1980 Fairmont MT-14 Rail Motorcar
Perris, California - Orange Empire Railway Museum - 1980 Fairmont MT-14 Rail Motorcar - Fairmont Railway Motors Inc. may not have developed into the company it became if not for Fred Mahlman Sr. Fred was employed as a railroad section hand. He would have to be out in all kinds of weather, put in long hours, and then at the end of the day would have to pump the handcar back to Fairmont. Fred thought it would be great to have a motor on his handcar. He speculated that they worked for the automobile, why not for a handcar. He saw an advertisement in a newspaper that Cushman Co. of Lincoln, Neb., was manufacturing a 4 HP engine to attach to grain binders for cutting grain. He contacted them and received more information. Shortly thereafter, he found out the Fairmont Machine Shop was putting out a 2 HP upright engine. Consequently, he purchased one, tried it for several months and determined it really didn't accomplish what he wanted. As a result, he contacted the superintendent of the machine shop and asked if they could make one to order using Fred's ideas. They did, and although it had more power, additional improvements were still needed. As Fred's ideas regarding the "motorcar" were evolving, he and the superintendent would take it out evenings and on Sundays in order to test the engine and determine potential improvements. Finally, they had what they considered a pretty good motorcar. Fred was asked by the superintendent of the Fairmont Machine Co. to write a detailed report about the motorcar. In this report, he stated what he could do with the motorcar, how many ties it would haul, how many miles per hour it traveled, as well as gas mileage details. Printed copies of this report were then sent to all the railroads. Within a few weeks, Fred received so many replies that it proved impossible for him to answer them. Therefore, he took his correspondence to the machine shop office and let them handle the replies. Within a couple of years, orders were coming in to the then little known Fairmont Machine Co. so fast that they were unable to manufacture the motors fast enough. At that time, this proved to be a driving force in the start of Fairmont Railway Motors Inc. From that small beginning, a result of a tired railroad worker who thought there must be a better way, an industry developed that could certainly be considered the most significant industry in the early history of Fairmont, Minn., and Martin County.