Like many investigations, this one started with an email query. Brian Johnston tells this story and asks:
"A few weeks ago while home in Hartselle for vacation, I purchased a small 4-ton Whitcomb gasoline powered chain drive 36” gauge locomotive that had been used at the Lehigh Coal Co mine in Lehigh, which is southwest of Locust Fork. The little loco is now in Hartselle at my parents’ home. We hope to restore it cosmetically. It is not in good condition right now. It needs some TLC (hood, radiator, etc). It had been owned by a man in Locust Fork for many years.
I’m hoping that you might be able to provide me some info or leads on Lehigh Coal, the L&N branch that ran up to the coal mine, maps, or possibly info or photos of this Whitcomb locomotive in its earlier years. I did not see any maps of this area or the Lehigh branch on your excellent Birmingham Rails site. In short, I need any and all info on this area. I think maybe that Lehigh Coal may have later become Black Creek Coal and Coke Co, and then later this mine may have been owned by ABC, if my info is correct. Did the Lehigh mine close in 1954, or do you have any history on this? Have you ever seen any info or maps of their mine and there 36” track layouts?"
Birmingham Rails took this as a challenge, since I did not have any information on Lehigh Mines. But first I wanted to know more about the Whitcomb locomotive. This information came from a website by Donald R. Hensley, Jr. ( http://www.northeast.railfan.net/diesel96.html ) which has the following information:
"The Whitcomb Locomotive Works were located at Rochelle, IL. Originally known as the George D. Whitcomb Co. which produced mining equipment including gas and electric locomotives after the turn of the century. In 1931 the company became bankrupt and was purchased by the Baldwin Locomotive Works from 1931which operated the company as the Whitcomb Locomotive Works until 1940. Baldwin completely took over the company in 1940 and was operated as a division of Baldwin. In February of 1952 locomotive production was shifted from Rochelle to the Eddystone Works."
Brian sent addition information about his prize Whitcomb including pictures:
That gives us something about the locomotive so now what can we learn about Lehigh Mines, Alabama?