“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Schenectady in Schenectady County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

World War II

ALCO Goes To War

World War II Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Steve Stoessel
1. World War II Marker
Shortly after the outbreak of WWII in 1940, the U. S. Government invited ALCO and nine other industrial companies to prepare for the possible involvement of the United States in the war by manufacturing heavy armor for the U.S. Army. Within months, operations at the Schenectady plant went into overdrive, with three shifts a day and employment doubling from 2400 to 5000 by mid-1941. Plant facilities at Schenectady were also increased. Several giant assembly buildings were added to ALCO's infrastructure.

The government's first order was for 685 M3 General Grant tanks. ALCO delivered the order on August 19, 1941. The Government also directed the production of a secret weapon at ALCO's Schenectady plant - the M7 motorized howitzer, nicknamed "Priest.” This weapon proved highly effective in 1942 at the Second Battle of El Alamein, where 1000 M7s contributed to the Allies' stunning victory over the Germans under General Irwin Rommel. By the battle's end on November 1942, 36 German tanks remained operational out of the 249 originally deployed. Italian tank divisions suffered even heavier losses.

To improve its tanks,
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the Army ordered ALCO to produce more M4 Sherman tanks. It delivered the first 1000 M4s in August 1943 and another 1000 over the next three months. Output reached an apex by the end of 1943 and employment at ALCO hit a high of 15,000 workers by the war's end.

ALCO's production proved crucial in helping the Allies win the war. Over five years of war, it had built 7,362 M3 and M4 tanks, 3,314 M7 howitzers, 2,574 gun carriages, 2.3 million shells, 410,000 bombs, 1036 steam and 157 diesel locomotives as well as marine boilers and turret rollers for the Navy's ships.

(Above) ALCO's Schenectady assembly line.

(Right) The M7 howitzer in action. ALCO

Credits: The Schenectady County Historical Society
Erected by Schenectady County, ALCO.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceWar, World II. A significant historical date for this entry is August 19, 1941.
Location. 42° 49.619′ N, 73° 55.869′ W. Marker is in Schenectady, New York, in Schenectady County. Marker is on Harborside Drive, 0.1 miles north of Mohawk Harbor Way, on the right when traveling north. Marker is at the cul-de-sac at the end of Harborside Drive. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Schenectady NY 12305, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. "Big Boy" (within shouting distance of this marker); The American Locomotive Company
ALCO Goes To War Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Steve Stoessel
2. ALCO Goes To War Marker
(about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); ALCo's Legacy (about 500 feet away); Casey Jones (approx. 0.2 miles away); Streamliners (approx. 0.2 miles away); Schenectady (approx. ¼ mile away); "Jupiter" (approx. ¼ mile away); Seeley House (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Schenectady.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 12, 2020, by Steve Stoessel of Niskayuna, New York. This page has been viewed 133 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 12, 2020, by Steve Stoessel of Niskayuna, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 29, 2024