Built in 1927 by the Fate-Root-Heath company of Plymouth, Ohio. Formerly used to shuttle coal cars at the Mistersky power plant in Detroit, Michigan.

(priceman 141, https://www.flickr.com/photos/115310862@N04/19007226951/, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)


Plymouth logo


Plymouth Locomotive Works was a US builder of small railroad locomotives. All Plymouth locomotives were built in a plant in Plymouth, Ohio until 1997 when the company was purchased by Ohio Locomotive Crane and production moved to Bucyrus, Ohio in 1999. Production of locomotives has now ceased, and rights to the spare parts business have been sold to Williams Distribution.

Today these types of locomotives are commonly referred to as "critters".


Plymouth locomotive 'Admiral' of the Guadalcanal, Bougainville and Tokyo Railway on the Solomon Islands, ca. November 1943.

(United States Marine Corps, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



Plymouth locomotives were first built in 1910 by the J. D. Fate Company, which became Fate-Root-Heath in 1919. The J.D. Fate patent application filed in 1917 shows the engine driving a clutch and a continuously variable transmission that allowed varying the speed through zero to reverse the locomotive. The output of the transmission drove a transverse jackshaft through a chain drive, with additional drive chains to the two driving axles. All early Plymouth locomotives used this drive scheme. The Fate-Root-Heath patent application filed in 1925 shows a far more conventional 4-speed transmission and reverse gears driving the jackshaft and final chain drive to the 2 driving axles.

All early Plymouth locomotives were powered by gasoline-burning internal combustion engines, but in 1927 the first diesel was produced. The company changed its name to match its locomotive plant in the late 1950s, becoming Plymouth Locomotive Works, changing again to Plymouth Industries in the late 1970s.


A 40 Ton Plymouth Locomotive at the Linden Depot Museum, Linden, Indiana, 2009.

(Jim Hammer from Lafayette, Indiana, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)



Plymouth was one of the world's most prolific builders of small industrial locomotives, with over 7,500 constructed. About 1,700 are believed to still be in active use, some over 50 years old. Almost all Plymouth locomotives were under 25 tons.

Early Plymouth gasoline-powered locomotives were built with Chrysler engines. (Chrysler's Plymouth automotive branding was unrelated.) In 1937, Plymouth constructed two prototype short-line railroad locomotives, one that ran on butane and another that ran on propane. Plymouth produced locomotives in most rail gauges, mostly with mechanical torque converter transmissions.


Joplin-Pittsburg No. 2003, a Short Line Propane Electric Engine built by Plymouth Locomotive Works, 1936.

(Gary Lee Todd, Ph.D., CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)


Ad for Plymouth Locomotive Works in the publication Engineering News, 1926.

(Plymouth Locomotive Works/Fate-Root-Heath Company., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)