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Davenport Besler Corportation



In 1901, the W. W. Whitehead Company started manufacturing locomotives in Davenport, Iowa. In 1902 they began manufacturing light locomotives. In 1904, the name was changed to the Davenport Locomotive Works. In 1933, the company was reorganized and it became the Davenport-Besler Corporation. During this time the company developed to the point that it was shipping its products around the world. By then, they were also manufacturing snow plows, and had an extensive outside business in grey iron casting, drop forging, and steel hammer forging, as well as steel tank and structural steel work.
In order to handle all this work, the company had on its own premises approximately a mile of standard gauge railroad tracks, doing all of its switching between the various departments with its own locomotive and cars. In the nineteen twenties and thirties, Davenport-Besler developed a diesel locomotive, which enjoyed a wide market in America and abroad.
During World War II, Davenport-Besler manufactured locomotives for the war effort and in November 1943 they were awarded the Army-black "E" Production Award for Excellence in War Production.
An investment group headed by a Davenport businessman, Glenn L Seydel, acquired the company in May 1955. On May 17, 1956, the plant closed down, citing a "highly competitive situation" and the five and one-half month Westinghouse strike which slowed the delivery of parts needed in the factory.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Davenport Besler Corporation Papers

Identifier: MsC0081

Business records of a liquidated Davenport, Iowa, locomotive manufacturing company.

Dates: 1909-1955