rw motors
digital archives

Railway Motors

Railway Motors History

Fairmont Railway Motors, first known as the Fairmont Machine Company, started as a small machine shop in the 1900s making things such as single cylinder engines used mainly to pump water, saw wood, etc. A breakthrough for the company occured in the later portion of that decade when a railroad section hand, Fred Mahlman Sr., suggested placing an engine on a railroad handcar. This application had a profound and significant effect on the railroad maintenance industry and put the company on the map. The company was guided by it's first President, Frank Wade, who was also a prominent local businessman and the proprietor of the famed Interlaken Park.

In the 1920’s, the company began producing and selling some units of maintenance-of-way work equipment. This included weed burners, weed mowers, and ballast discers. In 1923, Fairmont Railway Motors, Inc. was officially adopted as the firm name. In 1928, the company purchased the railway motor car business of Mudge and Company of Chicago and moved all tools and equipment to Fairmont. The Chicago properties were sold. Throughout the 1920s and 30s Harold Wade, son of Frank Wade, managed the business as its President.

Howard Starrett took over for a short period before his death in 1939 and he was succeeded by Walter Kasper who ran the company until 1956. During the Second World War the company employed nearly 1 out of every 10 townspeople as it made different parts and railcars for the war effort. In the 1940s they began producing Hy-Rail vehicles that could travel via both rail and road. Richard "Dick" Wade, Frank's grandson, took over in 1956 and would run the company as President until 1987.

In 1963 a line of Hydraulic Hand Tools was introduced, known as Fairmont Tamper. Stockholders approved a merger with Harsco, a diversified enterprise located in Harrisburg, PA, on June 8, 1979. G. Robert Newman became President in 1987 and served until 2007; the current President of Harsco Rail is Scott Jacoby. The company is now known as Harsco Track Technologies and still maintains a presence in Fairmont.

Railway Motors Museum Displays

RW Motors - Brodt Room
The Museum's Brodt Room Display

Railway Motors - Carlson Room
Display on the Lower Floor of the Museum - The Carlson Room

Railway Motors - Railcar
Outdoor M-19 Motorcar Display (Museum Front Lawn)

Motorcar Birth Record Room & Research

The Birth Record Room is where the MCHS stores the documentation and records for many of the rail cars that the factory produced. The records were donated to the MCHS by the Fairmont Branch of Harsco Track Technologies and the renovation of the room was made possible by donations from members of the North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA). NARCOA has been very supportive of the MCHS' efforts to preserve these records and the history of Fairmont Railway Motors; to learn more about their group you can visit their website:

Rail car enthusiasts who own a Railway Motors Railcar may contact the museum if they would like to inquire about the "birth record" for their specific rail car. The most efficient way to inquire about the "birth record" for a motor car is to email the MCHS at To locate the record we will need either the Engine Serial Number or the Car Number (which were located on tags that were riveted or glued near the operator's console of the motor car). Please include either or both of these numbers when you contact us; unfortunately we can not locate a record without one of these numbers.

We will get to your request as soon as possible. All items to be mailed will be sent only after receipt of payment. Cost is determined upon completion of research.

Railway Motors - Birth Record Room

Additional Pictures

We have additional pictures of Railway Motors here on our website and many, many more on file here at the Pioneer Museum!