Re: Railroads and the Auto Industry: A Research Question

Jeff English

The only auto assembly plant I'm sure of in NY at the time was
GM's plant in Tarrytown, a northern suburb of NY City. This plant
was originally Maxwell's, and dated from before 1910. It closed in
the mid-90s after mini-van production was ceased; the plant has now
been demolished and the site is well on its way to becoming
residential development and a riverfront park.
Ford now has a presence on the south side of Buffalo, but I
don't know if that dates as far back as 1950. It was once huge, but
I don't know if it still is, as just about all heavy industry in NY
has retrenched to very little. The Ford plant is/was adjacent to
the now nearly defunct Bethlehem Steel facilities.
As for parts manufacturing in NY, GM still has an aluminum
castings plant in Massena, but again I think that is a 50s
development (when the St Lawrence Seaway made cheap hydroelectric
power available and both Alcoa and Reynolds greatly expanded raw
aluminum production there). GM subsidiary Harrison Radiator was
historically in Lockport. Rochester Carburetor was, I believe, in
Rochester, NY.
Ford made copper/brass radiators in Green Island until the
early 90s, when aluminum/plastic superseded the other metals.
An outfit called American Axle made just that in Buffalo, and
is, I believe, still in business there. Dunlop (now a subsidiary of
Bridgestone?) still makes tires in Tonawanda.
Chrysler used to have a subsidiary in Syracuse called New
Process Gear. I don't know when that was established, but I get the
impression it was in the 50s or 60s, and it was spun off by Chrysler
a few years ago.
Other automakers in NY State included Franklin (Syracuse) and
Pierce Arrow (Buffalo), neither of whom survived the Great


--- In STMFC@y..., "Dave Nelson" <muskoka@a...> wrote:

A couple data points from the 1950 ICC data.

Texas was ranked #2 (behind NY) in states receiving automobiles
shipped by
rail 11.6% of all such shipments. CA, WA, OR were #4, 5, and 6 --
suggesting that few (or no) auto assembly plants were in those
states. All
5 of these states were in the top 6 again for trucks. At the same
time, CA
was ranked #2 for receiving auto parts in rail shipments, NY #4 --
so the
data suggests those two did have some assembly plants (and from
sources I know CA did), but TX, WA, and OR are all way down the
suggesting those shipments of parts might have been just for repair
purposes. The data for other states leads to other guesses.

The state to state data would suggest all the relevant origination
for the above. But all in all, not much more than clues and
And surely 5-7 years later it'd all be very different and the data
collected for 1950 almost meaningless.

Good luck!

Dave Nelson

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