ACF traces its history to 1873, the year the St. Charles Car Manufacturing Company was set up. This is among the railway carbuilding companies that merged in 1899 to create the Foundry Business and American Car. The nation's first railway tank car, a "tub auto" was constructed by any of those businesses in 1889.
Five years following the 1899 amalgamation, the first allsteel passenger car ever ordered from the car builder left our former Berwick, PA store. It was the first of the shipment of 300 similar cars created for NYC's pioneer metro, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company. By 1906, AC&F had metal stores at-st. Louis, Detroit, Berwick, Huntington, and Madison, Ill..
American Car and Foundry Company's standing quickly spread overseas and in 1905 over one hundred motor and trailer metro cars were sent to England to be used in London's metro system.
In 1917, a tank car leasing business started which, in 1923, became Shippers Car Line, and later was obtained by F & AC in 1927. During World War I, F & AC created artillery gun mounts and field kitchens, ammo, pack saddles, submarine chasers, fabric shrinking machines and rollers, as well as railway vehicles, along with wooden tent pegs, for the Allies. AC&F's Wilmington plant also created boats for the navy, and following the war changed production to yachts.
In 1922, AC&F enlarged to the automotive area by getting Carter Carburetor Company of St. Louis. This is our initial step in product diversification - planned and executed well before the diversification theory became the byword of American business. In 1925, F & AC got Fageol Motors Company, a bus contractor, and the HallScott Motor-car Company, which created bus engines. In 1926, AC&F got the J. G. Brill Company, a streetcar contractor. During WWII, F plants & several AC created aircraft subassemblies, army tanks, artillery shells, armor plate, and hospital vehicles, along with average railroad vehicles.
By 1954, the company's interests had become so diversified the title was changed from American Car and Foundry to ACF Industries, Incorporated. ACF made its last passenger-car in 1959.
ACF's background is chronicled in a novel by worker Ed Kaminski, titled "American Car & Foundry" released by Signature Press.