of wheel movement allowed by Brookville dual journal spring type, suspension.’
Brookville Locomotive Works advertisement for its “Cranberry Special” locomotives, as it appeared in the March 1948 issue of Cranberries magazine. A photo promoting Brookville’s Cranberry Special model can be found on page 14 in Brookville’s 100th anniversary booklet posted on the company’s website.
“The power is provided by a Continental Y112 4 cylinder L-head gas engine. The largest of the diminutive Y4 series of power plants, this beast produced a whopping 37 HP @ 2800 RPM and with its relatively low compression ratio, was well suited for low quality fuels as well as propane.
“A fun factoid. The Y112 was the original engine provided in the initial pre-WW2 Jeep prototype created in 1940 by the American Bantam Company. This was later supplanted by the L134 ‘Go Devil’ as Willys became the predominate war time manufacturer over Ford and Bantam with the ubiquitous Willys MB.
“Brookville employed a complete power package with the engine married to a Warner T-9, 4 speed crash box and a split input shaft reverser. These were widely used in forklifts particularly by the Clark company in their Y20 yarder lifts of the 40’s and 50’s and their Clipper series of the sixties. This provided the Locomotive with all gears both in forward and reverse. This approach would make sense for Brookville. Fly in the power plant, bolt it down, add a fuel and electrical source a drive shaft and your good to go.
“Distributed by Russell Trufant of North Carver Mass, Brookville Mfrs. No. 3233 was ordered in October of 1946 and delivered to J. B. Atkins, a cranberry farmer in Harwich, Mass. Interesting that as this order was processing, down the road in South Carver, Mr. Ellis D. Atwood and Mr. Linwood Moody were back hard at it building the ‘ultimate bog railroad’ we know today as Edaville Railroad. Any intermediate owners, if any, are unknown. The last owner was Robert S. Paine of Wellfleet, Mass. He opened and operated Paine’s Campground in South Wellfleet for decades. He also operated the Paine Enterprises Marine Railway which was comprised of the locomotive and nearly 1,000’ of bog track running from the shoreline up to his yard and shops.”
More information on Jay’s research can be found on our forum.
Robert Paine first loaned and ultimately donated the locomotive to our Museum, along with some panel track and other bog railway material, as detailed in the September/October 1994 and July/August 1995 issues of the WW&F Newsletter. The Brookville arrived at our Railway on August 12th, 1994, the day before our 1994 Annual Picnic. It was used that Saturday to give guests aboard restored WW&F flatcar No. 118 a short ride over the 30 feet on new track outside shop bay 1.
The Brookville was our Museum’s first piece of motive power. As track was built, it became a faithful workhorse, hauling stone, rail, materials, and people to our worksites. The engine continues in that role, even after the purchase of WW&F locomotive No. 52 in late 1996, a 12-ton Plymouth diesel. The Brookville can operate on track that would not be safe with heavier equipment (such as in construction zones), as well as shuttling work crews and material back and forth.
The locomotive was reclassified to a track car in 2010 with the adoption of a new rulebook.
This YouTube video from our Spring 2012 Work Weekend shows No. 51 in typical operation on our Railway. The Brookville can be seen running at the start of the video, as well as at 8:00 and 13:46.
In May 2022, museum volunteer Jay Barta completed a full refurbishment of this locomotive; it is in service.