Baldwin was the first American to build steam locomotives of the
same quality as were made in Europe. His company did much to establish
railroads in America.
Born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, Baldwin began his career as
a printer, engraver and bookbinder. After he invented an improved
process for printing calico, a member of the Philadelphia museum
approached him about the lack of Americans able to build locomotives.
He responded by building a small four-passenger demonstration
locomotive for the museum.
His full-scale locomotive, Old Ironsides, was the first locomotive
to carry passengers. Baldwin invented a series of improvements,
including a high-pressure steam engine that was much more powerful
than prior engines.
The Baldwin Locomotive Works produced more than 1,500 locomotives
by the time of his death. Most of Baldwin's railroad equipment
was sold in America, although some were also sold across Europe
and South America.
During his lifetime Baldwin was known as a supporter of many progressive
causes. Before the Civil War, he was an outspoken advocate for
racial equality. He built churches, supported the arts, and raised
money to care for wounded veterans.