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RyPN Briefs November 8, 2006
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Back to the Past!

Harry P. Edwards grew up in a railroad family. His father founded the Atlantic & Western Railroad in 1899, a twenty-five miles shortline originating in Sanford, NC. Harry became the general manager of the railroad and, as early as 1914, was interested in the idea of replacing the steam powered passenger trains with gasoline powered self-propelled motor rail cars.

Edwards facility sometime after 1942.

Edwards looked to the highway motor bus as the basis for the design of his own cars. He began with a Kelly-Springfield highway truck and built a passenger car body on the chassis, replacing the rubber tired wheels with railway wheels. Edwards continued to make improvements until, eventually, other shortline operators became interested in his cost saving motor rail car.

Site layout for Edwards' facility.

On August 20th, 1921 Edwards incorporated the new company with the official name of Edwards Railway Motor Car Co. He purchased property in Sanford and constructed a factory on six acres with five buildings. Rail car construction at the site lasted until 1942. The company was sold and converted to war effort production of aircraft parts, and later used in manufacture of farm implements and fabric machines.

Recent photo of original Edwards' manufacturing site.

The re-founded Edwards Rail Car Co. (1997) operated in Central Florida until moving to leased space in Montgomery, AL (Jan. 2006). On October 26th, 2006 the new Edwards Company signed a lease/purchase agreement with Romatic Manufacturing Co., present owners of the original Edwards factory site. Present projects will be finished in Montgomery and new projects will be started in Sanford.

This is a historic move that is very exciting. Most companies want to tear down the old and build new. We at Edwards are excited to be moving from the new to the old. Rick Hansen, Edwards GM, said "I can see through the dust and broken windows and see the great potential this place has."