Archive Record

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Catalog Number 1998:49
Collection H.K. Porter Co. Photographic Collection
Object Name Print, Photographic
Title H.K. Porter Photographic Collection
Scope & Content Collection consists of approximately 2127 photographs dating from 1876 until the 1950s. Many of the photographs are originals, while others are reproductions from before 1950. The photographs are predominately of locomotive engines, and were used for various catalogs and erector cards distributed by the H.K. Porter Company.
The collection is divided into 5 categories, 4 of which are based on engine type:
Erector Cards; Compressed Air Engines; Fireless Engines; 0-4-0 Engines; Miscellaneous Engines.
The name of the commissioning body and the Porter model number are noted when known. The Whyte System (a classification system based on wheel numbers) is noted where applicable.
The photographs consist of stock and opaque views, and are generally in fair to excellent condition.
*A brief finding aid for this collection is on file.
Physical characteristics Photographs
Admin/Biographical History Henry Kirke Porter (1840 - 1921) was born in Concord, NH. He enlisted in the Forty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia in 1862, and was mustered out in 1863. He was a Pittsburgh businessman from 1866 until his death in 1921. From 1903 - 1905, H.K. Porter served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican Congressman. He is interred at the Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville.

H.K. Porter began business in Pittsburgh in May of 1866 under the company name of Smith & Porter. Smith & Porter manufactured small locomotives in their works on Bingham Street on the South Side (Birmingham) until 1871, when their works were destroyed by fire. Porter, Bell & Co succeeded the firm, which built a new works between Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Streets in Lawrenceville. In 1878, Mr. Bell died, and the firm was renamed H.K. Porter & Co. On January 1, 1899, the firm was incorporated as H.K. Porter Company.
H.K. Porter Co. produced light locomotives, cars, heavy projectiles, Porter and Porter-Devine Equipment, Quimby Pumps, and many other items. It was the designer and manufacturer of what was "probably the most complete line of industrial locomotives in the world" (Pennsylvania: Titan of Industry - Sylvester Stevens. 1948). Porter also produced railway-switching engines, and pioneered the fireless locomotive, and the compressed air engine. It was one of the leading builders of four, six, and eight wheel steam engines, diesel-electric locomotives and designed the first 100-ton diesel locomotives.

After 1930, the company went through a reorganization and expansion under the direction of Thomas M. Evans. He established a Process Equipment Division, which produced pressure vessels, autoclaves, digestors, blenders, heat exchangers, evaporators and dryers, ball and pebble mills and similar equipment.
During WWII, Porter expanded considerably. In 1944, it acquired the Mt. Vernon Car Manufacturing Company and J. P. Devine Manufacturing Company, which brought the company into the freight and tanker car manufacturing fields. It was also the builder of the "General MacArthur," a large narrow gauge locomotive used by the army. Porter engines were used in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and the Middle East.
H.K. Porter Company went out of business in the 1950s
Dates of Creation 1866 - c. 1950